Your journey to becoming an accountant

Working in the accountancy sector is a highly rewarding career, and it’s one that almost 600,000 Brits have chosen. It’s obviously ideal for those who are highly numerate, but it also requires a solid understanding of commercial imperatives – and as a client-facing industry, it’s the sort of work that will, for the most part, require either direct interaction or strong empathy with people and their needs. Here’s an overview of the main routes towards becoming an accountant – and what they mean for those who are looking to enter the sector.

Good with numbers

Numeracy is perhaps the main skill needed by any accountancy practitioner. Business owners often outsource their financial work to an accountant precisely because they’re bad at numbers, and that means you’ll have to work hard to cover all of their reporting obligations. You’ll be helping your client to satisfy their legal requirements, so a small mistake on a tax return could cost them – and even you – dearly. If you’re looking to switch to accountancy from a career that’s not too numeracy-focused, it’s wise to familiarise yourself with what will be expected of you.

People skills

But it’s not just about being numerate. You’ll also need to be a “people person” in order to develop a strong accountancy practice, and you’ll need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the client. As a self-employed accountant or one who specialises in small businesses, it’s almost certain that you’ll be involved in day-to-day client work and will need to do lots of outreach. If you work in a corporate accountancy firm, such as Deloitte or KPMG (which are two of the so-called “Big Four”), it may not be the case that you’ll be meeting clients every day – but you will need to be able to work out what their commercial goals are, and mould your work around that.

Education and training

Once you’ve established that you have the skills in place to become an accountant, it’s time to find an educational route into the sector. There are several different qualifications for accountants: the AAT, for example, focuses on both relevant sector understanding as well as the pragmatic skills required for the role. Qualifications such as the ACCA, meanwhile, provide a focus on the complexities, legalities and tough concepts of accountancy.

Here in Britain, there are plenty of globally recognised institutions that offer rigorous, industry-approved accountancy qualifications. Although it has branches across the world and links to organisations around Europe, LSBF is not just for foreign students. Moreover, with its connections to major firms like PWC, it’s an appealing choice for those who want high quality tuition with major industry backing.

Accountancy provides all sorts of great opportunities for personal growth and career development, especially if you’re a numerate and commercially aware person with the skills to work well alongside clients. If accountancy is a career you like the look of, the next stage is to dive in to one of the many qualifications available and find a route that suits you.

Claire James
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