If you take delight in number-crunching and plan on taking on a career in accounting, you may have wondered how you could combine the two. The notion of being able to travel for work sounds exciting for most people. There are, in fact, certain positions which require on-the-job travel time for those employed at accounting firms.
KPMG is one of the Big Four international accounting firms that work under the International Financial Reporting Standards. Olivia Nelson, KPMG senior manager in audit, states this allows for employees to work internationally. "Basically, I can work in any country that uses those standards, says Nelson. Almost every single country uses them except for the US."
The importance of worldwide communication in major accounting firms is crucial, especially if you are open to travelling. Your skills would be useful regardless of location. "It's a really great opportunity if you work at a large accounting firm for your job skills and your knowledge to be transferable all over the world," says Nelson. "At KPMG, we use the same programs and methodology, so my job here is the same as my job was in Australia where I worked using all the same tools."
Everything you learn as an accountant is transferable internationally. In Nelson's case, she works at her home base in Calgary but may also travel as opportunities arise. "I always have the option to do international transfers or get jobs in other countries whether it be with a public accounting firms or industry companies."
With business trips covered by KPMG, Nelson has worked with clients from different parts of the world. "From my international experience, I did a two-and-a-half-year transfer to Sydney, Australia with KPMG and that was just with work in terms of them transferring me over," she says. "But in Calgary I do have a client that operates all over the world. And so for example, last fall I got to go to Argentina with that client as part of my job in Calgary."
If you are a new accounting graduate, you wouldn't be doing much travel right off the bat, but good communication skills are important and could eventually lead to a travel opportunity. "So typically, a new grad at our firm may or may not travel," says Nelson. "There would be travel within Canada and I would send some of my staff to the US but there wouldn't be much international travel, unless they have language skills."
Being able to speak fluently in a different language especially in a country where English isn't the first language is beneficial. Nelson states that KPMG is always looking for bilingual new grads. "Sometimes those new grads will go on trips with the partners to countries so they can facilitate translation," she says. So in terms of soft skills, language skills are huge, as well as an interest in travelling.