Financial accountants analyse and report on financial transactions that can yield vital information on how a business is performing.
This information is important to external investors, such as shareholders or banks, as it allows them to compare and choose which businesses they should invest in. It is vital to other organisations that they trade with, such as suppliers, as it allows these other businesses to make good decisions, based on market conditions, about whether they should supply their services or not and if credit should be extended. It is also an absolute necessity to those within the business itself to keep good financial control by driving the best decisions – for example, what a sensible level of remuneration for staff should be or whether the company can invest in new equipment without seriously reducing the return that it can make to investors.
Typical areas that financial accountants may work in include auditing, treasury management and cash flow, or the reporting on new or likely acquisitions.
International standards for reporting for financial accountants have been gradually developed over a number of years. Many jurisdictions, including parts of the European Union, already use these standards, and now that compliance is also happening in the United States life should be easier for those working in areas concerning the finance and reporting of large multinational companies.
While studying for a professional qualification, graduates will generally start their employment in a programme that enables them to gain an understanding of the whole of the business. The wide range of knowledge and skills developed in this role allows people in this field the chance to specialise in a variety of areas.
Financial accountants are often required to explain complex financial arrangements to those with little or no financial background so they need excellent communication skills. They also need a good level of numeracy in addition to an analytical, enquiring mind and a desire to challenge and improve the way in which an organisation works.