Financial Accountant: Career profile

Financial Accountants are the scorekeepers who, several times a year, relay the exact state-of-play within a company to outside stakeholders. They review accounts, budgets and forecasts to prepare the all-important scorecards which allow decision-makers to gauge the financial health of a business. These financial statements are required by law, which is why properly trained and educated Financial Accountants are always in high demand.

Lindsay, Financial Accountant

Lindsay, Financial Accountant

Lindsay Howard, 30 is a Financial Accountant. She moved from the Midwestern United States to Australia for love, hated maths at school, likes running and can tell you the bottom line in four languages.

Describe your job in a sentence?

I take the different business segments' numbers and smoosh them together to present the consolidated group position to the market.

What education and training do you have?

  • Bachelor of International Relations - University of Illinois
  • Master of Accountancy - University of Nevada
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) program - Becker Professional Education
  • Quality Assurance
  • International Financial Reporting Standards
  • Fraud Detection
  • Changing Business Conditions & the Global Financial Crisis
  • Auditing Techniques

How has this training helped your Financial Accounting career?

It is very difficult to get a job in the international relations field. When I graduated, there wasn't an obvious opening and I wound up in a bank. I realised then I liked business so I went and got my Masters in Accounting. Ever since then I have never had a problem getting a job. Even in the GFC I quit and moved cities and found a good job within four days. Getting my CPA licence gave me a bigger advantage. In terms of an individual course, the most useful has been International Financial Reporting Standards. Coming to Australia, that training course really helped me. It makes accountancy skills really portable.

What skills do you most need to become a Financial Accountant?

It probably goes against stereotype, but I would say the soft skills: the people skills are really important. At entry level a lot of people go to work for audit firms and when you are an auditor no one wants you there. It is automatically an adversarial situation, so knowing how to build relationships is just as important as doing the sums.

What is the most challenging thing about being a Financial Accountant?

Doing the CPA exam. It was horrible, but the good thing is if you keep your professional development hours up you will never have to take it again.

What advice would you give to people about the Financial Accountant field?

Keep an open mind. It's not the kind of maths I hated at school like geometry - when am I ever going to need to measure a triangle? This is the type of maths that you would use in your own life; budgeting, finding out how much a month you have spent. Not crazy formulas.

If you think it's for you, taking an Excel course early on would definitely be an advantage. And get your CPA licence. It will open up many more doors.