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As you no-doubt already know, the accountancy profession is a great career path, offering excellent financial rewards and opportunities to progress. But with lots of different specialisms and entry routes, it can be hard to know exactly what type of accountant you might like to be – especially when you’re just starting out in the profession

What makes a good accountant?

Accounting is about providing accurate and relevant information for business leaders to make the best possible financial decisions. To become a good accountant, you’ll need to be motivated and hardworking, and have a strong technical knowledge from your professional qualification. You’ll also need to have great attention to detail, strong business ethics and good commercial acumen.

Finding your ideal career specialism

Management accounting is about helping managers understand how their business is performing from a financial perspective. This is the strategic end of the business world, shaping a company’s future either through setting budgets, looking at strategies to grow the business or managing pricing for new products. You’ll need to have strong communication and people skills, and be able to think creatively to solve complex problems.

Bookkeeping is crucial to every business. Accountants in these roles ensure that transactions are accurately recorded and financial statements are produced. Whilst they do little in the way of analysis, this option can provide a good work-life balance option for some, depending on the type of business you work for.

Auditors are the accountants that are employed to check facts, figures and reports for accuracy. It’s the sort of role that suits someone with an inquisitive nature, an appetite for understanding rules and an ability to unpick intricate issues. Auditors must follow the rule book to the letter and have a scrupulous eye for detail.

Financial accounting is similar to management accounting but is more concerned with providing more publicly-facing financial information, for example: to investors or government regulators about a business or even a whole sector. Financial accountants need to be adaptable, organised and have great communication skills, whether that’s producing reports or dealing with people face to face.

Tax specialists (or technicians) are employed to help their clients understand how much tax they need to pay, advise on ways to legally minimise their tax bill and also advise on tax implications of investments and takeovers. This involves a lot of research and hard work, but can reap plentiful rewards.

The right qualification for your career goals

Choosing the right qualification and study path is invaluable to helping you achieve your career goals, but sideways moves are always possible. For starters, the AAT Professional Qualification, CIMA Certificate in Business and ACCA Knowledge will each give you a solid grounding in the main areas of accountancy and finance to help you decide further. Then the next step is generally to study towards becoming a Chartered Accountant, either through the ACCA Professional, CIMA Professional and ACA – whichever is most relevant to your chosen path.

Speak to us if you’d like some guidance on the most appropriate qualification for you.