Getting The Job

A career in accountancy requires more than just the ability to crunch numbers

To pursue a career in accountancy, it goes without saying that you should at least be comfortable working with numbers. Other important traits for those interested in roles in this field include a meticulous nature, attention to detail, an understanding of business fundamentals and good people and team working skills.

There are several routes to a career in accountancy, starting with accounts executives who require diplomas and professional certificates such as the LCCI or for those choosing to go for a degree, finance, accountancy or banking degrees are a pre-requisite.

There are several career options open to those already with these qualifications. Accounts executives are expected to keep full accounts under the supervision of an accountant, maintain records of transactions, prepare statements for management budgets, cash flow forecasts and tax returns. Salary levels for accounts executive range from RM2,500 to RM4,000, depending on experience.

Financial analyst

A financial analyst usually has a degree and is expected to conduct financial analysis, projects and statistical studies while auditors help ensure compliance with statutory reporting and promote good risk management strategies.

Those planning a career as an auditor should have good knowledge of computerised accounting and auditing record keeping systems. They will be expected to appraise the efficiency and effectiveness of operational processes and controls, develop audit frameworks and control tools and processes.

Financial analyst and auditor salaries start from RM3,000 up to RM10,000 depending on experience and qualifications.

Finance and administrative managers are usually required to manage the full spectrum of a finance function within a business. Quite often they manage the administrative as well as human resources functions too.

Senior accountants take charge of general accounting which involves the preparation of statistical data and financial reports on profits, cash and inventory.

In many businesses and organisations, accountants or finance managers go on to take on finance director or chief financial officer roles.

Greater demand

In Malaysia, we are seeing greater demand for shared services professionals with specific requirements such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledgers or financial accounting and employers prefer candidates who already hold professional certification such as ACCA, CIMA and CPA, along with professional membership of bodies such as the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA).

At an executive level, many local businesses show a preference for candidates with Chinese language skills; to work in a multinational environment, candidates must be able to communicate well in English. As the finance function is a vital unit within most businesses, employers are keen on finance and accountancy professionals who can demonstrate the ability to work in teams or collaborate with other teams while keeping an eye on the bottom line of costs.

In Malaysia, there is currently a chronic shortage of qualified tax accountants and cost estimators/controllers. This is in part due to employees choosing to work in neighbouring countries. However, accountancy as a career continues to be a popular option among school leavers and graduates, with many enrolled in private schools. The quality and calibre of accountancy graduates produced in Malaysia is very high and this is recognised by many potential employers, both within and out of the country.

Article by Ranstad Malaysia director Jasmin Kaur.