Why a little knowledge of accountancy goes a long way

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As a form of professional expertise, accountancy is invaluable, since its core principles apply across almost all industries

The online learning revolution

The arrival of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), has revolutionised the way students learn. Taken by thousands of students simultaneously, free from academic selection and without the costs associated with more traditional models, they are rapidly opening up existing areas of knowledge to more and more people across the world.

With prestigious institutions now providing a wide range of high quality, affordable and flexible options, there’s a tremendous amount of choice available to students, who can choose from courses on subjects such as Italian opera, beginner’s Mandarin, computer programming and, through ACCA-X, the principles and practice of accounting.

As a form of professional expertise, accountancy is invaluable, since its core principles apply across almost all industries. Here are some of the ways a grounding in accounting can help you in your job and career.

Increase your knowledge

Learning the underlying concepts of accounting involves learning some of the processes integral to the running of a successful business, such as the preparation of financial statements or interpreting financial reporting. This can be of direct benefit, whether in your current role or future job.

For example, a grasp of accountancy and how it fits within a business’s organisational structure and corporate governance can lead to help with your ability to make effective decisions at work. Similarly, the wider your knowledge base, the easier it is to move laterally within a business or organisation - with an understanding of the basics of accountancy useful in a variety of areas.

If you’re already responsible for managing a team, an expanded knowledge of how the business works can help to bolster your leadership skills. Another area where accountancy can really bring value is in its teaching of professional ethics - which can provide a heightened alertness to compliance and regulation.  

Develop practical skills

Whether you’re a student or a working professional, there’s never any harm in priming your business literacy and problem-solving skills.

For example, the numeracy skills required for accounting are particularly valuable, whichever side of a business you work in.

There are also other useful skills involved in the preparation of financial statements. These days knowing the ins and outs of financial statements requires familiarity with Excel and other important software widely used in business contexts.

Studying accountancy can lead to real improvements in your computer skills, adding value to your CV and, if you’re an entrepreneur, your business.  

Open up new opportunities

By increasing professional knowledge and skills, students open up new possibilities, whether that’s in their current organization or in future roles. A familiarity with the basics of accounting could enable you to move to other positions within your current company, climbing up to more senior roles which involve taking decisions about the bottom line and liaising with finance departments, consultants and auditors.

However, it can also create opportunities beyond your current job: it could, for example, provide the momentum you need to become a fully-fledged accountant. Or, if you don’t want to change careers, a grounding in the basics will enable you to carry on learning, honing your professional skills and improving your employability.