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Accountancy 'remains a stable career choice'
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Despite a number of ongoing changes within accountancy, such as moves towards universal standards, in many ways the profession remains the same as always. Fundamentally, the bookkeeping role within business has changed little in centuries. Companies of all shapes and sizes need accountants to ensure they keep on top of income, expenditure and financial reporting.
That is not to say the remit of the accountant is immune from evolution. Their primary focus remains on the figures, but many professionals now play a role in strategic decision making within their companies. Accountants are entering the boardroom, bringing their financial insight and expertise to the top table. They also help ensure businesses are compliant, and show sufficient regard for business ethics and industry codes of practice.
But essentially, accountancy is a stable career. Companies tend to hire in both good times and bad, as there is always a need for specialist bookkeeping skills. Many firms have their own in-house accountant; others contract in finance professionals from external providers. Either way there are plenty of opportunities for skilled and dedicated professionals, making the accountancy sector an appealing choice for many young people.
Speaking to the Guardian recently, accountancy trainee Matthew Bolton explained why this particular profession appealed to him. As well as job security, high earning potential and the opportunity to work with major clients, he noted in the "patterns and poetry in numbers". Matthew, who said he works at a "top City firm", said this makes the work interesting.
"I was always better at maths than English and knew that accountants can earn a lot of money so I did maths, computer science and business studies at A-level before completing a maths degree and applying to a graduate trainee scheme," he stated. "I was shielded from meeting any important clients for some time, but eventually I got face time with the accounts we were working on." Matthew said his initial career plan involves staying on at his current employer for a year or two after qualification, before seeking a transfer to a firm in North America.
Writing for the news provider, Mark King commented that accountancy remains a stable career choice despite the recession. This statement is supported by recruitment statistics, which reveal smaller peaks and troughs in the market than those seen in other sectors. Mr King explained that, once qualified, the financial rewards of working in the profession are "substantial". "Graduates with a financial background will often be preferred to those without, but once on a scheme graduates will normally train for a professional qualification, typically working within a firm while they study," Mr King stated.
The Big Four accountancy providers are among the UK's biggest accountancy employers, with KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Deloitte hiring hundreds, sometimes even thousands of new graduates each every year. Sara Reading, senior manager in KPMG's graduate recruitment team, explained that her firm would be taking on around 600 new accountants in 2012. This means talented young students have a clear opportunity to enter the sector at a major City firm upon leaving university.
People wanting to enter accountancy have a number of clearly laid out routes of entry, including trainee graduate schemes. And this is another attraction to the sector. Candidates are judged on merit based upon their academic abilities and enthusiasm for accountancy, which may be best demonstrated by steps they have taken to gain work experience. But with many funded places available at entry-level each year, careers in accountancy are not only rewarding, but also accessible for those of the required calibre.
Posted by John Lynes
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