Financial Auditors and Accountants

Unit Group 1111

Skill Type: Business, Finance and Administration Occupations

Type of work

Financial auditors examine and analyze the accounting and financial records of individuals and establishments to ensure accuracy and compliance with established accounting standards and procedures. Accountants plan, organize and administer accounting systems for individuals and establishments. Articling students in accounting firms are included in this unit group.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • accountant
  • certified general accountant (CGA)
  • certified management accountant (CMA)
  • chartered accountant (CA)
  • chief accountant
  • corporate controller - accounting
  • financial auditor
  • income tax expert
  • industrial accountant
  • internal auditor

Outlook

Job prospects in this occupation are good.

(Update: December 2014)

A) Overview

After slightly decreasing in the second half of the 1990s, the number of financial auditors and accountants increased slightly thereafter. The decline in the second half of the 1990s applied only to accountants who were not members of the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés (CPA), since membership in this association has been rising steadily for at least the past 20 years. As the trend observed since the turn of the century seems well established, the number of financial auditors and accountants is expected to increase slightly over the next few years.

Professional accounting order

Since 2012, there is only one professional accounting order in Quebec, the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec (CPA). There were about 36,000 CPA in March 2014.

Clarification

Not all members of Ordre des CPA are part of the financial auditors and accountants group of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). Many members of this associations work in other NOC occupations, such as financial and investment analysts (1112), managers (occupational codes beginning with 0), financial managers and senior financial managers. However, an individual may use the title of "Accountant" and carry out most of the duties of this occupation (see Type), except those related to auditing, without being a member of an association. Therefore, data and features with regard to this occupation should not be confused with those published by tne Ordre.

Sources of employment

Opportunities will result primarily from positions that are being vacated by accountants and financial auditors who are retiring or being transferred or promoted and, to a much lesser extent, from employment increase. Accounting and auditing training and experience provide access to financial analyst, management and possibly executive positions.

Labour pool

These opportunities will be open to accounting science university graduates, new members of the Ordre des CPA and accounting clerks (see 1431) and bookkeepers (1231) with extensive work experience, and, depending on the positions, people with at least a college diploma in accounting. Unemployment is generally very low in this occupation. Other opportunities will become available for immigrants who meet this occupation requirements. According to the2011 National Household Survey data, the proportion of immigrants in this occupation group (16% compared with 14% for all occupations) shows that the occupation is accessible to newcomers.

There is just enough people in the labour pool to meet demand. According to the provincial government Relance survey, the labour market situation of university graduates with a bachelor's degree in accounting and accounting science is markedly better than that of bachelor's degree graduates as a whole: excellent placement rate, very low unemployment rate and most positions are full time and related to the field of study.

Moreover, even though the number of graduates with a bachelor's degree in accounting and accounting science increased by 70% between 2001 and 2011, in 2013 labour market situation was excellent for 2011 graduates. This suggests that the labour market has the capacity to absorb a higher number of graduates in these fields and that the outlook for future bachelor's degree graduates is excellent.

Lastly, many graduates with a bachelor's degree in business administration joined this occupation (15% to 25%). As the bachelor's degree in business administration also leads to many other occupations, the good labour market situation of graduates of this degree is not solely due to this occupation's outlook.

Industries

According to the National Household Survey data, in 2011 financial auditors and accountants were employed in many industries, particularly accounting services (35%), public administration (12%), trade (11%) and manufacturing (9 %) and finance and insurance (6 %).

Trends

The evolution of employment in this occupation depends primarily on the demand for accounting services, which varies according to the economic situation, the extension of the accountant's role and computerization of accounting.

Economic situation

Because accounting services are present in all industries, the main factor influencing job growth in this occupation is certainly the economic situation. When economic activities are on the upswing, demand for accounting services grows. Accounting services should benefit somewhat from the modest growth expected over the forecast period (2014-2018).

Extension of the accountant's role

Generally speaking, the employment outlook in this occupation has benefited from the extension of the accountant's role. No longer just limited to producing and auditing accounting records, accountants are now increasingly involved in areas such as financial strategy development, performance indicator and financial information analysis, environmental safety assessments, computer system audits and corporate restructuring. This trend should be maintained and should continue to stimulate employment in this occupation.

Computerization of accounting

The computerization of accounting and the availability of constantly improving software programs could have greatly discouraged employment growth in accounting services. The use of these tools makes it possible to perform traditional accounting tasks more rapidly. However, these tools also allow bookkeepers (see 1231) and accounting clerks (see 1431) to perform an increasing number of activities that were historically entrusted to accountants, and to create many reports that used to be impossible to produce. Since computerization is now well established, employment in this occupation should become less sensitive to this factor over the next few years. Nonetheless, the lack of confidence from investors, consumers and regulatory bodies in the accuracy of corporate financial statements could generate growth in demand for accounting documents, boosting employment in this occupation.

In view of these trends, the number of financial auditors and accountants is expected to increase slightly over the next few years.

Employment characteristics

According to census and National Household Survey data, women held about 59% of the jobs in this occupation in 2011, a percentage that has been rising sharply since 1991 (45%). This proportion should continue to increase sharply over the next few years. According to the Relance survey, about 60% of new accounting science graduates are women.

B) Trends by Specialty

Financial auditors

The work of traditional accounting (auditing, assurance, compilation, review, bookkeeping and payroll services) and taxation services (tax preparation, planning and consulting services, other taxation services) still represents approximately 85% of revenues of firms in the accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services industry, according to data from Statistics Canada.

