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  1. #1
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    Default Career in accounting

    Just looking for some opinions/guidance from anyone with experience in the accounting field , CA, CGA CPA's.

    Finishing up BBA majoring in accounting, with the intention of completing my CPA. I don't have much in terms of real world accounting experience so looking for some insight on where a career in this field might take me and how I can apply my education, and down the road CPA designation, in various industries.

    Reason I'm asking is because I'm starting to find that the passion and drive I had to pursue a career in the accounting field is starting to fade (could be the back to back semesters), and I am questioning how fulfilling work in this field may be.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by oster; 10-16-2015 at 10:04 PM.

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    The nice thing about accounting is every company medium sized or larger needs them in some capacity.

    The kind of accounting work you want to do will influence the path you take and what kind of firms you want to work for.

    If audit sounds like fun to you (longer hours, meh pay to start, reasonable upside longer term) then you want to look to work with the usual big four audit firms. They do lots of other kinds of accounting services as well for clients that you can look to specialize in. The more interesting thing about auditing is that the work will change as you move on to audit different companies, so you will likely see a bit more variation in your work. You are probably more likely to find work in this area as the turnover is higher.

    Of course you can jump right into industry - O&G being the favored target. There are many different kinds of accounting positions available, from upstream production activities, midstream transportation, downstream activities, IT accounting, tax, treasury, pricing, research, analyst roles, corporate reporting, etc. These kinds of positions are highly sought after and tough to land as accountants are a dime a dozen in this city. If you have any hookups it can be a big help to getting started. The pay is decent to start in private industry, expect around $50-60k to start depending on where you go, with senior roles earning closer to 100-125k before bonus as you get experienced and designated.

    Getting your CPA is essential if you want to advance your career.

    It really depends on your personality if you will enjoy accounting. If you enjoy crunching numbers, working in excel all day, dealing with strict timelines each month, and some regular expected OT, and collaborating mostly with accountants in different functions of the company, than you will probably like it.

    Not sure if this helps you at all... feel free to ask more questions and I'm happy to try and answer.

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    I have been an accountant for some time now and like it and would recommend. You definitely need a designation to go anywhere with CPA being the only option now.

    The thing I like about accounting is that it isn't just the stereotypical book keeping role that most people picture. Once you know accounting and business there is a lot you can do. It has been 3 years since I have even been able to create or post an entry in our ERP. lol

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    .
    Last edited by Cos; 12-20-2016 at 10:32 PM.
    Originally posted by adam c

    Line goes up, line goes down, line does squiggly things and fucks Alberta
    "The stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones"

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    Originally posted by Cos
    The UFE is pretty damned difficult from what I've seen. Have a cousin going through it right now.
    I think its called the CFE now

    My GF just finished and wrote the first variation of the CFE last month, I also have a friend who does the marking for the mods and the tests. I hear the program is a clusterfuck right now haha.

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    Originally posted by Prail

    If audit sounds like fun to you (longer hours, meh pay to start, reasonable upside longer term) then you want to look to work with the usual big four audit firms. They do lots of other kinds of accounting services as well for clients that you can look to specialize in.
    There are medium sized firms other than the big 4 where this is available as well.

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    Yeah, I heard the CFE and the whole program is a mess. I went with CMA instead, but that's because I realized I didn't want to do actual accounting work
    GO FLAMES GO!

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    For what its worth, all of my friends who are accountants are still employed during this economic downturn. From what I understand for the most part they are the ones making decisions on which projects to pursue/cancel/postpone.... I guess some of you accountants can chime in on that.

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    Wishing I'm doing accounting instead of finance atm...

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    .
    Last edited by Cos; 12-20-2016 at 10:32 PM.
    Originally posted by adam c

    Line goes up, line goes down, line does squiggly things and fucks Alberta
    "The stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones"

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    Originally posted by Cos


    My cousin was caught up in some layoffs at one of the big 4.
    Sorry, I meant the accountants, more specifically designated accountants in industry. I can see layoffs at accounting firms being pretty standard.

    5/6 of my accounting friends are designated, all of them work in O&G and all have strong job security as far as they tell me.

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    Accountants still get laid off, but it is considerably more stable than some other professions. Not as lucrative in the good times, but not as risky either.

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    Cole's Notes/Random thoughts
    -CA/CPA/CF (Corporate Finance qualification); bombed out of CFA program after level 2.
    -Wrote UFE in 2008
    -Have worked in Big 4, industry & venture capital/private equity over past 9 years since graduation
    -Audit/Big 4 life is a grind, accounting is a grind, Financial reporting is a grind. Expectations and deadlines will keep you at office longer than you probably want. The hardest part is getting through the designation and articling. That is why it pays well over the life of a career. Will you wake up with a boner each day for your work? Maybe. Likely not. Will you make 6 figures for remainder of your life? Most likely.
    -Industry accounting can be a much better life, but beware of being caught in an industry that is very niche, like oil and gas, as it may limit your opportunities if you want to cross the aisle and work in something say, private equity accounting, or manufacturing
    -CPAs now have a way better chance at getting jobs overseas now because of the similarity with the CPA in the USA (entire reason to consolidate the brand and be the same as southern neighbors)
    -Career stability is good, and you can do many things. The reality is you will always be employable and have a great background for starting a business and understanding it. CPA/MBA CPA/CFA are good combos to further the career prospects.
    "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
    -Thomas Jefferson 1802

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    Default Re: Career in accounting

    Originally posted by oster
    I don't have much in terms of real world accounting experience so looking for some insight on where a career in this field might take me and how I can apply my education, and down the road CPA designation, in various industries.
    It's not a glamorous field, but it certainly pays the bills and there are definitely regularly rewarding moments (at least for me). There was never a point where I was really excited to be an accountant, but 10 years in I don't regret my career choice. Really only you will be able to say if it's not for you.

