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What Accountants Wish They Knew Before Starting Their Careers

January 24, 2022

Hindsight, they say, is 20/20, and looking back on your professional life is no different. When becoming an accountant, there are likely many things that you never considered when starting. When you make the choice, various factors go into choosing an accounting career path, but with that come things that you won’t learn until you are on the job.

In fact, recent research found that in a survey of workers from the UK, 53.8% reported their accounting degree was unrelated to the work they do now, and 38.5% regretted their choice to pursue accounting. 

In order to lay all the facts about an accounting career on the table, this article will cover some essential truths about the reality of working as an accountant. Keep reading to discover the five things experienced accountants think newbies should know before starting their careers.

5 Things to Know Before Becoming an Accountant

1. It’s More Social Than You Might Expect

There are, of course, outdated stereotypes of accountants that come to mind when first considering this kind of work. While many unfamiliar with the industry might picture introverts working in solidarity, the reality of working as an accountant is very different.

The nature of accounting means that strong social skills are a necessity in order to build relationships and trust with your clients. After all, you are looking at the intimate details of their business performance, so it’s crucial to create lasting professional connections so that you can effectively serve your clients’ needs. 

You’ll also need social skills within the office environment. Often, you may need to present to a group of your peers or a client — not everyone excels at public speaking. Still, you should be confident enough to discuss ideas and facts in front of others, as working in isolation is not the norm (such as the stereotype might have people believe).

If you choose to go self-employed as an accountant, then social skills are even more critical when it comes to networking and finding new business to build your practice over time. It’s imperative to build a client base that trusts you and that you can communicate effectively with. Once you’ve created impactful working relationships, your social skills could even result in more new business as clientele can refer you to more potential customers. 

 

2. There are Hundreds of Options for an Accounting Career Path

The field of accounting is vast. There are many avenues and niches to explore when finding an accounting career path to suit you. You could specialise in a particular industry, work in-house for an organisation in a niche of your choice, or choose to work at a firm that specialises in specific services for a variety of clients.  

Every type of company will require a finance professional, so there is no lack of need for accountants and the knowledge they possess.

 

3. You Need to Constantly Re-learn the Rules

Even once you have studied for years and worked for many more, there are always new things to learn.

Financial regulation and tax legislation are constantly changing, so keeping on top of updates is key to becoming an accountant who can work efficiently and efficiently.

Though the basics of accounting principles have been around for millennia, adapting to policy and technological changes is a significant part of your role.

 

4. Often, an Accounting Career Has Very Little to do With Numbers

Nowadays, technology takes care of a lot of the calculations in accounting. Software can solve issues that may have taken hours previously, in seconds. So, the profession of accounting has changed accordingly, and a lot of your day-in, day-out role will not include working on your ten key or calculator. 

Advice and consulting are more likely to be the bread and butter of an accountant. They can support businesses on various important issues, such as choosing the proper business structure, forecasting cash flow, finding savings for startups, and advising on reducing tax spending. It’s not all about number crunching anymore, and while a level of mathematical skills is required, you don’t have to be a master of arithmetic to succeed in the industry. 

 

5. It’s Normal To Learn Most of the Role on the Job

Don’t expect to stop learning once you earn your diploma or pass the CPA exam. 

With the sheer volume of industries and specialities available to those becoming an accountant, it stands to reason that all those sectors and specific services will have their nuances that you can’t always learn from a book.

Once you start a role in a business, you’ll learn so much about how the company functions and how they fit into the broader sector to do your job for them. 

You’ll probably encounter terms and practices covered by your degree or learning path when starting an accounting career. Still, it’s normal to re-learn and reacquaint yourself with these processes as you work, as the details of every task will be specific to the business you’re working with. 

As previously mentioned, you’ll be expected to keep on top of changing regulations or rules constantly. Hence, an accounting career path is a good fit for those who are flexible, adaptable and enjoy hands-on professional development.

Continue Your Accounting Career Path with INAA

Here at INAA, we connect accounting firms who aim to deliver quality professional services around a shared vision to make global business personal, and take personal business global. 

With every industry change, our collaborative association of international businesses is committed to driving the conversation around auditing and accounting.

Join today to start building powerful business relationships.