Accountant

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Carl, 40s

Why did you become an accountant?

Carl has been working as an accountant for 25 years, having entered the profession because he saw it as an area vital for business, and one rich with opportunity.

Currently, he's the senior manager of internal auditing with one of Australia's leading banks. Accounting is a job that provides Carl with a lot of variety, and a career that he finds quite rewarding: "It's interesting to understand what makes a business tick, to identify where it is capable of adding value and where it isn't."

Carl adds, "It gives me a real buzz when I identify the savings that a business can make. And I'm talking about hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars!"

What does an accountant do?

The job isn't just about helping people to save money. Accountants are also responsible for determining financial internal control strategies that will help businesses with their commercial realities. This provides the business with opportunities to improve financially.

Looking across businesses and getting involved in management are two aspects that Carl hadn't quite expected when getting into accountancy. He says, "I now have the opportunity to influence key stakeholders in business."

While a common misconception about accounting is that the work is only about number crunching, Carl reassures, "Accounting involves more than just dealing with numbers and financial reports. We are experts who understand just what makes businesses successful."

However, Carl admits that at times, there can be too much focus on numbers: "This puts us in danger of seeing 'what is' rather than 'what could be'."

How do you become an accountant?

In order to become an accountant, you'll require good team working skills, strong diagnostic problem solving skills, initiative, and computing proficiency (spreadsheeting, word processing, database management, project management).

It will also help if you have good communication skills - both written and verbal. And you should never underestimate the value attached to leadership qualities, which can be critical in providing influential advice and guiding business growth.

Any tips for new players?

Encouragingly, Carl points out that there is always a high demand for accountants, and once you're qualified, the fields that you can move into are almost limitless. "You can move from accounting to financial reporting, to internal auditing, financial advising, or treasury. However, you need to consider how and when to take these opportunities to specialise."

Finally, for those considering a career in accountancy, Carl asserts that by blending technical and interpersonal skills with a keen interest in finance and business, you'll be on the path to a very fulfilling career.

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).