Postgraduate degrees are a desirable qualification for anyone interested in a finance and accounting career. The potential for well-remunerated and interesting work in a variety of roles has long been recognised but many ‘would -be’ applicants may be somewhat hazy on the specifics.
Although most postgraduate degree holders in international accounting and finance share a strong aptitude for mathematics, economics and financial theory, deciding on one of the many excellent and varied career paths open to them may depend on their other attributes. Some roles are better suited to those who prefer working closely with others; some are ideal for those who are natural communicators or who possess excellent interpersonal skills.
There are opportunities to work in such roles across many different types – and sizes – of organisation.
A financial controller is responsible for a company's accounting operations. This means they oversee the day-to-day activities of the finance department's staff and, in so doing, manage all company financial transactions. They usually report to the chief financial officer.
The chief job of a financial accountant is to ensure that HMRC liabilities are met and all reporting requirements complied with. From a tax perspective, this necessitates close examination of financial records and accounting statements, the collection and analysis of documents relevant to tax returns, the calculation and payment of taxes owed, the timely submission of returns and the tracking of any refunds owed.
A project accountant has primary responsibility for tracking the financial progress of a specific project or projects.
Investment analysts allow stock market traders, fund managers and stockbrokers to do their jobs by providing them with timely and pertinent financial information gleaned from in-depth analyses of global investment data. Long working hours are often matched by particularly handsome remuneration.
Auditors track a company's financial health. The job is multi-faceted but includes verifying assets and liabilities, as well as examining documentation and operating practices to ensure compliance with the relevant internal control mechanisms.
Tax accountants are responsible for tax reporting and advising on pertinent legislative changes. They may work for a portfolio of clients in an accountancy practice or in-house. There are also international accounting opportunities, particularly in large financial centres such as Geneva.
Financial managers take responsibility for ensuring that an organisation is in the best possible financial shape. The role varies depending upon the organisation and its particular needs but is likely to include producing financial reports, directing investment activities and developing strategies to ensure that the business hits future financial targets.
A key focus for most management accountants is looking for innovative ways to help an organisation reduce costs and improve profitability.
Decision analysts are problem solvers. Their main function is to give structure and shape to the decision-making process undertaken by others in an organisation. They do so by analysing different options, taking account of variables, modelling potential results and communicating the results in a clear and unambiguous way to the various stakeholders.