Accounting Industry Overview
Put simply, accounting is the language of business. An accounting system essentially tracks all of the activities of an organization, showing when and where money has been spent and what commitments have been made. This aids decision-making by allowing managers to evaluate organizational performance, by indicating the financial implications of choosing one strategy over another and by highlighting current weaknesses and opportunities. It allows managers to take a step back, look at the organization, assess how it is doing and determine where it should be going.
The collectors and interpreters of financial information, accountants develop comprehensive knowledge of virtually all business functions and relationships with key decision makers. Senior accountants, or controllers, are often selected as production or marketing executives because they often have acquired general management skills.
On the rise
In Australia, there were more than 170,000 accountants and auditors as of 2008, and the profession is growing rapidly. In a 2008 study on the local job market, the Australian government projected that the number of people employed in accounting, finance and management will grow by 20.2 percent by the year 2012-13. Despite the big numbers, there's a serious skill shortage in the industry. According to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, accountants and auditors are extremely high on the list of primary professions experiencing a shortage in 2008.
As accountants are perennially keen to tell you, the image of accountancy is changing. Accounting is an industry with a growing profile and an even faster growing emphasis on accountability. Today, the profession can offer a level of excitement, challenge and financial rewards that are on a par with traditionally more glamorous professions such as investment banking and law.
Accounting has always had an image problem, stuck in the public consciousness as a profession populated by mathematics nerds with thick glasses who love crunching numbers and little else. This stereotype doesn't really present an accurate picture of what the career is like. While the basic mechanics of accounting can certainly become tedious, such functions are increasingly becoming automated, with accountants focusing more on analysis, interpretation and business strategy.