As accounting functions increasingly use automation and artificial intelligence (AI), entry-level accounting roles are disappearing. This is putting pressure on students and recent graduates to demonstrate their added value to potential or current employers.
For some, they might be questioning whether accounting is a viable career for them. But there actually more opportunities than ever, especially for those with data analytics skills.
Data analytics in accounting is becoming more of a core competency that employers are looking for. By arming themselves with data analytics skills, students and grads can open up their job prospects exponentially.
The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA) now requires students to develop competency in data analytics along with financial accounting, management accounting, and tax, among other areas. The Chang School has integrated data analytics into CACC 521 – Auditing, which is a required CPA course. Continuing education students who are not going for their CPA can take CACC 521 as an elective course in the Accounting – Finance Certificate.
The Age of Data-driven Accounting
Data analytics is using financial and non-financial data to help companies make better decisions. Accounting has been using data since double entry bookkeeping was invented, which has been around since Roman times! The difference now is the volume of data coming from multiple sources: buying habits, web browsing patterns, what we click on social media, or what’s in our shopping cart.
There’s more data than ever before because of the computerization across all industries, including accounting. Companies and individuals can either be afraid of all that data and not know what to do with it or tackle it head on. But for the purposes of accounting, students and grads don’t need to go in depth and learn coding and complete a data analytics degree. Instead, they should learn the fundamentals of data analytics so they can analyze the data to make better, more informed decisions.
Here are some tips for students and recent grads looking to boost their data analytics skills on their resume to “wow” potential employers.
Free Tools You Can Use
There are a variety of free tools, software, and courses available for students and recent grads to upskill their data analytics skills for accounting. In a video on her YouTube channel AmandaLovesToAudit, Dr Amanda White, CA, outlines free tools for this purpose:
- Excel: This is one that students and grads will be familiar with and the simplest one. There are a variety of YouTube tutorials on how to use Excel for data analytics.
- Power BI: This is a business analytics service by Microsoft and there are courses on LinkedIn Learning available so students can learn how to use it.
- Tableau: This is data visualization software that can help anyone see and visualize data. If you’re a student, you can get a free 12 month licence. Inquire with the company for more information.
- IDEA Data Analysis Software: This is one of the original data analytics software tools for audit. Some universities will have a license.
- KPMG Virtual Internship – Inside Sherpa: This is a free, virtual internship offered through one of the big four accounting firms, which also include Deloitte, PwC, and EY. Upon completion, participants will receive a certificate.
- PwC Coursera: Another one of the big four offers free courses, the opportunity to audit, and do the exercises but you don’t get any feedback. If participants pay for an assessment, they will receive a micro-certificate that will show up on their LinkedIn Learning.
Other Learning Resources
Apart from the resources mentioned above, other learning resources include free webinars offered by CPA Canada or CPA Ontario, free boot camps offered on YouTube or by the university, careers and employment resources offered by The Chang School, as well as LinkedIn Learning.
Register for an Online Information Session
The Chang School is offering an online information session in August that you can register for to learn more about the future of accounting.
While meeting face-to-face right now isn’t an option during the pandemic, you can still connect with local meetup groups to virtually speak with accounting professionals and other students as well as talk to companies to learn what their needs are and gaps in their data analytics skills.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Romi-Lee Sevel, MFAc, CPA, CA is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Ted Rogers School of Management and is the Academic Coordinator for the accounting certificates at The Chang School. Romi-Lee teaches financial accounting, auditing, ethics, and leadership courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels and with The Chang school. She is heavily involved with the CPA Ontario PEP program where she has taught Core 1, Core 2, Assurance, Capstone 1 and Capstone 2.