Robert Half Global AccountantIf you’re on the market for a new accountancy job or preparing to leverage your experience for a raise, your timing is spot on. Although Japan and much of Europe seem to be in danger of sinking back into a recession, the U.S. and UK are continuing their economic recovery, and employers are increasing their efforts to recruit and retain specialised finance talent to grow their enterprises and ease the heavy workloads of their present teams.  

But with the positive economic forecast comes a related challenge: Demand for accountancy talent is strong, and there aren’t enough highly skilled candidates to go around. The vast majority (92 per cent) of surveyed UK CFOs said there’s a skills shortage, according to the 2015 Salary Guide from Robert Half.

In order to secure the crème de la crème of accountancy talent, employers are offering competitive salaries, sign-on bonuses and raises. What qualifications and skills do you need to join the ranks of the in-demand elite? And what salary trends can you expect in 2015?


Education and certifications are critical. Employers seek candidates with ACA, ACCA or CIMA qualifications. All three are rigorous programmes; your career interests will help determine which qualification you pursue. In general:

  • The ACA, conferred by the ICAWE, is more practice/tax focused.
  • The ACCA’s global and broader approach to accountancy allows you to work in many sectors and countries.
  • CIMA’s focus is on management accounting in a business setting.

Some employers seek applicants with a business-related degree, but not all. With the shortage of accountants, there are over 6,000 ACA training vacancies each year all over the world for school students, leavers and others, according to the ICAEW. Studiers receive employer support as well a competitive salary. Our 2015 Salary Guide shows that in many financial services categories, the salaries of accountants with no qualification (NQ) to 3 years of post-qualification experience (PQE) are rising faster than those with four to seven years’ PQE.

A London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) study found that for entry-level candidates, surveyed managers look most for A-levels (59 per cent), followed by a relevant degree (like a BA in Accounting) and professional qualification. Intermediate qualifications, such as the AAT and CAT, conferred some advantages, but the study found that they “don’t seem to be a crucial factor in the recruitment process.”

Skills in demand

One reason a relevant university degree is not frequently a prerequisite for accounting positions is that UK employers prize an “application of technique over theoretical learning,” reports the LSBF. This skill set includes:

  • Accountancy and IT competency
  • Business acumen
  • Critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Knowledge of ERP systems and accountancy software (SAP, Oracle)

Other soft skills like communication, presentation, flexibility, diversity and international experience

Regional differences

Not all regions are equal when it comes to demand, shortages and salary trends. In a Robert Half survey of 200 UK CFOs, 100 per cent of respondents in the Southwest and Wales said it’s challenging to find skilled finance professionals. About 9 in 10 CFOs in Scotland (93 per cent), the North (93 per cent) and the Midlands (90 per cent), had difficulties recruiting. CFOs in London/South East reported the fewest challenges — though still high at 85 per cent.

There is a correlation between the skills shortage and salary trends. When one averages national wages and sets that at 100 per cent, London accountants can expect to earn 29 per cent more, and finance professionals in South East 6 per cent more. But in Wales, the salary range is 10.5 percent less than the national average.

Rising accountancy salaries

Overall, base wages for corporate accountants are projected to increase about 2 per cent from 2014. In financial services, the surge is sharper, especially for regulatory accounting. Below is a sampling of accountant salary ranges, as well the percentage they’ve increased since 2014.

Project accountant

Large company: £49,750–£72,750 (2.3%)

Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME): £41,500–£69,750 (2.1%)

Senior qualified management/financial accountant

Large company: £54,000–£67,500 (2.7%)

SME: £46,250–£55,750 (2.5%)

Qualified management/financial accountant

Large company: £44,000–£56,750 (3.3%)

SME: £34,750–£45,250 (3.6%)

Systems accountant

Large company: £48,250–£58,250 (2.2%)

SME: £37,500–£51,250 (2.3%)

Regulatory accounting

Manager: £83,250–£119,750 (5.9%)

Accountant (4–7 years’ PQE): £65,500–£93,250 (2.6%)

Accountant (NQ–3 years’ PQE): £54,000–£78,750 (3.1%)

Management accounting

Manager: £79,750–£104,000 (5.8%)

Accountant (4–7 years’ PQE): £62,000–£85,250 (3.3%)

Accountant (NQ–3 years’ PQE): £47,500–£69,250 (2.2%)

Find more salary trends on our Salary Centre, and customise the wage ranges for your location with our Salary Calculator.

