Students aspiring to become Chartered Accountants (CA) study commerce or finance. Chartered accountancy is considered among the high-profile jobs worldwide. According to reports, £17bn was spent on accounting services by UK Ltd company accountancy services in 2016 (CCAB) alone. This means that self-employed accountants have the potential to earn well with low-risk and low investment.
What does a chartered accountant (CA) do?
A chartered accountant (CA) is like a finance doctor who keeps you financially healthy. They prevent you from losses by providing required financial advice.
A chartered accountant is someone who audits your financial accounts and provides you with financial advice. Chartered accountants are paid a handsome salary to save taxes in business. They provide a number of services that include reporting, taxation, auditing, forensic accounting, corporate finance, business recovery and insolvency, or account systems and processes.
Responsibilities of a chartered accountant (CA)
As a financial advisor, the role of a chartered accountant (CA) is very crucial to the organization. Some of the important responsibilities of a CA are:
- managing financial systems and yearly budgets
- undertaking financial audits and providing financial advice
- liaising with clients and providing financial information and advice
- reviewing the company’s financial systems and analysing the risk factors
- performing tests to check financial information and systems
- advising clients on tax planning (to minimise their tax liability) and tax issues associated with activities such as business acquisitions, mergers, etc.
- maintaining accounting records, preparing accounts and managing information for small businesses
- advising clients on business transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions (corporate finance)
- counselling clients on areas of business improvement, or dealing with insolvency
- detecting and preventing fraud (forensic accounting)
- managing junior colleagues
- liaising with internal and external auditors to deal with any financial irregularities as they arise
- producing reports and recommendations following internal audits or public-sector audits
- preparing financial statements, including monthly and annual accounts
- arranging financial management reports, including financial planning and forecasting
- advising on tax and treasury issues
- negotiating terms with suppliers
Work hours of a chartered accountant (CA)
The working hours of a chartered accountant aren’t restricted to a 9-5 timeline. The working hours can stretch or reduce depending upon the workload. As a CA you might be working for a small firm or a big company, a single client or multiple clients and you might have a staff or you might be working alone. All these factors affect the length of your working hours.
Salary overview of a chartered accountant (CA)
The salary amount varies depending on your work experience, location, sector, size and type of firm. Initially, graduates can expect a salary of around £30,000. The salary during the training period can be up to £60,000. The average annual salary of a CA in the UK is around £84,500 with a bonus of £17,300.
This is just a rough estimate of the annual average salary. Apart from salary, there are other benefits that vary from company to company.
How to become a chartered accountant (CA)?
Qualification and Courses to become a chartered accountant
Training and practice are required to learn any skill. To pursue a career in certain professions it is essential to have a certificate with the required degree. So, to become a professional like CA you will need to take up courses and earn a certificate in the traditional way.
Entry-level qualifications like AAT are good for a start. This is the foundation qualification required. For advanced levels, you can opt for higher-level qualifications like the ACA, ACCA or CIMA. These are professional courses required to become a CA in the UK.
1. Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
This is a foundational course that is a must for all the aspiring chartered accountants who want to join the UK Ltd company accountancy services as an accountant. This course combines industry knowledge and practical work skill sets.
2. Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA)
ACA is awarded from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) and is recognised globally as one of the most professional business development programmes available. You’ll need to enter into a training agreement with an employer and complete the course with the stipulated time along with work experience.
3. Associate Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA)
This course can be taken independently. ACCA gives you a lot of exposure and can help you either when you join a firm or start your firm being self-employed.
4. Chartered Institute of Management Accountant (CIMA)
CIMA mainly focuses on various aspects of business accounting. Just like ACCA, you can take independent training or opt for a training agreement.
Best Universities for Accountancy Courses in the UK
The best 10 universities in the UK with accountancy courses have been listed below (QS rankings 2021). These are world-renowned universities with excellent academic records.
- The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
- University of Oxford
- University of Cambridge
- London Business School
- The University of Manchester
- Imperial College London
- The University of Edinburgh
- The University of Warwick
- Lancaster University
- City, University of London
You can visit their official websites for more information on various course structures and programmes.
What skills do you need to become a chartered accountant?
The must-have skill for a good accountant is to be good with numbers. There aren’t any mandatory set of skills that an accountant should officially know but there are some useful skills that make an accountant stand out.
- Numeracy skills: When you are going to deal with numbers, you need to know your math right. Being good with numbers help a lot, obviously.
- Attention to detail: Financial papers and accountants need attention to the atomic level. A minor error can cause huge damage. So, a good accountant needs to be thorough with his/her job.
- Business techniques: If you are dealing with businesses, then foundational knowledge on how a business runs really helps. You can offer better solutions to your clients when know and understand how their business works.
- Communication skills: It goes without saying that your communication skills are very crucial. It is important for your client to receives your messages efficiently since you’ll need to do a lot of explaining and provide advice on a regular basis.
- Organisational skills: It will be very beneficial to have good organizational skills. You will need to maintain accurate record-keeping, set your priority list right and regularly put things in order.
- Technology skills: With the advent of new technology and software in the field of AI and cloud computing, there are soft tools available for a number of tasks. These not only make the processes easier and faster but also so much better.
What costs are involved in becoming a self-employed accountant?
The major cost involved is in the training module. For example, AAT has three levels and they typically range from £600 to £2,000 per level.
The next important step is to acquire a proper license when you are opting for self-employment. This will enhance your credibility and you can brand yourself as an AAT Licensed Accountant. This costs £289 a year plus a one-off admission fee of £50.
How to find the best accounting jobs?
Accountants are required in business firms, companies, corporate companies, factories, accountancy firms, banks and building societies, management consultancies and a range of private and public sector offices.
If you want to work for an employer in a company you can search online on websites like National Apprenticeship Service, UCAS Career Finder or Get my First Job. You can enter the employer you want to work for when they are hiring, and the hiring process, etc. Get in touch with the HR team of your employer and proceed as per protocol.
For graduates from universities, opportunities through websites such as TARGETJobs, Inside Careers, Prospects, Milkround, the Guardian and Accountancy Age are available.
Some of the well-known big names in the list of employers of public practice accountants include the Big Four professional services firms: PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY.
Work experience required
You can contact accountancy firms to ask about opportunities to gain relevant pre-entry work experiences, such as vacation work, work placements or shadowing. Simultaneously you can search for internships online independently and earn some work experience.
Also, you can start small by offering your services locally to people in need, plan their taxes, provide them financial insights or maintain their accounts and balance sheets maybe.
As already mentioned at the beginning, the field of UK Ltd company accountancy services is a huge sector in the UK with an appealing earning potential. With proper qualifications and work experience in the place, you can become self-employed or join any firm as a chartered accountant.