Accountancy and financial management are integral to the business world, and involve the recording, reporting and analysis of financial transactions. The sector covers many areas, including audit and advisory work, taxation, business consulting, and management accounting.
You will usually work towards chartered status or qualification from one of the sector’s professional bodies. In the UK, there are six accountancy bodies, covering different locations and types of practice. The Financial Reporting Council provides a useful oversight of the profession, with links to each one.
Where can you work?
- Public practice (sometimes called private practice) – typical employers are professional services firms and there is a demand for graduates to fill positions in audit and accounting. Relevant qualifications depend on your area of specialism, for example the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) offer the ACA qualification for accounting, and the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT), and Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) provide training for tax consultancy. The ICAEW, ATT and CIOT websites provide further details.
- Industry and commerce – all businesses require financial and accounting expertise and you will find many related graduate roles in management, retail, and FMCG. Such roles can lead to attaining the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification – the Chartered Global Management Accountant award (CGMA). CIMA members work in 150,000 organisations worldwide. The CIMA website provides further details.
- Public sector – includes the Civil Service, local government and charities, and commonly involves working towards the Chartered Insitute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) professional qualification. The CIPFA qualifications webpages provide more information. There are also tax related roles within the public sector, for example HM Revenue & Customs administer taxation systems in the UK and offer the Tax Professional Graduate Programme.
- Overseas – taxlegislation differences provide challenges to working abroad if you are not familiar with the country’s taxation system. However, accounting practices internationally often adhere to common rules; The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and CIMA each have members in around 170 countries worldwide. Communities like Chartered Accountants Worldwide can provide insight. Some professional bodies have recognition agreements with counterparts around the world, but often further assessments may be needed to gain the required qualification standard.
What’s changing in the sector?
The impact of automation will lead to key changes in accountancy and financial management. Using smart software systems and cloud computing will become more commonplace, and wider globalisation will create opportunities and challenges for those in financial management.
Regulations such as Making Tax Digital (MTD), Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could lead to jobs for those who can understand them and keep businesses updated with developments. Additionally, high-profile tax avoidance cases in the media have led to new governmental tax action, which in turn has an impact on those working in this area.
Many of the professional bodies have produced research on the future of the profession to keep members up-to-date, including the ACCA.
Visit CareerHub – a jobs board targeting LSE students, including events and networking opportunities.
Download the Vault guide to Accounting for an overview of the profession. Scroll down to ‘Vault: Career Insider’ and click on the link to log in.
View the Inside Careers guide on AccountancyCareers
Visit Target Jobs for further advice and information.
Keep up-to-date with Accountancy Age for accounting news.