What should a good accountant make? The short answer: Probably 2 to 5 per cent more than what you take home now. Prepare for your job search or salary negotiation by knowing what hot jobs employers are looking to fill, and how much more you could be earning.

Robert Half Global AccountantThis article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at

CIMA_Logo Global AccountantCIMA announced the appointment of Tony Manwaring as Executive Director, External Affairs. The newly created role forms part of CIMA’s Senior Management Team based at its Corporate Centre and will commence in January 2015.

Tony, who has over 20 years’ experience in the field of external affairs, will be responsible for advancing CIMA’s position as the world’s leading and largest management accounting institute. Drawing on his extensive experience of advocacy he will direct a number of ambitious work streams focused on global influencers in government and business. Additionally, he will oversee corporate communications and media strategy to drive the profile of CIMA and the CGMA designation.

Tony comes to CIMA from Tomorrow’s Company, where he has served as Chief Executive for seven years. Prior to that he was Chief Executive of Scope for three years and previously held a number of other leadership roles in the not for profit sector.

Charles Tilley, Chief Executive at CIMA, said of the appointment:

We are thrilled to have Tony on board and I personally look forward to working with him to ensure CIMA has an even greater voice across the global public and private sectors. We have had one of our most ambitious years to date in 2014 with the launches of our Competency Framework, revised syllabus and CGMA Global Management Accounting Principles. Tony is a dynamic influencer and communicator and his appointment will help us leverage this important work going forwards

Tony Manwaring commented:

Tony Manwaring Global AccountantLooking ahead to my role at CIMA, my focus will be to continue elevating CIMA’s and CGMA’s profile and influence at a time when the importance of management accounting supporting quality decision making to create and preserve value has never been higher. In my time at Tomorrow’s Company I have worked closely with CIMA on a number of joint initiatives which have encompassed value, corporate reporting, integrated reporting and thinking, governance, risk and business relationships. I very much look forward to leading the external affairs programme at CIMA and advocating the power of management accounting in helping people and business to succeed across our key markets

In response to growing market demand, CIMA has launched a new qualification for shared services employers at The Hackett Group’s 2014 European Best Practices Conference, Berlin.

Chartered Institute of Management AccountantsThe qualification develops the skills and broader knowledge of shared services centre professionals, to help employers attract, develop and retain talent. Candidates undertaking the training will gain knowledge of shared service best practices, including principles, tools and techniques, along with effective governance and controls. The certificate also provides grounding in the key shared services functions of finance, IT, HR and procurement.

Speaking on the launch, Dr. Noel Tagoe FCMA, CGMA, Executive Director of Education, CIMA, said:

The certificate builds upon global research, which informed our updated 2015 syllabus. Designed to build knowledge of techniques to significantly reduce costs while improving the quality of service delivered to customers, this new qualification will be invaluable in helping employers to consistently develop, engage and retain their best talent, and improve efficiency and effectiveness through greater and measurable capabilities.

The certificate will be studied through a blended learning approach consisting of a study text and e-learning modules, which gives maximum flexibility to the employee and employer, and is available online 365 days of the year. Employers will be able to register students from mid-November 2014 and the first assessments will be offered in January 2015.

George Connell, VP Strategy – Finance Operations, Royal Dutch Shell, commented:

I am delighted that CIMA has introduced this certificate specifically for shared services recognising the growing importance of the shared services sector. This will be particularly useful and relevant to our employees and should help attract the next generation of employees to our team. The certificate will allow colleagues to apply their practical learnings and experience to a well structured study framework.

