Does an accountant spend all day typing? According to 30 Minutes a Month participant and Bachelor of Accounting (2017) graduate Michael King, accounting includes a variety of tasks that people might not expect.
The first thing I do when I start to work is
Check my emails. As I work in public practice accounting, I deal with a variety of clients who operate at different times in the day, so I usually spend the start of my day working through emails that have come through from the night before and getting back to clients with any information they need. From here I will generally plan out my day according to what jobs I have going at the moment and what work needs to be prioritized.
My day is generally then spent doing
Several different things, the makeup of which varies depending on the time of the year. Generally though, my work will include some compliance work (preparing business activity statements, financials, and tax returns), some business advisory work (reviewing business figures and identifying any issues or areas where there is potential for improvement) and providing advice to clients who have specific queries such as issues with their software or information on new legislation.
Something people might not realise about public practice accounting is
That it is really more of a business that relies on person-to-person interaction rather than just the numbers. The clients I deal with vary in their financial know how so I need to be about to connect with my clients on a personal level and explain things to them in a way they are going to understand what I am trying to convey.
Something I didn’t think I would be doing as a part of being a public practice accounting is
Effectively filling the role of a fill-in councillor for some of my clients. When the restrictions were put in place in March 2020 some of my clients found themselves no longer able to trade in the space of a 24-hour period. As you can imagine this is a high-stress situation as these people had little to no warning and had to come up with a strategy on how they were going to survive without being able to open their doors. A lot of the work I did during this period was helping my clients keep a level head and not let the stress pull them down so that we could come up with strategies to continue trading as best as we could and ensuring we were on top of all the stimulus being provided to help keep them afloat.
Part of the above involved a lot of reading up on the latest information released by the government on these stimulus packages, which is something more in line with what I imagined I would be doing. Continually keeping abreast of the changes to legislation surrounding tax and accounting is vital to the job, but luckily as part of a firm (in my experience at least) you aren’t alone in this endeavour and it will be a team effort to both read and digest any changes that come out.
Something students who are considering being a public practice need to think about is
Because this is such a people-orientated industry you do need to work on your soft skills such as communicating with clients confidently in a way the client will understand.
The best bit about my job is
The variety. I deal with a large variety of clients who work in industries ranging from cane and cattle farming to large labour hire businesses providing workers to the mines. As their accountants I get to work vicariously in these businesses and come up with strategies to improve growth and minimise tax that need to work in the client’s specific circumstance, which means on a day-to-day basis my work is constantly changing.
With the continual push to cloud-based accounting and automation of simpler compliance processes I think the need for soft skills will only grow. This has been pushed to the forefront even further with the current pandemic, so it is an area I strongly suggest people work on.
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