Speaking at last week’s CIMA global management week, Cadbury Schweppes CFO David Kappler told delegates that ‘business partner’ better describes the role of accountants in today’s business environment.
The trouble with the word ‘accountant’, he said, is its ‘Dickensian’ connotations, which do not reflect today’s reality.
Many of the technical functions of accountants, Kappler said, could now be performed by technology, and accountants now need to learn to bridge the gap between strategy and the reality of the business plan.
‘Business partners, he went on, would require new commercial skills and first rate people skills on top of their financial expertise.
The changing role of the accountant could also lead to people outside accounting taking roles within finance departments, according to Kappler. He said accountants faced competition from MBA graduates and others with a good, well-rounded business training.
Kappler said the reinvention of the finance function to justify the role of finances at the heart of business strategy was both a challenge and an opportunity.
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