No matter what you decide to do, accountants have access to top jobs. Today, more CEOs come from accounting backgrounds than any other business functions. Why? There are three main reasons that make accountants indispensable in the business world. First, accountants are known for their trustworthiness and high degrees of integrity. Second, accountants have the financial acumen necessary to diagnose the financial health of their companies and determine activities that maximize the outcome of decisions. Third, the path from the CFO (the top accounting job) to the CEO position is increasingly seen as a natural transition. In recent years, the CFO position has become a training ground and stepping stone for the top job. In the UK for example, 84 percent of the FTSE (UK) 100 firms have a CPA on their board of directors and 58 percent have a CPA as Chairman of the Board of Directors, CEO or CFO. These numbers speak for themselves. Graduates of accounting programs are highly sought after by world-class accounting and financial consulting firms and leading companies, across all industries. An accounting degree opens doors of opportunities!
Joining the Big Four Accounting Firms
A typical and well-established career path for accounting students is to join one of the "Big Four" accounting firms, such as EY, PwC, Deloitte and KPMG. If you decide to join one of these firms, you are likely to start your career after completing your undergraduate accounting degree at Alfaisal College of Business as an associate accountant. Within your first five years with the firm, the promotions will come quickly and you are likely to be a senior associate, auditor, senior auditor, and by the end of your fifth year, you are likely to be a manager in charge of a portfolio of more than 50 companies, spanning across several industries.
This exposure gives you a wealth of experience, skills, expertise, and knowledge that no other business or non-business degrees will ever give you. For example, if the banking industry is in your portfolio, you will know banking transactions and regulations from A to Z, as well as the value drivers, and strengths and weaknesses of the banking industry. You will, in effect be an "expert" who knows the banking industry inside and out and who also knows what works and what does not in this industry. The same can be said about all industries in your portfolio. This is why many accountants who leave one of the Big Four firms after their fifth year become successful entrepreneurs (establish their own businesses), financial controllers, CFOs, or even CEOs. To put it succinctly, an accounting degree + a five year experience at one of the Big Four accounting firms is a golden ticket that opens substantial doors of opportunities for you and ushers in a life-long prosperous, financially rewarding, and professionally fulfilling career.
If, after your fifth year, you decide to stay with the firm, you will be well on your way to become a "partner", that is, one of the owners. Top positions at Big Four accounting and financial consulting companies are always reserved for partners, who always have an accounting backgrounds. This is another privilege and opportunity reserved for those with an accounting degree.
Industry Connection and Network Building
At Alfaisal College of Business, every single accounting student is paired with a mentor from the Big Four accounting firms (e.g., EY and PwC). Our mentors are senor auditors, managers, and partners. This gives our accounting students an unparalleled and unique opportunity to connect with the industry and build networks that will serve them well for many years to come, including internship and future employment when they complete their accounting degree at Alfaisal University.
Accounting Profession and Future Opportunities
Accounting students can compete for all financial jobs including finance, but finance students cannot compete for accounting jobs. This gives accounting students the opportunity to work in all industries while finance students are mainly limited to the banking industry. The demand for accounting jobs is expected to grow by a staggering 20% a year for the next 20 years, largely driven by increased business complexity, risk management and regulation. As business becomes more complex, an accounting background is increasingly becoming a necessity to become an effective business leader, such as a financial manager, financial controller, CFO, or CEO.
Accounting Students are Involved in National Projects
Alfaisal University, in collaboration with the Clarkson Center at Rotman School of Management and Professor Stephen Davis of Harvard, embarks on a national project that will establish a corporate governance framework for the Saudi market.
The Scope of the Project
This is a long-term project that will be implemented in three stages. In the first stage, we will create a corporate governance index (CGI) for listed Saudi companies. The objective of the CGI project is to establish corporate governance criteria for assessing the corporate governance practices of listed Saudi companies and rank them based on their CGI scores. A summary of the company ranking and their CGI scores will be published by the Corporate Governance Research Center at the College of Business on an annual basis, starting in 2015. In the second stage, over the next two to three years, the CGI project will be extended to include family-owned companies, particularly the large firms. This will help improve their corporate governance practices and ensure their continuity and sustainability. Later on, we also foresee the CGI project to be further extended to include governmental agencies to promote a "culture" of transparency and accountability within these organizations.
The CGI project involves the following three prominent corporate governance experts:
Professor Abdulaziz Alwathnani, who is an Associate professor of Accounting at Alfaisal University, College of Business, is the Principal Researcher and Director of the CGI project
Professor Stephen Davis of Harvard, who is a pioneer in international corporate governance and the winner of the 2011 ICGN excellence in corporate governance award, is an advisor for the CGI project.
David R. Beatty, who is the Director of Clarkson Center and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto, Canada, Rotman School of Management, is a senior advisor for the CGI project.
What is in the CGI Project for Accounting Students?
A number of accounting students work with Professor Abdulaziz Alwathnani on this great resume builder, national project that opens the doors of opportunities for our accounting students. The CGI project will create a large demand for corporate governance expertise and consulting services, which in turn will lead to the emergence strong corporate governance practices, expanding the accounting and financial services in the Saudi market into a new territory, creating demand for new expertise and skills that is currently not present domestically. This will provide a sustainable source of employment for young Saudis and contributes to the economic development and diversification of the nation. The CGI will also be a crucial training ground for accounting students at Alfaisal College of Business as many will likely join the project every year. The CGI project will provide these students with an unparalleled opportunity for hands-on experience that will enrich their academic learning and equip them with practical and professional skills that are highly sought after in the marketplace.