11. Accounting and careers.

Which area?

There are so many different areas of accounting you can go into; I remember when I completed my AAT all I said was I wanted to be an accountant not knowing there were so many different positions.
I’m going to give a very simple summary of job roles within accounting and say which accounting qualifications is better suited for the roles.

Accounts payable
In this role you process invoices, do statement reconciliations, deal with supplier queries that can arise and prepare payment runs.
Qualifications: AAT

Accounts receivable
You raise invoices, send statements, allocate payments and deal with customer queries as well as chase payments aiming is to keep customers within their payment terms.
Qualifications: AAT

You post banking transactions onto the system, post foreign exchange gains/losses, arrange payments, manage company credit cards, setup direct debits and do the banking reconciliations.

Book keeper
A book keep is broader than the previous three, as usually you will be preparing accounts up to the trial balance, this includes nominal coding, doing AP, AR, Banking etc.
Qualifications: AAT is the best qualification for this position.

Practice account
Whilst there are different levels; the main aim is to prepare a set of final accounts for business owners.
This requires a knowledge of accounting and a good understanding of double entry book keeping.
You can find entry level positions for this but overall I feel this needs at least an intermediary knowledge of accounting as there is usually a tax calculation required.
Qualifications: AAT (initially) then ACCA or ACA

In short you are ensuring all debits and credits are in the right place and there are no ‘funny’ posting i.e. capital expenditure is not posted to revenue.
This requires a knowledge of accounting and a good understanding of double entry book keeping.
Qualifications: AAT

Without getting technical (ACCA F8 will do that to you) in summary you go to companies and check they have prepared their accounts as per the relevant accounting standard or local law.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Internal auditor
Your target is to get your companies compliant with accounting standards/local law but an internal auditor can also review a company’s operational performance, process procedures and implement measures to reduce the risk of fraud/error.
Qualifications: Certified Internal Auditor, ACA or ACCA

Forensic accountant
You work with or in law enforcement, to determine if someone is trying to launder money gained from proceeds of crime or is being used to fund things like terrorism, people usually transfer into this from Auditing.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Financial accountant
You produce the final accounts and to the required legal requirement.
You will need to be a qualified accountant in order to do this.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Management accountant
Also known as the sexy side of accounting, you help people manage their budgets.
Qualifications: CIMA

My favourite part of accounting; you interpret the numbers and data in general, you explain things like customer age, locations, average spend, areas of growth and comparison to competition etc.
Qualifications: A degree in maths, statistics etc will be welcomed with open arms but in terms of accounting qualifications CIMA is better suited qualification for this position (I acknowledge this even as a ACCA student).
An addition to this, software skills in any of these areas is a benefit: Advanced Excel, VBA, SQL, MS Access, Data warehouse, Business Objects, Google Analytics

Financial performance & analysis FP&A
Usually in larger companies this role is as it says you monitor the performance of the company and provide and analysis.
Qualifications: CIMA

Finance business partner / Operational finance manager
Somewhere between a management account and an analyst, business partners work closely with a particular department and provide ‘real time’ support and analysis, too help with decision making.
Qualifications: CIMA

Commercial finance
The lines between commercial finance manager, financial controller, finance manager, management accountant, financial performance and analysis and even to some extent finance director is becoming blurred but a commercial finance manager would usually be working in the commercial arm of the business i.e. residential properties vs commercial ones.
Qualifications: CIMA

Finance manager
A finance manager usually overseeas the AP, AR, Banking, Payroll and balance sheet reconciliations.
Qualifications: AAT, ACA, ACCA, CIMA

Systems accountant
This is an area of accounting not spoken about much but you look after the technological side of accounting, for example imagine software like Sage, Xero, business objects or HFM these are accounting packages or reporting software that needs to be installed, rolled out and maintained, yes a tech guy can do this but someone with an accounting qualification can bring added benefits for obvious reasons.
Qualifications: any accounting qualification will set you right AAT, ACCA, CIMA, ACA but should get good grounding in one of the following areas to really flourish VBA, SQL, MS Excel (advanced level), MS Access, Oracle, Xero, HFM, Data warehouse, Business Objects or Microstrategy.

Shared services/Business process outsourced
Your role is to manage the outsourced part of accounting, for example if accounts payable is outsourced, you will check Service Level Agreement (SLA, what services we’ve agreed they should be doing) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI, are they doing it as per agreement); you will also be a mediator when there are issues.
Qualifications: AAT, ACA, ACCA, CIMA

Group accountant
You consolidate the company accounts, the includes P&L, Balance sheets etc, this role is often found in larger organisations who consolidate the accounts with HFM.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Capital accountant
All capital transactions go through you, you will often also look after the fixed asset register and will be responsible for nominal coding of assets.
Qualifications: ACA or ACCA

Financial Controller
As a FC you are responsible for the company’s financial reporting, such as its monthly, quarterly and annual accounts, you manage transactions of the company’s AP, AR, payroll, and control accounts and provide operational finance.
Qualifications: ACA, ACCA or CIMA

Financial Director
Finance directors are members of a senior executive team with responsibility for their company’s financial health. They combine operational and strategic roles, manage accounting and financial control functions, and establish a financial strategy for the profitable long-term growth of the business.
Qualifications: ACA, ACCA or CIMA

Chief financial officer (CFO)
1st off cha-ching!!! Ahhh you made it my friend, you are in the nice house, nice holidays bracket now!!! ahhh shizzle heck you can even get those mouth watering 5k peddle bikes! You the man!!! No more cheap puregym for you… oh no my friend you get to go to the gyms with the pools, steam rooms and Saunas. Why? Because screw you!!! That’s why!
I supposed I should do some form of a summary of the role, ah heck it does not matter what this role involves as you’ve made it, you say you’re a CFO especially in a blue chip organisation before you’re all grey or balding you da dam man!!!
If you are actually ambitious and not parrot ambitious (you just repeat ambitions you heard from others) CFO is where your hard working backside must aim for! I only rate business owners (regardless of profit) higher than I rate CFO because of how taxing owning your own business can be.

Ok, it’s time to say a bit about this rockstar position, a CFO looks after Controllership duties (makes sure the company complies with the law & internal controls process are up to par), Treasury duties, Economic strategy and forecasting, Accounting and Reporting, Management and Budgeting a good CEO will also need to share the right data with the right departments to allow better decision making, this can be for helping internal management decisions (is a department over/under staff), or decisions that impact external customers i.e. is our pricing right?
Qualifications: ACA, ACCA or CIMA

Treasury (Separate qualification)
Treasurers look after the cash, you make sure the business is using it’s cash sensibly, you will often be responsible for producing a cash flow forecast and looking at things such as should the company has a U$D account.
Qualifications: ACT (Association of Corporate Treasurers), ACA, ACCA, CIMA

Tax (separate qualification)
You look after the taxation of a business or individual and it’s as simple as that, naturally the role itself can get even more complicated, for example you have a business not registered in the EU but you deliver all their goods to a EU, how do you treat this?
Qualifications: ATT and/or CTA


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