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Accountancy as a Career: 6 Job Roles Accountants Can Fill

Accountancy as a Career: 6 Job Roles Accountants Can Fill
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Does the thought of balancing sums, uncovering cleverly hidden assets, and finding all applicable tax deductions thrill you? If so, you may be wired for accounting.

Consider accountancy as a career. Accountants can fill many roles across all sectors and industries. As long as you have the requisite credentials, like membership to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or ACCA, you should be able to find the seat that best suits you.

The following are several accounting roles that could become yours should you choose to become a professional accountant.

1. Accounts Payable

An accounts payable accountant manages an organization’s outgoing finances while nurturing supplier relationships. The following are specific roles that handle accounts payable tasks. One or more persons can fulfil these roles, depending on the organisation’s size.

  • Data entry analyst: Enters fresh invoices into the system
  • Payments processing analyst: Tasked with the day-to-day settling of bills
  • Exceptions analyst: Addresses payment disputes and irregularities
  • Vendor maintenance analyst: Ensures an accurate and updated supplier list
  • Accounts payable manager: The accounts payable team supervisor; innovates accounts payable processes, allocates tasks and ensures efficiency in payment processing

2. Accounts Receivable

An accounts receivable accountant manages an organization’s incoming financial transactions while cultivating enduring customer relationships. The following are specific accounts receivable roles. Again, one or more persons may do the following tasks depending on the company size.

  • Billing analyst: Coordinates with sales teams to ensure customers are invoiced promptly
  • Cash applications analyst: Assigns invoice payments to the appropriate departments
  • Collections and disputes analyst: Recovers outstanding payments and addresses customer-identified payment concerns
  • Credit control analyst: Oversees daily credit activities, ensuring credit data remain current
  • Accounts receivable manager: Supervises the accounts receivable team to ensure efficient and prompt payment collections
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3. Financial Accountant

A financial accountant ensures an organization accurately reports its financial standing to whichever regulatory bodies have oversight and jurisdiction over it.

For instance, a listed joint stock company (public or private) in the United Arab Emirates has reporting obligations to the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority. The UAE Federal Tax Authority (FTA) may also require corporations to submit audited financial statements.

The financial accountant’s role is vital as various stakeholders (e.g., governments, shareholders, and other interested entities) mainly rely on companies’ financial disclosures for information. They must be well-versed in company or corporate law and financial reporting standards.

You’ll find financial accounting roles across all sectors, including the following:

  • Public practice: Public-practice financial accountants work for accounting firms or specialized business consultancy firms. They provide financial accounting services to other organizations, such as government entities, corporations, cooperatives, foundations, and individuals.
  • Corporate: A corporate financial accountant is employed by a corporation. In this capacity, a financial accountant prepares their employer’s financial statements to fulfill their companies’ financial reporting obligations.
  • Public services: The public services space typically includes government or privately funded nonprofits and charitable organizations.
  • Financial services: Financial services companies like banks, credit unions, investment houses, and fund management firms need financial accountants.
  • Shared and managed services: Accounting outsourcing solutions providers also need financial accountants to provide financial accounting services to outsourcing clients.

If you’re in the ACCA program and wish to pursue a career in financial accounting, choose the following for your strategic professional options exams:

  • Advanced taxation (ATX)
  • Advanced audit and assurance (AAA)

You’ll also need to pass strategic business reporting (SBR). However, that’s a strategic professional essential ACCA paper. It’s compulsory for anyone who wants to obtain the ACCA designation.

4. Management Accountant

A management accountant prepares financial information and distils financial insights for company executives. The objective is to equip leadership with precise financial data to make data-driven decisions and steer the organization toward growth and prosperity.

Like financial accountants, there is demand for management accountants across all sectors: public, corporate, public services, financial services, and shared services. If you’re in the ACCA program and determined to become a management accountant, choose the following strategic professional options:

  • Advanced financial management (AFM)
  • Advanced performance management (APM)
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5. Internal Auditor

An internal auditor observes and checks an organization’s processes, striving to pinpoint areas for improvement, efficiency enhancement and process optimization. At the same time, they identify potential risks and propose and execute measures to prevent, mitigate or minimize them.

An internal auditor is responsible for ensuring their organization is compliant with government regulations, regulatory bodies’ policies and recommended best practices. They do not look only at financial information but also management practices. They analyze contracts, corporate policies, standard operating procedures, and anything and everything that could put the company at risk.

An internal auditor’s day-to-day typically involves:

  • Participating in strategic discussions
  • Going through individual business processes
  • Updating themselves on the newest regulations
  • Trying to predict or gauge potential risks
  • Using specialized risk management software and tools
  • Reporting findings to executives

Candidates with a background in public practice, especially in external audit, have a good chance of getting hired for an internal auditor post. An internal auditor must also be good at building relationships and effectively communicating their findings.

If you’re in the ACCA course, prioritize the following strategic professional option exams for a path more suited to the role of internal auditor:

  • Advanced performance management (APM)
  • Advanced audit and assurance (AAA)

6. External Auditor

An external auditor objectively examines an organization’s financial statements, ensuring they truthfully represent the organization’s historical financial performance and current fiscal position. It’s a highly in-demand role as most corporations and nonprofits must submit audited financial statements.

Accountants in external auditor roles naturally specialize in financial audits. However, as an external financial auditor, you may obtain training to provide more comprehensive audits that span employees’ occupational health and safety, information technology or IT security protocols, and environmental, social and governance or ESG initiatives.

You must accumulate years of relevant auditing experience to become an external auditor. In the ACCA pathway, choose these strategic professional option exams:

  • Advanced audit and assurance (AAA)
  • Advanced performance management (APM)

Consider Accountancy as a Career

If you like numbers and look forward to a career preparing financial statements and extracting insights from financial data, you may enjoy becoming an accountant. 

A career in accountancy can qualify you for many roles across various sectors and industries.

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