Primarily concerned with the regular analysis and reporting of a company’s financial state, financial accountants measure the “health” of the firm and offer crucial information of its performance. This practice ensures the transparency of an enterprise’s accounts and keeps it accountable to both its partners and customers.
For instance, internal management use these reports to keep up-to-date on the cash flow, a vital cog in decision-making; and external investors, such as shareholders and banks, refer to them to assess if it is worth investing further. Other organisations, like suppliers, can also be found relying on these documents to decide if they want to continue providing their products and services, or if it would be safe to extend any form of credit.
For Singapore, the practice of financial accounting is governed by the Accounting Standards Committee (ASC). They are responsible for formulating Singapore’s Finance Reporting Standards (FRS), a standard that should be adhered to by all practising financial accountants here.
Financial accountants usually find employment in departments such as auditing, treasury management and cash flow, as well as the reporting of new or potential acquisitions.
Graduate hires generally start with a training programme that not only allows them to acquire an overall understanding of the institution’s business, but also enables observation of the ways finances are associated with other departments. As with most finance positions, pursuing the necessary professional qualifications while undergoing on-the-job training is required.
The first few years as a financial accountant are generally quite hectic as plenty of hard work – of which number-crunching duties form a significant portion – is needed. Other responsibilities include forecasting account balances, statutory reporting and controlling direct and indirect taxes.
After graduates have started specialising in a specific area, work will be determined by the projects taken.<
An eye for detail and an ability to communicate complex findings in layman’s terms are valued, together with having an analytical mind, good numeracy skills and a willingness to develop interdepartmental relationships. This is because financial accountants draw relevant conclusions based on minute details found in their analysis of the company’s accounts, and report these findings in a comprehensive manner to senior management.
Working in Singapore also requires familiarity with the nation’s financial reporting standards (FRS), accounting systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other relevant government policies.
Pros and cons
Starting off in financial accounting entails a certain pressure to perform and hectic beginnings in work life. However, it does help graduates acquire a wide range of relevant knowledge and skills, particularly in technical accounting and leadership.
More than that, the comprehensive nature of this line of work also prepares many for the future if they decide to branch out and specialise in other areas of accountancy.