Gary Critchley, Finance & Shared Services Leader, Pepsico, commented:

Career paths and the skills needed in a shared-service organisation have developed in recent years as our businesses demand more from us and technologies and governance structures continue to evolve.

This certificate will be valuable for individuals planning to accelerate their career within shared services centres and more broadly in finance by offering an opportunity to build relevant and practical skills that are assessed consistently across the world and accredited by a leading global professional body.


Keith Luck, Global Vice President CIMA

Keith Luck, President CIMA

Keith Luck FCMA, CGMA is the new President of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the world’s largest professional body of management accountants. He was elected at its annual general meeting on 7 June.

Mr Luck brings over 30 years experience to the role having worked at organisations across the private and public sectors including Deloitte, HSBC, BT, the Metropolitan Police, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and, currently, Serco Group.

His presidency comes at a pivotal time as CIMA launches its updated 2015 syllabus, introduces pioneering Global Management Accounting Principles and implements computerised assessment. The initiatives reflect CIMA’s focus on driving better business practices and better-skilled professionals to meet the challenges of today’s increasingly complex business environment.

On becoming CIMA President, Keith Luck FCMA, CGMA said:

As the global economy recovers, the spotlight is on its shape and momentum, raising CIMA’s relevance in  boardrooms and classrooms across the world. I am honoured to be elected as President and I look forward to continue advancing our mission of helping people and businesses succeed. We will strive to further develop CIMA’s activities and strategies with our students, members and stakeholders.

He has served on the CIMA Council for over eight  years and has been an active CIMA speaker and ambassador throughout his career, notably as CIMA’s representative on IFAC’s Professional Accountant’s in Business (PAIB) committee from 2006 to 2012. Mr Luck  becomes the 81st President of CIMA. The position of President is a voluntary one and covers a one year term.

Mr Luck graduated in Geography from Cambridge University and lives in Wimbledon with his wife (also a management accountant ).

In addition to Mr Luck’s appointment, Myriam Madden FCMA, CGMA has been elected deputy president.

Sustainability Global AccountantAs we become increasingly aware of our reliance on natural resources, which are dangerously thin from the demands of a growing and more prosperous global population, businesses are facing a stark choice – adapt or fail.

A new report launched today by the CIMA, in collaboration with EY, IFAC and the Natural Capital Coalition, calls for finance professionals to take action and lead the change to prevent their organisations failing in today’s ever changing environment.

Accounting for Natural Capital:

The Elephant in the Boardroom highlights how, despite its importance, natural capital is largely ignored by investors as boardrooms continue to focus on short-term management decisions and priorities. The true cost to society from the impact of business activity on natural resources is not reflected in corporate accounts, a situation made all the more urgent by the fallacious assumption of infinite resources that currently underpin our economic and financial accounting.

Finance professionals, especially those in leadership roles, have a vital role in helping navigate their organisations through the challenges and opportunities which the depletion of our natural resources will create.

The report outlines the key steps professional accountants and others in financial leadership positions should help their companies to take in order to integrate natural capital considerations into decision making, resource allocation and reporting, and to adapt to growing competition for ever more scarce natural resources.

Organisations that respond swiftly, embracing opportunities to innovate and manage their risks, will thrive. Some of these companies that are taking a proactive approach, including Dow Chemical, Kingfisher and Coca Cola, are highlighted as examples in the report. Organisations that do nothing will suffer from rising input costs, risks to their supply chain and reputational damage.

Sandra RapacioliHead of Sustainability Research and Policy, CIMA, said:

CIMA_Logo Global AccountantNatural capital depletion will certainly become one of the most prominent business concerns in the 21st Century. However it is still an elephant in the boardroom as business leaders continue to focus on short-term pressures and treat natural resources as if they’re infinite.

