Accountants work in every type of organisation, from the newest tech start up, to the oldest bank - all need financial experts to serve and advise them on their business.
The job of an Accountant is to help businesses to achieve their targets by providing information on finance, business performance and progress, and to ensure that the individual or company is in compliance in important areas such as Taxation, Company Returns and Contractual Obligations etc.. The accountant will assess the client's income and outgoings, look at the financial dealings of the company and advise accordingly.
Accountants are not only found in the business environment. They work in a wide range of organisations from charities and government bodies, to sporting organisations. This means that people who qualify to work in this field have wide range of opportunities to choose from across the sectors - for example, if you are the kind of person who sees yourself working for a charitable organisation rather than in the corporate sector, you can serve as an important advisor, ensuring that the charity gets the best use of its money, and that charitable status is maintained, by preparing and issuing required documents in good time.
Opportunities to work in a wide variety of sectors, excellent remuneration and relative job security, makes a career in accountancy an attractive choice. It is estimated that there are over 2.5 million accountants worldwide. In Ireland, demand for accountants in all areas continues to flourish, and there is currently a shortage of qualified accountants.
Accountancy with a language is increasingly attractive to employers, especially in the International Financial Services Centre.
Getting into Accountancy and Finance - Video presentation (Accounting Technicians Ireland)
Accounting and Financial Management is at the core of all financial management activity. There can be a degree of overlap between the different professions, but the sector can be broadly divided into those firms that provide advice and accounting services to a range of clients in the public and private sector (this area has traditionally been called private practice) and those working in one particular organisation – in industry or commerce, the public sector, privatised industries and the health service.
People in this role may work on their own or alongside professional accountants. They are involved in the day-to-day practical work of accountancy and perform a wide range of finance roles such as financial accounting and budgeting, costing and credit control, payroll administration and tax returns.
The Job of a Management Accountant is to track the income and assets of the business they work for. They pay particular attention to the firm’s income and expenditure. A typical task for a Management Accountant would be developing and using computer information systems to track the financial performance of the company.
The Financial Accountant works with the accounts that every business, regardless of its size, is required to keep by law. The accountant may be self-employed or work for an Accountancy Firm hired to carry out financial tasks. Financial accountants are primarily involved in auditing Company accounts and calculating VAT, PAYE or PRSI returns for employees. They would also prepare Company Financial Statements and Accounts for presentation to the Revenue Commissioners.
A Chartered Accountant provides professional financial services to businesses. Auditing, taxation, accounting, financial analysis, risk management and advising on financial structures are just some of the wide ranging services provided by practicing firms of Chartered Accountants.
Getting into Accountancy
Although it is still possible to join straight from school, more and more students are opting into accountancy from graduate level, typically by taking a third level course in Business/Finance and then specialising in Accountancy.
The course chosen must be recognised by one of the professional accountancy bodies: Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI); Accounting Technicians Ireland (IATI), The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA). You would work for a firm of Accountants (Financial Accounting) or in the accounting department of a company (Management Accounting). While continuing to work, you would join one of these professional bodies and complete your professional accountancy exams over a period of time.
|Promotional Video from Chartered Accountants Ireland
Because Accountants spend a lot of time looking under the hoods of businesses, so to speak, they really learn how the engine of business works. It's no surprise that many successful business players began their careers as Accountants. Most Chief Financial Directors of large companies have a background in accounting.
The taxation sector in Ireland has experienced significant growth in recent years. The favourable corporate tax regime available to businesses in Ireland, together with the complexity of taxation laws and the fact that they apply to every area of business, means that most companies employ tax specialists. The importance of the EU to the Irish economy has also created many opportunities to work abroad in this field.
Video presentation (Irish Tax Institute)
Although one of the smallest fields in finance, taxation is the cornerstone of every business transaction and commercial decision and as such there is an ever growing demand for outstanding tax consultants particularly for those with proven advisory skills. The constantly growing international dimension to all areas of business in Ireland means that knowledge of overseas tax jurisdictions is increasingly sought after.
Taxation is a constantly changing discipline – one of the tax consultant’s greatest challenges is to stay abreast of domestic and international development and to translate these into opportunities for clients or the organisations they work for. As Ireland’s tax regime operates on a self-assessment basis, there is a strong demand for quality taxation advice.
Tax consultancy is one of the fastest growing and best-rewarded professions in Ireland. Qualified tax advisers are recruited by:
- Major taxation/accountancy firms
- Major financial institutions
- All the major legal firms
- Larger quoted companies
- Multinational corporations located in Ireland
- Many government departments
Tax advisers can also join or establish smaller consultancy firms. Taxation courses ranging from one year technician courses to three year professional qualifications are available. The main qualification is the AITI, acheived by passing the Irish Tax Institute examinations. This can be persued full time, at night or through home study. For more detail on a career in Taxtation see our Sector Expert the Irish Tax Institute above.
Demand for qualified and part qualified accountants is set to continue, as all eyes remain firmly on the books while Ireland moves through what has been a difficult financial period. Qualified and newly qualified accountants are required within the pharmaceutical, manufacturing and energy industries, as are accountants with experience in insolvency and forensics. There is also a steady demand for compliance and risk professionals.
The National Skills Bulletin (2013) reported skills shortages for the finance sector in the areas of Risk, Regulatory Compliance, Accounting (solvency, financial management, multilingual technicians), Fraud, and Credit control. The latest EGFSN Report reiterates shortages for niche and specialist roles including:
- Accountants and auditors with skills in tax, compliance, solvency, and financial management, as well as specific industry experience, including banking and manufacturing
- Risk analysts;
- Regulatory professionals;
- Finance and investment analysts (niche areas, financial securities)
- Fraud analysts
Ref: Guidance for Higher Education providers on current and future skills needs of enterprise - Springboard 2014/ICT Level 8 Conversion Programme, EFGSN, February 2014. Click here to view report.