Accountants play a central role in any financial decisions and practices in every business sector. They are responsible for compiling financial statements about an entire company or a specific department and are also involved in deciding budgets, filing tax returns and in other financial transactions. Larger companies will employ a team of accountants within the firm to cover financial statements and audits, while smaller businesses contract out work to specialist accountancy firms.
Regardless of the position the basics of the job remain the same. The only key difference is the larger the company the bigger the numbers being calculated. Commonly accountants start out as junior accountants working on specific tasks, but can quickly work up once the required skills have been demonstrated.
Many people view accountants as bean counters who are only driven by money, but this is certainly not always the case. As each department within a business has its budget and financial statements overseen by an accountant there is the potential to exert some influence of the decision making process while still providing an essential service to the company. There is also the potential to work in many different sectors as all organisations, public, private and non-profit, all have to supply accounts every year.
The most essential skill for any accountant is a strong head for numbers as the majority of the job involves compiling and preparing financial statements and budgets. In the past this would have been carried out by hand, but today this also includes being able to use specialist computer programs as well as using mathematical skills.
Other aspects of accountancy include dealing with taxation, auditing departments and ensuring all regulatory standards are adhered to. The role will also require being able to forecast the business climate so an understanding of management and economics is also required.