Which Accountancy Specialisation Should You Choose?
Accountancy and financial management employers usually expect graduates to specify an area of specialisation during job applications – but what if you’re not sure which area to focus on?
You can start by referring to gradsingapore’s areas of work section to help you identify the different accountancy sectors. Employer websites also provide graduate references and links that may be useful.
For instance, KPMG prepares self-selection tests for applicants to figure out the area that suits them best before going through the assessment process. Grant Thornton, on the other hand, mentions in its FAQ that “tax attracts students of law or maths, and business studies students apply to audit.”
Your choice of degree and academic results will also greatly influence your area of specialisation. A career in consulting, for example, typically requires a degree with a foundation in mathematics, while forensic services prefers graduates with an IT-related degree.
It is also best to match your career to your personality. Those good with investigative work may like forensic finance, while auditing will suit graduates who are patient and have an eye for detail.
Here are some brief descriptions of the main specialisations in accountancy, matched with their most suitable personalities:
Assurance concerns the evaluation of the financial data and working procedures within a company that prepares financial documents informing current and potential investors if the shareholders’ money are being put to good use. Those with strong academics, good communication skills, and are self-confident will find compatibility with the job.
If you’re attentive to the latest business opportunities and market trends, and have strong analytical skills, then commercial finance may be right up your alley. Accountants in this field deal with consumer transactions and product/services analyses.
Employment opportunities are ample in sectors like retail, manufacturing, FMCG, and leisure, as they need to constantly analyse and innovate their products and services.
Corporate finance helps business organisations increase and manage their financial value through various purchasing and sales strategies. This field is best for candidates with a high level of confidence, excellent communication and numeracy skills, and the ability to work well under pressure.
There is a wide range of roles available: advisors supervising the raising of capital; accountants assessing the status of the accounts of target companies; lawyers maintaining the legal accuracy of transactions.
Corporate recovery is suitable for those with an interest in the way companies operate, are good negotiators, and can cope with complex and sensitive financial information. They’re there to help creditors, suppliers, or employees of failing businesses to salvage the most out of their remaining capital. Accountants in this field are typically appointed through referrals from banks, lawyers, and accountants.
Corporate treasurers secure the financial stability of a business organisation by ensuring that it has enough cash to meet the company’s needs at all times. They’re tasked with monitoring the liquidity of the company’s finances and keeping track of its commercial progress so that they can estimate the funds needed for it. Those with a good foundation in business and economics, excellent analytical skills, and the ability to perform under pressure will fit well here.
Financial accountants are tasked with analysing and documenting business transactions to gather information about a company’s performance, and then share it with shareholders for investment purposes. For this reason, employees in this sector have to be inquisitive, analytical, good communicators, and willing to question the existing processes within an organisation.
Forensic accountants help clients work out financial problems like fraud, disagreements, and suspected transgressions, and suits those who like investigative work. Communication skills is also necessary to effectively explain complex concepts to clients from a non-finance background. Additionally, if you find that you can maintain impartiality no matter the situation, then this is the field for you.
Internal audit is suitable for those with an eye for detail, and still able to see the bigger picture, are good at business management, and have effective communication skills. Accountants in this field are responsible for monitoring key business areas and reporting its progress to aid the management’s decision-making. They may also be consulted to assess whether the business is being operated inefficiently or fraudulently.
Typically, this field looks for employees who are level-headed, decisive, analytical, and able to simplify complex financial information. Management accounting uses accounting information to make informed decisions for a better implementation of performance management strategies. Candidates should also possess relevant skill sets such as strategic planning, managerial skills, on top of good accounting abilities.
Risk assessment is involved whenever organisations need to determine, comprehend, and manage risks so as to forestall oncoming crises, thereby allowing companies to capitalise on existing and potential commercial opportunities. It is most suited for those with a cautious and detailed nature, and able to consider every factor before making a decision.
If you have good analytical, problem-solving and interpersonal skills, and a knack for discretion, then tax advisory may be for you. Tax advisers are usually engaged as consultants to advise businesses on their tax problems and offer one-off solutions. They may also be hired as a long-term staff to monitor the taxation requirements made on their clients.