The accounting sector is involved in most if not all industries in the world. As a Certified Public Accountant or Chartered Accountant, your accounting degree may get you a job in almost any area you wish.
Employers include banks, universities and college institutions, non-profit organisations, corporate or management accounting firms or FTSE 100 companies.
If you become an accountant, your diploma and accreditation will be the only limit to your accounting career. You could decide to specialise and learn to be a forensic accountant, business accounting or financial accounting, in which case some industries will be more interested by your CV than others.
With an average UK salary between £45,000 and £64,000 a year, accountants earn two to three time the national average salary but to reach this kind of salary it is most likely that you will need to hold a degree in accounting and have a few years of experience under your belt.
To get there, you will have to follow accounting courses and get your accounting certification. Even though you do not need a bachelor or undergraduate diploma to start your accounting training, in most cases you will need some GCSEs and A-levels.
In three to four years and after your last exams passed, you could become a chartered accountant or a certified management accountant, and get into accounting and business.
Let’s take a look at the potential employers that could hire and start your career in accounting.
“Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.”
-Warren Buffett, American business magnate, investor, speaker and philanthropist
In the accounting world, the Big Four is the nickname the four biggest accounting firms in the world have been given.
Three of the big fours are UK limited companies: Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Ernst & Young. The last one, KPMG, is based in the Netherlands.
However, all of them have offices throughout the world. Indeed, rather than being a single firm, these companies are organised as a professional services network with each firm managed independently but sharing a name, a brand and the same quality standards.
Together, those four companies hold about two third of the global accountancy market. They have more than one million employees and generate more than £140 billion in revenue every year.
These companies offer a wide range of accounting services: auditing, transaction advice, taxation, risk consulting and forensic accounting.
If you decide to become a professional accountant for one of these firms can be extremely rewarding especially if you reach a managerial position or the status of partner. At this stage in your career, you will probably be earning a six-figure salary.
Financial advisers meet clients every day and great people skills are as important as great accounting skills.
With an accounting certification, you will have the possibility to work for any bank in the country. Your training would have provided you with a solid understanding of accounting principles and financial acumen, two very sought after skill in the banking industry.
You could work as a Bank Manager and oversee the day-to-day operation, making sure that everything runs smoothly. You will be in charge of opening new accounts, managing safe and brokering loans for your clients. It is also a job that requires people’s skill as contact with clients will happen on a daily basis, and you will also have to manage the branch’s employees.
Majors banks also need Financial Analysts to advise their customers on the best investments on the market. This job will require that you know all government regulations like the back of your hand and that you can identify trends and potentially profitable investments by analysing financial reports, projections and audits.
Financial Analysts often report to Financial Managers who are the ones in charge of ensuring the bank financial data is in good order and preparing financial statements. USing business monitoring tools, a Financial Manager will make sure to optimise a bank’s investments and reduces costs and losses. They are also in charge of making sure that banks follow tax and corporate laws.
You could also be working as a Treasury Analyst, effectively handling a bank or a company’s wallet. Your role as a Treasury Analyst will be to oversee financial activities such as handling cash flow and income, ensuring credit liability and managing all the financial assets a bank or institution owns. You would be in charge of supervising bookkeeping and accounts you would propose forecast and budgeting plans.
If you don’t have the artistic talent to be a star, you could still shine as an Entertainment Production Accountant. Studio films, Broadway theatres and festivals often have to deal with multi-million-pound budgets and require the help of professional accountants to make sure all that money is handled correctly.
For sure a position, your responsibilities would include monitoring the production expenses, asses companies and projects values and prepare budgets for production.
You could end up spending all your days on set, making sure that a director does not go over budget.
You could also be a Financial Advisor to famous artists. In that case, you would be involved with all your clients’ spendings, from art investments to real-estate acquisitions. You would also make sure that you save them as much tax as possible without breaching the law.
It usually takes a few years in the entertainment business and a certain amount of networking and luck before landing your first account, but if you play your cards right and crunch the numbers properly, you could be earning as much as 5% of your clients’ annual salary.
Watch out for any changes in the market and make sure to let your clients know what the best investments are.
With your accounting certification, you could also decide to work for the government in which case you should probably turn to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.
HMRC is in charge of collecting the taxes that keep the wheels of the UK running including hospitals, police, transport, defence and schools. HRMC is also one of the biggest employers in the country with more than 56,000 employees throughout Great Britain.
This public entity offers a wide range of position for those with an accounting education, from Property Managers managing HMRC’s operational estate commercial outcomes to forensic accountants working to identify and prevent fraud.
As a government agency, HMRC also offers excellent working conditions including flexible hours, competitive pensions, career development and allowance for commuting.
You could also join other branches of the government working as a Financial Accountant, in which case you would be in charge of maintaining sound systems of internal control and communicating with internal and external auditors.
The Bank Of England is always looking for people with accounting skills. As the UK’s central bank, the Bank Of England ensures the stability of the pound and regulate the issuance of banknotes in the United Kingdom.
If you decide to join the Bank Of England, you could work as a Portfolio Analyst, a Financial Risk Management Analyst, a Procurement Analyst or even a Business Operation Analyst.
Usually, independent accountants have a few years of experience behind them as well as proper certifications to show for. You do not necessarily have to be a mere bookkeeper.
Many self-employed professional accountants specialise in Tax Accounting. With the need for every company in the UK to file tax returns every year, many of those decide to outsource this job to external auditors.
As a Tax Accountant, you will need to make sure you stay on top of any new regulation, perform quarterly reviews of your clients’ accounts, and check that their payroll and National Insurance contributions are up to date.
For most of the year, Tax Accountants have a serein routine but coming the tax season, their phone ring non-stop. Your clients will want to make sure that they file their tax returns in time, without any mistakes, which otherwise could cost them to pay hefty fines.
Auditing Accounting is one of the fastest growing specialisations in the accountancy sector, and it is also a practice that can be done as a self-employed accountant. Most of the time you will be working for limited companies and corporations but also more modest businesses. Your main job will be to make sure that everything is in order and in case a government auditor shows up, your client will have nothing to fear.
Accountants are often tasked with explaining market trend and business concepts to executives.
To ensure that everything is in order you will have to streamline any financial record-keeping, asses financial reports and reconcile any errors you might identify and review your clients’ accounting procedures. In case of an external audit, say by HMRC services, you will also provide counsel to your clients.
Whatever accounting sector your work in (accounting auditing, managerial accounting advanced accounting, business administration or corporate accounting) and whichever job title you hold, if you decide to pursue this career, will be almost certainly guaranteed to find a job.
Accounting careers are ironically unnumerable.
“Finance is not merely about making money. It’s about achieving our deep goals and protecting the fruits of our labour. It’s about stewardship and, therefore, about achieving the good society.”
-Robert J. Shiller, American economist, academic, and best-selling author, Nobel Laureate in 2013.