How to become an accountant – part 2
Skills and competencies
As well as the necessary qualifications, there are skills and competencies which you must learn in order to succeed in the accounting industry. Practical experience is just as important as theoretical knowledge, so the more work experience you can acquire, the better. Anyone hiring an accountant will be on the lookout for the following:
With the industry constantly undergoing changes, it's important that you'are able to keep on the top of these. Following the latest news and trends is vital, and you may be expected to make predictions relating to where the industry is headed.
As an accountant you will most likely communicate with a variety of colleagues and clients on a daily basis. This may be via telephone, email, face-to-face meetings or presentations. Accounting knowledge is specialist, so it's the role of the accountant to present information in an appropriate and understandable manner.
Time management skills teamed with an organised mind will help you successfully manage you workload. It is vital that accountants use their time efficiently in order to maximise productivity. You will need the ability to juggle tasks and prioritise effectively to ensure you are able to meet deadlines.
Honestly and integrity are highly valued in the accounting world. Accountants pride themselves on their ability to adhere to strict athical standartds - one of the reasons so many pepole place their trust in them. As an accountant, you must be transparent in your decision making, and able to explain anything when requested to do so by your employers or clients.
Career trends and opportunities
Achieving qualified accountant status is a monumental step towards a successful, long-term career in accounting. As the demand for accountants continues to grow, the number of employers looking to hire graduates into part-qualified positions also increases.
Accountants are able to choose a career in a wide range of sectors, within all types and sizes of organisation. According to the Robert Walters Guide to Pay and Bonus Expectations for Accounting Professionals, half of accountants state career progression as their main reason for change in employment.
The three main areas of work for accountants are:
- Public practice
- Public sector
- Industry and commerce
The survey results
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Here are the most popular accounting roles as of 2015:
Auditing is one of the most common areas of entry for accounting graduates. Once settled within a company an audit trainee will be responsible for checking financial statements, reviewing financial systems and performing risk analysis.
To become an audit trainee you will have to take an additional qualification once you have joined a graduate scheme with an accountancy firm. The AGR Graduate Recruitment Survey reported the average starting salary for this role as £29,000.
A corporate or financial adviser is involved in company mergers, acquisitions and changes in ownership. Their responsibilities include raising capital, managing buy-ins and buy-outs, and raising and restricting debt.
Qualified financial advisers have the potential to earn between £30,000 and £45,000. Senior financial advisers can earn in the region of £60,000.
A financial analyst carries out research into macroeconomics and microeconomics amongst other things. They also collect operational data, identify financial status and guide cost analysis, as well as improving financial position by monitoring variances and spotting trends.
The starting salary is around £22,000 and can rise to £60,000 once four or more years of experience has been accumulated. Consultant financial analysts can earn £300 or more a day.
Forensic accountants are hired by public practice accountancy firms, insurance companies, banks, police forces and government agencies. They conduct investigations into fraud and other instances of financial misrepresentation. They are responsible for writing reports, reading witness statements and appearing as expert witnesses in court cases.
The average salary for a forensic accountant is just over £44,000.
This varied role combines accounting, finance and management, and may include formulating business strategies, monitoring spending, conducting business audits, and explaining the financial impact of business decisions to others.
Experienced management accountants usually earn between £32,000 and £50,000 a year.
Financial managers are responsible for offering financial advice and support to clients and colleagues, empowering them to make the best business decisions possible. Day to day, financial managers provide and interpret financial information, monitor cash flow, analyse financial change, formulate business plans and analyse market competitors.
The average salary for a finance manager is around £37,000 per year.
A finance business partner’s main priority is driving a business forward. They act as the main point of contact within any finance team, working in close proximity to senior management to increase business performance. They also implement key performance metrics to drive profitability and revenue for the company.
The national average salary for an FBP is around £41,000, and £45,000 in the City of London.
Many people choose the accounting career path because it is perceived as a financially sound option. According to PayScale, an accountant earns on average £28,175 a year. For detailed information on average salaries for specific accounting roles, please see above. For location-based statistics on accounting salaries, please see below.