The Accounting profession is one of the oldest professional careers in the world. Usually referred to as the beans counters, practitioners have grown in the practice from just keeping track of the spending and income of the organization to providing critical and strategic functions that go a long way in determining the survival, growth and expansion of the organization. Accounting is more than ‘counting the beans’ or crunching the numbers
Accountants operate in all organisations in both public, private and non-business organisations all over the world. Accounting is more than ‘counting the beans’ or crunching the numbers. They are critical personnel in their organization as they provide services like Financial Accounting, Cost Accounting, Financial Management, Auditing and Investigations, Financial Reporting, Regulatory Compliance, and even tax Management, and more. There are many routes to being a professionally qualified accountant. These include studying the higher institution for a qualification in Accounting, including a National Diploma (OND) and Higher Diploma (HND) at the polytechnic, and/or a first degree (BSC) at the university. After this, you then have to register, sit and pass the professional examinations of the recognized professional accountants. Interestingly, many professional accountants do not study Accounting as a course in higher institutions but started by registering for and passing the professional bodies examinations. In Nigeria, the two recognized (chartered) Accounting bodies are the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN). While the professional examinations of ICAN are taken as ‘private’ students at various centres all over the world after private studying, those of the ANAN had to be taken at its college in Jos, Plateau State. You have to be in residence for lectures for some period before the examinations. The Educational Tide talks to three practitioners on what it takes to be a top practitioner in the profession. 1. Chief Bidemi Ibigbami, Partner in an Audit Firm (after a chequered career in the private sector- manufacturing) a. Attraction to studying the course: hat attracted me to the profession was and still my love of record-keeping, uprightness, accountability, reliability, sincerity, integrity, and other similar issues. These have kept me going in the profession as I traverse the various sectors of the profession.
b. Good route to becoming a professional (Chartered): To me, the best route is for someone to have the first degree in any of the science-related courses, or Economics or Actuarial science and not necessarily in Accounting.
After, this study, you can then start the ICAN classes to prepare for the professional examinations. You might have to start from the Foundation level to the Skill level and graduate finally to the Professional level. But along the way, you might get some subject exemptions, subject to your previous qualifications.
c. Opportunities available as a professional accountant The opportunities available to Chartered Accountants are too numerous to count.
Firstly, Chartered Accountants are needed for employment in almost all business or government organizations.
Secondly, a freshly qualified Chartered Accountant can undergo articleship or practical training under a firm of Chartered Accountants for 36 months after which, he or she can apply for a practice licence from ICAN to set up his/her firm of Chartered Accountants.
Also, Chartered Accountants can also practice as Tax Consultants. They can also handle company/business registration after obtaining a licence to do that from the Corporate Affairs Commission.
d. Special qualities needed to excel in the profession
These qualities are numerous but include high ethical standards and those I mentioned above. But note, these are not limited to those I have mentioned in this interview.
2. Alhaji Abdallah Daybo-Balogun, Assistant Director, Finance and Accounts, Lagos State Government
a. Attraction to studying the course: I was attracted to the profession by many factors. But unfortunately, even though now a Fellow of the Professional Association, I am not encouraged by the quality of those coming up after us. I guess it has to do with a general problem with our educational sector in the country.
b. How one can be a professional (Chartered): Aspiring professionals in the career can start by studying Accounting in any accredited higher institution in the country or recognized one from abroad, then register with ICAN as a student to write the institute Professional Exams by commencing at Skills level of the Professional exams, if successful, he or she proceeds to the final level called Professional level. And by being successful at that level, he becomes a professional member through induction by the Institute.
Also by studying any other related courses from any accredited higher institution, then register as a student with ICAN and start the Professional examinations at Foundation level through Intermediate level to Skills level to the Professional level. Also, if success you apply for professional membership into the Institute through induction too.
There is also a Catch Them Young programme known as Accounting Technician Scheme (ATS), which commence with candidates having Senior Secondary School Certificate with 5 credits including English Language and Mathematics. This goes from ATS 1 to 2 and 3. If successful, you will proceed to the Intermediate level of the ICAN Professional Examinations going through Skills level to the Professional level. If successful you also become a professional member of ICAN through the induction too.
Either of these routes could be pursued to become a Chartered Accountant.
c) The best route For me, there is no real advisable route. If you are interested and wish to develop a career in the take the best suited for your present position. The Accountancy Profession, unlike other professions like Law, Engineering and similar ones, do not require you to go back to university to get a degree before enrolling for the professional certification examinations.
Even with the ICAN programme of Catch Them Young for school certificate holders, the ATS, some higher institutions are taking it as the entry point for direct entry to studying Accountancy and it is equivalent to the OND certificate in Accountancy. This is a good opportunity for the young people Instead of them wasting their time seeking admission into the universities through JAMB.
And after professional qualification, you are desirous of having a Degree qualification, some universities accept ICAN members, with ACA to join at year 4 of the Accountancy programme for the degree certificate.
d) How Rewarding personally the decision to be a Chartered accountant
It has been rewarding. How I wish this can be measured and evaluated in monetary terms but to God be the Glory, Allihamdu Lillahi, great thanks to God. e. Opportunities available as a professional accountant These are numerous. Let us look at it from this perceptive. Every decision taken in life has financial implications be it political, business, social, religious, and others. If this is true, then someone needs to help plan financial implications from the beginning of the decision through the implementation to the end. The expert needed is an Accountant. However, the business environment and even, life itself is dynamic, an Accountant of today has moved from the bean-counting of blessed memory through Dr and Cr books keeper to an expert using IT applications and solutions in carrying out his tasks/jobs.
It is obvious, any sector of the economy or life in general without a Chartered Accountant can’t be imagined.
So opportunities for Chartered Accountants in all sectors are numerous and this can’t be overemphasized.
3. Mr Kehinde Ogunmade, a Civil Servant in the Public Sector
a) Attraction to studying the course: The main attraction for me to study Accounting/Accountancy is to become a Chartered Accountant. I believe this will give me the opportunity to practice my profession after I might have retired from Government service and decide to be on my own. b. A good route to becoming a professional (Chartered) I believe there is no way that is not good either to study Accounting all the way or study another discipline at the Undergraduate level. But for quick understanding and in-depth knowledge of the discipline, it is advisable to study the course all the way from inception. c. Opportunities available as a professional accountant There are lots of opportunities available to a Chartered Accountant. As said earlier, it will afford you the opportunity to own an Audit firm with other qualified Chartered Accountants. You can also render investment advice to individual clients and corporate organizations, provide audit services to companies and firms, render consultancy services to companies, firms and government agencies; audit companies financial transactions for the purpose of production of Financial Statements for use of management, shareholders, Government, and other interested parties.
Also as an Accountant, you can be engaged in the provision of training to staff of some corporate bodies and Government officials, helping companies in the computation of their tax liabilities and render returns to the FIRS (Federal Inland Revenue Service) and relevant State revenue agencies. Finally, you can engage in Forensic Auditing.
d. Special qualities needed to excel in the profession
As an Accountant, you should be diligent, be honest. You should be competent, be laborious/ hard working. Also, you should exercise due care in carrying out your responsibilities. He should be polite and friendly. You should be trustworthy with a strong sense of ethics. The Accountant should constantly be learning, and always emphasizing accuracy. He should possess organizational skills, good sense of accountability. He must possess the ability to work in a team, wide knowledge of the field, reliable at any point in time with creativity tendency. He must have excellent organisational skills and be committed to the sector. He must have great communication skills, collaboration tendency and flexibility.
Likewise, you should not charge an exorbitant fee for services rendered to your clients.