Areas of Work: Accounting & Professional Services

There’s more to accounting (and the accounts themselves, as many accountants will tell you) than meets the eye.
Jacie Tan

1) Financial accounting

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; it allows these other businesses to make good decisions on 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.

Your key job tasks would include:

  • Preparing accounts and tax returns
  • Administering payrolls and controlling income and expenditure
  • Auditing financial information
  • Compiling and presenting reports, budgets, business plans, commentaries and financial statements
  • Analysing accounts and business plans
  • Providing tax planning services with reference to current legislation
  • Financial forecasting and risk analysis
  • Dealing with insolvency cases
  • Negotiating the terms of business deals and moves with clients and associated organisations
  • Meeting and interviewing clients
  • Managing colleagues, workloads and deadlines.

2) Tax 

Tax advisors may be called in by businesses regarding corporate tax, or highly paid individuals regarding private client tax. They could be consultants offering one-off solutions to a particular tax problem, or they may be employed on an ongoing basis, ensuring compliance and cost-effective solutions to taxation demands made on their client.

Tax rules are complex and it is important for those working in the field to keep up-to-date with any changes to ensure that they can offer the best possible advice to their clients, who are often dealing with considerable sums of money. Tax advisors build up strong relationships with their clients who demand discretion with their financial matters.

In addition, these clients often have investments liable to taxation in many different parts of the world, so a tax advisor may have to be aware of what is happening in several jurisdictions at the same time.

Your key job tasks would include:

  • Calculating, preparing and submitting accounts and tax returns
  • Undertaking accounts administration, including auditing financial information
  • Calculating and legally minimising tax liabilities
  • Advising about business plans, mergers, takeovers and investment opportunities
  • Liaising with Inland Revenue Board (IRB)/Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN)

3) Internal audit

Auditors are the ‘CSI’ of accountants, constantly reviewing company accounts to verify the validity and legality of their financial records.

Internal audit caters to domestic checks within a company, where a team of auditors is brought in to inspect the accounts for the business organisation’s own in-house use, as opposed to external audits. The administration will use these findings to improve on their business operations and strategies, which will then help them achieve their goals.

Along with the report, internal auditors may also advise the administrative department on the performance of the company, as well as the financial risks that are being incurred by the company. It is their responsibility to test the adequacy of the risk controls that have been put into place and to advise on necessary adjustments to these controls.

Your key job tasks would include:

  • Collating, checking and analysing spreadsheet data
  • Examining company accounts and financial control systems
  • Gauging levels of financial risk within organisations
  • Checking that financial reports and records are accurate and reliable
  • Ensuring that assets are safeguarded
  • Identifying effectiveness of processes and advising on changes to be made
  • Preparing reports, commentaries and financial statements
  • Liaising with managerial staff and presenting findings and recommendations
  • Ensuring procedures, policies, legislation and regulations are correctly complied with
  • Undertaking salary reviews.

4) Actuarial 

As an actuary, your work revolves heavily around the prediction, evaluation and management of risks using a combination of statistical and mathematical models and commercial awareness. You may also be invited to advise clients about your findings as well as help them develop potential solutions. For this reason, your job scope can be very diverse, encompassing a good mix of client-facing and calculation tasks.

Actuaries are greatly needed in a variety of sectors, including banks and financial services organisations, insurance companies, specialist consultancies, and even accounting firms and investment banks.

Your key job tasks would include:

  • Analysing statistical data, for example of accident rates
  • Computer modelling of statistics to determine potential risks
  • Preparing presentations and reports
  • Communicating findings to clients, managers and stakeholders
  • Keeping abreast of financial developments in the business world.

5) Corporate finance

The principal purpose of corporate finance is to monitor the capital structure of a business organisation, and to increase its shareholder value through the sales and purchasing of its investments and securities. For example, a company may decide to buy out another company to solidify its business foothold. The selling of bonds, debentures, and common stocks falls under the scope of this field.

Those working in this area advise a company’s shareholders in the issues of mergers, acquisitions, and management buy-outs so as to increase the company’s worth. They will also assist in the process of all the above, providing recommendations and analysis where necessary. Roles in corporate finance range from lead advisors, who project manage the process of raising capital, to reporting accountants and auditors, who are responsible for making sure that the accounts of any target company are in good order.

Your key job tasks would include:

  • Analysing revenue and expenses to ensure effective use of capital
  • Advising businesses on project costs
  • Making capital investments and structuring deals.

 6) Risk assessment

Financial risk assessment involves identifying and analysing threats to an organisation. This may be in the form of hazards to the assets, earning capacity or overall success of an organisation, which may function in the public or private sector.

Specialists who work in this area are called financial risk analysts. Their chief priority is to help businesses recognise the risks that they may face, and then advise on the engaging of the perceived risks as they take into consideration the risk appetite of the company. This information will help investors and business managers make informed decisions in order to avoid losses or to profit from an opportunity.

Occasionally, risk assessment services are offered along with compliance advisory services, which endeavour to keep businesses up-to-date with new laws and rulings that have been issued by the government in the business industry. Risk assessment services may also be packaged with governance advisory services, which offer advice on the process of running a company so that it meets the expectations of the management, stakeholders and the staff.

Your key job tasks would include:

  • Making recommendations to reduce or control risk, which may involve an insurance strategy
  • Working with traders to calculate the risk associated with specific transactions
  • Liaising with underwriters and insurers
  • Forecasting and monitoring market trends
  • Considering proposed business decisions
  • Conducting research to assess the severity of risk
  • Reviewing legal documents
  • Performing statistical analysis to evaluate risk and using statistical software
  • Presenting ideas via reports and presentations
  • Outlining findings and making recommendations for improvements
  • Purchasing insurance.

7) Corporate treasury 

Corporate treasury is a company’s internal division, characterised by its responsibilities in ensuring that there is sufficient immediate cash to fund the company’s priorities and demands. This involves constant monitoring of the liquidity of the company’s finances, as well as cautious managing of its various monetary risks.

Additionally, corporate treasurers are often required to advise on and prepare financial policies and controls that can aid in funding the company.

It is also the job of a corporate treasurer to look into the assistances that financial service providers give to companies in order to reinforce their financial security. As such, they will often have to be attentive to new loan schemes, foreign exchange rates, banking and credit facilities that have been released so as to keep a company’s financial plans updated.

Your key job tasks would include:

  • assessing, reviewing and protecting company financial wellbeing
  • managing cash flow
  • handling daily cash balances and the money market
  • managing major projects such as company refinancing
  • assessing the likely impact of problems eg late payments, limited cash flow etc
  • making decisions about company funding options, insurance contracts and other financial issues
  • carrying out risk management activities
  • liaising and negotiating with various external and internal parties.