Is Accounting A Good Career Path For The Future?

Many companies expect a financial professional to provide more than just accounting services. The Robert Half Management Resource Firm conducted research on this topic and found out what professionals are expected to do.

Robert Half surveyed 1,4000 CFOs in different industries and different sized companies. Those surveyed stated they wanted accountants to perform additional functions at the workplace including strategic planning, and research information technology projects. The average person that took the survey stated that a senior accountant should spend over a third of their time on these nontraditional aspects of the job.

Study Caveats

This study looked at the high-level management and how they thought that their subordinates should spend their time. While these numbers need to be looked at with some skepticism, it will still show that senior accounts are expected to do more figures and reports and that their responsibilities will grow over time.

Case Study

The writer of this is not an account but did work as a controller at the Merril Lynch Company and spent 90 percent of his time in nonaccounting functions:

  • Market Research
  • Liaison for operations and systems technology
  • Liaison with the management science
  • Chief of staff with the line manager that will be in charge of the department
  • Addends high-level staff meeting when the department head is not able to attend
  • Liaison with human resources
  • Works with departments to handle employee complaints
  • Chief moral officer for their department
  • Develops plans for high net worth specialists
  • Advises the line manager or the head of the department

In this study, 20 percent of the respondents stated that the senior accountant should spend around half of their time on nontraditional functions and this should happen as soon as 2018. Since working for Merill Lynch around a decade ago, the experience of the author has shown that the responses are typical for their peer group.

Bottom Line

If an accountant is looking to advance in their career, they need to be willing to take on additional duties that are beyond their narrow scope of work and things that have been associated with their accounting position. It is essential to know about Understanding Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP) and know how to work with numbers under these principals. While this is important to accountants today, need to have additional skills and drive.

The Robert Half study did not address corporate downsizing and the additional responsibilities that are given to the employees. As more employees are being let go, other employees are expected to take on more responsibilities.

There is the awareness that accounting professionals are being overlooked and that companies are using other qualified staff members in accounting roles to help them cut down on staff.

Facilities that are paying attention to details see that accounting professionals have additional qualification besides working with numbers. They see that they are precise and disciplined and these skills can be used in other aspects of the country that may not have any direct accounting responsibilities but where these skills are still needed.

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