Accounting for natural capital issues isn’t easy. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. We are calling on finance professionals to take action now and incorporate natural capital considerations into strategic planning and business decisions, before the regulatory axe falls. They have the skills and oversight to show the connections between natural capital, commercial opportunity and business risk, and ultimately, financial performance

Steve Lang, Partner in EY’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services, said:

Ernst & Young Global AccountantIn an increasingly resource-constrained world, it will become as important for an organisation to account for its natural capital dependencies and impacts as it is for its relationship with its financial capital. Natural capital is no longer an abstract issue but one which is reflected across a range of business priorities: in revenue growth through new opportunities; in margin management through rising input costs; in organisational reputation through risk management; and in operational and supply chain stabilisation and efficiency programmes. Accounting for natural capital goes to the very heart of how companies create value; our profession has a unique role to play in enabling businesses to manage value in this broader sense

Fayez Choudhury, CEO, IFAC, said:

IFAC_name_rgbSustainable economies depend on sustainable organisations. Accounting for natural capital must be something the accountancy profession increases its focus on to help organisations respond to the risk posed by climate change and environmental externalities that affect organisational, market, and societal sustainability. Accountants, many of whom are in leadership roles in their organisations, play a pivotal role in preparing their organisations to embed considerations of natural capital in their decision making

Dr. Dorothy Maxwell, Executive Director of the Natural Capital Coalition, said:

Many of the economic costs and benefits of sustainability impacts and dependencies have been largely invisible in business decisions to date. Valuing these externalities financially enables a more pragmatic understanding of the risks and opportunities they present to the business. The message this report sends is very clear:  that businesses that fail to adapt in a world of increasing sustainability pressures and scarce resources will lose competitiveness as the value of these resources is realised through tighter regulation, consumer choice and limited supply

The ways in which finance professionals can galvanise their organisations are set out below. For further tips, advice and case studies, the report is available at

  • Raise natural capital as a strategic issue and make the business case for it in the boardroom
  • Measure your natural capital inputs and impacts; value these where appropriate
  • Integrate natural capital into decision making
  • Engage in the debate around natural capital and business; contribute to the development of the Natural Capital Protocol
  • Develop skills for natural capital accounting in your teams

Staff Return Global AccountantBusinesses around the world seek enhanced competencies among their finance professionals to better address the challenges and opportunities of today’s complex business environment.  Based on extensive global research among employers and other stakeholders, the CIMA and the AICPA, two of the world’s largest accounting organisations, have identified a competency framework with 45 areas where employers such as IBM and Unilever expect proficiency.

The framework is comprised of four knowledge areas — technical, business, people and leadership — with competencies defined at four levels: foundational, intermediate, advanced and expert. It was developed through research that included a survey of nearly 3,400 members, students and educators; roundtable discussions in 13 countries; and in-person interviews with representatives from 67 organisations, including IBM, Unilever, Microsoft and Shell.

The CGMA Competency Framework was created to assist Chartered Global Management Accountants – including CFOs, controllers and treasurers – in identifying the broad skills employers expect from their finance professionals. The framework helps management accountants assess their current competency level and provides insight on steps they can take to expand their skills while meeting their commitment to lifelong learning.  It is publicly available to any employer or educator to benchmark their team’s capability, create job profiles or design curriculum.

Expected capabilities include risk management and internal controls, macroeconomic analysis, communication and negotiation along with strategic understanding in a global context. Technical financial competencies include financial accounting and reporting, management reporting and analysis, and risk management. The number of competencies and proficiency expected varies by functional area and level of seniority.

Charles Tilley FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive, CIMA, said:

CIMA_Logo Global AccountantWith the role of finance constantly developing it can be hard for employers to know the standard to expect of their management accountants. The CGMA Competency Framework is research-led and informed by those on the front line of business and it will show employers the new knowledge requirements and skills needed for both current and future management accountancy roles. In addition, it will help accountants to become more employable by guiding them through their professional development, as well as helping educators to better prepare students to become well-grounded management accountants.

