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What does an Accountant do?

Every business, no matter how big or small, has a need to understand and manage the financial performance of their business. This, in essence, is what accountants do.

At a real headline summary, accountants are responsible for producing financial reports and statements relating to income (sales/revenue) and expenditure (costs). It’s not just big corporations, even self-employed sole traders have a need to understand how financially secure they or their business is operating.

Specific elements of the work carried out by accountants can vary, Management Accountants can typically focus more to an extent on analysing information with a view to providing accurate recommendations (budgeting & forecasting, cash flow analysis) of what decisions for the good of business should be made. Whereas Financial Accountants tend to focus more on the accurate reporting of factual/statutory information (Tax, Statutory Accounts).

The career path of an Accountant

The typical career path of an accountant is very broad, however, there are two starting points that are most common.

Train in industry

Work within the finance department of a business. Reporting on the financial performance of the business, whilst also studying for a formal accountancy qualification (AAT, ACCA, CIMA). You would usually start out as a finance assistant or trainee accountant and having gained your qualification, can move up in the business (or another business) to become a Finance Manager, Financial Controller, Finance Director, or CFO.

Train in professional practice

Work within a professional accountancy firm (e.g. KPMG, PwC, Deloitte). Usually, as an auditor or tax advisor, you would work on behalf of the firm with their clients to provide advice & guidance on the financial performance of their business. It is traditional to study for an accountancy qualification (ACA, ACCA) alongside working in professional practice.

How much can an Accountant earn per year?

As of 2019, trainees or student accountant salaries for school leavers can start at around £13,000 p.a. plus support with your studies toward your qualification. 

Many Finance Directors / CFOs of larger, well-known international or global businesses can earn as much as £1 million per year, inclusive of all bonuses.

Interestingly, Nike co-founder Phil Knight qualified as an accountant before he established his running shoe company which became the global brand it is today. His estimated net worth is c$25bn – so there’s something to aspire to!

Work with Distinct

At Distinct, our Finance recruitment specialists match professionals to their ideal permanent, interim and contract opportunities across the UK. If you’re searching for your perfect Accounting role, browse our jobs board or contact us today to learn how we can support you.

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