Bookkeeping is a tough job
By Verena Wolff, dpa
Berlin / Bonn (dpa / tmn) - A bone-dry job for bean counters - this reputation precedes accountants. But they have to be able to do more than file invoices. "Analytical skills, accuracy and diligence are mandatory for the profession," says
Heike Kreten-Lenz, managing director of the Federal Association of Accountants and Controllers (BVBC) in Bonn.
There should be a preference for precise work, says Bernhard Ramann, managing director of the Federal Association of Independent Accountants and Accountants (bbh) in Berlin. "It's not just a cliché - it's about the places after the decimal point." In addition to specialist knowledge of accounting, accountants need knowledge of tax law, finance and cost accounting as well as IT experience. “In addition, accountants should have a high level of social sensitivity,” says Kreten-Lenz.
Even if the job sounds dry - the numbers are an important factor for the success of any company. “This is just as relevant for a small craft business as it is for a global player,” says Ramann. The accountant has the hard facts on the table - all income and expenses go through his computer. "The receipts are then prepared according to specifications so that other employees in a company - such as the controllers - can work with these figures," he says.
Accountant is not a protected job title - and there is no regular training. “There are only apprenticeships that include accounting - this includes office, industrial or wholesale and foreign trade clerks,” says Ramann. Within these courses, learners can specialize in accountants. After completing their training - or after studying business administration - those with appropriate qualifications can train to become accountants. "This is an IHK training in the sense of the vocational training law," says Ramann.
The specialized accountants are particularly in demand in large companies - there may be accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll clerks. "In a small craft business, on the other hand, there is usually only one office clerk who is responsible for everything - including financial accounting," says Ramann. Some companies - usually small or medium-sized - outsource the accounting completely - this is the business for the independent accountant.
"Why should the baker's wife bother with the bookkeeping on Sunday afternoons and with the increasingly complex software that is required for this," asks Ramann. Often a small business shy away from spending on the programs that are necessary for electronic bookkeeping. “It's expensive and quite complicated for laypeople,” he says. In addition - due to the constantly changing tax legislation - updates would have to be observed again and again.
"It costs less nerves if you leave it to a professional who is up to date." The accountants have to keep training - because they have to keep up with the legislation. However, they are not allowed to advise - that is the fundamental difference to a tax advisor.
Accountants - regardless of whether they are freelance or employed - have long ceased to stand at the desk all day and write numbers in large journals. "The sum of their qualifications enables accountants to carry out responsible tasks," says Kreten-Lenz. And they are needed - in times of increasing economic interdependence, especially at the international level. And: accountants not only calculate balance sheets - they are also the ones who push new projects.
For accounting clerk Ursula Carl, head of finance and accounting at Real SB-Warenhaus GmbH, the mix is what makes her job so appealing: "Accountants teach employees the challenges of accounting," she says. As a result, processes are repeatedly questioned, rearranged and improved.
Even if accountants are not prepared for their profession through uniform training - they are in demand as staff with crisis-proof jobs and are deployed in many places. "In addition to the departments in large companies, accountants work in tax offices or independently," says Ramann. You always have an eye on the company's liquidity and can plan developments in advance. "Accountants occupy important positions that contribute significantly to successful corporate management," says Kreten-Lenz.
Due to their broad qualifications, accountants not only have the prospect of a job, but also good pay. According to surveys by the (BVBC), the average income is around 52,000 euros per year. According to the association, around one in four of the approximately 100,000 accountants in Germany is self-employed - and, in Ramann's words, not necessarily out of necessity. "For many accountants who are taking a family break, for example, this is a good way to stay in business."
Information: Federal Association of Accountants and Controllers, Am Propsthof 15-17, 53121 Bonn (Tel .: 0228/96 39 30, Internet: www.bvbc.de)
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