Financial auditors and accountants (NOC 1111)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Accountants and financial auditors organize, review and manage financial records and transactions for companies and people. They make sure that information is accurate and meets established accounting standards. This group includes articling students in accounting firms.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a chartered professional accountant is like.

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Chartered professional accountant


Common job titles
  • accountant, bank branch
  • accountant, plant / production
  • accountant, property / public / tax
  • accountant-controller
  • analyst, reinsurance / senior accounting
  • auditor, bank reserves / computer audit

Duties

In general, accountants and financial auditors are responsible for a variety of financial, tax and business-related work. This could be for a company or if the person works for an accounting firm, it could be for several client companies.

Accountants:

  • Plan, set up and maintain accounting systems and prepare financial information for individuals and families, departments, companies and other organizations, including for bank loans and other forms of funding
  • Review the financial health of companies and help management with strategic planning
  • Create and maintain accounting systems to collect and manage financial information
  • Check accounting and transaction records, financial reports, income tax returns and other financial documents
  • Prepare, review and file tax returns, financial statements and other financial reports
  • Give advice on how to improve financial, business and tax procedures
  • Create and maintain policies and procedures for the company or organization
  • Project future earnings and expenses as well as cash flows
  • Work with auditors and bankers
  • Act as trustees in bankruptcy proceedings
  • Handle mergers and acquisitions
  • Help to put business management software in place
  • May supervise and train articling students, junior accountants or administrative technicians

Financial auditors:

  • Review the financial records and financial statements of people and companies to make sure information is accurate
  • Ensure that the person or company’s financial activities and reporting follows accounting standards, procedures and government laws
  • Check and analyze corporate and individual financial documents, including:
    • Transaction records
    • Journal and ledger entries
    • Bank statements
    • Inventories
    • Expenditures
    • Tax returns
  • Conduct field audits, including:  
    • Review and report on the strength of the company’s internal control systems to ensure that the financial activities are done properly
    • Provide double checks on actions to promote accountability and prevent fraud
  • Complete sample inventory counts and review inventory counts done by others in the company
  • Review and confirm large costs that are recorded to verify their accuracy
  • Look for general indications of tax fraud and non-compliance
  • Advise companies on how to put new rules and processes in place
  • Advise on how to improve accounting, risk management and other management practices
  • Review and test how a company manages its financial efforts to show risks
  • Prepare audit reports
  • May supervise other auditors or accounting professionals

Financial auditors doing assurance work may:

  • Examine accounting records (audits)
  • Review financial statements
  • Prepare and present financial records
  • Provide other assurance services, such as investigating fraud, reviewing policies and procedures, and evaluating internal controls

Work environment

Accountants and financial auditors can work for small, medium or large organizations in the private or public sectors. They can work for auditing or accounting firms, for a company or they can be self-employed as consultants.

Government and larger businesses may hire their own full-time accountants and have fully staffed accounting departments. Smaller businesses may contract an accountant—either one who is self-employed or through an accounting firm—for shorter terms or specific projects.

Compared to other jobs, this group has a higher-than-average number of self-employed workers. Demand for accountants and financial auditors may rise and fall with the economy. However, this profession tends to be protected from short-term recessions because accounting is an area that most businesses must continue to do as a part of their operations.

Insights from industry

Technology has changed the accounting profession. As more accounting functions become automated, auditors and accountants can spend more time understanding financial information and creating management strategies. In addition, things like blockchain, cryptocurrency and other changing areas of focus require people in this career to continue to learn both through formal training and by keeping up to date through media, lectures and industry conferences.

The role of an accountant is expanding and as a result, people in this profession are taking on new responsibilities, such as:

  • Financial strategy development
  • Financing leadership and support
  • Creating financial systems to support the strategic direction of an organization
  • Financial information analysis
  • Environmental safety assessments
  • Computer system audits
  • Corporate restructuring

Many of the higher-level roles are better suited to Chartered Professional Accountants rather than undesignated accountants. More and more, financial auditors work with systems, rather than the data itself, to make sure that the systems work and that the data is kept confidential. In the past, this role was limited to financial auditing, but in today’s world, their duties are growing, and financial auditors are being asked to create company-wide financial plans.

Accountants may be asked to give their opinions on the security of the company’s financial information, its financial health or how well its systems work. In addition, they may be asked to review and show any potential risks to the company’s financial health.

Some employers may want to hire financial auditors or accountants that have skills that are not specific to financial work. This could include being able to work in diverse groups and to present ideas to others. A person in this role might also need to have public speaking or leadership skills. They should also be able to actively listen to co-workers and clients, and to connect with clients and to help build professional relationships.

In many cases, professional accountants in Canada follow international standards of practice. With the increase in trade between Canada and other countries, new opportunities are coming up for accountants and financial auditors who speak more than one language. More employers want accountants and auditors with international experience and knowledge, including how to handle foreign exchange management and sales tax issues.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Financial auditors and professional accountants can become senior managers after five to 10 years of work experience, depending on the organization. With additional experience or education, professional accountants and financial auditors can move into partnership roles or executive positions.

A Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation is well-known and respected around the world. Having this opens up a wide range of career opportunities in finance, audit, tax and financial reporting. While accountants do not have to have a CPA designation to get a job in B.C., for those who want to move into more senior roles, it is important. A CPA is required for those who will provide regulated accounting services, such as tax advice, tax or statutory filings, forensic accounting, and financial investigation.

Additional resources