The Hottest Finance and Accounting Jobs Today

The finance and accounting fields offer a wide range of career paths for professionals interested in managing money and analyzing financial information. From corporate accounting and finance involve tracking and optimizing financial performance across industries.

Finance careers focus on money management, investment strategies, and economic forecasting. Common finance positions include financial analysts, treasurers, controllers, portfolio managers, and risk managers. Audit careers involve analyzing financial documents and processes to ensure compliance and accuracy. Auditors often work for accounting firms or internal audit departments.

Common types of finance and audit positions include:

  • Accountants – Prepare and examine financial records, ensuring accuracy and compliance with regulations. May specialize in areas like tax accounting or forensic accounting. Require a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a CPA license for certified roles.

  • Financial analysts – Assess financial information to forecast business, industry, and economic trends. Require a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, statistics or a related quantitative field.

  • Auditors – Review financial statements, processes, controls, and systems for completeness, accuracy, and adherence to standards. or a related field. Certifications like the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) credential demonstrate expertise.

  • Controllers – Direct an organization’s accounting operations, overseeing the preparation of financial reports, budgets, and statements. Require a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance and a CPA license for advanced roles.

  • Treasurers – Oversee an organization’s funds, managing cash positions, investments, and capital structures. Require a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting; the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) is a key certification.

The field offers a promising career path for those with an aptitude for numbers, analytical skills, attention to detail and an interest in business. Gaining the necessary education and credentials can prepare individuals for challenging, well-compensated roles managing finances and overseeing audits.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities

Finance and audit professionals are involved in a wide range of day-to-day activities depending on their specific role and level of seniority. Here’s an overview of common responsibilities:

Core Job Duties

  • Financial reporting – Prepare financial statements, records, and reports for internal and external stakeholders. Ensure accuracy and compliance with regulations.

  • Budgeting and forecasting – Develop organizational budgets and financial plans. Monitor expenses, revenues, and cash flow. Update forecasts based on actual results.

  • Financial analysis – Assess financial performance by analyzing data, trends, costs, revenues, and other key metrics. Identify issues and opportunities.

  • Risk management – Identify financial risks and develop strategies to mitigate exposure. Ensure adequate controls and procedures are in place.

  • Auditing – Systematically review financial records and operations to verify accuracy, compliance, and adequacy of controls.

  • Tax preparation and planning – Prepare tax returns. Research regulations and optimize taxes through strategies like minimizing taxable income.

Work Activities

  • Use spreadsheets and accounting software to analyze, calculate, and record data.

  • Review and validate financial transactions, documents, reports, and contracts.

  • Develop and maintain financial models, budgets, and internal controls.

  • Research technical issues, tax codes, regulations, and accounting standards.

  • Prepare presentations and reports for leadership and external stakeholders.

  • Consult with managers to provide financial recommendations and guidance.

Front, Middle, and Back Office Roles

  • Front office focuses on directly generating revenue, like financial advising.

  • Middle office includes risk management, budgeting, and financial reporting.

  • Back office handles settlements, clearances, record keeping, and regulatory compliance.

Skills and Qualifications

Finance and accounting roles require a unique blend of technical skills and soft skills. Here are some of the most important abilities needed to succeed:

Technical Skills

  • Financial modeling and analysis – Being able to build financial models in Excel, analyze data, and spot trends. This allows you to provide insights and recommendations.

  • Accounting expertise – An understanding of accounting principles like GAAP, bookkeeping, financial reporting, etc. Know how to prepare balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements.

  • Tax knowledge – Be familiar with tax codes and able to prepare tax returns and documentation. Stay up to date on the latest tax laws and regulations.

  • Auditing – Know how to perform audits and assess internal controls and risks. Understand auditing standards and procedures.

  • Budgeting/forecasting – Prepare budgets and financial plans. Develop models and estimates for future revenues, expenses, and capital needs.

Interpersonal Skills

  • Communication – Explain financial information clearly to non-finance colleagues and executives. Present data visually. Write reports.

  • Analytical thinking – Analyze quantitative and qualitative data to provide business insights. Solve problems.

  • Attention to detail – Carefully check numbers, documentation, and reports for accuracy.

  • Teamwork – Collaborate with colleagues and work well in groups. Listen to and incorporate feedback.

  • CPA – Certified Public Accountant designation shows accounting expertise. Often required for accounting roles.

  • CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst indicates investment and finance knowledge. Helpful for analyst jobs.

  • CFP – Certified Financial Planner qualification for financial advising roles.

  • Bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or related field. Mathematical aptitude important.

  • Master’s degrees, MBAs, or CPA further enhance qualifications.

The right mix of technical expertise, business acumen, and soft skills are essential for success in finance and accounting careers. Pursuing relevant certifications and education helps open up job opportunities and career advancement.

Entry-level roles and titles

Common entry-level roles include staff accountant, accounts payable clerk, accounts receivable clerk, junior auditor, financial analyst, and bookkeeper. These positions allow you to gain core finance and accounting skills.

Common promotion paths

From entry-level roles, common promotion paths are to senior accountant, senior financial analyst, audit supervisor, and controller. As you move up, you take on more complex assignments, supervise teams, and interface with management.

Management opportunities

With several years of experience, promotion into an accounting manager or audit manager role is possible. After this, progression into director and VP of finance or Chief Audit Executive is attainable for many

Work experience needed to advance

The key is to gain broad experience across finance and accounting functions, demonstrate strong analytical skills, manage teams and projects successfully, and drive business results. With the right experience and capabilities, there is abundant room for fast-tracking your career in finance.

 Industry and Sector Variations

Finance and audit professionals can find roles across nearly every industry and business sector. Some of the key variations include:

Types of companies and industries hiring

  • Banking and financial services – One of the largest employers for finance and audit roles. Jobs range from investment banking to insurance to consumer banking.
  • Technology – Fast-growing tech companies need finance experts to handle funding, investments, budgeting, and audits. Roles can range from startups to global enterprises.
  • Healthcare – Hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, and others need financial management.
  • Retail and consumer goods – Major retailers and CPG companies hire financial analysts, controllers, treasurers, and auditors.
  • Energy – Oil, gas, and utility companies need finance talent to manage budgets, investments, billing, and more.
  • Government – Nearly every government agency hires financial and accounting staff to manage public funds.

Public vs private sector roles

  • Private companies offer higher salaries but can be more driven by profits and shareholder interests.
  • Public sector roles with government agencies offer lower pay but greater job security, benefits, and a focus on public good.

Size of company and team impacts

  • Large corporations have specialized finance roles and teams for investment banking, FP&A, SEC reporting, etc.
  • Small to mid-size companies tend to have broader finance roles that handle a wider array of responsibilities.
  • Startups and early stage companies offer the opportunity to take on significant responsibility early in one’s career.

 Salary and Job Outlook

Finance and accounting roles span a wide range of positions, industries, experience levels, and salaries. Here is an overview of common salary ranges and job growth projections for popular finance and audit occupations:

 Accountants and Auditors

  • Average Salary: $77,250 per year / $37.15 per hour (BLS 2020 data)
  • Top 10% Earn: $122,180 per year / $58.75 per hour
  • Key Factors Impacting Salary: Location, Certification (CPA), Industry, Experience Level, Position Level (Entry vs Manager)
  • Job Growth 2020-2030: +7% (Faster than average)

Accountants and auditors with in-demand skills and certifications can command higher salaries. Those working in major metro areas and in industries like tech and finance also tend to earn more.

 Financial Analysts

  • Average Salary: $100,920 per year / $48.55 per hour (BLS 2020 data)
  • Top 10% Earn: $208,000 per year / $100 per hour
  • Key Factors Impacting Salary: Location, Industry, Experience Level
  • Job Growth 2020-2030: +9% (Much faster than average)

 Financial Managers

  • Average Salary: $151,650 per year / $72.88 per hour (BLS 2020 data)
  • Top 10% Earn: $208,000 per year / $100 per hour
  • Key Factors Impacting Salary: Location, Industry, Company Size, Experience
  • Job Growth 2020-2030: +17% (Much faster than average)

The highest salaries for financial managers are found in industries like securities and commodity contracting.

 Work Environment

Finance and audit professionals work in a wide range of environments, depending on their specific job role and industry. Here are some of the most common work environments for these careers:

 Office Settings

Most finance and audit jobs are based in an office setting. This includes roles like financial analysts, accountants, controllers, auditors, and more. Offices can range from more traditional corporate environments to more casual start-up type spaces. Finance teams are often located in headquarters or large regional offices of companies.

 Remote Work Availability

The ability to work remotely varies. Some finance positions, like accounting and auditing, tend to be more location-based to access financial systems and documents. However, roles like financial analysts or FP&A professionals may have higher remote work availability depending on the company. The prevalence of remote work has increased since COVID-19 as well.