Still according to Statistics Canada data, actual operating revenue (after inflation) in the accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services industry has been outpacing economic growth for the last ten years or so. This high level of growth is explained partly by increased demand for accounting services and partly by the move among businesses to outsource these functions. When a business outsources its accounting and payroll services to a specialized firm, some employees move from the original industry to the accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services industry. The proportion of accountants working in the legal services, accounting, architecture, engineering, surveying and design industries has risen from about 30% in the early 1990s to 43% from 2011 to 2013, according to data in Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey. This being said, this trend toward outsourcing slowed in recent years and should be felt less in the future. There are far fewer businesses left that are likely to outsource these services because most of them have already done so.

Financial auditors are increasingly involved with systems rather than data, verifying system reliability and security and data confidentiality. Financial auditors may have to issue opinions on sound management practices (operational security, organizational viability, environmental protection, accounting control effectiveness, management team efficiency, risk assessment, and so on).

Accountants not members of the Ordre des CPA

Apart from the practice of public accounting (auditing), accounting duties are not regulated. The use of the title "accountant" is permitted if the title is not accompanied by qualifiers reserved for members of the Ordre des CPA. For these duties, many companies prefer to hire people who are thoroughly versed in accounting but do not belong to the Ordre, as these people can be paid less.

These accountants may have a bachelor's degree or university certificate in accounting or administration or a college diploma (DEC) in accounting. According to census and National Household Survey data, in 2011, they accounted for between 40 % and 50 % of financial auditors and accountants. In fact, barely 63% of financial auditors and accountants had at least a bachelor's degree in 2011. Not only must candidates have a bachelor's degree to become members of the Ordre, but they must also pass exams (see Training). The proportion of financial auditors and accountants with at least a bachelor's degree was clearly on the rise between 1991 and 2011 (from 47% to 63%), which may indicate that the number of accountants who are not members of the Ordre is declining. This trend is even stronger when comparing data from the Ordre and the Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey. Although care must be taken when comparing these types of data, it is interesting to see that the ratio of members/financial auditors and accountants increased from 50% in the early 1990s to over 70% the past ten years, and even more than 75% from 2011 to 2013.

In addition to this significant shift, there has been a substantial increase in the number of accounting and related clerks (see 1431) and, to a lesser degree, of bookkeepers (see 1231). This occupational trend appears to be a result of two main factors. First, the computerization of accounting and the availability of increasingly higher-performing software that allows accounting clerks to carry out more and more activities previously done by accountants. Second, an increase in employer demands because of the substantial diversification in tasks performed by financial auditors and accountants. This clearly increases the demand for accountants who are members of the Ordre, to the detriment of non-members.

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, women were a much stronger majority among financial auditors and accountants without a bachelor's degree were women (73%), than among people in this occupation with at least a bachelor's degree (52%). The strong presence of female financial auditors and accountants without a bachelor's degree would explain the fact that women held clearly more than half of these positions in 2011 (59%), but were in the minority among members of the Ordre (approximately 43%).

Education and Training

The training required to work in this occupation depends on the job. For positions as auditors, candidates must be members of one of the professional accounting associations.

When membership in a professional association is not mandatory, employers usually require a bachelor's degree in accounting, accounting science or business administration, a university certificate in accounting or administration, or a diploma of collegial studies (DEC) in accounting and management technology, combined with extensive experience in occupations related to accounting, such as accounting clerks (see 1431) and bookkeepers (see 1231).

In May 2012, the government adopted legislation merging the three professional accounting orders into one, the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec. Ordre admission requirements are described on its website.

For auditors, Certification by the Institute of Accounting Auditors may be required.

Useful References

Important Considerations

The labour pool seems to be just meeting demand. The labour market situation of bachelor's graduates in accounting is markedly better than that of bachelor's graduates as a whole.

The demand for financial auditors and accountants who belong to a professional association remains very high, but is low for non-members.

Statistics 1111 - Financial Auditors and Accountants

Main Labour Market Indicators

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 1111 All occupations
Employment, average 2011-2013 44,900 3,990,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2013 400 80,700
Average Annual Growth Rate 2014-2018 0.2% 0.7%
Annual Employment Variation 2014-2018 70 26,500
Annual Attrition 2014-2018 1,150 74,300
Total Annual Needs 2014-2018 1,220 100,800

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 1111 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 40.6% 51.9%
Females 59.4% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 2.4% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 47.2% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 45.6% 41.1%
65 years and over 4.8% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 90.1% 81.2%
Part-time 9.9% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 67.7% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $67,000 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 6.3% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 36.7% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 57.0% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 1.1% 12.1%
High-school 7.5% 20.3%
Post-secondary 28.7% 44.2%
Bachelors 62.7% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 18.3% 10.7%
Immigration 16.4% 13.7%
Employment by Region
Region Unit Group 1111 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 1.8% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 1.7% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 8.3% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 2.3% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 4.5% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 0.9% 1.6%
Estrie 3.0% 3.8%
Gaspésie–îles-de-la-Madeleine 0.7% 0.9%
Lanaudière 5.1% 6.1%
Laurentides 7.0% 7.3%
Laval 7.9% 5.2%
Mauricie 1.9% 3.0%
Montérégie 21.2% 19.2%
Montréal 26.6% 22.9%
Outaouais 4.3% 4.9%
Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean 2.6% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

Sector Unit Group 1111
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 40.0%
- Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping and Payroll Services 35.1%
Public Administration 11.8%
Manufacturing 9.1%
Retail trade 5.9%
Finance and Insurance 5.8%