Choose a career in accounting

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Accounting is an ever-changing profession that evolves to meet the needs of the modern business world.

Professor Rashied Small, Director of the Center for Future Excellence (CoFE) at the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA), said career opportunities in accountancy continue to grow, but the number of accountants is still below demand.

However, the role accountants perform has changed significantly from the normal processing and reporting function.

“This means that anyone who becomes an accountant can be sure that there will always be a position available for them. And the more experience they gain, the more financial, lifestyle and career rewards they can expect,” Small said.

Michael Page Report 2021
The Michael Page Salary Guide and Hiring Insights for 2021 reports that the most in-demand jobs in the finance and accounting industry are commercial finance manager, tax specialist, finance manager, chief financial officer, and accountant. . Additionally, it notes the most in-demand skills in these roles. Technological advances and the digitization of professions place professional accountants at the heart of the value creation chain of companies.

The first is financial planning and analysis, which is essential for businesses to analyze the market and their competitors and plan their finances accordingly.

The second is change management because the ongoing changes in businesses due to Covid-19 require different business methodologies and approaches than in the past.

The third is a good background in technical accounting to ensure that organizations adhere to sound financial processes and use high quality financial and non-financial data to make business decisions that allow the business to be agile and adaptable. to changing environments.

Accounting is an essential skill
Another source, the South African government’s Critical Skills List, points out that the country’s need for accountants is so desperate that companies often have to outsource these roles internationally.

They include general accountants, management accountants, tax professionals, practicing accountants, financial accountants, forensic accountants, accountants, and internal auditors.

“However, businesses need experienced accountants, so candidates who are willing to work hard to gain good experience can look forward to a promising future at the top of the accounting profession.
“Companies are not only looking for accountants with strong technical knowledge, but are also now placing more emphasis on practical and applied skills that will support senior management,” Small said.

Future skills
Accounting is an ever-changing profession that evolves to meet the needs of the modern business world. Today’s accountants find themselves in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution where many of their mundane and repetitive tasks are automated.

However, it creates opportunities for accounting professionals to use their skills and experience to add greater value to businesses by focusing on interpreting and using the value embedded in information. Another exciting aspect of accounting, therefore, is the need for professionals to retrain and upskill to remain relevant and valuable to the companies that hire them.

Thus, the perception that accounting is a boring profession no longer exists as changes in technology and professions force the professional accountant to become agile in order to remain relevant.

Small said future-ready professional accountants will master artificial intelligence or AI and data analytics to create value for their employers or clients by extracting predictive insights from data and helping business leaders company to use them effectively in decision-making.

The future, sustainability and competitiveness of businesses will rely on the expertise of accounting professionals to extract value and insights from data using technology.

“To fulfill this sophisticated role, accountants will also need to develop their soft skills, such as lateral thinking, integrated thinking, creativity, communication and presentation, teamwork and business acumen.
This implies that accounting professionals will use their technical knowledge with technology to communicate the hidden secrets and value of data.
“The accountant of the next decade will not just be an employee or a service provider, but a major contributor to strategic planning and business development,” he said.

SAIPA created its CoFE to research and understand the skills accountants will need in the future and develop training programs to prepare them today.

Value, not numbers
Although numbers are still part of the accountant’s DNA, the days of numbers are over. “Anyone who decides to become an accountant today envisions a digitally-fueled career, either as a profitable independent practice owner or as a high-earning corporate specialist,” Small said.

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