Thursday, January 31, 2008


What are the expectations from the modern day accountants? As everything else evolves, accounting professionals face greater demands from their careers as they progress to fully develop their potentials. The broadening roles of accountants forces them to be more flexible and competent. As these changes create pressure on the profession, they also open vast opportunities for accountants to explore. These opportunities vary from various sectors offering them more choices and flexibility. But how can a modern accountant stay in pace in today's very competitive world? Various options lay before them to keep their value through taking up the traditional post graduate study programs and through emerging and becoming popular international certifications.

Post graduate study programs

One of the ways to keep and enhance the accountant's value is through further studies or achieving higher educational level. These includes taking up Masters in Accountancy, MS Finance, MS Economics, Bachelor of Laws, PhD and the very popular MBA studies. Accountants can also choose to pursue information technology as modern accountants are exposed and are using computer-aided systems. In fact they should have at least a basic knowledge on information technology in order for them to stay in pace.


As accountants progress through their careers, further certification and specialization are very essential and this will all depend on the accountant's interest. Examples of these certifications that are available to accounting professional are summarized below.

Internal Audit. The CIA or Certified Internal Auditor certification is the most prestigious in internal auditing world. This is given by the Institute of Internal Auditors and requires the candidate to take the CIA exam and pass it in order to be granted the title. There are around 47,000 CIAs around the world with roles such as Senior Internal Auditor, Internal Auditor, Auditor, VP – Internal Audit, Information Systems Auditor and Controller (Financial).

Management Accounting. Another option for accounting professionals is to pursue the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) and CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) certificates. These certificates requires program completion, studies, exams and relevant work experience to be eligible. The CMA has over 158,000 members and students around the globe and the CIMA certificate has a 23% membership growth in the last 5 years. Career opportunities for these certificates includes the CFO, VP, Director, Accounting Manager, Special Projects Manager, Consultant – Business Process/Management, Management Accountant and Associate Accountant.

Risk Management. Recognized certification in the risk management are the FRM (Financial Risk Manager) which is granted by the GARP (Global Association of risk Professionals) and the PRM (Professional Risk Manager) by the PRMIA (Professional Risk Managers' International Association). Roles include Chief Risk Officer, Derivatives Expert, Senior Credit Manager, Investment Risk Manager, Quantitative Analysts, Enterprise Risk Manager, Risk System and Implementation Consultant.

Forensic Accounting. This exciting path for accountants recognizes the CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) certificate which requires ACFE membership and the CFE exam. There are 50,000 anti-fraud professional members, of which, more than 20,000 have CFE credentials. Career opportunities include Senior Internal Auditor, Internal Auditor, Controller, VP – Internal Audit, Accounting Manager and Senior Accountant.

Information Systems. Certifications available in this field are the CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) and the CISSP ( Certified Information Systems Security Professional). The CISA certificate is provided by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association while the CISSP is given by ISC2 (International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc. Opportunities include the roles such as CEO, CFO, CAE, Audit Partners/Heads, CIO, CISO, Security Directors, Security Managers and Consultants, Managerial/Consulting positions in IT operations and compliance, Information Systems Auditors, Networking/IT Consultant, Information Security and Risk Manager Officer, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning Consultants, Cryptographer, and Legal, Regulations, Compliance and Investigations Head.

Finance. The CFA certification is highly recognized in the finance world. It has a three-level examination with emphasis on ethical and professional standards given by the CFA Institute. There are 82,000 CFA charter holders in 133 countries and territories. Holders of this charter can choose to play the roles of a CEO/Principal, Investment Counselor, Chief Investment Officer, Investment Firm Manager, Equity Analyst, Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income Analyst, Fund Manager, Chief Financial Officer, Financial Advisors and Trust Officers.

With the changing business environment and increasing complexity, there is no doubt that the opportunities for accountants will become broader as emerging markets and concerns will come our way just like the newly-emerged sustainability accounting. With these, accountants should be prepared to be competitive and continue to add value to the accounting profession in order to remain in pace.

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