18. Accounting and Therapy

With mental health being brought to the forefront of people minds I envision a change in the UK workplaces where therapists will be available to employees under the HR employee wellbeing banner or discounts to sessions.

I recall the first time I came into contact with therapy it was via Frasier, hands down one of my favourite TV shows of all time but it didn’t stop there, I remember an episode on the Fresh Price of Bel Air where a relative told Will he was getting therapy, 24 where the president’s son was getting Therapy and My wife and Kids where therapy was used to help resolve marital issues between the two with my personal favourite being around Michael wanting to play video games.

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17. Accounting and ACCA updates

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)

Some updates!

Think you know something only to learn something new about it?
Whilst it feels like I am married to the ACCA at this point and I thought I knew all there was to know about ACCA; couple week they had some surprises for me and I learned a few new things.

There are a couple changes which kick off from September 2018.

The renames

  • The professional Level will be renamed = Strategic Professional
  • P2 (Corporate Reporting) will be renamed = Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  • P1 (Governance Risk & Ethics) & P3 (Business Analysis) will merge and renamed = Strategic Business Leader (SBL)
  • Other renames are to follow.
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16. Accountants and Analysts

What the heck is an analyst?

Accountants are not analyst and analyst are not accountants but the latter have the potential to do the others role and there will be some more merging of the two at some point in corporate, it will be fight on!

The above statement relates more to the management accounts aspect of accounting and not producing the final accounts, tax or auditing.

Analyst do not just interpret data and make great reports; analyst like their accounting counter parts have many different roles, it’s the equivalent of when you tell people you’re an accountant and they assume you know tax.

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15. Accounting and careers information.

RANT As a profession we need to do this better

As someone in their thirties who’s been doing accounting for over 12 years one thing that still makes my blood boil as an account is our professions terrible and I do mean terrible ability to communicate the different types of accounting roles that are out there.

It is unacceptable that even to this day I often come across people who ‘fell into’ their role and look at me wide eyed when I tell them the many different positions available; the profession is also truly poor at giving candidates guidelines about which positions to start in and how long they should stay in a position if they are career orientated & the reasons why.

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14. Accounting: Outsource or automate?

Which should you do?
Automate first always, if it works well then you may not need to outsource; however, if you find you still need to outsource even after automating it could save you money as you may find you are able to outsource a smaller portion of the work. 

When doing these kind of process improvement reviews, the thought process should be to get people out of the way of software i.e. if the software can do it, let it do it, providing the costing make sense.

It is also crucial to remember two things if you outsource your accounts in a bad state outsourcing won’t fix it and you will probably be hit with extra fees for them to resolve underpinning issues; also no matter which route you take staff moral will probably take a hit; it is important to be mindful of this especially if you do decide to outsource and you are relying on current staff to do the handover. 

At some point in the future there will be an interesting development over where some portions of data interpretation will sit, for example management accounting and income/expenditure analysis currently sits in accounting; but in future will it sit with IT once it is automated? (software contracts tend to sit with them), will management accounting become even more merged with the data analyst (accountants and analysts are not the same)

We still are awaiting the impact of bigdata, machine learning, AI and eventually robots, at some point in the future during these transaction phases accountants will find themselves particularly around non-statutory accounting competing with analyst who have a sound understanding chomping through and interpreting data, particularly with some analyst having additional skillsets like SQL and Dataware housing at their disposal.

Us accountants are brilliant too at what we do but it is important to remember aside from statutory side technology will bring us closer to other industries.

By the way, this is a really good video that breaks down machine learning.

@Brainthrough

Links
Image from: http://www.thewriter.com/what-we-think/blog/what-can-a-robot-teach-recruiters-about-writing-and-how-can-you-stop-them-s/#.WuCPmUxFx1w

13. Accounting and Working for start ups.

Protect yourself at all time!

