Although there is far more to business than just numbers, there is no denying that finance and accounting are crucial elements of all organisations. This is why you will find that the finance function is one of the central facets of any business. Finance often comes under the realm of 'support services' (together with HR and IT).
The language of business can be very complex – accountancy is a way of being able to explain a variety of situations in relatively understandable terms and with meaningful numbers.
There are two major branches of accounting: managerial and financial. Without accountancy, organisations would not know whether they were profitable or whether organisational objectives were being met. Senior management and board members often rely on financial indicators to guide major decisions.
The skill of a good accountant is to turn raw financial data into understandable and meaningful business metrics. All businesses use standardised practices, transactions and procedures, and this makes it easier to understand how the business is performing compared to its competitors.
Accountancy and Finance – Career Rewards
A career in accounting can be rewarding in a number of ways. All organisations need accountants, so you can choose the type of organisation that you want to work for. This means that, if you have a desire to make a difference or work for a certain cause, you can look for accountancy roles in the public or charity sectors.
From a financial perspective, accountancy is generally considered as a well-paid and highly regarded profession. For example, the average salary in the UK for a finance director is just under £100,000 per annum.
An accountancy career can develop in a number of ways. Although there are many finance-related degrees available, a degree is not always required to be an accountant and many people will study for accountancy qualifications such as CIMA or AAT whilst working in a finance role.
Many business accountancy degree courses cover the same topics as the first year of the official accounting qualifications (AAT, CIMA etc.), meaning that some exemptions apply. This may reduce the time it takes to obtain official qualifications.
There are a number of key skills that are needed to be a good accountant (together with the obvious high-level of numeracy). The top five are outlined below:
As with many roles, communication is a vital skill to possess. Accountants and those working in finance need to be able to convey complex information in the most straightforward and understandable way possible. They will need to be able to build and maintain relationships at every level of an organisation and be able to communicate effectively, both internally (with colleagues) and externally (with clients, suppliers and outside agencies).
Innovation and fresh ideas are always welcomed in the ever-changing world of accountancy and finance. As businesses change, so do their requirements, and business leaders with great innovation skills and ideas are always in demand.
The ability to learn, understand, assimilate and make sense of new information and data is vital when working/dealing with data and numbers.
4. Commercial Awareness
Having the knowledge and awareness of where an organisation fits in the marketplace and performs in comparison to its competitors is often overlooked. Knowing how a business may be affected by economic, social and political factors can prove vital when it comes to making informed financial decisions.
The ability to work independently and to use your initiative is an important skill for accountants. In many cases, there will be low levels of supervision and you will need to be able to think on your feet and make decisions.