The broad of umbrella of ‘Accountant’ is usually divided into 3 main brackets, especially at the larger firms. Audit, Tax and Consulting. With consulting (as in its name) belonging primarily to the consultants and being a variant branch of the accounting family, the main 2 networks of accountants are Auditors and Tax Accountants. The following article will compare and contrast the 2 accountant styles and explore the nature of their very being. An audit serves the purpose of a judge of sorts, analysing a company’s financial records, statements and affairs and passing ruling on regulatory compliance. The idea is that a successful audit will deem a company fair and proper in their financial dealings. A Taxation accountant follows a similar line of duty ensuring a company’s taxation practices are legal. They can offer taxation advice on how to comply with taxation laws, without hurting the bottom line extensively.
The Big 4 firms, and even the smaller accounting firms offer both services. A business is required to be tax compliant so the need for a tax accountant is ever prevalent. A company may choose to have its own internal taxation department or use the services of another company. A company will almost always have its own internal audit division, and then use one of the bigger more reputable firms for their external audit.
In order to qualify as a tax accountant, you can study the AAT qualification, whilst an auditor can study the ACA or ACCA qualifications. The average salary for an Auditor is £29,144. The average salary for a Tax Accountant is £28,487. The difference whilst negligible, comes with a different work life. Tax accountants are heavily office based, whereas Auditors are often on the move at client sites completing audits. Auditors vary their work by exploring different sectors, such as public or private sector firms. Internal audits is an audit division preparing for the external audit. They ensure that compliance and accurate record keeping is maintained throughout the year, so that when the annual external audit occurs, there are no discrepancies. Tax accountants can opt for personal tax advisory or corporate tax advisory. Both roles have scope for digital transitions in the new emerging digital age.
The jump from Audit to asset management is one many auditors have at least attempted if not completed. As an Auditor, the exposure to these different financial industries and models often allows the auditor to pick up valuable skills and therefore make a career transition. As a Tax Accountant, the progression options become rather limited. You could become a senior tax consultant, or in rare cases a partner at the firm depending on stature, tenure and achievement. Alternatively there is scope to set up your own shop, and become a personal tax accountant or deal with small businesses. The market is heavily saturated, but a well tenured city career may set you apart from the rest.
Be it Audit, or Tax- the world of accounting opens up exciting possibilities to have a long standing and successful financial career.