New research could result in the end of a separate finance function within organisations

The traditional career of a finance officer is facing a major shake up, according to the profession’s management and accounting body.

The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) is teaming up with the University of Bath to research best practice into the development of finance professionals over the next five years, which it claims could see the end of a separate finance function within organisations.

Phillip Cooper, director at the University of Bath School of Management, said accountants could work with individual departments like HR or IT rather than in a separate finance function, and some roles could progress into more strategic roles, such as business partnering.

“We are looking at a transformation of the finance function a radical change. The finance professional is starting to move from the backroom bean counter to business partner – but there is still a lot of work to do.”

He added: “If this business partnering concept is really the way forward then maybe there shouldn’t be a finance function – so accountants are not physically located together but dispersed, working in different teams.”

CIMA will put a “seven figure sum” into researching finance careers during this project, according to Robert Jelly, director of education at CIMA.

He told Personnel Today the heavy investment was partly stirred by the government’s Leitch Review of Skills, which warned the UK has to shape up its workforce.

“We want to connect with Leitch and other reports on the future of the finance sector. This is about life-long learning not just getting students to pass exams in accounting.”

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