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how many branches are there within the accounting career

I am interested in a finance career especially in accounting. But I wanted to know how long the career lasts and how easy it is to get a position in a company. #business #financial-accounting #accounting


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Patryk’s Answer

Lidibet,

Great question! Accounting is a career path with many options and strong longevity!

Many new graduates begin their career in Public Accounting (meaning that they work for an accounting firm and not a corporation directly).

Public Accounting has two main branches:

• Tax
• Audit

Tax accountants help individuals and businesses with tax planning and compliance. Auditors provide public confidence in publicly-released corporate financial statements.

Some new graduates start their careers in industry (meaning they work directly for a business). Within a business, there are many accounting teams.

Examples include:

• Inventory Accounting
• Accounts Receivable
• Accounts Payable
• Cash Management
• Financial Accounting
• Internal Audit
• Tax

In addition to those popular accounting paths, there are also more specialized accounting paths.

These include:

• Non-Profit Accounting – Schools, Churches, Charities
• Government Accounting – City, State, and Federal
• Forensic Accounting – Criminal Investigation
You mentioned an interest in Finance as well. Finance is a slightly different field, but closely related to Accounting. Many people get dual degrees in Finance and Accounting, which provides even more opportunities (such as Treasury management, and CFO/CEO-track positions).
The finance field is broader than accounting, but a few examples of finance paths include:
• Banking-Individual
• Banking-Business
• Financial Planning-Individual
• Financial Planning-Business
• Financial Analysis

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Anthony T.’s Answer

Hello! That is a great question! Many students fear accounting. However, there are so many paths that you can take with accounting and finance. I started college as a business major with no specific direction. I took my first accounting course and actually fell in love. Although I went the military route initially, my finance and accounting journey has been the most rewarding. I started my journey as an auditor where I was able to learn all facets of the company. I then went into an accounting position where I was able to learn the accounting software and skills related to finance. I was also able to start my tax and accounting business with a focus on individual taxes and audits for non-profits. I then passed the CPA exam, the CIA exam and was certified in Risk Management as well as Management Accounting. I addition, I performed Finance Manager as well as Compliance Manager jobs. So, the areas of accounting can be vast and fulfilling. The other point is that this is one area or industry that is always needed. Please take some time to do some research and keep your options open. A person with a multitude of experiences is more valuable to a company and an accounting degree allows you to be gain that experience. Best wishes!

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Tess’s Answer

Hi Lidibet!

Happy to provide some insight into the different branches in a Big 4 accounting firm. While they all differ slightly, each have typically three "branches" -- at PwC, we call them "lines of service". These include: assurance (audit), tax, and advisory. One of the biggest benefits of public accounting versus "industry" accounting at a company is that you are relatively free to explore the different lines of service. For example, I interned in tax with PwC but realized throughout the process that I was actually interested in advisory. I started full time in advisory and about a year and half later, became interested in audit. I voiced this interest early and was patient with my managers as they worked to get me tranferred. I've now been in audit for 3 years and absolutely love it! I would say most people end up loving where they start so my story is definitely a little bit unusual but I have been so grateful for the firm's flexibility towards my ever-changing interests.

Quick overview of the lines of service at PwC:
Assurance - provide audit services for companies to help them stay compliant with regulatory agencies and to help the general public feel confident that the financial performance of companies they invest in is materially accurate
Tax - provide tax services for companies in order to help them maximize their tax savings and stay compliant with regulatory agencies
Advisory - assist companies in ad-hoc needs such as capital market transactions (IPOs, mergers), complex accounting questions/situations, operational changes, strategy, etc.. This group also houses the "experts" so actuaries, valuation specialists, etc. who assist on audits as well.

Hope this helps!

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Heidi’s Answer

Most people have already answered about public or private and different options within each. I would just like to add that there are more options than audit, tax and advisory within public accounting. I work in Deals at PwC (which falls under assurance) and includes Capital Markets Accounting Advisory Services, Valuation, Financial Due Diligence and others. These types of career paths vary by firm and are not always offered as an entry level position. The way I found out about my current career path was just by asking at a career fair. I wasn't extremely interested in audit or tax so I asked firms if they had anything else available for new hires and found something interesting for me.

