#1 No business can survive without accountants.
That makes them indispensable since they are the ones able to provide accurate financial information that drive business growth.
#2 Accounting is also an almost recession-proof profession.
Today, most accountants are employed in accountancy firms, banks, insurance companies and management consultancies.
#3 The biggest and most prominent graduate recruiters are multinational accountancy firms.
They use large-scale recruitment campaigns to attract the most promising graduates and have high-minimum requirements.
#4 Malaysia needs 60,000 accountants by 2020.
As of 2016, the Malaysian Institute of Accountants has registered only 32,000 members. Therefore, the demand remains high.
WHICH ACCOUNTING TYPE IS SUITABLE FOR YOU?
The typical career path begins in a public accounting firm – or professional services firms – to serve a wide range of clients across different industries and sectors. This provides unparalleled exposure to young graduates while the rigours of the work help strengthen one’s command of the technicalities.
Services rendered encompass audit, assurance, tax, consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance and legal. All divisions hire fresh graduates with audit and assurance being the biggest “employer” because the law mandates that all company accounts must be audited by a third-party professional firm.
The audit process is to provide a reasonable assurance that the financial statements of a company are free from material error. The scope of the audit will define the extent of work required but even though this involves statistical sampling instead of investigating every detail, it is still a lot of work. The responsibility of the detail checks usually lies with the staff auditor.
Tax advisers are increasingly sought after to help individuals and companies in tax planning. An entry-level tax staff member will work on tax returns for individuals and companies, provide tax advisory services, and assist the department in researching issues.
In other areas of management services and consulting services, the staff work together with the team to help clients navigate business challenges, make improvements in business processes, and undertake business transformation, among others, to improve their competitive advantage.
Don’t fancy working in public accounting? Then hop over to the other side of the fence and work for a corporation, the clients serviced by the professional services firms. In general, the accounting-related divisions in the finance department can be divided into financial accounting, management accounting, taxation and internal audit.
The financial accounting and reporting division is concerned with collecting, compiling and monitoring the company’s financial information. In larger companies, the work may be divided into specific portfolios. For example, there would be an executive responsible for accounts receivables only and so on. This division is also responsible for producing monthly and yearly financial statements.
In management accounting, the executive would be responsible for collecting, analysing and reporting of financial data to be used for budgeting, cost management, resource planning, and performance evaluation, among others. The focus of this division is the use of data for future planning, rather than reporting on the past.
Executives in tax accounting perform similar duties to their counterparts in professional services firms, except that the client that they advise is the company’s top management. They would also be involved in tax planning activities for the company, and preparing the relevant tax schedules and returns to ensure that the company complies with taxation law.
Likewise, internal audit work is fairly similar to the work of auditing in professional services firms. This division is often known as the “internal police” because it is concerned with evaluating the strength and efficiencies of a company’s operations, systems and compliance across various functions, not just financial matters. It is the top management’s eyes and ears on the ground, ensuring sound financial management, and preventing fraud and mismanagement.
The same duties of public and corporate accounting executives are also performed in the government sector. Like their counterparts, the executives play similar roles in auditing, financial reporting and management reporting.
In Malaysia, the National Audit Department is responsible for auditing the annual financial statements of the federal and state governments, and government agencies. The department also performs compliance audits and performance audits. The former is to determine that the financial management at ministries, their departments and government agencies complies with the law and financial regulations and procedures. In the latter, the scope of audit is concerned with the effective, efficient and economical execution and management of government programmes and activities.
It is responsible for carrying out audits on ministries and departments, state government agencies, financial statements and consolidated funds of federal statutory bodies, local authorities and Islamic councils, government agencies and companies which received grants from the government and government-linked companies.
Given the boom in the higher education sector in Malaysia, the opportunities are also booming in this area, especially for senior lecturers, associate professors and professors. Fresh graduates may be able to find employment as tutors in private centres or colleges and universities or teachers in public and private schools. However, to advance further in education, one would need to consider professional and further qualifications.
The areas cover the entire spectrum of accounting – auditing, financial accounting, management accounting, ethics, taxation and more. Members of academia will also be required to work on research projects to contribute to the enhancement of industry knowledge.