Accountant Guide

Accountancy is a field full of opportunities and growth, but like any other job pursuit, there’s plenty to learn on the way up the ladder. Whether you’re considering a range of career options, have just decided to pursue work as an accountant, or already have a degree, it’s wise to arm yourself with a few critical pieces of information about the job.

The Basics

These days, university qualifications are considered an essential starting point for many professions, accounting included. Almost three in five accountants have a bachelor’s degree, and having a skill greatly improves your chances of scoring an entry-level position. Once you have obtained a degree, you’ll be in a position to take on a further study which could open doors to management positions, and you can even complete the study online.

Hard Skills

There’s no escaping the fact that accounting is a mathematical profession, best suited to those who love crunching numbers and solving problems. Without these essential elements to your character, you’ll be in danger of finding the job overly tricky or uninteresting. Economics also plays a role in the job of an accountant, since the advice you offer to your clients should also consider external factors such as market competitors and social, legal, or technological changes. Accountants should also be comfortable working with technology since many of the role’s critical tasks require the use of specialized computer software, of which there are a number of options available.

…and Soft Skills

While numbers are significant, accounting is about more than punching data into Excel spreadsheets. Many accountants spend their days in customer-facing situations, which makes your customer service approach paramount to success. Skills in analysis and communication are also very important since you’ll be needing to analyze data samples and convert the information into useful insights that your customers can easily understand and apply.

Your Options

There are many factors to consider when getting into accountancy and the work you do will depend largely on your area of expertise. While there is a range of options, your job is likely to fall under one of three categories: financial, cost, and management accounting. The area you choose will also determine the clientele you face on a regular basis and the types of issues in question. If you like the idea of playing fortune teller and advising clients on likely future financial outcomes, a management pathway may be the way to go. In contrast, financial accountants typically deal with shareholders analyzing the past trajectory of their portfolios. Tax-specific accountancy is another popular option since there will always be a stream of businesses and individuals needing assistance with forms around the end of the financial year.

The Language of Your Field

As an essential component to almost any efficient business operation, accounting is an occupation with scope, and it will be your job to learn the language of whichever field you go into. Doing some research into your field of choice can’t hurt, but your ability to listen and ask intelligent questions will be the key ingredient to your success. By taking the time to understand what is essential to clients in your field, you can make yourself an invaluable resource.

The Market

At its most basic level, accounting is about the flow of money, so it’s only natural that you should have an awareness of how money is flowing around the world, and more specifically, through your clients’ businesses or homes. In order to deliver comprehensive advice, you’ll need an understanding of how the market works, and how it fluctuates according to the ebb and flow of economic, social, and political factors. At the very least, you should commit to keeping up to date on the latest financial news and legislations.

The Law

Given that accountants can often be found dealing with large sums of money on behalf of clients, there must be laws and regulatory bodies in place to prevent any wrongful action. Often, seemingly innocent actions like altering or destroying an accounting document could be ruled against the law, depending on the information contained and the client involved. You’ll need to know what can and can’t be done under the law, so that you can advise clients in a way that keeps everyone involved out of trouble (and in the black).

Your Clients

If you want to be successful as an accountant, one of the most important things you can do is to get across each of your clients’ unique financial positions, challenges, and opportunities. Similar to keeping an eye on the financial market, staying tuned in to your clients’ portfolios will help you to offer tailored advice and cement yourself in their minds as a trustworthy advisor.

There’s no doubt that the field of accounting is full of opportunity – the question is whether the opportunities available are well-suited to your experience and personality. If you consider yourself to be a good fit for an accounting position, there has never been a better time to try it out.