Accountancy & Financial Management

Financial Accounting

Help organisations track business transactions and assess and evaluate their financial health and performance.
Jevitha Muthusamy
Editorial Writer
Financial Accounting

The bread-and-butter of the accounting profession, financial accounting is all about analysing and reporting on the financial transactions that an organisation makes. This allows both internal and external stakeholders to measure the “health” of the organisation and review and act on crucial information about its performance.

Financial accounting ensures that organisations comply with financial reporting regulations and standards, including Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The financial reports produced by financial accounting staff include mainstays such as the balance sheet, profit-and-loss (P&L) statements, statement of changes in equity, and cash flow statements.

Access to such information is key for all parties doing business with the organisation. Internal management needs these reports to keep up-to-date on business performance and make management decisions. External investors will review them to assess if it’s worth investing further in the organisation. Suppliers or vendors will likewise review such documents to decide if it’s safe to do business with the organisation, or extend any form of credit.

Career Pathways

Graduate jobs in financial accounting can be found in all sorts of organisations, from large publicly-traded firms to small and medium-sized businesses. Career progression opportunities and life on the job will therefore differ greatly depending on what kind of employer you join. Most opportunities can be found within dedicated finance teams/divisions within an organization.

There are typically no hard requirements for graduate financial accounting roles beyond being able to demonstrate sufficient accounting knowledge. However, employers do tend to favor candidates with accounting and finance-related degrees.

Graduate hires generally start in a training programme that allows them to acquire an overall understanding of the organisation’s business, and the way that your appointed finance team intersects with other departments. With a larger employer, this could be a structured programme with multiple rotations. Though smaller employers might just assign you under the supervision of a senior accountant and have you learn on the job. 

While you do not need a professional accounting qualification to work in entry-level financial accounting roles, being professionally-qualified may be a requirement to advance to more senior or management level positions. Be sure to clarify with potential employers about their career progression requirements, as well as whether they provide any work-study benefits if you intend to pursue professional qualifications. 

The first few years as a financial accountant can be quite hectic, especially if you are juggling between work and studying for a professional qualification. Expect to perform a broad range of number-crunching and financial reporting duties until you reach a point where you may be given the option to specialise. From there, you can either move laterally into specific finance divisions (e.g. treasury, credit control, internal audit, etc.) or up the ladder into management roles such as financial controller.

On the flip side, the plus point of beginning your career in financial accounting is that it gives you broad exposure to a relevant range of accounting knowledge and skills. Next to audit, this is another popular starting point for graduate accountants, as the comprehensive nature of this line of work can give you the foundation you need to branch out into other areas of accounting later on.

Required Skills

Strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and critical thinking abilities are the basic requirements for this line of work. Graduates should also have excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, as they often need to communicate financial information in layperson’s terms to a wide range of parties.

Financial accountants must also have a thorough understanding of fundamental accounting principles, financial regulations, and financial reporting standards. It is important to constantly stay up to date on changes in local financial laws, tax structures, and reporting standards, as those can have huge impact on your day-to-day work.

Strong organisational and time management skills will also be key. You must be able to prioritise tasks effectively and meet deadlines while still ensuring accuracy and compliance with regulations. Doubly so if you are studying for a professional qualification on the side too.

Lastly, teamwork skills are critically important. Financial accountants tend to work in teams, or will rely heavily on updates, documentation, and reports from other teams within the organisation as a key part of their work. Knowing how to work with others both within and outside your own department is a crucial step in getting things done.