What does a career in accountancy look like?

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Accountants tend to shy away from the limelight. This can mean that their importance – and the variety of different roles they perform – is overlooked or misunderstood by those outside the accountancy profession. But accountancy is vital for all industries and sectors, with the result that professionally qualified accountants embrace a remarkably broad spectrum of different roles, responsibilities and settings. If you’ve recently completed a course with ACCA-X and are thinking about joining the accountancy profession, here are just a few of the roles on offer.

Public practice

Accountants who work in the public practice sector provide services to organisations, governments and individuals. Working for an accounting or professional services firm, whether one of the ‘Big Four’ or a smaller practice, public practice accountants can undertake a variety of specialist roles, from working as an auditor or forensic accountant to a financial or tax accountant.  As a forensic accountant, for example, you could be responsible for investigating fraudulent activity, tracking down missing assets and uncovering money laundering. While as a partner at a financial services or consulting firm, you’ll be required to think strategically, managing a team of specialists and developing important client relationships.


Companies and organisations also employ accountants to work for them ‘in-house’. Here accountants contribute to the success of a business by providing expertise and financial insight and participating in the decision-making process.  Again, there are different roles for in-house accountants, who can work in compliance or as financial and management accountants, overseeing things like assets and liquidity or detailed financial and risk analysis. For example, Jackie Ryan, an ACCA member, works as the general manager and financial controller for the Dublin International Film Festival, taking responsibility for financial and strategic planning.

Public services and not-for-profit

Accountants also play an integral part in the day-to-day operation of public services and not-for-profit organisations, helping charities and governments to deliver value for money and, ultimately, to make a positive difference. Because of the scale and priorities of the public sector, accountants are valued highly as auditors, analysts and compliance officers. Charities also depend on accountants to ensure management of their funds and reserves. As with corporate and public practice, qualified accountants are able to move in and out of the public service sector, with employers prizing breadth of expertise and experience.

Find out more

If you’re just starting on the road to becoming a qualified accountant with ACCA, you can find inspiration on our website, where we’ve gathered together a host of ACCA member profiles from around the world. Here you can find out how members climbed the ranks to become Chief Financial Officers, “Big Four” accountants and in-house finance graduates. As well as motivation, these success stories contain practical advice on how to build on your ACCA qualification and build a successful and rewarding career in accounting.

Are you considering a career in accountancy?

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