5 November 2015

Career focus: work as a chartered accountant

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There’s more to being a chartered accountant than having a fancy job title.

Accountants keep a close eye on the accounting and financial aspects of business operations, including outgoing payments, bookkeeping, orders and employees’ salaries.

The ‘chartered’ part refers to the qualifications you have to earn to become a member of a professional accountancy body.

Almost every organisation worldwide will need for services offered by accountants to keep their cash flow in check.

Chartered accountancy roles for graduates

It’s a role that’s integral to the business world and will always need top-notch graduates to step in and keep the sector strong.

Accounting & finance offered the greatest number of graduate work opportunities of any sector in 2013.

Furthermore, two of the accountancy industry’s biggest players, PwC and Deloitte, are taking on 1,200 and 1,000 graduates respectively in 2014.

Chartered accountants have a lot more on their plate than just crunching numbers – they also become involved in financial strategy and advise clients.

How do you become a chartered accountant?

There are several different bodies you can join, like ICAEW, ACCA and CIMA. Passing their accountancy exams will show you are qualified to work at the peak of the industry.

This will give you the edge over your competition in the job market and pave the way for you to have an amazing career, as it’s a globally-recognised qualification.

The industry isn’t always praised for being glamorous, but there are many reasons why becoming a chartered accountant is something you should consider.

Working in accountancy will allow you to build up your commercial knowledge, as you’ll get a taste for how businesses function, thrive and deal with challenges.

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Your career prospects in accounting

On average graduates can expect to pull in a starting salary of £23,000, which could hit £40,000 after just five years.

Whether you’re part of a company’s in-house accountancy department or a professional services organisation that works with clients, you’ll be able to take a broad view of businesses as a whole and open your mind commercially.

This will hand you a huge advantage when progressing your career, even if you choose to change tracks to another profession because you’ll have acute commercial acumen and an understanding of how you can help a company grow.

As all organisations need their finances to be managed effectively, there are opportunities to work for a company in an industry that interests you, be it fashion, FMCG or banking.

Graduated: The world is your oyster

What to expect from accounting work experience

It goes without saying that much of your time will be spent working with numbers, data and spreadsheets, so it helps if you have a knack for analysis and a passion for statistics.

Accounting and finance internships and placements will allow you to push yourself and tackle real-world challenges, while an insight scheme can offer you a taste of what the accounting & finance sector is like to work in.

For example, you could be tasked with auditing and offering advice to some of the country’s largest private or public sector businesses.

And what’s expected from you?

Remember, you’re not just there to keep someone’s seat warm; you’ll be treated as a trainee accountant and expected to use work experience to help the company deliver on clients’ expectations and develop as an individual.

Chartered accountancy is about more than just playing with spreadsheets – it’s also about using data to inform decisions.

To be successful in this world you need to marry analytical ability with teamwork skills, as you’ll be required to put forward your argument about business decisions and justify your opinion, even if it’s challenged.

Trainee accountant learning on the job