Why Choose Accounting as a Career?

A number of reports in recent times have identified accounting and finance as one of those areas that are relatively recession-proof

Many people are looking at adding to their skills to make themselves more valuable to their current employer, or to the new one they are trying to find at the moment. Others are looking towards a change of career or a more structured work environment. Many of these people choose accountancy.

A number of reports in recent times have identified accounting and finance as one of those areas that are relatively recession-proof. Forbes Magazine identified accounting and finance roles at numbers 4, 5, and 10 in their list of the “10 Most Recession Proof Jobs” while Bloomberg BusinessWeek had them at 4, 5, 9, and 10. The job market for accounting and finance professionals has grown significantly and trained professionals in this area are seeing increased opportunities.

As people will begin starting new businesses, or growing their existing ones, they will need help with developing the business plans, making tax and Companies Office returns, as well as helping with applications to financial institutions and keeping the business on a track of growth.

Where do Incorporated Public Accountants Work?

IIPA accountants have the widest range of opportunities

You will find IIPA accountants working in every type of organisation imaginable. From Health Service to Financial Services, IIPA accountants are the financial experts that serve and advise. The Incorporated Public Accountant is an enabler, helping the business achieve its targets, providing information on performance, business finance and progress towards business targets – not to mention helping to ensure the firms compliance in areas such as Tax, Company Returns, Contractual Obligations and more.

Incorporated Public Accountants can also be found in a range of organisation types such as charities, government bodies, sporting organisations and so on. IIPA accountants have the widest range of opportunities, and often have the luxury to choose the sector that most suits their needs.

Incorporated Public Accountants also have an entrepreneurial spirit – the proportion of IIPA members who go on to establish their own accounting practice is higher than in any other accounting body. Typically this involves setting up an accounting, auditing and/or tax practice. They also move into related fields such as business consulting, training or education.

Typical Roles Undertaken by Incorporated Public Accountants

Auditor

Undertaking statutory reviews of the financial records and internal control systems of certain organisations so as to ascertain whether or not the financial statements are a “true and fair” representation of the underlying financial records. Audits are legally required by a range of institutions including Companies, Banks, Credit Unions, Companies Limited by Guarantee and so on.

Accountant in Practice

This is an accountant who offers his or her services to members of the public. Typically the accountant will establish an office, put a sign outside the front door and begin trading. They may offer a broad range of services or be narrowly focused on a single area. So in addition to the accountants who are offering the normal book keeping and accounting services to all-comers, you will also find accountants who have a narrow specialisation in their practice. This might be a specialisation in taxation, liquidation and receivership or business planning. Accountants also offer help in related areas – they may offer training on bookkeeping, sell accounting software, provide a range of financial products (subject to approval by the Financial Regulator) or help to register a company.

The Accountant in Industry

Not all accountants own or work in public practice, some work in industry in the finance function of a company or other firm type. Their role may be mixed and could include preparing budgets and reports (see “The Management Accountant” below), preparing VAT Returns and returns for other forms of taxation, advising management on whether they should buy a particular business or introduce a new product line. Most of these functions are for internal use – they are things that the managers within the company will use to make decisions. Accountants who choose to work in industry will often find themselves progressing quickly within the management structure. It is not unusual to find an accountant as the CEO of a business.

The Management Accountant

A subset of the “Accountant in Industry” is that of the role of Management Accountant. Management Accountants specialise in preparing and presenting internal information that is used by management in their monitoring an decision making functions. The report of a Management Accountant should be tailored to the information needs of the individual business needs and the needs of the individual manager. Management accounts will include a range of information – both financial and non-financial – and may include trends, percentages, charts and research outcomes as well as numerical information. Types of information provided by the management accountant includes:

  • Budget preparation
  • Performance measurement
  • Competitor analysis
  • Graphs of trends
  • The Balanced Scorecard
  • Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is the “bread and butter” part of the accounting process. Before accounts can be created there must be clear records that the information can be drawn from. This is achieved by businesses through keeping a structured set of “books” including a Cash Book, a Sales Book, a Purchases Book, a Debtors Ledger and a Creditors Ledger. In addition to keeping them for the accountant, tax law and company law both require the proper keeping of the financial records of the business. They can be subject to inspection and/or audit by (for example) the Revenue Commissioners, so it is always good business practice to keep your books up to date.