What is a commercial accountant and what do they do?

A commercial accountant is responsible for the efficient running of the commercial elements of an organisation’s finance function. Definitions for the role vary, but usually include aspects of a traditional finance function that are associated directly with profitability and liquidity in a business

The commercial accountant role evolved out of more traditional accountancy positions to provide financial best practice around areas such as credit control, billings, payroll and commission calculations, pricing and valuations. In addition, commercial accountants provide leadership with insight to support strategic business planning, budgeting & forecasting activities.

Key responsibilities

A strong commercial accountant will be involved in:

  • ensuring contract tenders are financially and commercially robust
  • working proactively with senior leadership to complete thorough financial reviews of commercial contracts
  • reporting and controlling the working capital cycle
  • managing revenue forecasting and budget process
  • calculating pricing, valuation, rewards and incentives
  • preparing management information for both strategic and operational purposes including strategic financial planning, financial governance and budget monitoring
  • commentating on the P&L performance to the senior heads of finance
  • monitoring and developing financial processes to ensure the business finances are well controlled.

Why are they important?

Commercial accountants will often have an active role in strategic and commercial decision-making. The role is highly analytical and commercial accountants are responsible for supporting management through providing high-quality analysis, information and forecasting to enable informed decision-making that will have a direct impact on the financial performance of a business

Skills needed for this role

Commercial accountants are business focused, highly analytical and aware of the commercial and risk environment in which their organisation operates. In addition to traditional accounting strengths, strong commercial awareness and the ability to challenge stakeholders are highly desirable qualities.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

Advanced Financial Management

Advanced Performance Management

Advanced Audit and Assurance

Career opportunities presented by this role

There are many opportunities at the newly qualified level. Additionally, the focus on key business drivers and challenges associated with this commercial role may equip finance professionals well for a move into more senior executive level positions outside of the core finance function.

Competencies

High level competencies required include:

  • Audit and assurance

    A. Advises on and communicates effectively the role and scope of audit and assurance engagements to relevant stakeholders.

    B. Applies regulatory, legal, professional and ethical standards relating to audit and assurance engagements.

    C. Plans and prepares for audit and assurance engagements.

    D. Performs effective audit, and assurance engagements.

    E. Reviews and reports on the findings of audit and assurance engagements.

    F. Guiding efficient and effective operations.

     

  • Corporate and business reporting

    A. Prepares financial statements, corporate financial and integrated reports for external stakeholders using appropriate technology.

    B. Leads effective decision making through analysing, evaluating and communicating performance and position of entities.

    C. Prepares financial statements for groups of entities using appropriate technologies.

    D. Monitors, critically evaluates, and advises on the relevant accounting standards, regulations, conceptual and financial reporting frameworks.

     

  • Data, digital and technology

    A. Identifies strategic options to add value, using data and technology.

    B. Analyses and evaluates data using appropriate technologies and tools.

    C. Applies technologies to visualise data clearly and effectively.

    D. Applies scepticism and ethical judgement to the use of data and data technology.

     

  • Financial management

    A. Links developments in global trade, markets, business practices and the economic environment to required improvements in the financial and risk management of an organisation.

    B. Advises on business asset valuations, capital projects and investments using appropriate analytical qualitative and quantitative techniques.

    C. Identifies, evaluates and advises on alternative sources of business finance and different ways of raising finance.

    D. Communicates and advises on the impact on financial decision making on current developments in regulation, governance and ethics.

    E. Assesses and advises on appropriate strategies to manage business and organisational performance regarding business and finance risk and effectively communicates the impact.

  • Management accounting

    A. Applies development and performance management, in the wider business and technological environment, within the context of strategic planning and implementation.

    B. Directs organisational performance through the selection and measurement of financial and non-financial performance indicators.

    C. Collaborates on the key tactical and organisational areas of budgeting and control, capital investments, people and resource management.

    D. Consults on the design and use of current and emerging technology and information systems to improve strategic decision-making and organisational performance.

  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A - Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B - Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C - Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D - Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E - Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.