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Daniel’s Answer

There are many different branches within the accounting umbrella/career. The three big ones are audit, tax , and advisory. However, there are many different groups within these three branches and with the emerging and new technologies that are being created, more and more subgroups are being created. High level audit will "check" companies' financial statements to make sure they are not making any mistakes, errors or fraud. Tax will help companies' save money and do their taxes to comply with the law. Advisory will give companies advice on how they should do business such as if they should buy another company or not. Advisory probably has the most subgroups including exposure to more technology work. All the groups are different and you should try and do as much research as you can at school/the internet//networking before picking which one you would like to pursue.

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Lucas’s Answer

Hi Lidibet,

A career in accounting/finance can be very diverse . In accounting you can focus on being tax expert, an auditor, a specialist who will only deal with complex accounting issues, a general accountant, etc.

The finance department usually manages the Company's money, from managing financing sources (banks, investors, etc), to where to invest the money the company has. They need to make sure that the Company will have the money to meet their obligations (pay employees, pay taxes, etc). The finance professionals are usually more "forward-looking", meaning that they will build budgets and forecasts and will help manage the finances of the organizations towards those goals.

The accounting department is responsible for recording the transactions that occur in the normal business operations of the Company. Accountants are also responsible for analyzing the impact to the Company of big transactions. They also deal with taxes, etc. Accounting is slightly less "forward-looking" compared to finance, however in reality both work together in supporting the business decisions.

I think both are similar in regards to getting a job. Overall, having an education in either accounting or finance will give you many opportunities. Every company has an accounting and finance department, so potentially you could be able to work for any Company. If you are a doctor, you will probably work at a hospital or at a clinic, if you are an engineer, you may work at a construction company, but as a finance or accounting professional, you can work at a hospital, at a clinic, at a construction company, and virtually any other business.

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James’s Answer

Accounting provides a wide range of opportunities due to the need of handling money in just about any field. With the high demand for accountants, there is no shortage of jobs, which continues even in times of economic uncertainty since companies continue to need finances tracked. Additionally, careers can be very long lasting since there is no physical toll. Often times, accountants are more valuable the longer they have been in the workforce due to the experience gained. In general, accounting is a safe profession to go into and offers many different career paths.

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Victoria’s Answer

There is a lot within accounting. I can speak to public accounting at a Big 4 firm where we service clients with accounting related work. We are organized by:

1) Audit/Assurance
2) Risk Assurance
3) Tax

Victoria recommends the following next steps:

Think about if you'd like to serve the public sector or be in the private sector
Saved!
Think about interest areas, look up what audit/risk assurance/tax is | take classes in these areas and talk to people who are in those roles
Saved!

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Nick’s Answer

Hi Lidibet,

Great question! A career in accounting offers many different opportunities. For instance, an accounting degree can open the door to jobs in corporate finance, internal audit, risk management, tax, transaction services, and numerous other roles. I'd recommend you look into the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation as an entry point to the accounting profession.

Good luck with your future career!

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Sarah’s Answer

Hi Lidibet!

The broad categories within accounting are:

Tax
Assurance
Advisory

and within these categories they branch out even more. For example, within Assurance there is public, private and risk assurance. There are many different lines of service you can get into once you find your nitche.

I hope this helps!

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Kyle’s Answer

There are many branches to accounting. The overall three branches are Consulting, tax and audit. Under each branch there are many areas to specialize. For example, tax sub branches include state tax, federal tax, international tax, transfer pricing, financial services, private company services, individual tax service etc.


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Orit’s Answer

Hi Lidibet,

I started my career over 20 years ago, and Accounting is a great base for many other areas. I started in a traditional IT Audit, but was able to learn, grow and act in interesting related roles in these areas:
Technology risk assessments
Enterprise Risk Management
Internal/external audit
Technology Governance
Process improvement
Design thinking
and more
Understanding the accounting world as a strong foundation and ensure you are up to speed with technology (can be formal or self learned) is a really good combination for many fields and roles that are not pure accounting/finance, but utilize the base knowledge to support the business growth.
The most important thing is to get excited about the opportunity this start can provide and assess if you like it.
Best of luck and I hope you find it helpful!

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Eric’s Answer

There really are so many paths. I saw some good examples in the questions already here but I'll add a couple others to the mix. It's common to see accountants go from accounting to financial analyst roles, which are more forward looking instead of reporting on actuals.

Also, in the client service business I'm in the advisory/consulting arm, which sometimes people forget about since audit and tax are the more traditional paths.

