IFRS Reporting: Is it an Excellent Career Option?

The disintegration of international boundaries necessitated the establishment of common business practices which are globally understandable, verifiable and accessible. Among business practices, accountancy is a dominant subject.

In this article, FinanceWalk introduces you to the concept of IFRS reporting, its career scope in India and how to pursue IFRS.

What Is IFRS?

International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) is a globally accepted language for business accountancy presentation which makes it comparable and understandable globally.

In simpler words, generalized parameters were established for publicly-traded company accounts presentation. The idea is to maintain account books which are reliable, relevant and globally comparable, and accessible by both internal and external users.

It’s a singular accounting language.

Here’s the direct link to the IFRS ‘Blue Book’ 2015 edition. As an accounts person pursuing IFRS, this is a must-have in your collection.  You should also read this report published on Economic Times.

Scope of IFRS Reporting in India

The global recognition accredited to IFRS prompted Indian companies to follow suit. This also created another learning segment for accounting and finance professionals to learn about IFRS and improve their career prospects.

Increasingly, companies in India are adopting and choosing to recruit candidates with experience and knowledge in IFRS, apart from usual accounting and finance degrees.

As such, IFRS professionals enjoy high demand in India. The demand is higher because there is lesser number of IFRS professionals in India and moreover, experts can offer consultancy services to companies adopting IFRS standards and need assistance with migrating older accounts to newer accounting structures.

1x1.trans IFRS Reporting: Is it an Excellent Career Option?

Youngsters entering the finance industry should consider getting IFRS certification to improve career prospects.

Ever since IFRS inception, the accounting reforms influenced changes in all business avenues dealing with accounting and finance.

Corporate and publicly-traded companies engaged or interested to function on a global scale through international stock exchanges, joint ventures and other modes has to obligatorily follow IFRS standards.

Indian companies are facilitating the learning of IFRS standards for its existing employees and hiring new candidates with IFRS skills. It is mandatory for people who are Financial Controllers, Financial Analysts, Accountants, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Accountants, Finance Managers, Bank Managers, Auditors and Portfolio Managers to be IFRS proficient.

The convergence of IFRS within the Indian industrial context led to the development of Indian Accounting Standards (IND-AS).

IFRS Opportunities for CA, CPA and CFA Experts

Professionals who have already done or are doing courses like Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Cost and Works Accountant, Chartered Accountancy (CA), Company Secretary (CS), Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and MBA in Finance or Accounting should opt for IFRS certification to become at par with global finance professionals.

The IFRS training happens with international paradigms and therefore, it equips them to work not only in India but abroad.

The introduction of IFRS in the Indian markets created a lot of employment opportunities. There are a lot of career opportunities for people with additional IFRS expertise because of the following reasons:

  • Implementation of IFRS guidelines begins in India from 1 April 2011 for companies other than insurance sector, banks and non-banking financial companies. Companies who began implementing in this first phase need to hire IFRS professionals for smooth operational transitioning.
  • Advisory companies involved with offering advisory services to accounting and finance firms need to hire IFRS professionals as consultants. Similarly, audit firms require the same to offer excellent IFRS implementation to their client companies.
  • There is a high demand of IFRS professionals in the banking and insurance sector since they received guidelines to implement IFRS from 1 April 2013 and 1 April 2012 respectively.
  • Skilled and experienced IFRS experts can begin their private consultancy for firms and enhance their income potential. Firms often hire financial consultants on retainer basis.
  • If nothing else, the need for IFRS experts will rise in the finance education industry because institutes offering certification and diploma need to upgrade their education module with IFRS and therefore, they need experts to teach students.

In short, if you are in the field of accountancy, IFRS reporting skills become mandatory to find employment because every company needs people skilled in IFRS and the employment demand will increase in the next 5 years.

IFRS Courses

If you want to learn IFRS protocols, here are some recommended courses.

1. Certificate Course on International Financial Reporting Standards in 100 hours by ICAI for CA members.
2. Certificate Course on International Financial Reporting Standards Convergence in 2 months by ICWAI for university faculties, students, cost accountants, chartered accountants, company secretaries, senior and middle-level executives in various organisations like statutory bodies and multinationals.
3. Advanced Certificate Program on IFRS in 6 weeks by KPMG for 2+ years working professionals. However, the experience requirement is not necessary for MBA (Finance), CA, CWA and CS.
4. Diploma in International Financial Reporting in 3-6 months by ACCA for graduates holding 3+ years of experience in finance, commerce post-graduates holding 2+ years of experience in finance, auditors and practicing accountancy.
5. IFRS / IND AS Certification Programs in 40 hours for students and professionals attempting ACCA exam.

