Environmental Scan

Before beginning my internship in a few days, I thought it would be important to learn more about the industries I will be working in throughout the summer. I will be interning for Devaney & Durkin, a small accounting firm that specializes in business, financial, and tax advice. Although the firm provides services in another industry, the financial services industry, I will concentrate on the accounting industry because that is what my internship will be focusing on throughout the summer.

Accounting is the process of recording and analyzing financial transactions through financial statements. There are two main types of accounting, financial and managerial. Financial accounting is used to create financial reports that provide information to the company on transactions made in a specific period of time. On the other hand, managerial accounting utilizes financial information differently to help management make decisions about how the business operates. The accounting process is fundamental to companies because they continually need assistance while managing their finances to run the business effectively. Accountants organize information that affects upper-level management, employees, customers, investors, and stakeholders. Without up-to-date financial statements, businesses would have difficulty making decisions, cost planning, and measuring economic performance.

The accounting services industry is segmented into payroll services, tax preparation services, and bookkeeping, financial auditing, and others. As new businesses are founded, and these services are needed, the demand for accountants will continue to increase. The global accounting services market is expected to grow by 5.4% between 2020 and 2021. Although accounting is always an essential part of the business, companies are currently hiring accountants to help rearrange their operations and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In order to be successful in the accounting industry, there are a number of technical skills that an accountant should possess. The minimum education requirement to be an accountant is a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a business-related area. However, there is the option to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) that requires more education and a license but allows for more job opportunities and a higher salary. To become a CPA, you must have three years of practical experience and an examination. Both accountants and CPAs must have the same technical skills to be successful. These technical skills include knowledge of how to prepare and analyze financial statements, navigate spreadsheet software, and use accounting and tax preparation software.

The soft skills needed for a successful career in the accounting services industry include communication skills, critical thinking skills, and organizational skills. After accountants prepare the necessary financial statements, they must communicate the organized information to colleagues and clients. A large amount of data accountants communicate is full of charts, tables, and graphs that must be transformed so that the average client can understand these complex financial concepts. Critical thinking skills are also highly valued within the accounting field. Accountants must have a critical eye to detect any mistakes, discrepancies, and inaccuracies. A small error could lead to significant financial and legal consequences. Once an error is detected, critical thinking skills allow the professional to solve the problem using creative strategies and solutions. Lastly, organizational skills are extremely important. Accountants must complete work for multiple clients, meet deadlines, and follow the guideline associated with being a CPA. These tasks can all be achieved by staying organized and managing time effectively. These soft skills allow accountants to be successful in the accounting services industry.

The six core competencies necessary to be successful in the accounting services industry are financial accounting, auditing, statutory compliance, corporate planning and treasury management, information and financial systems, general management, and taxation, as stated by the organization CPA Ireland. These competencies are used to evaluate potential CPAs in Ireland and assess their ability to provide quality accounting services. However, I have also found general competencies for accountants that include risk management, measurement analysis, reporting, research, systems, process management, and technology and tools. These competencies reflect a more general view of the capabilities an individual in the accounting services industry should possess.

As I learn more about the accounting services industry, I understand why it is such an essential process for businesses worldwide. Some even describe accounting as the heart of the modern business. These companies would not be able to function without the data organized and interpreted by accountants and CPAs. I also enjoy learning about the necessary technical skills, soft skills, and competencies in this industry. I look forward to seeing these skills used in a true business context. As I begin my internship this week, I am eager to take this next step on my career path.