I want to make one thing clear, there has been a romantic picture recently painted of working for startups or small companies, I am here to piss on that parade and tell you it is not romantic and the word ‘No’ is something you must be ready to shoot out

I want you to know this, the word No, is crucial to you as it is your accounting qualifications on the line. Some small company owners are nothing more than glorified dictators who try to intimidate/bully you into bending to their will, you will often notice immediately something is wrong and it is often met with “that’s the way we do things here’, which is not an acceptable reason at all

 · Some will ask you to recognise revenue early.
·  Some will ask you to pay people by cash and not record it.
·  Some will ask you to hide bad debts.
·  Some will ask you not to record a sale.
·  Some will ask you to help them setup grey ‘self employed’ schemes.
·  Some will ask you to hide home to work travel (which is a taxable benefit that must be disclosed).
· Some will ask you not to show owners drawing as they should be.
· Some will ask you to fiddle stock figures.
· Some will give you cash payments and not put it through the payroll (make sure it goes through the payroll).
· Some will ask you to be compliant in manipulation of tier 4 visa restrictions, i.e. invoice a day rate so you can hide that they are working more than 20 hours a week.
· A company I was at would not only use expired skin care products on customers, they would also give them to customers as gifts and want them included in their inventory count.

Our accounting bodies harper on about professional ethics but shady stuff happens in the industry and your accounting body can’t help out much; if a company lets you go because you refuse to do some of the stuff mentioned above (or worse), your accounting body won’t be helping much aside from providing general advice, main point, they won’t help you pay your bills which is why many just do what they feel they need to do and hope nothing comes to light or they have long gone before it has.

Accountancy bodies are bending over backwards to push out this image of the ‘new’ account the no more ‘Mr black and white’ the less rule regurgitating accounting whilst blattering on about ethics and governance to us accountants, which often will have us back to the old image but here’s the thing; not all images are wrong and sometimes just sometimes having that image to uphold, actually sets a tone before you walk in the door which lets people know I am going to do this by the book; there’s a reason the book is written and that is to protect you from me but also to protect me from you! When working for a startup/small company it is crucial you keep this in the forefront of your decisions.

@Brainthrough

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Links:

12. Accounting and movies.

Lights, camera, accounting?

Production accountant, a cool role that no one really talks about.

If you are like me and you once wanted to be an actor/director but somehow ended up being an accountant, there is a role that can get you close to camera that you may have not heard of; production accountant, as someone who loves costing things up this is a dream!

As all of us know, no accounting role done properly is easy and every job has parts which suck so please keep that in the back of your mind.

Here’s the picture, you’ve grinded your way up from a production assistant (you have to start here first and it is a crucial learning step) you’re now a production account, a script lands on your desk and it is now your job to go through it and cost it up!

The usual forecasting, cost reporting, budgeting and P&L’s apply but that’s about as usual as it gets, for example being not in industry I can only guess of standard costs I would budget for e.g. salaries and production crew costs but what about the other stuff? shooting locations; Do you shoot at location or use a filming studio? Or how about sound track costs? things unless you’re in industry, you’ll probably have no idea how they make such decision or how much it costs, could you imagine estimating the cost of the Batmobile?

This is what makes this quiet role brilliant; granted not all roles are going to be Hollywood blockbusters you may do the accounting for an awesome TV show, a role which I imagine will be more office based and feel closer to standard corporate management accounting but let’s say you’re one of the lucky ones imagine you some of the challenges you’ll have to solve and even better than that, imagine seeing the final product at a cinema of your choice knowing you helped bring that to the screen, job satisfaction anyone?

By the way this has nothing to do with accounting but I want to bring this role to light; location scout, I saw it on a Surface pro advert, I did not even know such a role exists but how cool is that?

 


@Brainthrough

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Links:

10. Accounting and tax.

Tax?

Ahh the wonderful world of tax, people ask “what do you do?” You say “I’m an accountant”, this usually leads to someone asking you tax questions; when I was younger I used to feel embarrassed at not knowing the answers to their question but now I realise I need to just correct them and let them know there are different types of accountants or I just say “I work in finance” avoiding the word ‘accountant’ all together. 

