Accountants are financial professionals responsible for keeping accurate financial records for individuals, companies and other organisations. In addition to preparing these records, accountants may also offer analysis, financial planning, and some legal advice. Some accountants may specialise in a particular field, such as tax accounting or management accounting, while others may function as general accountants. To do their job well, accountants must excel in a number of areas.
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The primary job of an accountant is to crunch numbers. To do so accurately, an accountant must have extensive skills in mathematics. Although some accountants use only simple mathematical operations in their work, such as adding, subtracting and multiplying, others -- particularly those engaged in financial planning and analysis -- must often develop and solve complex mathematical formulas and algorithms.
Accounting leaves little room for error. In the course of a single day, an accountant may make hundreds, if not thousands of calculations. If even one of these calculations is incorrect, the account may be thrown off. For this reason, a good accountant must be almost preternaturally accurate, and allot sufficient time to double-check his figures.
Although most accountants work a regular, 40-hour week, at certain time, they may be required to work longer hours or to work quickly to meet a deadline. Often, companies will rely on accountants to finish their calculations within a short period of time. For example, a publicly traded company must release earnings statements every quarter, which require significant work to accurately calculate.
Accountants will often need to draw figures from dozens, if not hundreds of different sources to compile a single report. After a report has been compiled, the accountant may be required to keep a copy on hand for reference later. Also, when developing reports, accountants must be able to organise the data in a fashion that is logical and clear. For these reasons, they must be excellent at organising information.
Accountants must be able to effectively communicate their findings to clients both verbally and in writing. It is not enough for an accountant to understand a company's finances -- he must also be able to translate this information, which is sometimes quite complex, into a format that is comprehensible to someone who does not have a background in accounting.
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