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Career Advice

How to become a Chartered Accountant

Businessman Using ComputerFirstly, this one is not to be confused with a financial advisor (which we have recently featured), instead a Chartered Accountant is a professional who provides detailed information on financial records…that’s the definition in its simplest form but obviously the role is a bit more complicated than that! The term ‘Chartered Accountant’ is an internationally recognised occupation which describes an accountant who is a member of a Chartered Accountants’ Institute, which requires its members to maintain a certain level of ongoing professional development to ensure the highest possible quality of service provision.

Duties and Responsibilities

Chartered Accountants operate in a vast range of business and finance areas and can provide services either in a public practice or within the private sector.  Here are just a few of the duties that you may come across on a regular basis:

  • The management of financial systems, cashflow and budgeting

  • Carrying out audits regarding financial matters

  • Providing information and guidance on complex financial and business matters in a clear and concise manner

  • Financial risk analysis

  • Giving advice on tax planning

  • Providing financial advice on a business acquisitions and mergers

  • Investigating any financial discrepancies which may arise

  • Compiling reports based on the findings of audits

  • Maintaining detailed and precise records

  • Dealing with insolvency cases

  • Payroll administration

  • Various other accounts administration tasks

Whilst you may be likely to come across any of these tasks many Chartered Accountants choose to become specialised in one or more areas, for example, consultancy, auditing, taxation or corporate finance.

Qualifications

You may be surprised to learn that in order to identify yourself and practice as an ‘accountant’ you don’t actually need any specific qualifications or training, however in order to be awarded the accolade of ‘chartered’ it’s an altogether different story.

Computer_keyboardPersons with a degree in any discipline can train to become a Chartered Accountant, however such opportunities are enormously over-subscribed and usually only those with a near impeccable academic history will be selected. This means that they will need at the very least 5 GCSE’s (including English and Maths), solid A-level results and no less than a 2.2 honours degree – bear in mind that these will normally be the absolute minimum qualifications required to enter a post-graduate training course and many of the more prominent accountancy firms will require much higher grades and qualifications. Post-graduate accountancy training typically takes three years and involves the satisfactory completion of work experience and numerous examinations.

More often students choose to complete an accountancy degree, which are available from numerous universities across the country. These generally last three years and will give you an excellent grounding in all the particulars of the occupation, preparing you for an entry level position within an accountancy firm or private business.  Entry requirements to be accepted onto a university course vary quite a bit, but on the whole somewhere in the range of ABB and BCC including Maths will be necessary (note however that some of the more prestigious universities will require AAA grades at A level.)

Skills and Attributes

Although qualifications play an enormous part in deciding whether you will be accepted onto a university or post-graduate training course, it is important to remember that skills and personal attributes will also come into play. Some of the things that universities and firms will be looking out for are:

  • Outstanding communication skills – both written and verbal

  • Solid research and analytical skills

  • Ability to be persuasive and negotiate in a confident manner

  • Excellent grasp of and passion for numeracy

  • Demonstrable interest in business and finance

  • Ability to be discrete and have the highest level of professional integrity

  • Desire to work within a high pressure, target driven environment

  • Outstanding organisational skills

  • IT proficiency

Still fancy becoming a Chartered Accountant?  We hope that you found this brief outline helpful and best of luck!  You might also like to check out our post on ‘How to become a financial Advisor’ or ‘paralegal’ for alternative career opportunities.

Or is accountancy isn’t quite your cup of tea then have a look through our rather extensive career directory where we are sure you will find something to suit your taste.

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