Mutual Fund Accountants and Auditors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Accounting, business, and mathematics courses are, of course, very important for aspiring accountants and auditors. But today’s accounting professionals also need to be proficient using accounting databases and software (so they should take computer science and database management classes), be good communicators (English and speech classes), and have strong critical-thinking and analytical skills (government, social studies, philosophy, and science).

Postsecondary Education

To enter this field, you’ll need to earn a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration, or economics. Some mutual fund companies prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree in one of these fields.

U.S. News & World Report provides a list of the best undergraduate accounting programs in the United States at https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/business-accounting. In 2020, the best programs (in descending order) were the University of Texas-Austin, Brigham Young University-Provo, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, Indiana University-Bloomington, University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania.

The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs and AACSB International accredit colleges and universities that offer degrees in accounting and business. Visit https://www.startheregoplaces.com/students/games-tools/college-search for a list of accredited programs.

The Institute of Internal Auditors has a formal endorsement program for colleges and universities that offer an internal auditing curriculum within a degree program (undergraduate or postgraduate). Visit https://na.theiia.org/about-us/about-ia/pages/participating-iaep-program-schools.aspx for a list of schools that offer this curriculum. 

Other Education or Training

Professional development classes, seminars, workshops, and webinars are provided by employers to new hires and by industry associations. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers more than 450 self-study courses, Web events, and more than 60 annual conferences and workshops. Recent offerings included Securities & Exchange Commission Reporting, Fair Value Accounting, Financial Forecasting and Decision Making, Budgeting Process, and Advanced Excel: Practical Applications for the Accounting Professional. The Institute of Internal Auditors, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, and the Institute of Management Accountants also provide professional development opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.


Certificate programs in accounting and related fields are provided by colleges and professional associations. For example, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants offers a certificate in business accounting, which covers management accounting, financial accounting, business mathematics, business economics, accounting ethics, and corporate governance and business law. Other certificate programs are provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (International Financial Reporting Standards) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (international auditing and international financial reporting). 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

“Accounting certifications are among the most beneficial professional credentials you can list on your resume,” according to Accountemps, an accounting staffing firm. “Certifications demonstrate competence in your area of the finance and accounting industry, make you a more desirable candidate for open positions, and improve your salary potential.” Many certification programs are available for accountants and auditors. According to a Robert Half salary guide, in-demand professional credentials include:

  • certified information systems auditor (ISACA)
  • certified internal auditor (Institute of Internal Auditors)
  • certified management accountant (Institute of Management Accountants)
  • certified public accountant (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, AICPA)
  • chartered global management accountant (a joint venture of the AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)
  • project management professional (Project Management Institute)

Additionally, some accountants and auditors earn the following certifications: 

  • Accredited business accountant/advisor, accredited tax preparer, accredited tax advisor (Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation)
  • Certification in control self-assessment, certified financial services auditor, certification in risk management assurance (Institute of Internal Auditors)
  • Certified financial manager (Institute of Management Accountants)
  • Certified treasury professional, certified corporate financial planning and analysis professional (Association of Financial Professionals)

Accountants who file financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission are required by law to be certified public accountants (CPAs). To earn this designation, you must complete 150 semester hours of college course work (in nearly all states), pass a qualifying examination, and hold a certificate issued by the state in which you wish to practice. The Uniform CPA Examination, which is administered by the AICPA, is used by all states. Nearly all states require at least two years of public accounting experience or the equivalent before a CPA certificate can be earned.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

New accounting graduates should have completed at least one internship, fellowship, or co-operative educational experience at a mutual fund company or a major public accounting firm during college. Accounting managers must have at least three to five years of accounting or auditing experience at a mutual fund firm, Big Four public accounting firm, bank, hedge fund or other alternative investment firm, or a Fortune 500 corporation. 

According to Start Here, Go Places, a Web site sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the qualities that make a great certified public accountant include:

  • superb verbal, written, and people skills
  • high standards of integrity
  • gets the big picture and the small details
  • solves problems creatively
  • results and team-oriented
  • Multitasks and prioritizes well to meet deadlines
  • good with numbers and managing money
  • assesses the risks of investing, financing, and operating a business
  • unquenchable curiosity, stays current on relevant business issues

Accountants and auditors should have knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, financial reporting and financial products (e.g., stocks, bonds, etc.). and accounting software and databases and office software (e.g., PowerPoint, Excel, and Word). They also need solid knowledge of investment vehicles such as equities, fixed income, and derivative securities.

The ability to stay up to date on changing technology is also very important. According to Robert Half Accounting & Finance, “businesses are struggling to keep pace with technology and understand the associated risks and opportunities. In response, they seek individuals proficient in enterprise resource planning systems, integrated financial reporting systems, cloud-computing platforms, and information security and data-mining tools.”