The competency framework underpins the updated CIMA Syllabus that will be examined from January 2015, and underscores the commitment of both CIMA and the AICPA to meeting the needs of business. The organisations, through a global joint venture, created the CGMA designation in January 2012 so employers anywhere in the world can easily identify management accountants with the highest levels of technical knowledge, business acumen and ethical integrity.

In addition to helping organisations find and develop high quality talent, CIMA and the AICPA are also working to help improve the decision-making and forecasting processes that businesses use. They are developing a set of Global Management Accounting Principles that will provide businesses with the first set of globally applicable management accounting best practices to more effectively manage the complexity that defines modern business.

Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, president and CEO of the AICPA said:

Today’s CEOs need a partner at the helm – a co-pilot to help steer clear of obstacles and toward opportunities

They are turning to their management accountants to provide this guidance, to pull insight from information and connect it to operations in new ways to position their businesses for long-term, sustainable success. The CGMA Competency Framework ensures management accountants’ skills remain aligned with the demands of an increasingly complex and constantly changing business environment.

29 April Group shotTwo key figures in the world of business were honoured last week (29 April) by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).  Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman, John Lewis Partnership and Jean-Marc Huët, CFO, Unilever were awarded Honorary Fellowships by CIMA in recognition of their contribution to the field of management accounting.

Malcolm Furber, FCMA, CGMA, and President of CIMA, who presented the awards at the event at the Barbican, said:

It is with great pleasure that we at CIMA are have awarded both Sir Charles Mayfield and Jean Marc Huët with Honorary Fellowships.  Their contribution to the field of management accounting is immense, and they set the goal high for CIMA members across the world with their achievements in their exemplary careers.

Sir Charlie Mayfield receiving fellowship

Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman, John Lewis said:

I am honoured and delighted to receive this Fellowship. CIMA is integral in helping people and businesses to succeed in careers and competitiveness and in ensuring the sustainability of business success

CIMA bestows honorary CIMA fellowships according to a very strict criteria and the numbers who are granted this status is limited to just 20.  So the occasion was a great honour.

At the event guests heard Charles Tilley, FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive of CIMA speak on the ‘Role of the CFO on the Modern Board’ and a dynamic panel discussion was then held.

The role of the chief financial officer (CFO) on the board of directors has developed significantly in the years following the 2008 financial crisis. No longer just the financial gatekeeper, the modern CFO must have a strategic outlook and be able to look beyond the financials.

Charles Tilley said:

There is no doubt that the role of the modern board has become more challenging.  Not only have boards come under greater scrutiny following the global financial crisis, but they are faced with greater complexity and uncertainty.  Company leaders highlight the impact of the digital world as an equally turbulent factor as the difficult economic conditions.  The explosion of data is raising a host of governance questions around the ownership and responsible use of data and there is the disruptive impact of new technology.

Through its work with company leaders CIMA understands that investors and other stakeholders are expecting more from organisations and the boards that oversee them.  They are calling for greater transparency about the overall performance of the business and how it achieves this.

Charles Tilley concluded:

Those who govern companies need to work hard to achieve and retain trust.  It is no longer enough for boards to just tick the corporate governance boxes, but instead a complete company oversight is required and they need to demonstrate rigorous ethical behaviour, setting the right reputational tone from the top.

In light of this, CIMA, is currently are investigating how a better understanding of the business model can help boards govern effectively.  The business model that provides a basis for this has an emphasis on value creation, considering risks and opportunities within the context of the external environment.

At the heart of this is the CFO who is the guardian of the integrity and rigour of all management information, both financial and non-financial, from inside and outside the organisations, across different time frames. The CFO in today’s world needs to influence better decisions by communicating insight that meets the board’s needs and is simple and transparent.