Why have I given you that pointless introduction? For a simple reasons not all accountants are tax experts, some accountants will have a good understanding of the basics and can do a company return based on results but when you are talking about Tax avoidance (WHICH IS LEGAL BY THE WAY), you’re average accountant won’t know the more intricate schemes, this is down to someone who specialises in tax.

BTW: I have no qualms with Tax avoidance despite the cries of public my view is simple, fix the laws, I do not believe for a second if regular PAYE employees could find areas to cut their tax bill they wouldn’t, tax shaming is ridiculous and this body who gives people a stamp to say they are tax moral is nothing more than glorified virtue signalling and does not deal with the problem, we should not need a body for this crud, pressure should be applied at the right place i.e. with those in charge of laws to sort this out, I read article after article hampering on about moral this, accountants image being effected and I think what a bunch of parrot zombies. Rant over.

If you specialise in tax returns you are usually not the person who prepares the accounts, but you are the person who asks the right questions and gets the right answers! Any specialism in accounting takes work but Tax carries an extra burden as we all know what happens when you get this wrong.

If you wish to be a tax account remember you are going to need to study annually to maintain your knowledge, this is more than your usual CPD stuff to maintain your qualification, as you can’t afford to not know what is coming!

If tax is what you want to do but you have no knowledge of tax or accounting then start with the ATT qualification, if you’re already working in account have a AAT/ACCA etc then study the CTA, the CTA is the highest tax qualification in the UK at present.

Image from:
Links:
https://www.att.org.uk/
http://www.tax.org.uk/homepage

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

Banking
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.
Qualifications:
AAT

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

Reconciliations
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

Auditor
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

Analyst
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

@Brainthrough

Image from: http://photography.webdore.com/cityscapes-2/
Links:
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242001
http://www.sequelvcfo.com.au/sequel-vcfo-blog/what-does-a-cfo-actually-do

 

9. Accounting and other professional bodies.

What other professional bodies are there? Loads, let’s jump straight in.

Prince 2
This is a project management qualification, usually associated with the public sector but is also known in the private sector, if you want to be a project manager this is a good stepping stone but unless you are targeting a public sector career I would opt for PMP/PMI.

Association for Project Management – APM
This is a good qualification and works well for public sector organisations but if it were me I would skip it and go with Prince 2 or PMP/PMI.

Project Management Professional – PMP/PMI
This is a better globally known project management qualification and one I would recommend you do if you want to become a project manager.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – CIPD
If you want a career in HR you should aim to get this qualification.

Chartered institute of marketing – CIM
This is not a mandatory qualification for a career in marketing but it’s still worth doing if this is the route you want to go down.

Chartered Management Institute – CMI
This is a good complimentary qualification, it’s not one I would personally go for on its own as it is not a required qualification for management positions for example, I feel this qualification is best when it’s combined with an accounting, HR or project management qualification it’s a good addition.

Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply – CIPS
Procurement is not an industry really spoken about, I tend to find people fall into procurement or hear about it through word of mouth, in short you buy goods for the company you work for, trying to get the best deal whilst you’re at it.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – RICS
This is for those who want to get into the construction industry, when you buy a house one of these qualified people will come around and value it for you.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert – MCSE
I.T. qualification for Microsoft software.

Cisco Certified Network Associate – CCNA
Cisco’s professional qualification, this is entry level.

Cisco Certified Network Professional – CCNP
As above but medium level.

Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert – CCIE
This once upon a time was the must have qualification for demanding the salary of your dreams, it’s a tough qualification (what isn’t) but still worth the effort.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional – CISSP
A great qualification we are going digital and security is important.
Brainthrough!

Links:
https://www.prince2.com/uk
https://www.apm.org.uk/
https://www.pmi.org/certifications/types/project-management-pmp
https://www.cipd.co.uk/
https://www.cim.co.uk/
https://www.cips.org/en-gb/homepage/
https://www.rics.org/uk/
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/mcse-certification.aspx
https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications.html

@Brainthrough