Financial auditors and accountants (NOC 1111)

High demand occupation

About this job

Accountants and financial auditors organize and analyze the financial records and transactions kept by individuals or businesses. Articling students in accounting firms are included in this unit group.

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Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • may be responsible for financial budgeting and forecasting
  • work for auditing and accounting firms and for all types of businesses throughout the private and public sectors
  • may be self-employed as consultants or contract specialists

Financial auditors:

  • examine and analyze the accounting and financial records of individuals and establishments to ensure accuracy and compliance with established accounting standards and procedures

Accountants:

  • plan, organize and administer accounting systems for individuals and establishments.
Common job titles
  • accountant, bank branch
  • accountant, plant / production
  • accountant, property / public / tax
  • controller, accounting / division / plant
  • CPA (chartered professional accountant)
  • CPA (chartered professional accountant), CGA (certified general accountant)
  • accountant, bank branch
  • accountant, plant / production
  • accountant, property / public / tax
  • accountant-controller
  • analyst, reinsurance / senior accounting
  • auditor, bank reserves / computer audit

Duties

The professional designation for accountants in Canada is Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). Established in 2012, the CPA designation brings together Certified Management Accountants (CMA), Chartered Accountants (CA), and Certified General Accountants (CGA). 

Accountants may also be non-designated if they have not earned a professional designation.
The duties performed by CPAs, financial auditors and non-designated accountants vary by specific occupation.

Special duties

Designated Accountants (CPAs):

  • plan, set up and maintain accounting systems and prepare financial information for individuals, departments, companies and establishments
  • examine accounting records, prepare financial statements and reports, and develop and maintain internal control policies and procedures
  • examine financial accounts and records and prepare income tax returns, or analyze financial statements and reports and provide financial, business and tax advice
  • project future earnings and cash requirements, assist or lead financing initiatives to secure bank or equity funding, and manage external relationships, including those with auditors and bankers
  • act as trustees in bankruptcy proceedings
  • supervise and train articling students, other accountants or administrative technicians
  • help with enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations

Financial auditors:

  • specialize in auditing
  • examine and analyze financial records and documents of individuals or businesses (such as journal and ledger entries, bank statements, inventories, expenditures and tax returns) to ensure accuracy and compliance with established accounting standards or hidden controls
  • prepare detailed reports on audits and make recommendations on improvements to accounting and management practices
  • conduct field audits of businesses to make sure they follow the Income Tax Act, Canadian Business Corporations Act and other legal requirements, including Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
  • make changes associated with anti-money laundering or anti-terrorist legislation
  • supervise other auditors or accounting professionals

Non-designated accountants:

  • plan, set up and maintain accounting systems and prepare financial information for individuals, departments, companies and other establishments
  • examine accounting records and prepare financial statements and reports, as well as develop and maintain internal control procedures
  • prepare income tax returns from accounting records, analyze financial statements and reports, offer financial, business and tax advice, and provide bookkeeping services
  • perform accounting-related duties

Non-designated accountants often face limitations in their practice, such as the inability to sign off on audits. A professional accounting designation can greatly improve the chances of being hired.

Work environment

Government and larger businesses may employ their own accountants. Smaller businesses may hire an accountant from a private accounting firm.

These professionals typically work full time for one employer throughout the year, but small private companies may hire them for specified time periods as consultants.

This occupational group has a higher-than-average number of self-employed workers, who have greater flexibility in working hours.

Accountants and financial auditors are employed widely across industry and business. Their employment may be subject to general economic trends, although any accounting functions are required every year, which often makes these positions secure during short-term economic downturns.

Insights from industry

There is an increasing demand for part-time and contract workers, particularly at the lower and middle levels in Victoria. Careers in this occupational group are likely to remain largely in urban centres. Demand is likely to fluctuate in smaller, more remote communities.

Demand for tax, financial instrument, forensic accounting, bankruptcy and information experts is increasing, and demand for accountants specializing in a specific industrial sector may also be on the rise. There is currently a high demand for business accountants, comptrollers and chief financial officers in urban centres, particularly in Vancouver and Victoria.

As accounting functions becoming increasingly automated, auditors and accountants are able to spend more time on strategic financial management and interpretation and less time performing routine transactions. They must now accommodate “non-accounting” activities and the international standardization of practices. This has extended the accountant's role into areas such as financial strategy development, financing leadership and support, creating financial systems to support the strategic direction of the organization, financial information analysis, environmental safety assessments, computer system audits and corporate restructuring.

Financial auditors are increasingly involved with systems rather than data, verifying system reliability and data confidentiality. Their mandate has expanded from one of limited financial audit to a comprehensive, company-wide overview. The corporate role of financial auditors has become increasingly strategic and accountants are often expected to give opinions on operational security, organizational viability, accounting control effectiveness and risk assessment. Employers are also placing greater emphasis on transferable skills, such as the ability to work in diverse groups and to present ideas to others.

With the rise of trade opportunities between Canada, China and India, job opportunities are becoming increasingly available for accountants and financial auditors who are able to speak a foreign language. International experience and knowledge of issues such as foreign exchange management and sales tax issues are becoming standard requirements.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Accounting graduates typically obtain employment in junior positions. Those with experience and further education may progress to positions in account management and financial analysis.

Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) have the flexibility to enter many different areas of business. For example, many act as financial auditors, tax specialists, consultant analysts, forensic accountants or finance managers, directors, vice-presidents and chief financial officers.

In addition, CPAs are hired at many levels within industry and government organizations. Recent graduates generally work at the comptroller level as assistant comptrollers, junior accountants or financial analysts.

Additional resources