Financial accounting is an essential part of most corporate business plans. It allows corporate officers to monitor money going in, keep track of both internal and external expenditures, and advise stockholders as well as the general public about the company’s overall financial health. There are as many different financial accounting jobs as there are uses for financial accounting. Some accountants work in-house with companies, while others consult businesses from the outside; some focus on the unique accounting struggles faced by international corporations, or do the same for non-profits. Financial accounting jobs can differ widely from sector to sector, but all professionals in the field focus their careers on providing financial advice, planning, and analysis to corporations.
Most financial accounting jobs are permanent staff positions within companies. Financial accountants work within accounting departments, but their jobs do not usually overlap with those of a regular accounting staff. A corporate accountant's job typically focuses on managing corporate accounts on the inside, particularly with respect to tax obligations and audit requests. Financial accountants, on the other hand, usually work almost exclusively with corporate financial statements and public disclosures of expenses and budgeting processes. Staff financial accounting jobs often require broad knowledge of the company’s filings and overall financial health, often involving evaluation of the company’s financial stature in light of the local, and sometimes even global, marketplace.
Financial accounting jobs are also often found within financial firms. Corporations will retain the services of a financial accounting firm in much the same way as they would retain the services of a law firm: usually on a case by case basis, and often with a specific project in mind. Financial accountants who work for firms often focus on one nuanced area of financial accounting, such as international financial accounting or financial accounting for non-governmental organizations. They are able to work with multiple clients on complex problems, sometimes simultaneously.
The majority of financial accountants either in-house or in firms begin their careers as assistants or associates. These lower-level positions are designed to help burgeoning financial accountants learn the ins and outs of financial practice, and to apply their education to real-life case studies. Financial accounting jobs almost unanimously require at least an undergraduate degree in business administration, accounting, management, or a related field. Many also require advanced degrees, usually a Master of Business Administration.
As they advance, financial accountants can often choose specialties or hone their skills by accepting higher-rung positions in more nuanced areas. A financial accounting analyst, for instance, works exclusively with corporate financial statements as they relate to government regulations. The accounting analyst prepares releases for government entities about a corporation’s earnings, losses, and profits. A financial accounting manager may head up a corporate finance department, overseeing and assigning tasks to junior members, or may ensure the fidelity of financial disclosures and statements made to the public and to corporate investors.
The financial accounting job market is generally robust. Positions are often competitive, but remain in demand in most markets. Different types of financial accounting jobs are available in different sectors. As long as corporations have a need for financial analysis, however, there will be a need for a broad range of financial accountants, as well.