If you find any other course other than these, verify their authenticity and accreditation before signing up. Also, if you have doubts, check out the IFRS FAQ section visible in AICPA website; it will clear any other doubts.

Scope of Growth for IFRS Professionals

There is a huge scope of growth for IFRS professionals, especially for those who are beginning their career in finance than those with mid-level or senior-level accounting experience. The reason why IFRS is going to be the next big thing in India is because of the below given reasons.

(1) High IFRS Reporting Professionals Demand

The first phase of IFRS implementation in India targeted companies listed in stock exchange and with assets worth Rs. 1000 crores. The numbers of companies in this category are hardly 300 in total. However, in the second and subsequent phase of IFRS implementation, mid-level and small-level companies will be roped in and as such, the need for IFRS professionals will rise steeply.

(2) International Skills

Finance professionals entering the field at this time will have advantage over others because there are not many accounting professionals with practical and expert knowledge of international accounting standards. Having IFRS reporting skills will elevate your status in the high growing and demanding world of IFRS professionals.

(3) India & Abroad

Apart from India, 100+ countries have received permission to implement IFRS standards. Therefore, by being IFRS qualified, you are eligible to apply and work in these 100+ countries.

(4) Operational Hazards

IFRS is not simply about learning to transfer old accounts into the newly acceptable international accounting standards. IFRS is complex and difficult for any accounting professional without IFRS expertise. Moreover, the IFRS guidelines are continuously amended and companies have to follow the amendments. Therefore, the demand for IFRS experts rises significantly.

These four reasons are why you should purpose IFRS learning now.

Endnote

Finance is a complex field, bringing forth endless learning and earning opportunities. Learning IFRS reporting will elevate you to the globally acceptable standard of accounting professionals. You can use the IFRS skills to work in India and/or abroad in employment, become a consultant and/or start your own consultancy firm.

If you have any questions on IFRS reporting, do not hesitate to ask below.

How to Get into Consulting Career?

A career in consulting is exceptional. If you want to get into consulting career, this primer is for you. Use this as your go-to-resource to understand:

  • what consulting is all about
  • different types of consulting businesses
  • key consulting skills
  • mistakes you shouldn’t make as a consultant
  • how to launch yourself

Let’s begin.

Who Is a Consultant?

A consultant is a guide possessing vast knowledge within a particular industry and using that knowledge to help clients draw the best decisions. The purpose of a consultant is to analyse and advise.

For example, a client searching for business assessment will seek a strategic consultant or a client search for risk mitigation options will seek a regulatory compliance consultant. Consultants exist in every field such as financial, management and technical departments.

High earning potential, wide business exposure, opportunity of travel, leadership networking, freedom to make decisions, time flexibility and the chance to work with highly knowledgeable team members are some of the perks of a consulting career.

Different Types of Consulting Businesses

It’s important to categorize and understand different types of consulting businesses to put your career choice in perspective.

1x1.trans How to Get into Consulting Career?

1) Self-Employed Consultants or Consulting Firms

These are lone rangers. Much like a freelancer, the job of the consultant is to seek clients and offer consulting specializations which could be about anything. From web marketing strategies to financial analysis, there are consultants for every aspect of a business.

The self-employed consultants maintain total creative and business control. Starting from scratch, the business is built from ground-up and as such, it’s a learning experience for the consultant. There is a direct working relationship with the client and all the profits are of the consultant business owner.

A major drawback is the problem with convincing clients to get hired. Sometimes experience and talent falls short. The consultant has to market and sell services simultaneously and sometimes, the whole process of managing a consulting business becomes overwhelming.

2) Consulting Divisions of Major Brands

Companies like Oracle and IBM maintain consulting divisions for their major and associated products and services. These consulting divisions follow well-defined training programs, offer good career paths and use well-developed and proven methodologies to prosper consultancy services.

A major drawback for the consultant is the lack of decision control. Keeping aside lame policies, political machinations and other bureaucratic workings, sometimes the consultant has to force fit products into a consulting solution which is ethically not the right solution for the customer.

3) “Boutique” Consultancy

The “boutique” consultancy firms are those working with a small number of expert consultants and servicing selected industries. Working with them gives new consultants direct access to senior consultants who act as mentors and share industry insights. There is less bureaucracy and more opportunities.

A major drawback could be the lack of broad industry exposure and less infrastructural facilities.

4) Big Consulting Firms

Firms like Accenture and Price Waterhouse Coopers come under “big” consulting firm bracket. They work with Fortune 500 companies on global projects. These firms have well established consulting methodologies, well-defined career paths, training programs and preference towards young workers.