Value World CIMA Global AccountantCIMA and RSA call on wisdom of the crowd to help develop a common framework for measuring the contribution people make to business outcomes

CIMA and RSA (The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce) are calling on finance professionals across the country to contribute their expertise and experience to the development and application of a practical framework to help businesses better understand the value and risk people bring to their organisations.
By signing up to the Valuing Your Talent Challenge, finance experts can join professionals from the HR and management disciplines in developing and refining a human capital framework for measuring the full extent of the value created and risk generated by the nature and composition of their workforces and organisational structures. In later stages of the Challenge, they will be tasked with finding ways of making the framework easy to apply in practice, so that it can ultimately help businesses improve workforce skills and productivity and, in turn, organisational outcomes and performance.
The Valuing Your Talent (VYT) initiative, first launched in November 2013, is a collaboration between the UKCES, CIPD, CIMA, CMI, RSA and Lancaster University. Since November the project team has been drawing together a wide base of research, knowledge and practical experience in how best to understand and measure human capital. By identifying the organisational enablers and barriers that affect enterprise performance, the team has created a common framework for valuing human capital.
The Valuing Your Talent Challenge provides the opportunity to have a widespread debate and gain feedback from all those who have an interest in the measurement and understanding of people and organisational structures – particularly those who will ultimately have responsibility for implementing the framework in their organisations. Facilitated by the RSA as part of its RSA Premiums series, the Challengewill run on an open and free-to-access social media platform over a period of 3 months, beginning on 10 March 2014.
The first phase, lasting to 31 March, will allow anyone with an interest in this work to sign up and share their feedback on the framework, their insights into the opportunities and challenges of valuing human capital, and any case studies of how they have successfully reflected the value of their people.
At the end of this phase, the VYT partners will summarise the insights and update the framework accordingly. The Challenge will then move into an Open Innovation phase, from early April until mid May, where participants can suggest innovative and practical ways to apply the framework – for example through new methods, tools, technologies or resources – so that it is useful for businesses and other organisations. There will be a pot of £10,000 in prize money up for grabs for the best ideas.
All the insights and innovations generated by the Challenge will feed directly in to the final framework and research report to be published in the summer. The framework will be free and open to all, designed to encourage shared thinking and the development of more consistent practices across all sectors, for organisations large and small.

Charles Tilley FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive, CIMA, said: 

Charles Tilley, Chief Executive CIMA

Charles Tilley, Chief Executive CIMA

Measurement and analysis of talent continue to be a weakness for many organisations. Employees are the main source of competitive advantage, or disadvantage, and so all businesses need to be able to understand the value that their people create. They must be aware of whether their investment in talent is working.

It seems out of place that investors do not always have access to data about the ‘people power’ behind a company’s outcomes and financial achievements. You simply can’t realise the true value of an organisation without an effective means of accounting for its workforce. This is what we are looking to achieve through the Valuing your Talent initiative.

Julian Thompson, Director of Enterprise at the RSA, said: 

The big idea behind this Challenge is that the issue of human capital measurement and management is too important, too complex and too sensitive to local context, for any one group of specialists to develop or determine good approaches. HR practitioners, management consultants, academics, business leaders, accountants and employees obviously all have a key part to play. But arguably previous attempts have failed to catch on because models have been developed in isolation from each other, and/or on a closed, proprietary basis.
This experimental Challenge hopes to be the start of an ongoing open innovation community on the topic of better human capital valuation. Innovation is more likely when this community is diverse. That’s why we also want to invite creative ‘outsiders’ such as designers, developers, innovators and analysts from other disciplines to be part of the process.
But diverse collaboration is only possible when there is a shared foundation. The VYT framework provides a common focus for innovation around human capital value, but one that we expect to be continuously enriched and improved.
Peter Cheese, the Chief Executive of the CIPD, and Dr. Anthony Hesketh, lead researcher on the Valuing Your Talent project, will be discussing the principles of the framework at the CIPD’s HR Analytics Conference in London on 12 March 2014. To book your place, visit

Tanya Barman, Head of Ethics at CIMA, and her team have produced the below video to highlight the importance of ethics in our ever-changing business world. The video looks at the 2008 financial crises and beyond in addition to consequences of bad business behaviour.

Tanya Barman speaks to Global Accountant about ethics and business.

