Survey: Senior-Level Accountants Will Spend 40 Percent of Their Time on Strategy, Other Nontraditional Functions Five Years From Now

 MENLO PARK, CA -- The role of the accountant in business operations continues to expand, a new survey confirms. Chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said they expect issues outside of traditional accounting functions to occupy 40 percent of a senior-level accountant’s time five years from now (up from 36 percent currently). More than one-quarter (26 percent) of respondents said these issues would require as much as 50 percent of a senior-level accountant’s time in the coming years.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world’s premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, “Five years from now, what percentage of a senior-level accountant’s time do you expect will be focused on performing less traditional accounting functions, such as offering strategic advice or providing input on information technology projects?” Their responses:


10% or less   15%
11 – 20%   11%
21 – 30%   16%
31 – 50%   26%
51 – 75%   12%
76 – 100%   8%
Don't know/refused      11%
Mean   40%

(Percentages do not total 100% due to rounding.)


Respondents also were asked what percentage of a senior-level accountant’s time is now focused on performing less traditional accounting functions. The mean response was 36 percent.

“In today’s economy, the increased focus on cost savings and liquidity has accentuated the importance of the finance function, and senior-level accounting and finance managers are being asked to step into leadership roles,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “Accountants will always be required to maintain stringent oversight of financial reporting, but in the coming years, an increasing amount of their time will be devoted to providing strategic insight that helps support company initiatives.”

McDonald added, “As financial careers have evolved beyond the reconciliation of numbers, accounting professionals must be adept at communicating with a diverse group of people, have an acute knowledge of their company’s business systems and make sound recommendations on technology-related investments.”

Robert Half Management Resources has more than 145 offices worldwide, and offers online job search services at




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