One fun fact on this is that the FBI likes to hire CPAs. I remember finding this out when I was finishing up undergrad and was totally surprised. It's not just for their white collar crimes division either.

I share all that to say, that accounting background opens up so many doors. There's a reason people call it "the language of business."

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Arionna’s Answer

There are several different branches, especially if you work in public accounting. Public accounting is typically broken into Audit/Assurance v. Tax Services. Within the Assurance practice, there are several specialties. There is "Core" Assurance, which is financial statement audits. There are also Data and IT Assurance services. Our firm also offers third-party internal audit functions. There are even more advisory/consulting roles that focus on technical accounting topics and helping clients account for them appropriately. Within audit, there are also certain industries that you can specialize in (financial services, health services, consumer/retail products).

If you chose the private accounting route, typically big companies are broken into specific departments, such as: Financial Reporting (focuses on appropriate financial statement reporting and disclosures), Technical Accounting (focuses on assessing technical accounting issues and how to appropriately record them, as well as initial adoption of new accounting standards), Consolidation/Systems Accounting (focuses on ensuring appropriate consolidation of financial statements for appropriate reporting, also can focus on foreign currency exchange implications).

As you can see, there is a wide variety within the accounting profession, which I think allows you to stay in the profession for as long as you want because there is so many opportunities and a lot to learn.

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Zachary’s Answer

Hi Lidibet -

When I was in college and had just started out looking at potential career in accounting, I really only thought that there was one pathway in the accounting field, however after working in accounting for more than 5 years I have realized that there are so many different branches / pathways that you can take.

From a high level perspective, the two main divisions are what is commonly referred to as a 'private sector' accounting job vs. a 'public sector' accounting job. Private sector accountants typically will work for a business / company and perform accounting duties specific to that business. The typical pathway in this type of job begins as a staff accountant and will commonly follow a standard promotion structure with the end goal ultimately being a CFO or other C-suite level position.

A job in the public sector as an accountant is where the role is to perform services for those other companies. These services can vary from audit services, tax services, consulting services, and much more. In this role you typically would have a variety of clients and work on various projects in a specific industry (finance, entertainment, hospitality, government, non-profit, etc.)

In addition to those to more 'common' career paths, there are many other possibilities for an accountant, including more specialized roles like forensic account, or entrepreneurship, etc. Accounting is a great building block for a future career in many different business careers.

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Lucas’s Answer

Hi Lidibet,

A career in accounting/finance can be very diverse . In accounting you can focus on being tax expert, an auditor, a specialist who will only deal with complex accounting issues, a general accountant, etc.

The finance department usually manages the Company's money, from managing financing sources (banks, investors, etc), to where to invest the money the company has. They need to make sure that the Company will have the money to meet their obligations (pay employees, pay taxes, etc). The finance professionals are usually more "forward-looking", meaning that they will build budgets and forecasts and will help manage the finances of the organizations towards those goals.

The accounting department is responsible for recording the transactions that occur in the normal business operations of the Company. Accountants are also responsible for analyzing the impact to the Company of big transactions. They also deal with taxes, etc. Accounting is slightly less "forward-looking" compared to finance, however in reality both work together in supporting the business decisions.

I think both are similar in regards to getting a job. Overall, having an education in either accounting or finance will give you many opportunities. Every company has an accounting and finance department, so potentially you could be able to work for any Company. If you are a doctor, you will probably work at a hospital or at a clinic, if you are an engineer, you may work at a construction company, but as a finance or accounting professional, you can work at a hospital, at a clinic, at a construction company, and virtually any other business.

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Laurie’s Answer

The sky is the limit. Once you have experience in accounting you can enter a variety of different jobs. With an accounting degree and determination you can have many doors open for you. Generally an accountant who has public accounting experience and a few years of industry experience can take their career in whichever direction interests them. Many time it is about what interests you, which industry you have experience in and how specialized you want to be. It is easier for an accountant to move out of finance and into business operations than the opposite. Many times it is about being in the right place at the right time - they key is to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. Don't be afraid to take a risk. Good luck!

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Seifeldin’s Answer

Hi Lidibet,

There are 8 branches under an accounting career, here they are:

-Financial Accounting
-Cost Accounting
-Auditing
-Managerial Accounting
-Accounting Information Systems
-Tax Accounting
-Forensic Accounting
-Fiduciary Accounting

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