Wealth Management Accountants
Education and Training Requirements
Accountants and auditors are numbers crunchers, so you should be sure to take accounting, statistics, and mathematics classes. But they are also increasingly being asked to use their critical-thinking and analytical skills to provide strategic advice to WM partners. Courses that will help you to develop these skills include government, social studies, philosophy, and science. Joining the debate team will also be useful. English and speech classes will help you to build your oral and written communication skills. Computer science courses (especially database management) will help you to learn how to manage and utilize data.
You’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, economics, finance, or business administration to work as an accountant or auditor at a wealth management firm. Some employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in accounting, business administration, economics, or finance.
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.
Make sure that the college you attend is accredited by a national or international accrediting agency. “Earning a degree from an accredited school helps when applying for jobs,” according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. “Employers will often look at what schools you attended and if they are accredited.”
AACSB International and the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs 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 created 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
Many associations provide professional development classes, seminars, workshops, and webinars. Completion of continuing education credits is often required to become certified and renew one’s certification. For example, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers hundreds of self-study courses, web events, and many annual conferences and workshops. Recent offerings included Securities & Exchange Commission Reporting, Financial Forecasting and Decision Making, Budgeting Process, and Advanced Excel: Practical Applications for the Accounting Professional. The Institute of Internal Auditors provides on-site seminars and webinars such as Data Analysis for Internal Auditors, Audit Report Writing, Communication Skills for Auditors, Leadership Skills for Auditors, and Project Management Techniques. The American Bankers Association, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, and the Institute of Management Accountants and Institute of Internal Auditors also provide professional development opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.
Additionally, many wealth management firms offer online and classroom-based learning for new and experienced employees.
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants offers a certificate in business accounting that can serve as an entry-level credential for new accountants or as a refresher course for experienced professionals. Other certificate programs are provided by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (international auditing and international financial reporting) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (International Financial Reporting Standards).
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Many certification programs are available for accountants and auditors. Those who are certified typically earn higher salaries and receive more opportunities for promotion than those who are not certified. 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) (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, 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 treasury professional, certified corporate financial planning and analysis professional (Association of Financial Professionals)
Many accountants are certified public accountants (CPAs). To earn this designation, you must 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
Entry-level accountants and auditors should have completed at least one internship or co-operative educational experience at a wealth management firm or a major public accounting firm during college. For management-level positions, you’ll need at least three to five years of accounting or auditing experience at a WM firm, a bank, Big Four public accounting firm, or a Fortune 500 corporation.
Successful accountants and auditors have strong communication, project management, organizational, time-management, and problem-solving skills; mathematical and analytical acumen; honesty and strong ethics; and the ability to work both independently and as a member of a team. They also must have knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, financial reporting and financial products (e.g., equities, futures, etc.). and the use of accounting software and databases and office software (e.g., PowerPoint, Excel, and Word).
Accountants and auditors must also keep abreast of constantly changing technology. According to Robert Half, "as cloud computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technology advancements change the way work gets done, more hiring managers are assessing job candidates' knowledge of data analytics, cloud-based systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and emerging tools."