The role of accountants within companies has been changing rapidly in recent decades. Once employed to simply report numbers, management accountants are now called upon to interpret those numbers and provide recommendations and guidance to other executives. In this expanded role, successful management accountants need excellent communication skills to be able to serve as business advisers. As future CFOs, current management accountants need to be prepared for the highest level of responsibility. This chapter will discuss the evolving nature of current and future CFO roles and responsibilities as well as barriers to effectively communicating complex data.


Jim Morrison, now the CFO of Teknor Apex Co., a diversified material science company headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, remembers a time earlier in his career when he worked in the accounting department of Monsanto. A financial analyst, he was in a different location than the business manager he was supporting. It was not an efficient work arrangement, and after he was promoted to manager of financial analysis, he asked for and received approval to move from accounting to business operations. (See interview 1 in appendix A for Morrison’s thoughts on how to communicate effectively.)

Morrison’s original inefficient work arrangement was not an uncommon one. At many companies, management accountants were separate from line managers, and corporate ...

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