 Travel Requirements

Some finance and audit professionals are required to travel regularly to client sites, offices, or other locations. Auditors and consultants tend to have the highest travel requirements, like 50-75% or more. Other roles only travel occasionally for things like quarterly reviews, conferences, or meetings.

 working Hours

Standard business hours are common for most finance roles, such as 8 am to 5 pm.

 Pros and Cons of a Career in Finance and Auditing

 Advantages of the Career

  • High earning potential, with salaries above national averages
  • Prestige and respect that comes with working in the financial sector
  • Variety of roles from accounting to investment banking
  • Opportunities to work with numbers, data analysis and complex problems
  • Fast-paced environment for motivated individuals
  • Chance to work on high-profile deals and transactions
  • Career mobility and options to specialize over time
  • Intellectually challenging work that engages analytical skills
  • Experiencing the excitement of the trading floor or closing big deals

 Challenges and Downsides

  • Can be high-pressure and stressful work environments
  • Requires attention to detail and numerical accuracy
  • Need to meet deadlines and provide timely reporting
  • Keeping up with ever-changing regulations and compliance
  • Dealing with ambiguous problems that don’t have clear solutions
  • Maintaining mental stamina under pressure for analytical tasks
  • Travel required to visit clients or regional offices

 Work-Life Balance

  • Difficult to achieve in some finance roles with frequent overtime
  • Public accounting may require travel and be seasonal in busy periods
  • Investment banking and trading known for 100+ hour work weeks
  • More work-life balance possible in corporate finance and analysis roles
  • Flexible work arrangements not as common as in some other fields
  • Ability to unplug outside of work hours varies by company and role
  • With experience, greater control over schedule and priorities

 Getting Started

Getting started in finance and audit requires some education and preparation. Here are some tips:

 Education Requirements

Most entry-level finance and audit roles require at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like accounting, economics, business administration or finance. Coursework in accounting, statistics, finance, economics and business is important. Some employers may require or prefer a master’s degree for more advanced roles.

 Entry-Level Roles

Common entry-level roles in finance include financial analyst, accountant, auditor, budget analyst, and more. Look for roles titled “analyst” or “associate” when just starting out. Entry-level audit roles include audit associate, assurance associate, and junior auditor. Target roles at public accounting firms, corporations, banks and other large companies when first starting your career.

 Build Skills

Develop technical skills like financial modeling, data analysis, audit procedures, and accounting fundamentals. Build soft skills like communication, attention to detail, leadership and teamwork. Take on projects, coursework and internships to gain relevant experience. Learn to use Excel expertly.

 Certifications

Earning a certification like the CPA, CFA, CIA or CMA can boost your credentials. A CPA is required for accountants and auditors. The CFA focuses on investment management. CIA and CMA certifications are valuable for internal auditors and management accountants. Research which certifications are most relevant for your career path.

 Future of Finance Careers

The finance industry is undergoing rapid change due to emerging technologies like automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. These disruptive forces are transforming finance roles and the skills required to stay competitive in the coming decades.

 Automation and AI Impacts

Many routine and repetitive finance tasks like financial reporting, compliance, accounts payable/receivable, and data entry are being automated using robotic process automation (RPA) software. This is drastically reducing the need for entry level finance roles focused on repetitive tasks.

At senior levels, AI is automating complex tasks like forecasting, modeling, financial analysis and even decision making support. This puts pressure on finance professionals to focus on higher judgement and advisory oriented responsibilities like financial planning, auditing, taxes and investment management. Adaptability will be critical.

 Projected Changes and Disruptions

The World Economic Forum estimates that around 7 million finance roles may be lost to automation by 2027. However, around 2 million new roles in regulation, compliance and IT could also open up. Overall, finance teams are projected to shrink.

New finance positions focused on advanced analytics, data science, process improvement and change management will see growing demand. Niche roles at intersection of finance and tech like FinTech developers, data security experts, blockchain analysts etc. will also emerge.

The mix of technical abilities like programming, systems design, cybersecurity along with finance domain expertise will become highly valued. Continued learning and upskilling in technical areas will be a must.

 Adapting Skillsets

With automation taking over routine tasks, the differentiating human skills like communication, creativity, persuasion, collaboration, ethics and strategic thinking will be imperative.

Finance professionals will need to enhance capabilities in storytelling with data, presenting insights, influencing decisions, managing change and building relationships.

Strong business acumen, commercial awareness and understanding diverse customer needs will help finance drive business value and not be limited to number crunching.

Continual reskilling and lifelong learning will be essential to stay relevant in the face of rapid transformation.

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