A career as an accountant is an exciting prospect. Working with clients and helping small and big businesses owners keep on top of their financials and tax obligations can be life-changing work. Whether you want to work for a small firm, a large firm or start your own firm, working as an accountant can take on many different forms. Before you start your career, let’s take a look at what tasks and responsibilities accountants have on a day-to-day basis.
What is an accountant?
At its core, an accountant is a qualified financial expert who helps individuals and/or businesses with their accounts. This could include a wide variety of tasks, from analysing and reporting on financial records to preparing tax returns and all associated paperwork.
Not only can accountants help perform regular financial tasks and reporting, but they can also act as a strategic advisor for businesses, helping them to become more profitable.
What tasks does an accountant perform?
As an accountant, you will perform a variety of tasks – no two days will look the same. Each client or business will be different and may require individual support. Here is a list of tasks that you may be required to perform:
- Provide financial advice, particularly around the financial health of a business
- Review profit and loss statements and troubleshoot cash flow problems
- Ensure taxes are lodged correctly and on time and all obligations are followed
- Deal with unpaid invoices
- Conduct business audits
- Help with long-term strategy and growth planning
Accountants and tax
One of the core functions of an accountant is helping clients prepare and lodge their tax. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has a number of rules and obligations that everyone is required to follow, from freelancers and sole traders to small businesses and profitable companies.
As an accountant, you will be required to stay on top of the ever-changing tax landscape, so you can offer your expertise to your clients. You will help your clients understand their potential tax deductions, calculate their capital gains and determine any potential write-offs. GST and BAS, not to mention payroll and super, can be a huge headache for new business owners or expanding businesses, that’s where you can provide real value to your clients.
Even with qualifications, being an accountant requires continual training and upskilling as you stay on top of financial trends and tax obligations. Many accountants will also be trained to use cloud accounting software, such as QuickBooks to communicate to their clients, monitor their progress and complete their reporting. You will need to be up-to-date with the ever-changing technology space surrounding the accounting and financial industries.
Key skills of accountants
Apart from being financially savvy and good with numbers, an accountant also needs good emotional intelligence and people skills. Here are a few of the traits every good accountant needs to exhibit:
- Foresight and vision
- Problem-solving skills
- Communication skills
- Time management skills