A corporate accountant is one that works in industry, i.e. a privately owned company or a listed company. Unlike practice accountants, corporate accountants deal with the one company only. Corporate accountants are employees who will have a legal contract of employment with the company, unlike the practice accountant who will have several contracts providing services to several different companies, partnerships, businesses and individuals.
Being a corporate accountant is a rewarding profession that can grow and develop with your career. Starting off as the company accountant can open many doors to other roles in the business, which you may or may not want to pursue in the future. Regardless of whether you take the opportunities or not, it is always nice to be offered them in the first instance.
The financial function of a business is very important. If a business doesn’t collect its debts, control its expenses, minimises costs, pay its suppliers etc. it will fail. All businesses need a finance director and starting off as the business’s accountant may lead to the role of financial director in the future. Many finance directors started off as the business’s accountant so there is a real possibility that, if you sit it out, you can reach the board of directors.
As the company accountant you can really make a change to the business you work for. Being responsible for the finances of all areas of the business will give you intimate knowledge of how each department works, how efficient each department is, how much it costs to run each department, how much cash each department needs to operate etc. etc. The knowledge of all departments will let you know how they all contribute to the overall business objectives. Working in the finance department, and analysing the results of all the other departments, will give you the opportunity to identify weaknesses in the departments and devise a plan of action to improve them. A proactive approach in trying to improve the business always goes down well with the board of directors, and may result in promotion, a salary increase or a bonus. It will also give you a foot up the corporate ladder.
Being in the role of company accountant you will be asked for your advice and opinion on how to improve the business and the way it operates. As the accountant you will be looked up to, given a high status and a lot of responsibility. Some people thrive on this and will go the extra mile to ensure they are seen to know what they are doing by their peers.
As the company accountant will have a good knowledge and understanding of how the entire business works and this can be used as a tool to move around the business and work in different areas. For example, carrying out the debt collection allows you to know who the large customers are, who the main contacts are, how quickly they pay and whether they are worth doing business with. With this knowledge you could easily move in to the role of sales manager. Similarly, by being responsible for the purchase ledger and knowing who the main suppliers are, who the key contacts etc. you could easily move in to the role of the purchase manager. Being the company accountant will give you many strings to your bow and make you very versatile within the business.
The board of directors of all companies appreciate the importance of the financial function and the role and duties the company accountant fulfils. If you are highly regarded by the board of directors, and are capable of fulfilling the financial function you will be well rewarded. The company accountant can expect a good salary as well as other benefits, which often includes a company car, a laptop, a mobile phone, healthcare and a good pension. In addition to the financial rewards the company accountant will be well thought of in the business and have an input, both of which are very motivating.
As you can see, there are many reasons to being a corporate accountant and it is a job that can open many doors in to the world of business. However, corporate accountancy is not for everybody. A corporate accountant must be prepared to shift their work/life balance more toward work. There are times when a corporate accountant will have to put in the time and effort and work exceptionally long hours. Some accountants are prepared to do this, whereas others are not. So, before you go in to the world of corporate accountancy you need to seriously think about what you want to do in life, where you want to go in life and just how much you are prepared to sacrifice to achieve it.
Accountants that want a standard nine to five job, and want a more balanced work/life balance, can still work as a corporate accountant however these people are unlikely to get very far up the corporate ladder, which may or may not bother some people.