What is your responsibility at CIMA?

is responsible for CIMA’s ethics and responsible business programme for its members and students. Prior roles include responsible business, organisation development and international management positions in both commercial and non-profit organisations in UK, USA, South Africa and Asia.

What does ethics mean to you?

It is doing the right thing and acting with integrity. What does that mean?  A good test is would you feel uncomfortable if others knew your actions?  How would it look in the papers, or if someone you respected knew. Chances are if it doesn’t feel right – it’s not right.  Or, put another way, do you want to be a good example or a horrible warning?  Think of Enron – now most famous as an ethics case; a case study on how not to conduct business.

Is ethical behaviour good or bad for business? Why?

Performing and trading ethically in the long term is increasingly shown to be good for business.

You could make strong returns, and a lot of money, in the short term but it may not be based on a sound business model – there may be high risks, it could well breach best practice, regulation or be illegal.  Think of some of the big companies that disappeared virtually overnight.  There are certain actions that, if they were in the public domain, could ruin a business’ reputation and brand.  That’s “a road to ruin” – as  a recent report on risk management spells out (link)

What is your view on speculative wealth creation as a an ethical issue?

There is an ongoing debate about speculation and its effect on the markets and overall global economy.  In essence, speculation is transactions made with the sole purpose of making a profit from changes in price (which could go up or down).  Some may argue this is gambling.  Others dispute that.

Recently speculation has been in the spotlight in relation to energy prices, the property bubble, currency fluctuation  and in relation to food prices.  Critically, it is argued that money can be made by the speculators (the individuals, firms and funds)  but unrelated parties can lose out, with potentially high political-economic costs.  It is this that makes it an area of ethical concern and debate.  At present speculation on food prices is a focus area.  Prior to the G20 meeting last year 450 prominent global economists signed a letter raising this, asserting “With around 1 billion people enduring chronic hunger worldwide, action is urgently needed to curb excessive speculation and its effects on global food prices”.   There is still no resolution on the issue.

What should be of concern is that the value of the global derivatives market is currently estimated to be at a staggering $1.4 quadrillion. That’s 16 zeros or a thousand million million. No one is quite sure what that means.

With the ever growing competition, companies are under pressure to find the lowest-cost providers and typically are free to look globally to find them. How does this effect those who are doing business in countries which do not share the same ethical values as others or simply local customs are considered illegal in the UK? How can businesses manage this risk?

It is true that there is not a level playing field in relation to business conduct globally.  But increasingly there is debate, and importantly regulation and legislation, around these issues, and some of it, such as the UK Bribery Act and US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, can have global reach.  In relation to the FCPA, some global firms are paying fines in the $US billions for ethical transgressions.

In research for an upcoming report, we have found that in some of the rapidly emerging markets, the adoption of codes and systems to address ethical concerns in organisations we surveyed are at a high of  80%. This is a good sign.  However, having the policies in place has often overtaken corporate cultural change.  In a more global business environment, many multinational organisations are facing greater pressure to adopt more stringent ethical practices, not least from the investors.  However, these may conflict with the local practices and challenges faced in particular countries. Globally we have seen public dissent against corporate and government misdemeanors.  Collective action on the ground can help counter unethical practice and this is growing.  United Nations Global Compact local chapters can be worth joining to better understand what other firms are doing. The Institute of Business Ethics also has guidelines on company codes and practice.

Do financial markets care about ethics?

There are a growing number of global investors who do care. They believe that progressive companies understand that long-term value is enhanced by embedding long-term sustainability considerations into their business strategy and the value of disclosure to investors.  This will help capital to be allocated to more sustainable, responsible companies and strengthen the long term sustainability of financial system.  Signatories to the United National Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) are increasing every year and they are exploring the issues around the short term nature of the market.   Click here to go to the Sensible Stock Exchange website.

Can management accountants help businesses make ethical decisions? How?

Global management accountants can be highly effective in playing what CIMA believe is a key role in supporting ethical business, not least with the growing importance of integrated reporting Drawing on both their training and understanding of professional ethics, as well as their skills in obtaining, analysing and acting upon management information, they are equipped to guide their organisations to long-term sustainability and success.

