Why should you think about starting a career in finance and accountancy?
By Karl Smith, SAIPA’s senior manager: education, training and member support
First of all, let’s take a quick look at what these exciting fields are about.
Finance – building and preserving wealth
Every day, across the planet, trillions of dollars change hands and immense wealth is created – or lost. Finance professionals help people, organisations and even governments manage their money and investments, wisely and strategically.
Ultimately, they build wealth for their clients by gaining more value from their assets and reducing their risk of loss.
Can you imagine working in such a vibrant, complex industry? Then a career in finance might be right for you.
Accountancy – making businesses sustainable
Without good information, organisations make bad decisions. Accountants don’t just manage every cent earned or spent, or ensure financial transactions comply with laws and accountancy standards.
They also compile this data into financial statements and management reports. And they provide their analysis of what it means so corporate and government managers make better strategic decisions.
If you love numbers, accountancy is a fantastic occupation to choose.
Reason one: Work in a dynamic, tech-driven industry every day
Finance and accountancy make up one of the most forward-thinking industries in the world, constantly advancing and rapidly expanding.
The growing dependence of global financial markets on advanced technologies, like artificial intelligence and cloud computing, will keep you at the cutting edge of business.
And, thanks to emerging markets, new legislation, digital financial models and other economic trends, it’s becoming more exciting every day to work in this field.
Reason 2: Start your career with a sparkling variety of options
A finance and accountancy qualification is the gateway to a variety of engaging careers.
Finance professionals can choose to be investment bankers, corporate finance managers, corporate acquisition specialists, asset managers, equity analysts, and many other roles.
Accountants are spoiled for choice, and they can work as consultants, financial accountants, tax practitioners, management accountants, information systems experts, internal and external auditors, forensic accountants, financial planners, and more.
There are so many places to start your journey towards the position you see yourself holding in the future.
Reason 3: Look forward to international work opportunities
Finance and accountancy can be your international passport because it’s relatively easy for these professionals to get a job in other English-speaking countries.
And if you brush up on a new language, the world is your oyster, because more and more companies are going global. Foreign branches need professionals who understand how their parent business operates but can also adapt quickly to the local market.
Some finance and accountancy qualifications easily lend themselves to working abroad. For example, the Professional Accountant (SA) designation is internationally recognised through the South African Institute of Professional Accountants’ (SAIPA’s) membership with the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).
So, if you dream of faraway lands, a career in finance and accountancy can transport you there.
Reason 4: Work in any sector and organisation you like
While many professions are restricted to specific industries, accountants work everywhere and finance professionals work with everyone. Whether it’s forestry, pharmaceuticals or space exploration, everyone needs accountants and protection for their finances.
Finance and accountancy professionals also do equally well in local, provincial and national governments; corporate and commercial businesses; charities and not-for-profit organisations; professional associations; and educational institutions.
They might be employed full-time, work for an accountancy firm, or run a private practice so they can serve many different clients in different industries.
Which other profession gives you such freedom of choice?
Reason 5: Enjoy wealth and rewards more valuable than money
It’s no secret that finance and accountancy professionals earn very good salaries, but they also enjoy rewards that are not financial.
There’s the certainty of knowing that, as an always in-demand expert, you’ll quickly achieve personal financial stability. You can start saving and investing sooner while enjoying the finer things in life. And you can provide your family with a greater level of happiness and security than many other professions.
At the same time, a career in finance and accountancy is a personal achievement you will always be proud of. It will give you confidence to establish yourself as a trusted professional advisor, and achieve your life goals without hesitation.
It’s a career that offers more wealth than can be seen in a bank account.
Reason 6: Possess employable skills that will never go out of demand
Did you know that, in South Africa, many finance and accountancy roles appear on the national Critical Skills List? The need for these talents is massive at all levels of business. So a smart candidate shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the job they desire.
Think about it. Not all organisations use engineers, doctors, architects or many other professions directly. But no organisation can operate without accountants. They are truly critical to business.
As for finance, it’s a sprawling global industry that rose from the lasting need to preserve the value of money. The demand for its services will likely never diminish.
So, if you want a career that will always be in demand, look no further than finance and accountancy.
Reason 7: Rest assured that the sky is the limit for your career
Did you know that some of the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and government ministers started off in finance and accountancy? There’s really no end to what you can achieve in this field and you can set your sights as high as you want.
When it comes to career advancement, other industries demand seniority and experience. But in finance and accountancy, if you can show you are quick thinking, pay attention to details and deliver consistent results, age is no barrier to one day winning a top corporate position.
Of course, if you prefer to be your own boss, finance and accountancy is the best platform to build your personal empire in the exciting world of entrepreneurship.
Reason 8: Be surprised by how social the profession is
It’s true. Accountants are no longer chained to their adding machines. Instead, as strategic business advisors, they deal with people all day, at various levels of business and society.
In fact, as basic accountancy functions become more automated, the profession is focusing on offering assurance on information and informing, educating, persuading, and helping others to understand and use it to their greatest strategic advantage.
Because you’ll belong to a professional body, you’ll also get the chance to network with a large community of like-minded people who understand what you do. Expect to make important connections and build many long-lasting relationships.
Here’s how to get into the industry
Do you like these eight great reasons for getting into finance and accountancy? Then here’s the path to becoming a Professional Accountant (SA) with the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA).
One: Pass matric with good marks in mathematics and accountancy.
Two: Pursue a SAIPA-approved Bcom degree at university.
Three: Complete three years of practical training at a SAIPA Accredited Training Centre (ATC).
Four: Take SAIPA’s Professional Evaluation to become a member of the Institute.
Five: After passing, you’ll be awarded the Professional Accountant (SA) designation.
Now it’s your move
The world needs finance and accountancy professionals now more than ever. So there’s no better time to become one. It’s an exciting, open-world experience that lets you build your career around your desired lifestyle, with plenty of financial and personal rewards along the way.