7 reasons why accounting is a future-focused career
By Kurt Gresens
Accounting is a big part of what we do every day at Wipfli. Our clients trust us to solve traditional accounting problems like balancing books and projecting revenue. But increasingly, they also look to us for help with things that, at first, seem rather unlike accounting, such as digital strategies and executive coaching.
That’s because accountants have a unique perspective and a versatile skill set - and clients trust us. These three features have transformed accounting from series of rote and repetitive tasks to being a trusted partner seeing into all aspects of the business – from information security to staffing to client service.
Accountants must be well versed in the language of business. That makes it a unique career with a remarkable range of career paths and opportunities.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) supports how important this transformation has been to businesses. As more leaders look to accountants to help them solve challenges across domains ranging from diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, the BLS projects the number of accounting jobs will increase by 6% between now and 2031.
How do accounting’s trust, perspective and skill set combine to make it a future-focused career? Here are seven reasons:
1. Accountants are strategic thought partners.
Managing a company’s books gives accountants a unique and precise perspective on a company’s health. That makes us important allies in strategic planning discussions. The organization already trusts us with some of its most sensitive information. Accountants can use that valuable insight to give advice that no one else in the business is able to provide.
2. Accounting is a great starting place for future business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Great leaders need an intuitive sense of which decisions will make a company successful. Being an accountant is one of the best ways to develop that intuition because we have opportunities to see a variety of businesses’ models. We learn firsthand what works well and what goes badly.
Folks with their eyes set on the C-suite should consider becoming an accountant because no other profession gives you as much trusted access. Accountants develop an understanding of what differentiates successful businesses from those that fail.
3. Accounting never gets stale.
As technology and methodologies evolve, accountants continually pick up new skills to stay at the forefront of business strategy. We always have new things to learn and many different ways to specialize, so we avoid that dreaded “stuck in a rut” feeling. When things start to seem a little too routine, accountants can always choose a specialty, join a company as an internal finance or consulting resource or change focus between business and personal accounting.
4. Accounting is a respected, trusted and storied profession.
One of the hardest things about starting any career is knowing where to turn for help. But with accounting you join a profession that has a long history, established support and service groups and defined career paths that appeal to the traditionalist as well as the innovator. As long as there have been businesses, there have been people helping to track, manage and report their transactions.
When I became an accountant, I joined a cohort of colleagues across the globe doing similar work. People who, like my teammates at Wipfli, want to excel and constantly improve their skill sets. I love this diverse, built-in community of mentors and trade organizations we can turn to when we face tough problems.
5. Accountants can be creative.
Accountancy training equips us with a foundation of core skills. In practice, we build on those skills to solve problems. As we build, there are countless ways to exercise our creative muscles.
Popular culture has often portrayed accounting as professional bean-counting. Some of that reputation was valid 50 years ago, but the technology revolution has removed those mundane pieces of accounting – you don’t even need to be good at math to be a great accountant. That leaves a huge opportunity for us to be creative and impactful. Now, more than ever, accounting is about solving a client’s complex problems and helping them identify potential issues before they become problems.
6. Accounting will play a key role in helping companies achieve ESG goals.
The Center for Audit Quality recently wrote, “we’re witnessing a watershed moment” for ESG. As investors increasingly demand company-prepared ESG information, the accounting industry is uniquely positioned to take the lead in defining the building blocks and processes for ESG accountability.
We have the trusted relationships with business leaders and the necessary skill sets to measure and track offsets, impacts and policies. So, folks who want to see their work impacting the future on ESG issues can find really rewarding work in accounting today.
7. Accounting is one of the easiest ways to see impact repeatedly.
Being an accountant has given me a rewarding career. Time and time again, I can see how my work makes a real impact on our clients and in our communities. I’ve helped clients – primarily small businesses that want to grow – make a lot of money and build secure futures. I’ve been able to help generations of a family plan for the future.
In a lot of ways, accountants are a part of many peoples’ journey to achieve the American dream. At Wipfli, our accountants are business partners, with a stake in the success of the businesses they support. They’re consultants who provide expert financial and strategic advice to nonprofits, C-suite leaders and small business owners. And they’re educators, guiding businesses on their way to achieving that American dream.
Accounting is the language of business – trusted, strategic, creative and endlessly rewarding.