    When you're saying you're finishing up your degree, does that mean this your final year? If not, the obvious answer here is to do anything you can to get a summer job in the field next summer. That will help you experience what it's actually like (to either confirm or subdue your doubts), as well as pad the resume with relevant experience to actually get a job in the field coming out of school. Even during the boom of 2006 pretty much all of the ~45 new-hires I started with had summer job accounting experience. Typically I believe the accounting firms are well into their hiring process already, so you may have missed the boat there, but hopefully there are still opportunities in industry (or government).

    In terms, of career alternatives, it will vary significantly between the 3 usual starting paths.

    Accounting firm - Audit/tax/consulting/advisory opportunities. Biggest hires are in audit, which is highly seasonal work and busy season is usually crazy long hours. I hated it, but with that said, it's really great experience in terms of exposure to difficult situations, complex issues, task management, the ability to manage a team at a young age and the firm is definitely a quicker way to get to senior positions, including in industry. The pay sucks starting out but it moves up quick. I don't regret starting with this path. There is a high attrition rate, with most people lasting less than 4 years.

    Industry - Usually more laid back in terms of hours with more reasonable deadlines. Starting out it's likely more repetitive, less exposure to complex issues, harder to move up if you're not a superstar, etc... The flip side is that once you're in, you can move around to different areas of accounting within the business. I'm in industry now and would never move back, but using the firm as a springboard to a management-level position in industry was incredibly helpful. The pro here is every business of any size has an accountant, so there are no limits here in terms of industry or company size, and within the accounting field there are lots of area you can work in from day to day accounting, to planning, AP, treasury, tax, etc... At a small company you would probably see all of it at some point.

    Government - My university experience included a few years as an accounting clerk in government. If you want to clock-in and clock-out with your 7.5 hours, it's a good option. That may not always be the case, but that was what I saw. It was highly repetitive, extremely slow to move-up, negotiated raises (the biggest negative -as the rates applied were lower than market value for an accountant), a lot of incompetent people that couldn't be fired, etc, but you do get the pension, more regular hours, etc. If you work for the CRA, they actually lock the building at a set time, meaning you actually can't work past that hour.

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    At end of day, it's the best background you can have for business if you article at a CA firm. If you love it, it's a great career. If you don't, you have good downside income protection incase other endeavors don't work out...you can always find a gig to pay the bills while you retrench.
    "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
    -Thomas Jefferson 1802

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    Originally posted by move
    Wishing I'm doing accounting instead of finance atm...
    Had a few friends tell me this..

    Thanks for the responses! A lot of helpful info for sure.

    Definitely not the accounting type, but I chose to major in it because of many things mentioned, job stability, decent income, application to various industries, great business foundation. Although the closer I get to finishing my studies I'm finding I don't have the passion for it as I see in my peers.

    I decided to do summer courses to accelerate my degree instead of coop or intern, so I am in my 4th year without any relevant experience. I do have some decent connections so that may help getting a job come graduation.

    An accounting firm seems to be the best choice starting out, like tenth described, plus audit seems to be somewhat interesting.

    What I ultimately imagine is being able to enter an industry that I have a passion for, say automotive for example, and apply my skills to really get the most enjoyment out of my career. If that makes sense, are my expectations out of touch? And are all accounting roles essentially the same?

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    All depends on what you want to do. In my experiences Calgary is such an oil and gas town if you get experience in oil and gas it will serve you better than starting at a big 4. I started at a medium sized producer with a good rotation program and got as much as experience as I could while getting my designation. Networked a ton using accounting industry associations such as PASC, worked my way up a bit to a management role then side tracked out to a consulting role which has been a fantastic career move for me.

    Even if you like audit there are a ton of other areas to get into audit that are not strictly financial.

    All accounting roles are not at all the same, they differ immensely. Even the same job at companies of different sizes can be completely different.

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    Originally posted by austic
    All depends on what you want to do. In my experiences Calgary is such an oil and gas town if you get experience in oil and gas it will serve you better than starting at a big 4.
    Completely disagree. Firm experience gives you a foundation you will never learn at industry. Better handbook knowledge, financial reporting, etc.

    Recommendation is to transition to industry after 3-4 years of firm experience. I see a night and day difference in those designated with firm experience to those only industry, right down to simple things such as quality of working papers going forward a CPA with firm experience will be better than CPA only industry.

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    Career in accounting zzzzzzzzzzz

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    One positive to accounting: still lots of good jobs out there.

    I was getting tired of my job, they announced a 10% pay cut, I called around, 3 interviews in 2 weeks, second interview on one, then an offer, and second interview on another. Accepted the offer and next day got a call for another interview.

    Definitely not as bad as some professions right now. Again, you typically don't get rich from it, but it is good money and one of the more stable careers.

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