Being passionate about a business’s financial vision is one thing, but good accountants are skilled at funnelling those visions into fruitful business plans. They are masters at ‘sweating the small stuff’ to ensure records are up to date and error-free and can confidently grasp legislative requirements and complex fiscal formulas.
When choosing an accountant, look for one that will suit you or your business. Some accountants specialise in tax returns for individuals or businesses in a particular industry, and others are experts in a particular area of tax.
When it comes to occupation stereotypes, accounting often gets a raw deal. At some point or another, you’ve probably heard that being an accountant is downright boring – that the job is mundane and monotonous and involves little more than doing tax returns and mathematics equations.
There’s also been talk that the accounting industry might be on the decline thanks to the advancement in technology. But in fact, according to Australian Government website Job Outlook, over the past two years, employment growth in this area has been almost three times higher compared with all occupations, and it’s estimated that the number of accountants in Australia will surge to almost 220 000 by 2020.
To get a real insight into the accounting industry – and find out whether you need to be a superstar at maths to succeed – we asked Matt Boundy, Senior Financial Accountant at a prominent real estate company, about his experience as (more than just) a number cruncher.
No job is all upside. As you prepare to go into the world of full-time work, it’s worth considering how much you’ll enjoy the pros and how disheartening you’ll find the cons of an accountancy career.
It’s a reasonable question.
Do accountants manage bookkeeping? Help you understand financial ratios? Prepare taxes?
While accountants are most visible around tax season, accountants work year-round and can serve as the financial backbone of your company.
Accountants help people to make goals, plan how to achieve them, then help with the execution in the most profitable way possible.
No matter why you’re here, this article will help you better understand everything you need to know about accountants. We’ll answer questions like, ‘What do accountants do?’ and ‘Are there different types of accountants?’ By the end of this article, you should better understand accountants’ daily tasks and responsibilities.
Good accountants are worth their weight in gold. Not only are they responsible for helping business owners keep on top of their tax obligations, but they can be a serious asset when it comes to making big financial decisions. They can assist with long term strategy and planning, troubleshoot cash flow issues and help small businesses move towards profitability. If you’re looking to kickstart your accounting career, here are five qualities that will help you succeed.
An accountant might be great at what they do – but they may not be the ‘right fit’ for your business.
To find an accountant who can take your business to the next level, and help you avoid costly mistakes, use the questions we’ve provided below. Check out the accountant’s website – you might find some of the answers there.
If you wish to work as an accountant, you’ll need some formal training. Similarly, if you are a business owner looking for an accountant, you’ll want to make sure that the individual can provide relevant certificates demonstrating his or her standing.
As we’ll touch on at the end of the article, there are different types of accountants. But, generally speaking, the various types are in three different professional bodies:
You’ll need a Bachelor’s degree to become a member of these organisations. The ICAA and CPA Australia require member accountants to have a bachelor’s in accounting or a similar degree. That typically includes a bachelor’s in business.
The IPA is a bit more specific in its memberships. It requires members to have an FNS50215 Diploma in Accounting.
It’s possible that you can still crunch numbers in an accountant job without being a member of one of these groups. Technically, you only need to be a member of one of these groups if you plan to produce financial reports, especially if those reports will be reviewed externally. Balance sheets are just one example of the type of financial statement only certified accountants can prepare.
Make sure they have an accounting qualification and are a member of an accounting body. Your accountant can only give you tax advice if they’re a tax agent. They can only provide financial planning advice if they have an Australian Financial Services licence or are an authorised representative of such a licence holder.
To be a good accountant, I believe you need to be adaptable, diligent, committed and have great attention to detail. Working in high-stress situations and meeting tight and demanding deadlines requires you to be resilient and to have good organisational skills. Accountants deal with a broad range of people, so you also need to be personable, which helps establish trust with clients and other stakeholders.’
Good accountants are flexible and understand a variety of business models so can determine what economic methods best suit a business’s required goals. Because they know how to grow their own business, they can also offer credible advice in terms of revenue building and financial outcome management.
Being able to crunch the numbers and swiftly determine a business’s core financial health is something a good accountant excels at. They realise that the most critical part of financial mastery is cash. They understand its peaks and troughs and thrive on facts, figures and hard-core problem-solving.
