There’s a classic comedy sketch from the 1970s in Monty Python’s Flying Circus where accountant Michael Palin is seeking a new job and John Cleeses’s career advisor tells him that he’s already in the perfect role because he is “dull”. Palin, as Mr Anchovy, insists he wants to be something more exciting – a lion tamer.
Now while this is not a blog about joining the circus or even finding employment at Chester Zoo, it is one to bust the myth that accountancy and finance is not exciting or interesting. American writer, David Foster Wallace described accountants as the “cowboys of information”. Alexa Loo, the Canadian athlete, politician and accountant said:
Accountants are dynamic, interesting, highly intelligent and hardworking individuals.”
Accountants are the foundation upon which smart financial decisions are built; they turn chaos into order and uncertainty into clarity; they don’t just crunch numbers they empower dreams and if numbers tell stories, they are the storytellers of success.
And behind every get accountant is a great assistant accountant. Mark Jones a successful qualified tax accountant on the Wirral told this blog: “An assistant accountant’s role is massively important to the machinery of an accountancy firm… they allow the accountants to get on with their jobs by making sure everything is in place…and we highly value their skills.”
Asset Training runs three apprenticeship courses for assistant accountants at levels 2 and 3 while level 4 is a great foundation, if desired, for taking the next step and dropping the word ‘assistant.’
Level 2 Accounts Assistant/Level 3 Assistant Accountant
An accounts or finance assistant is an integral part of the team responsible for maintaining an efficient and accurate finance function within a business. The role has responsibility for junior accounting duties and depending on team structure and business size, this can include basic bookkeeping activities, working with sales and purchase ledgers, running calculations to ensure that records and payments are correct, recording of cash and data entry.
Meanwhile, an assistant accountant provides support to internal and external customers and will work within an accountancy practice or in an organisation’s finance department. Part of the role involves helping in daily financial activities such as data entry to month end management accounts and/or year-end financial statements. An assistant accountant may also be involved in regulatory financial requirements such as the completion of VAT returns or assisting in the preparation of tax computations. Entry requirements for either role are likely to include 5 GCSEs, including Mathematics and English. Apprentices without these two GCSEs must achieve them prior to taking the course’s end point assessment.
Level 4 professional accounting or taxation technician
If you’re at this level, you’ve already taken big strides and you becoming specialist – in accounting and tax. At this level the role has responsibility for creating, and/or verifying and reviewing, accurate and timely financial information either for their organisation or the organisation’s clients. Knowledge of the business systems and processes, as well as standard accounting and tax practices is vital. You are now deeply imbedded in the business world and is such that world is now your oyster. Most candidates will have Level 2 mathematics and English (equivalent to GCSE grade C or above), ideally as part of 5 GCSE A-C grades or other comparable qualifications. Learners should ideally hold a level 3 Accountancy qualification, as well.
An apprenticeship in Accountancy is also the foundation for several career paths including auditor, corporate recovery analyst, credit controller or tax accountant. That can mean big bucks and seriously interesting work. Remember, as long as there are businesses there will be people pouring over accounts. This means there is a great deal of scope to climb the career ladder and make a real difference to any company. And the great thing about accounting and finance as a career is that the skills you learn are transferable. So, you can easily move from one business to another if a good opportunity comes your way.
Meanwhile, the only counting mane-ly done as a lion tamer is checking you still have all your fingers or realising that your days might be numbered.