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The accountancy career is gaining popularity with each passing day as new businesses open doors for professionals in this field. In addition, the increasing number of companies all over the world, which are replacing sole proprietorship entities, has also led to increased demand for accountants. As a result, many people are taking advantage of this great opportunity. In this field, one may choose to specialize in one of the many disciplines available (Seybert, 2010).
This move calls for guidance to advise those seeking to venture into the career. The roles played by management accountants and auditors differ greatly. The role of an accounts manager is to interpret financial information and then advise the management on the right decision to make. Accounts managers are not the same as financial accountants, as the former are more involved in decision-making of the company as compared to the latter.
In some cases, they supervise the financial accountants (Bedard, Chtourou, & Courteau, 2004). On the other hand, auditors are tasked with the responsibility of revising the financial accounts prepared by financial accountants to ensure that they represent “a true and fair view of the company’s financial position” (Bedard et al., 2004, p. 24).
They are also obliged to prepare a report and present it to the shareholders of the company during the annual general meetings. This report is meant to offer career guidance to graduates in the accounting sector. It analyzes both management accountants and the auditors’ roles in private companies and gives recommendations on the better choice between the two.
Chances of Promotion
It is quite possible for a management accountant to rise to the role of financial controller, which is superior and better paying. In this position, the accountant will be entrusted with the mandate of overseeing all the affairs of the company coupled with being responsible for all decision involving financial transactions.
An accountant in this managerial position will not only have a chance to gain experience in different fields, but also will get an opportunity to explore different talents as opposed to an auditor whose role is limited to that of checking accounts prepared by others.
A managerial accountant has the opportunity to visit different places as a representative of the company not to mention the powers conferred to him or her to represent the firm in contractual matters. A good example of such contract is a contract involving mergers and acquisition, which if successfully entered means high controlling power on the part of the managing accountant, and thus higher pay (Tayles, Pike, & Sofian, 2007). However, this development will not affect the position of an auditor.
An accountant manager is entitled to a higher pay as compared to an auditor if this aspect were to be decided on a quantum merit basis. An accountant manager is in charge of the day-to-day running of the business and he or she has to be consulted regularly on management decisions.
Therefore, indisputably, a management accountant is usually over tasked as the survival of the company depends on him or her and thus s/he is entitled to a higher reward. Going by the laws governing the operation of companies, auditor’s fee is subject to discussion and determination by shareholders in an Annual General Meeting (AGM) (Desai, Hogan, & Wilkins, 2006).
Conventionally, there exists a conflict of interest between shareholders and auditors (as shareholders would want to maximize their profits at the expense of the auditors). Therefore, it follows that shareholders will not be willing to pay much to auditors. In addition, shareholders’ decision on the auditors’ salary is final and it cannot be reviewed upwards at anytime during the financial period on the grounds of increased responsibilities.
The law governing the formation and operation of companies requires auditors of a company to be appointed under the guidance and determination of shareholders in an AGM. They are appointed to serve for a period of one year and upon expiry of this period, they can either be reappointed or laid off by the same authority. This aspect means that an auditor’s job is at the mercy of the shareholders and it can be terminated at a general meeting via a simple majority.
In the view of these facts, auditors thus have little job security. On the other hand, accounts managers, have immunity against removal by shareholders, as their job is not based on contract as the case of auditors. This assertion implies that their job can only be terminated under the grounds of incapacitation, incompetence, or other reasonable grounds like fraud (Bedard et al., 2004).
Scope of work
An account manager is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that proper accounts are maintained throughout the financial year. Conventionally, his or her role extends to that of management. He or she is also tasked with the role of analyzing investments for decision-making.
This multitasking equips an accounts manager with the actual management skills and experience, which may earn him or her even a more senior position in a company. On the other hand, the role of auditors is limited to reviewing the accounts prepared by the accountants in a company to determine if they portray a true and fair view of the company’s financial position coupled with whether they have been prepared in accordance with the generally accepted accounting principles.
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This aspect creates monotony of job, and thus boredom hence denying auditors the opportunity to explore and gain experience in other areas involving accountancy and management, which may be crucial to their career development (Shan, 2007).
The growth of a company rests on its executives. They have to spend most of their time in the business premises in a bid to oversee the company’s operations. An accounts manager, being closely involved in the management of the company, will thus be expected to spend all his or her time within the business premises.
This aspect may also include overtime at times when there is extra work especially during the auditing period. This element means that the accounts manager will not have time for leisure or to carry his or her own business, hence he or she will have to work for the standard hours from Monday to Friday (Seybert, 2010).
On the other hand, auditors are only tasked with the responsibility of examining financial statements prepared by some other people and their role is only limited to cross-examining the accounts and reporting any misrepresentation to shareholders and other interested parties. Due to this reduced role, they do not spend all their time in their places of work, and thus they have ample time to engage in other personal issues.
Auditors are expected to carry out their tasks in a professional manner and exercise due care when reporting on their findings. They may be held personally liable to users of the accounts prepared and approved by them regardless of whether or not the misrepresentation originated from the management. They can be called upon to account for any loss suffered by a person who proves to have relied on the accounts when contracting with the company.
Lack of clear rules protecting the auditor from personal liability arising out of management’s negligence further inflates this problem (Collin, Tagesson, Andersson, Cato, & Hansson, 2009). The law protects accounting managers from being held personally liable for their acts as long as they these acts are within their powers. They are deemed to act on behalf of the company, and thus they cannot be held personally liable for these acts.
In my opinion, in light of the reasons that have been discussed in this paper, an employee or student seeking to enter into accountancy career should go for an accounts manager position as opposed to an auditor’s one in a bid to reap the benefits that have already been discussed herein.
The benefits of holding the accounts manager’s position outnumber those accruing from holding an auditor’s position. However, this realization should not discourage those who would like to specialize in auditing work as there also exists an opportunity for them to rise to the position of accounts managers in the end. However, the best option would be to pursue accounts management as this option offers greater opportunities both in the short-run and in the long term.
Bedard, J., Chtourou, M., & Courteau, L. (2004). The effect of audit committee expertise, independence, and activity on aggressive earnings management. Auditing – A Journal of Practice & Theory, 23(2), 13-35.
Collin, O., Tagesson, T., Andersson, A., Cato, J., & Hansson, K. (2009). Explaining the choice of accounting standards in municipal corporations: Positive accounting theory and institutional theory as competitive or concurrent theories. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 20(2), 141-174.
Desai, H., Hogan, E., & Wilkins, M. (2006). The reputational penalty for aggressive accounting: Earnings restatements and management turnover. The Accounting Review, 81(1), 83-112.
Seybert, N. (2010). R&D capitalization and reputation-driven real earning management.
The Accounting Review, 85(2), 671-693.
Shan, G. (2007). Research on Accounting Policy Choice. Journal of Lanzhou Commercial College, 5, 65-71.
Tayles, M., Pike, H., & Sofian, S. (2007). Intellectual capital, management accounting practices and corporate performance: perceptions of managers. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 20(4), 522-548.