Good accountants are ethical, diplomatic and have well-developed people skills that enable them to develop trust and rapport with their clients. They’re able to use their integrity to foster collaborative and respectful environments, which helps clients make good business decisions.
A clean workspace and solid time management skills are key traits in good accountants, ensuring they can negotiate deadlines and manage complex projects. They love a highly structured environment and are comfortable with repetitive processes and strict rules and regulations.
Although good accountants are supremely comfortable with structure, they are also able to foster fresh ideas in dealing with financial difficulties. A curious mind means they embrace change, are always keen to learn more and see each new challenge as an opportunity to learn and test their skills.
Because accounting is such a precise science, good accountants are adept at communicating in a clear and informative voice and can write in a style that is clear and persuasive. They have well-developed interpersonal skills and an innate ability to assert themselves when networking.
Good accountants are great role models and have the patience, skills and confidence to delegate while maintaining a measure of approachability. Their core leadership skills extend to include strategic thinking, meaning they can make logical decisions that prove to clients that they are working to improve both the present and the future.
As the final article in our Business Essentials Series, we will discuss how and why you should review your accountant, and how to find the best accountant that suits your financial and business needs. A small business’s accountant should be one of the main sources of trusted advice, but too many businesses end up with tax agents who are only focused on menial tasks like preparing and lodging tax returns instead of looking ahead.
Some of the most common complaints SMEs make about their accountants are not about price but about value. They may not provide enough value based on the business’ needs and give advice which is not forward-thinking enough to help them make effective decisions.
Efficiency and effective communication also play a key part when assessing value. Can you get hold of your accountant and access to advice, when and where you need it? Also, how can they enhance efficiency in your business and save you and your staff time which can be redeployed in more productive areas?
Ultimately, there is an overall lack of insight & advice to help you get what you want out of your business.
Good accountants aren’t just about how well they can crunch numbers. A great accountant is not only the person who has read the accounting books, but also the person who will be your long-term business partner and will help you manage and revolutionise the entire performance of your company.
Being a great accountant is not just about being financially literate; you also need to be empathetic to your clients. In order to create great relationships, you need to understand the challenges of running and growing a business. Whether your client’s business is booming or struggling, you need to be able to show empathy to the highs and lows of small business and offer practical solutions. Empathy is what will help you grow long-term relationships with your clients.
Some clients will come to you and just want you to complete tasks on their behalf, such as submitting their tax returns and lodging their BAS. However, many clients will come to you seeking your perspective. You are one of the few people who have access to their books and all their numbers. They may have questions regarding business decisions or cash flow, and you’ll need to be able to clearly articulate your point of view and offer perspective as a financial expert.
The best accountants are those who are dedicated to both their work and their clients. Once you start working in the accounting industry, it’s imperative that you stay up-to-date with your qualifications and training. The finance industry is constantly changing and adapting to new technologies and innovation. As a finance expert, you’re expected to keep abreast of changing laws or tax obligations, in addition to general finance news. You’ll also need to keep an eye on technology trends such as automation and artificial intelligence.
You don’t have to manage people in order to be a good leader. It can start with your own responsibilities and looking after your clients. Set an example for others with your dedication and initiative. If there’s a way you and your firm could be doing something different in order to streamline processes or better serve your clients, don’t be afraid to suggest it to your manager. A good leader can also recognise their own weaknesses and look for ways to improve.
It’s also very important to be proactive as an accountant. Not only does it pay to show initiative with your existing clients, but it can also help you win new clients. Seek out smart solutions to common problems, even before your clients ask. If there is a way your client could be making smarter financial decisions, share your wisdom respectfully and honestly. Let them know how you and your firm can help take them closer to their goal of running a successful business.
Accountants must keep up with all figures, data, and paperwork in their daily jobs. They need a system for quickly finding the information they need. Accountants should be able to organise their work to maximise productivity and allow time for undisturbed research and analysis.
Today, accountants are playing an increasingly important role in contributing to strategic decision-making, so their schedules are full to the brim. They need to take care of many tasks beyond financial management and should be able to prioritise them to make the most from their time at work.
