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A simple definition of management accounting


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When some one asks me for a simple definition of management accounting, I typically say “the provision of decision-making information to managers”. This in my view covers all aspects of what a management accountant typically does, be it the provision of financial or non-financial information, short or long term view etc. Of course, some management accountants are also decision-makers, for example when they occupy a CFO role in a large company for example.

I don’t know if I should be surprised or not, but I read an old article from the Irish Times of 22 January, 1971 (by C Power) – a few years (but not many) before my time. The article was giving career advice to budding accountants of that time. I quote:

” A more specialist sector, however, is the cost accountancy field. This is a key area – indeed cost accountants are often referred to as management accountants because of their function of providing accounting information to aid management decisions

The bit is bold is above is not that dissimilar from my simple definition I guess, with the exception being the maybe narrower word “accounting” as part of the definition. I do like simple definitions, as they often do stand the test of time.

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About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

One response to “A simple definition of management accounting”

  1. Jordan says :

    Great points here. I think you definitely hit the nail on the head here, as a clear definition of what management accounting entails! Thanks for sharing your insight.

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