Lot of bureaucracy and rampant company politics is a major disadvantage. New entrants are often made to work conditions that leave much to be desired.

4 Key Consulting Skills

No matter what which consultant field and business type you choose, you need to have the 4 key consulting skills.

1) Interpersonal Skills

A consultant needs to possess interpersonal skills in order to relate to people within and outside the organisation. Trust and credibility is an important asset in consulting business.

You need to build rapport with other members of the organisation in a compelling and professional manner.

2) Excellent Data Comprehension

Whether you’re the lone ranger or working somewhere as a consultant, you need to be excellent in comprehending and interpreting new data. Consultants come across new data regularly and they can’t afford to spend days on analyzing them.

You have to possess the art of synthesizing any amount of data into effective presentations, and that too in a short amount of time.

3) Taking Responsibility for Actions

A lot rides on the opinion and advice of the consultant. When a client acts on your advice and it doesn’t work out, you’re held responsible. At such times, you can’t shirk responsibility or play blame game.

Clients pay handsomely as consultancy fees and they want it to be worth the amount in value-based opinion. Therefore, keep two things in mind. First, have faith in your ideas and second, be willing to accept your role in case if something goes wrong.

4) Cultivate ‘Systems Thinking’

A large or medium business organisation has various layers of operation and it is important for the consultant to understand where each ‘piece’ fits and how it contributes towards the organisation as a whole. This is called systems thinking and you can learn more about it here.

Moreover, an organisation functions based on its manpower and as such, it is useful to understand how the manpower reacts to change, be it to management changes or internal company policies. Check out the guide on change management.

3 Mistakes to Avoid as a Consultant

Whether you’re employed or self-employed as a consultant, avoid these three mistakes at all cost.

1) Favoring a Client over Another

Consultants working within the purview of an organisation should be mindful never to attach themselves with a particular client that makes other colleagues doubt authenticity of the consultant’s advice. This distorts the consultant’s reputation within the organisation and shadows career growth.

Secondly, self-employed consultants should not depend on a single client ever. You never know when the client pulls purse-strings and leaves you high and dry!

2) The ‘I-Know-Everything’ Attitude

The ‘I-know-everything’ is the death knell to any consulting career. We see many consultants walking with the air of someone who is indispensable or rather a God walking among mere mortals! The attitude is totally at fault.

As a consultant, you should also exhibit the desire to learn new things, a questioning attitude and receptive to changes.

3) Heavy Duty Presentations

You will be surprised to know that most consultants think that the prime agenda of consultants is to create presentations! However, are the presentations actually useful to the clients they were intended for? Barely! The clients want actionable information, not long PowerPoint presentations.

People like Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki suggest that business communication should be simple. The purpose of consulting is to offer timely advice that helps an organisation. We recommend keeping presentations simple but the decision also depends on your consulting firm and their demands.

Launching Yourself as a Consultant

Launching yourself as a self-employed consultant requires only a single thing – good contacts.

All the education, skills and experience is nothing if you don’t have good contacts to get clients.

Depending on the chosen consulting field, find ways to connect and network.

If you’re finance consultant, having contacts with bank employees, investors, insurance agents, bank human resource personnel is good.

Launching yourself as an employed consultant calls for additional steps.

  • Education: Most consulting field doesn’t require special education; a simple graduate degree works but in fields like ‘legal consultant’, you need a law degree.
  • Certifications: Apart from college degree, augment chances of getting hired with additional certifications. For instance, the IMC USA Certified Management Consult® (CMC) is recommended for those interested to work as management consultants in USA.
  • Salary Expectations: Salaries are competitive depending on education and experience (if any). For instance, if you’re in Canada, the following screenshot (updated for 2014) gives a clear idea of what consultants can expect. Credits: TalentEgg.ca

1x1.trans How to Get into Consulting Career?

  • Job Applications: Write a resume and head over to prominent job application sites like Career Builder to create a work profile. Mention every detail useful to get you a consultancy gig. Use professional networks like LinkedIn to contact recruiters.
  • Internship: If you’re currently studying, we recommend an internship of few months as a consultant in any chosen organisation. This will help test the waters and show whether you’re really cut-out for a consulting job. Campus placements are a good way to land full-time consulting jobs.
  • Clearing Interviews: An interesting but intimidating step, preparation is the only way to clear consultant interviews. Behavioral questions, personal brand value, knowledge-oriented questions, logic and reasoning questions, organisation and decision-oriented questions are common. You can check out this quick guide.

Endnote

Be doubly sure before getting into consulting career. If you like advising, this can be the right option for you. Make sure you’ve the necessary skills and industry-related knowledge to become a consultant.

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