These traits are obviously key in the daily reality of accountants who need to make sure that numbers work and are correct. An eye for details and due diligence for accuracy should be part of their modus operandi, not something they need to be reminded of.
Being an accountant means not only dealing with numbers but with clients as well. That’s why accountants should have a strong orientation toward meeting client requirements – they need to understand the industry, sector, and client in detail. Only this helps them to decide which accounting rules or economic measures could fit the business. An accountant’s advice is always of value and knowing their way around a sector is the best way to make it more relevant and actionable.
That’s right – great accountants have creative minds as well. They’re the ones who practice out-of-the-box thinking to come up with fresh solutions – some client problems aren’t textbook cases and require special attention and a degree of creativity.
Accountants should commit themselves to a particular industry and be passionate about it. This is what makes them attractive hires – companies are looking for individuals for long-term employment and stop at nothing to motivate such talented accountants to join in. That’s probably because replacing an accountant costs a lot of time and effort, seriously affecting the productivity of employees during the dreadful transition period.
Accountants must be able to communicate and collaborate with colleagues from different departments. They should also be able to communicate key insights to nonfinance staff – accountants can use various data visualisations form to aid their communication effort and ensure that their insights are properly understood. Communication is also key to developing successful relationships with clients.
This is something not many professionals expect. We’ve all cherished the idea of a lonesome accountant busy number-crunching in a small cubicle – but this image is completely inaccurate. In fact, accountants work in teams and provide support to different departments – that’s why they should be able to impart their expertise to clients and decision-makers efficiently. They should feel what others need to know and support the goals of the team, working with different kinds of professionals and personalities.
Accountants who can embrace challenges and effectively respond to changes in working environments make up for very valuable members of any organisation. In the digital age, offices change at an accelerated pace, and accountants must be able to adapt and take advantage of those alterations. A high degree of agility is also necessary for responding to regulatory changes in the industry – only then they can provide quality service.
Accounting is more than just keeping a ledger by adding and subtracting numbers. There are a lot of moving parts to account, and sometimes startup entrepreneurs aren’t even aware of all the elements encompassed by accounting. In fact, we think good accountants are often most helpful when they tell you what you don’t already know, helping you find areas for financial improvement you never knew existed.
Your business accountants should have knowledge diversity to provide a broad range of services. You don’t want to have to go to one accountant for your cheque book management and another for your taxes. Scrubbed is pleased to offer services in the following areas:
Accounting and bookkeeping: general ledger maintenance, bank reconciliation, purchase-to-pay, order-to-cash, cost accounting, inventory system support, financial reporting, and payroll setup and support.
Corporate finance: financial modelling, pitch decks, transaction advisory services, and financial planning and analysis.
Tax compliance and advisory: tax planning, state and local taxes, tax support services, and income tax preparation and filing.
Professional support: SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) compliance, audit support, controllers, and transaction advisory for buy-side and sell-side (mergers and acquisitions)
Have you approached accountants previously, only to find they only deal with big international conglomerates? Or, conversely, have you found some firms don’t understand the complexity of anything larger than a small office?
Your accountants need to be comfortable with a range of business sizes. Why? So they can change and grow with you. You don’t want to have to switch accountants midstream if a sudden influx of cash boosts you out of startup territory. Nor do you want to give up your current accountants if as a large company you spin-off another business as a startup venture.
Along with understanding different business sizes is being comfortable with various foreign business settings and markets. For example, Scrubbed has offices in San Francisco and the Philippines, which gives them an edge by being familiar with both Asian and American business environments.
It’s great for your accountants to have the most diverse background possible and one that aligns perfectly with your business. It’s even better if they can apply the latest technology to make your accounting practices more efficient. Not only will you save money in the long run, but you’ll also know there are fewer errors, and you’ll be able to stay abreast of your industry and your competition.
At Scrubbed, we utilise the top software platforms and know-how to integrate these with your IT and current business practices for the most seamless accounting available. Some of the top programs and platforms we use include:
This lets us handle all of the functions listed above and more. We make it our goal that if you need an accounting service, we’ll provide it and do it well.
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