Guest Blog: Unravelling Accountancy, One Myth at a Time

The accountancy field is one shrouded in ambiguity. It’s hardly touched upon during secondary learning, nor is its bookkeeping relative. Add that to the multiple entry routes which exist for a career in the accounting sector, and it’s hardly surprising that myths abound.

To be successful in accounting, applicants need a mixture of knowledge, skills, and on-the job experience. Much like any job, really! But amongst the preconceptions, applicants can be left wondering which credentials to prioritise.

We figured something must be done. Taking it upon ourselves to provide truth amongst the hear-say. We’re shedding light on the top myths surrounding bookkeeping in the hope that anxieties will be eased, and learners, encouraged.

1. “To be an accountant, you need a degree.”

Apprenticeships are sometimes in danger of missing out on the publicity they deserve. At risk of being presented by some schools as a lesser option if grades go wrong, they’re actually a valuable source of real-world learning.

Apprentice accountants are just as likely to succeed as those who come into the industry with a degree. In fact, across numerous industries, apprentices can earn 270% more than graduates.

In the finance field especially, a degree from a totally unrelated subject is just as welcome as a one which is. Sure, a degree can teach you skills which are useful for an accountant. A History student will be used to analysing information, and correlating data into something user friendly. But, everyone studying accountancy starts out at the same “zero level”, and will be taught with same materials.

Gavin Aspeden of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) said: “Firms are quite often deliberately looking for people without accountancy degrees, because they want people who have different thought processes.”

Qualifications available for non-graduates:

The AAT qualification is the minimum attainment that can be achieved, in order to successfully work in a financial environment. To begin study, learners needn’t any grades, however must complete all four levels to achieve the “lowest level expected of an accountant”.

Following that, non-graduates (and graduates) can go onto advanced study, progressing to: ACA, ACCA or CIMA qualifications. Each differ accordingly, designed to enhance knowledge in specialist accounting areas.

2. “Accountants can only become chartered if they have a degree.”

No matter the route, anyone can become chartered through studying advanced apprenticeships, providing they have the minimum, mandatory accounting qualifications already.

Apprentices and academics can take up an ICAEW apprenticeship, comprised of a level 4 ACA qualification and level 7 ACA qualification. Whilst studying for an ACA, students learn financial accounting, such as taxes and strategic management primarily. Successful learners are credited with an Associated Charted Accountant (ACA) qualification.

Both graduates and non-graduates can also study for a Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) qualification, which concerns business strategy and management accounting. An Association of Certified Chartered Accountant qualification (ACCA) specialises in auditing and taxation, amongst other areas.

Non degree and degree holders are both eligible to complete the same advanced qualifications, ACA, ACCA, CIMA to receive charted status – all of which are equivalent to a master’s degree. Both CIMA and ACCA requires 2-3 years of mandatory work experience, whereas for the ACA qualification it is not compulsory.

3. Saving the best for last: “You need to be amazing at maths to become an accountant.”

Many students are often discouraged by the thought of a career in finance, convinced they need to excel in maths. However, most accounting programmes only feature an “introductory” maths course that covers the basic components, that being what’s necessary.

Accountants only need to be comfortable with employing simple calculations, such as working out fractions, decimals, percentages and general algebra – all of which are covered throughout secondary learning.

What’s more, thanks to technology, the need to even employ basic maths skills as a bookkeeper is becoming even less of a demand. There is plenty of automated software which does these for you; what’s important is that you understand the logic.

Cloud-based software Pandle streamlines the mathematical side of accounting for bookkeepers, so they needn’t work out income costs, expenses, or even calculate taxes.

What’s more, the simple software is equipped with various other features, designed to unburden the load from accountants. Features include: Bank Feeds, accountants can collate all relevant transactions and documentation into one programme, Payment Reminders, bookkeepers can employ automated notifications to forewarn clients to pay invoices, and Pandle Mobile, users can maintain their accounts and perform tasks remotely via their smartphones.

Digital software as such is revolutionising the field of finance, ensuring accounts are valid, processes are efficient and backlogs of invoices are no more.

If you have further unanswered questions relating to bookkeeping, discover accountancy news from The Accountancy Partnership here.

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