A career that counts

Do you have a good head for numbers? Accountancy might just be the career for you. Chartered accountants offer financial advice, audit accounts and provide trusted information about financial records. This might involve anything from financial reporting, taxation, auditing, forensic accounting, corporate finance to business recovery and insolvency.

You’ll find accountants working in many different settings including public practice firms and industry and commerce, as well as in the not-for-profit and public sectors. In public practice firms, chartered accountants provide professional services to fee-paying clients who might be private individuals or large commercial or public sector organisations. In commerce, industry and the not-for-profit and public sectors, they may work in treasury management, procurement, financial management or in reporting roles. To be able to work with money, you will need to have a CRB Check. For more information, visit http://www.carecheck.co.uk/

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Areas of finance work that an accountant might work in include:

  • Providing financial advice
  • continuous management of financial systems and budgets;
  • undertaking financial audits
  • liaising with clients and providing financial information and advice
  • reviewing the company’s systems and analysing risk
  • advising clients on tax planning and tax issues associated with activities such as business acquisitions and mergers
  • maintaining accounting records and preparing accounts and management information for small businesses
  • counselling clients on areas of business improvement, or dealing with insolvency
  • detecting and preventing fraud

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In not-for-profit sectors, work involves:

  • liaising with auditors and dealing with any financial irregularities
  • producing reports and recommendations following internal audits or public-sector audits
  • preparing financial statements, including monthly and annual accounts
  • arranging financial management reports, including financial planning and forecasting
  • advising on tax and treasury issues
  • negotiating terms with suppliers

Getting into accountancy is open to graduates of any subject, not just maths and a Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business may also be a useful stage between a degree and gaining a training contract.

There is tough competition to enter the profession and the selection process is very thorough. You will need to demonstrate that you have the following attributes:

  • an interest in general business
  • self-motivation and commitment
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • organisation and time management skills
  • a thorough approach
  • proficient in IT
  • strong numeracy, analytical and problem-solving skills
  • leadership qualities and effective teamworking
  • motivation
  • trustworthiness.

Chartered accountants can work in any sector and in any size of organisation but the majority of opportunities are in the public practice. Public practice includes businesses like international accounting organisations or small accountancy firms. Industry and commerce accountancy includes major commercial companies like retail, telecoms and manufacturing. Public sector organisations include central and local government, charities, not-for-profit and educational facilities.

Once you have amassed all the knowledge and experience, there is no reason not to reach for the very top of the industry and compete for management and accountancy positions in many different sectors. Many accountants might decide to start their own consultancy business, so if you like the sound of becoming your own boss, there’s nothing stopping you from establishing your own accountancy practice to provide financial services to corporate clients, and enjoy the freedom and financial benefits that come with it.