Accountants come in all shapes and sizes and work across the financial sector, industry and commerce and within the public sector. Thousands of graduates are brought into large professional services firms every year, but there’s a range of options available. These are the main jobs:
Product control: In investment banking, product controllers keep an eye on the profits and losses made on products bought and sold on the trading floor. Product controllers are the central monitoring function for the trading floor, ensuring that front office staff are staying within the remit of their risk profiles. It's a key accounting job in investment banking and product controllers are also required to mark up traders’ books to fair value prices.
Financial control: These are the accounting roles primarily responsible for ensuring that a company is on the right track and isn’t going to get in trouble with any rules or regulations, of which there are many. Financial controllers do the books and produce company accounts, ensuring that each department and the overall firm is hitting its targets.
Internal audit: Internal audit is all about risk. Or more specifically, internal audit is about the control of risks facing companies. This can mean ensuring it’s hitting its corporate governance targets, or assessing risks to a company’s reputation, the supply chain or a sudden change in market sentiment. It’s the internal auditor’s role to ensure that systems and controls are in place in case the worst happens.
Regulatory reporting: This is primarily in the financial sector, where investment banks and other organisations are facing an onslaught of regulation that requires them to be ever-more diligent in how they report their numbers. Regulatory accountants, simply put, make sure that the bank reports its financial activity according to the legal rules of the countries it trades in.
Treasury accountants: Structure the company's financial affairs so that sufficient cash is available to meet its liabilities.
Management accountants: Imagine a business wants to roll out a new product, enter a new market or simply invest in a new project. How much will that cost? What are the long-term implications of making such a move? What’s the competition like? It’s these questions – and many more – that management accountants must answer.