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CPAs in public accounting are not the only ones who need new survival skills to survive in the next century, according to Project Millennium, a study from the Institute of Management Accountants.

A new model for corporate management accounting and financial management is causing most businesses to rethink recruiting programs and many executives to seek retraining. The IMA sees this shift creating career paths unimaginable just a few years ago and warns that corporate accountants need to dramatically change they way they perceive their role or they could find themselves extinct relics of the past.

Project Millennium sought to determine how the management accounting and financial management functions will change over the next 10 years. The IMA held a series of personal interviews and 16 focus groups with more than 150 executives in eight cities, including CFOs, controllers and other senior executives, both IMA members and nonmembers. In addition, the study included interviews with leading experts in business management, software development, management accounting, and financial management.

According to the study, technology has completely revolutionized the role and contributions of management accountants and financial managers within the corporation. Since computers, not people, now are the primary data compilers and information can be reported in real time, management accountants and financial managers are now expected to interpret the data in terms of its implications for the future as opposed to the more traditional historical perspective. The conclusion is that only financial executives with the right skill sets will be sought after to help their companies reduce risk, seize opportunities and increase valuation.

Here are the key findings of Project Millennium:

* While the number of lower-level jobs will be greatly reduced, those who pursue a career in management accounting and financial management will find more diverse, interesting career paths in other areas such as strategic planning or research and development, and will have far more senior positions within the organization.

* Management accountants and financial managers will be sought after as internal consultants and play a central role on cross-functional work teams, focusing on such diverse areas as product development, sales, marketing, and strategic planning.

* A key function for management accountants and financial managers will be to develop and present "predictive data," forecasting demand, production, sales, costs, and earnings.

* Management will expect faster reporting of more data with far more detail, and management accountants and financial managers will play a growing role in evaluating and integrating sophisticated technology systems to meet that information demand.

* Management accountants and financial managers will be expected to demonstrate leadership, and senior executives will look to them to develop and present actionable recommendations.

* Management accountants and financial managers will need supplemental professional training throughout their careers and an overall understanding of business beyond just accounting and finance, including strong capabilities in technology and written and oral communication.

Copies of the report and professor and student information kits are available by calling (888) 800-3959. *

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

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