As an accountant working in private practice, it would be your job to provide accountancy services for fee-paying clients. You would handle clients' tax and accounts, carry out audits, and advise clients how to improve their business finances.
Your clients could range from small businesses that do not employ their own in-house management accountant, to large companies or
wealthy individuals. Your main tasks could include:
- preparing financial statements, business plans and budget reports
- producing annual and monthly accounts
- carrying out independent audits of company accounts
- managing clients’ spending, costs, credit, payroll and investments
- filing tax returns and providing tax advice
- forecasting future profits and financial performance
- helping businesses that may be in financial difficulties
- dealing with insolvencies
- advising companies how to improve their financial systems and profitability
- finding and preventing fraud (known as forensic accounting).
You might deal with all of these tasks if you worked freelance or for a small accountancy practice, whilst in a larger
practice you might specialise in one area such as tax or insolvency.
In a full-time job you would typically work standard office hours Monday to Friday, possibly longer at busy times such as the end of the financial year. Part-time hours and temporary contract work may be available.
You would have an office base, but would spend much of your time visiting clients at their workplaces. If you worked for a large accountancy practice, this could mean travelling all over the UK.
Dress code is usually formal.
Salaries for trainee or part-qualified accountants may be between £18,000 and £24,000 a year.
Qualified accountants typically earn between £28,000 and £50,000.
Senior accountants in large private practices could earn up to £100,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Skills and Knowledge
- good mathematical and computer skills
- analytical skills and a logical approach
- a good understanding of business
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- good communication skills
- the ability to explain technical financial information clearly
- organisational and time-management skills
- discretion with confidential information.
You could find work in companies ranging from small local practices to large international accountancy firms. You could also work as an in-house accountant for a company or public sector organisation such as a local council, although in this type of role you would usually be known as a management accountant. See the related profiles for more about working in other sectors.
Jobs may be advertised in the local and national press, industry magazines and by financial recruitment agencies.
With experience, you could specialise in an area like auditing or forensic accounting, or you could become a manager in a practice. You could also become self-employed or set up your own firm.
Sign up now for the Accounting Level 3 Diploma