Does CIMA have an ethical policy that its members and trainees can refer to in a situation of need for guidance? Where can they find this?

CIMA members and students are required to comply with the CIMA code of ethics and to adopt the fundamental principles to their working lives. If they don’t comply they can lose their professional standing.  CIMA has a range of resources, reports, blogs, case studies and videos  to assist them, including our new animation outlining the code. Click here to go to the CIMA Ethics website.


CIMA and the AICPA have proposed a comprehensive framework to bring consistency to management accounting practices around the world and help organisations to make smarter, faster decisions for the long-term amidst growing complexity and change.

The draft framework, entitled ‘Global Management Accounting Principles: Driving better business through improved performance’, is now out for consultation with feedback sought from businesses and institutions across the world – public and private, small and large.

Charles Tilley FCMA, CGMA, Chief Executive of CIMA, said:

Charles Tilley, Chief Executive CIMA

Charles Tilley, Chief Executive CIMA

Over the last few years, we have all seen how globalisation and the break-neck pace of technological progress are making change harder to predict and organisations more vulnerable.

We may now be seeing encouraging signs in the global economy, but we cannot afford to be complacent. We must learn the lessons of the last six years. On its own, financial reporting, with its focus on past activity, is not enough. To be confident of a successful future over the long-term, organisations must adopt a robust management accounting system that encompasses their financial reporting. This in turn will provide investors, customers and the general public with a greater confidence.

Management accountants have the ability and judgement to make objective, ethical decisions that consider the public interest. But the quality of management accounting remains varied. Our Principles will enable organisations to leverage both financial and, importantly, non-financial data. They will provide the forward-looking focus and link different parts of an organisation in a way that many still lack.

The draft Principles outline the values and qualities that represent best practice management accounting on a global scale. They include guidance on preparing relevant information, modelling value creation, communicating with impact and establishing the professional values of management accountants. The framework will include a diagnostic tool which will help businesses and institutions to ensure that they are making the most efficient use of key information.

Charles Tilley continued:

We are asking businesses and other relevant organisations across the globe to tell us how our draft framework can best meet their fast-changing needs. By working together, we can contribute to a comprehensive system fit for our era of uncertainty that will, put simply, make business better.

World Global AccountantThe consultation will reach across CIMA and the AICPA’s network of 177 countries. The two institutes joined forces to launch the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation in 2012 and are working together to highlight the importance of management accounting in today’s economic climate. A series of national and international events is planned, including local employer round-tables and meetings with leading business thinkers from all sectors and all geographies.

The consultation will close on 10 May 2014. To learn more and respond to the consultation, please visit:

The draft Principles have already attracted considerable support from within the business community.

Douglas Flint, Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings, said:

In my view, management accounting is a critical aspect of the finance function because it informs the board, investors and management why the numbers are what they are, not just what the numbers are. So I believe that the introduction of a set of global management accounting principles will be very welcome to businesses around the world, and I would urge businesses to input into this important consultation

Paul Druckman, CEO of the International Integrated Reporting Council, said:

Great management accounting has long been a critical part of helping businesses and organisations deal with an ever-widening set of challenges. With a focus on value creation and relevance of information, there is synergy between the Global Management Accounting Principles and Integrated Reporting. We should all support this plan to put in place a consistent global management accounting framework, which will help more and more organisations deliver value over the long-term.

Commence from the industry:

Steve Marshall, Chairman, Balfour Beatty, said:

The reality is that until now there hasn’t been high quality guidance about how management accountants should support and assist their companies in how they look at their value model, but that will change with the introduction of these new guidelines.”

Shannon Anderson, Professor of Management at the University of California, said:

CIMA and AICPA have taken an important step in developing a framework that highlights the centrality of management accounting and governance practices to value creation. We see that management accounting is not simply a collection of tools or practices, but a continual process of articulating, executing, and evaluating the strategy and business model for delivering value.