Financial Accountancy

Financial accountants provide specialist services to commercial and non-commercial organisations to ensure that they are financially sound and comply with legal requirements and regulations. There is a wide choice of roles and specialisms available, depending on where you work.

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Most graduates work in public practice – professional
accountancy firms ranging from the Big 4 (KPMG, EY,
Deloitte and PwC) to mid-sized and smaller firms. There
are also opportunities within commercial organisations
and industry, as well as with government departments and
regulatory bodies.

What will I do?

In public practice, the main areas of work are:

  • • Assurance and auditing: Assurance is a service that
    ‘assures’ an organisation that it is complying with legal
    requirements or fulfilling best practices. Its largest
    specialism is external auditing, a legal requirement that
    financial statements be examined to determine
    whether they are ‘true and fair’. Internal audits, similar
    processes held internally in an organisation, are best
    practice rather than a legal requirement.
  • Tax: Accountants working in tax help clients to
    understand and meet their tax obligations, and to
    understand the impact that any changes within their
    organisation or to the tax laws will have upon their tax
    bill.
  • Business advisory/financial services: This specialism
    helps businesses achieve their objectives through a
    package of services including tax compliance and
    financial planning.

There are lots of specialisms within these areas so
research what different employers offer before applying.
Graduates in public practice become trainees and, in areas
such as auditing, will spend considerable time at clients’
offices. In larger firms, graduates rotate around different
clients to gain exposure to the industry and often
specialise from an early stage in a particular aspect of
work, such as charities auditing. In smaller firms, there is
less opportunity for early specialisation; instead, you are
more likely to work on a range of tasks for clients. When
working for other organisations, financial accountants
maintain financial accounting systems and financial
reports on the organisation’s performance.

Qualifications

Graduates of all disciplines are accepted into the
profession and train to become qualified accountants,
combining work and study. Employers help choose the
professional association/qualification that best suits the
graduate’s chosen career route. Those graduates with a
finance-related degree are exempt from some parts of the
qualification process.

On top of being numerate, accountants require strong
communication, analytical, time management and
teamworking skills. They also need an ethical approach to
business and the ability to combine a tough work/study
schedule.

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