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Career Spotlights ~ Private Accountant
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Basic Info
  • Hours: 30 - 40 per week
  • Starting Salary: £18,000 + per year

If you enjoy finance and figures and want a business career, this could be ideal for you. As an accountant working in private practice, you would provide accountancy services for clients. You would handle clients' tax and accounts, carry out audits and advise clients how to improve their business finances. To become a qualified accountant you will need to qualify with a professional body. You will also need to have a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. You'll need to be able to explain technical financial information clearly. You'll also need good communication skills.

The Work

Your clients could range from small businesses to large companies or wealthy individuals. Your main tasks could include:

  • Preparing financial statements, business plans and budget reports
  • Producing annual and monthly accounts
  • Carrying out independent audits of company accounts
  • Managing clients' spending, costs, credit, payroll and investments
  • Filing tax returns and providing tax advice
  • Forecasting future profits and financial performance
  • Helping businesses that may be in financial difficulties
  • Dealing with insolvencies
  • Advising companies how to improve their financial systems and profitability
  • Finding and preventing fraud (known as forensic accounting)

You might deal with all of these tasks if you worked freelance or for a small accountancy practice. In larger practices you might specialise in one area such as tax or insolvency.

Hours

In a full-time job you would normally work standard office hours Monday to Friday. You may work longer hours at busy times such as at the end of the financial year. Part-time hours and temporary contract work may be available.

You wouldbe based at an office, but would spend much of your time visiting clients. If you worked for a large accountancy practice, this could mean travelling all over the UK.

Income

Salaries for trainee or part-qualified accountants may be between £18,000 and £24,000 a year. Qualified accountants normally earn between £28,000 and £50,000 a year.

Senior accountants in large private practices could earn up to £100,000 a year.

Entry Requirements

To become a qualified accountant able to provide the full range of accountancy services, including audits, you will need to qualify with one of the following professional bodies:

  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
  • Association of International Accountants (AIA)

Entry requirements vary for each of the professional bodies. See below for more details. If you already have relevant accounting of business-relate qualifications, you may be able to qualify in a shorter time.

There are various entry requirements for the ACCA qualifications.

The standard entry requirements are two A Level (or equaivalent qualifications such as a BTEC National Diploma) plus three GCSE's (A*-C) including Maths and English.

If you are aged 21 or over, you don't need academic qualifications to start ACCA study, however you must pass the first two exams within two years. This is known as the Mature Student Entry Route.

Skills & Knowledge

To become an Private Accountant, you will need to have:

  • Good Mathematical and Computer skills
  • Analytical skills and a logical approach
  • A good understanding of business
  • A high level of accuracy and attention to detail
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to explain technical financial information clearly
  • Organisational and time-management skills
  • Honesty
  • Discretion with confidential information

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