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They crunch the numbers and you check it twice. With a career in auditing comes the responsibility of examining and managing a company's financial documents and records for any errors. For new grads, a start as a staff accountant can lead to valuable training, work experience, and mentorship for a future in audit.

The role

As a staff accountant, there's two main parts to the job: client engagements and personal development, says Garrett Moore, Queen's University graduate and first-year staff accountant at Deloitte. In client engagements, Moore lists that some of his responsibilities include enhancing the reliability of information for relevant stakeholders, and speaking with clients on a regular basis on gaining an understanding of a controlled environment of an entity'so looking at its operational inefficiencies, errors on the draft financial statements, and the potential for fraud within the company.

On a more personal level, Moore works with a mentor at Deloitte, who guides him through his professional journey as a staff accountant. You're consistently working with your coach to set and achieve your goals, he explains. Some examples of the goals you set as a staff accountant would be to pass all your necessary examinations which make you eligible for the designation, adding that organizing additional roles within the firm are also discussed.

Owning your own personal development is encouraged at Deloitte, says Moore. Take charge of your own career, know what you want to do, do your research, and go after it. Take time to understand both your client and your industry before you start on any client engagement. 

What firms want  

As a first-time staff accountant, you are tasked to work in a number of industries where you prepare files for review, which includes working on small audits in addition to bookkeeping and tax preparation.

They will receive the experience of preparing an entire file that they will see through to completion, says Mandi McCutcheon, manager of human resources for BDO Canada's southern and mid-western Ontario region. Our staff accountants have the opportunity to work in teams of various sizes in direct working relationships with partners, clients, and other professionals in the firm.

Some qualities McCutcheon and BDO's talent acquisitions team looks for are responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, and time management. In-house, she says teaching ability, client service, and negotiation are important traits, in addition to leadership and appreciation of diversity.

We place significant emphasis on training in the accounting profession, she explains. In order to ensure that staff are appropriately trained to do their job, we provide internal and external programs that will enhance their skills and propel their career development.

Staff accountants have the chance to earn competitive starting salaries that continue to evolve as market conditions constantly change. Individual salary increases are determined each year based on multiple factors, says McCutcheon, including experience, performance, and market data. While permanent staff is reviewed annually, BDO's co-op students are usually reviewed by term.

A person working for our firm can expect to have gradual movement through our salary ranges as they progress throughout their career.

Photo: shironosov/Thinkstock