Being an accountant is more than the conventional suit-and-tie dress. It entails more than numbers, it could even be seen as a way of life depending on where you are standing.
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Coming from a family of accountants where strict budgets and financial discipline are norms, it never occurred to me to become something different. From a very early age, I was fascinated by the idea of working in a bank. As a little girl, there were times I would be given a tour of the insides of a bank, and seeing the way the grownups operated, in addition to the dress sense and confidence that was exuded in the way they walked and talked, only increased my curiosity about the profession.
It brought me joy playing with numbers and reading the annual financial statements published in newspapers. It came as no surprise that after high school, with great determination, I declared my major in accounting at the university and the journey began. Through rigorous learning exercises, it became clear what being an accountant really entailed. To assume the responsibilities of being an accountant, you must exercise due diligence, be patient, be attentive to detail and be willing to constantly extend your frontiers of knowledge in an ever dynamic world.
Rising above the stereotype that the accounting profession is boring, monotonous, and stressful, being an accountant allows you to have increased knowledge about all operations of the business and this enables you to help people make smart financial decisions which in turn makes you add value in the process. There is no profession without its share of workloads, so analyzing bank statements, producing reports, and meeting deadlines is only a part of the job. The workload may be intimidating for some but shouldn’t the fact that you are helping someone achieve certain goals make the work all the more fulfilling?
As an accountant you meet people, whether they are prospective clients or not, relationships are formed. To me, being an accountant could only be as boring as you make it to be. The accounting profession cuts across auditing, taxation, finance, and business management.
Putting it simply, as long as businesses, taxes, banks, firms, and organizations exist, accountants would always be needed. They are found in all spheres of the economy. It is left for you to decide which of the areas of accounting you would rather much focus and expand your knowledge on. Whether it is climbing up the corporate ladder or setting up your own business, being an accountant opens up a world of opportunities for you.
Be that as it may, being an accountant doesn’t end at getting a degree in Accounting. Getting certified is where the main show starts. Belonging to a renowned accounting body increases your chances in the profession.
In Nigeria, we have quite a few of these professional bodies. Some of the accounting, as well as accounting-related bodies, include the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (with this body being the most popular), Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, Certified Information System Audit, and Institute of Foreign Accountants of Nigeria. While some of the globally-accepted professional bodies include the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Association of International Accountants, the Association of Accounting Technicians, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
The process of getting certified includes training, learning, sitting for examinations at various levels, and passing the examinations. To be certified or chartered is very key for a career progression in this field as you are viewed as an expert after been certified or chartered. Looking at the likes of Akintola Williams (a renowned chartered accountant and the first President of ICAN), Mr. Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla who have been successful in the accounting field, the profession sure seems more than attractive and full of its own share of perks.
However, restricting the potentials of being an accountant comprises of the lack of infrastructure in Nigeria especially technology. Accounting has gone beyond the manual process frame of mind we sell in Nigeria. There is the existence of advanced technological applications like SAP, Oracle, and Spreadsheets for accounting purposes. Partly due to lack of infrastructure in our universities (internet for accessing online journals, for example) most lecturers are not up to date on the new and improved happenings in the field of accounting. Hence they end up teaching outdated and ancient accounting practices.
A highly automated system is needed in Nigeria to live up to the standards that have long been set in the accounting field across the globe. It is difficult for any sector of an economy to be successful without adequate information systems. Accountants have long advanced from being just number crunchers to full-on information processing professionals. Lack of a good information system simply limits their capabilities to function efficiently and effectively. I believe that building a robust information system, investing in technology and the adequate funding of the universities and polytechnics could go a long way in curbing these setbacks.
Presently, my goal is to expand my knowledge of accounting, most especially in the area of business management. I plan to use the skills I acquire to help add value not just to my clients but to the economy as well. My advice to prospective accountants is to work hard, get good grades, be certified, and utilize every advantage given to you to the fullest and to the ones already treading the accounting path, keep adding value, and helping people make quality decisions.
And if you want to start your own accounting firm, we have a step-by-step guide to start an accounting business. This will guide you on the steps you need to start your own accounting firm.
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