where finance and accounting jobs in canada are headed

After a shaky 2018 that saw the value of Canada's largest stock exchange (TSX) plummet towards the end of the year, Canada's stock market rebounded in 2019 and saw steady gains throughout the year. As we head into 2020, there are whispers that another downturn is imminent. If a recession does come to pass, it's expected to be less severe than 2008's Great Recession, and Canada is in a good spot to weather the storm with minor fallout. There are some concerns about the growing cost of living in many major Canadian cities (such as Toronto and Vancouver) and growing household debt loads. However, Canada's financial institutions are some of the most stable and efficient in the world and well-positioned to shelter Canadians from any major catastrophes like the subprime mortgage crisis that sparked the Great Recession. As is the case in many industries, one of the big trends we're seeing in finance and accounting is a growing conversation around data security and privacy. In 2020, finance and accounting professionals must not only be technically savvy, they must also balance using customer data to make sound decisions with being able to keep customer data secure.


best finance and accounting jobs in 2020

In 2020, accounting roles feature heavily on the list of top finance and accounting jobs. General accountants take the top spot, however other accounting roles such as staff accountant and tax accountant also made the list. Coming in at number two on the list is business analyst, which has climbed up from number 5 last year.

best jobs in 2020

  • 1. accountant

    Accountants take the top spot on the 2020 list of best jobs in finance and accounting. Though when many people think of accountants, taxes instantly come to mind, accountants do a lot more than that! The majority of accountants work in enterprise accounting departments. Accountants are record-keepers and financial experts, helping businesses keep track of their money with detailed records.

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  • 2. business analyst

    Business analysts are the strategists of the finance and accounting world. Their primary function is to identify and solve business problems, finding ways to streamline or improve functions, processes or software. Though business analysts may not focus solely on finance or accounting functions, many business analysts are employed by banks, insurance companies and other employers in the financial sector.

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  • 3. controller

    Rounding out the top 3 are controllers. Controllers oversee key accounting functions that keep businesses running smoothly such as the general ledger, general accounting, accounts payable and receivable. Controllers are mid-management in most enterprise accounting departments. They typically report to the CFO, though in some smaller organizations, they may be the top financial officer.  

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  • 4. finance director

    Finance directors are an executive role within the finance department. They tend to be more senior and may have started out in an accounting or other similar financial role. As Canada faces a potential economic downturn in 2020, finance directors who are able to set up their employer with a clear strategy to weather changes are in demand.

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  • 5. financial advisor

    Financial advisors are professionals who help clients make decisions related to their investments or finances. Financial advisor tends to be a fairly entry-level finance role, and is particularly popular in the banking sector.

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  • 6. staff accountant

    Staff accountants are general accounting professionals who work for a large organization in either the public or private sector. They're typically part of a department of accounting professionals. Though skilled accountants, they're typically considered an intermediate level accounting role, and may work under a more experienced accountant or controller.

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  • 7. payroll clerk

    Payroll clerk is an entry-level accounting job, specializing in internal payroll. Payroll clerks administer payroll for employees at their organization. Payroll clerks may also be responsible for other elements of employee compensation such as benefits administration, or answering payroll-related queries from employees. 

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  • 8. tax accountant

    Tax accountants do exactly what people typically think accountants do: they specialize in taxes! Tax accountants can specialize even further and opt to work in corporate or personal taxation. This role holds steady at number 8, rounding out the list of best finance and accounting jobs for 2020.

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finance and accounting salaries in 2020

The finance and accounting sector has a median salary of $97,700 in 2020. This is the same as last year. This high median salary makes finance and accounting the highest paying sector in Canada for 2020. On the ends of the pay spectrum, the lowest 10% of earners make $40,900 or less, while the top 10% of earners make $140,000 or more.

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the best finance skills to have in 2020

The top skills employers are seeking in finance and accounting for 2020 are mostly in the accounting sector. Excel, the software of choice for 'numbers people' tops the list for yet another year. Also big on the list is knowledge of standardized accounting processes and best practices.

best skills in 2020

  • 1. excel

    It's a classic, but if it's not broken, don't fix it. Excel has been a staple in the finance and accounting industry and has gone through many iterations, but it continues to be the most important skill employers look for. Advanced knowledge of Excel and a deep dive into key features such as pivot tables will be in demand into 2020 and beyond.

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  • 2. international financial reporting standards (IFRS)

    The international financial reporting standards are a set of accounting standards used globally, and determined by an independent body. They are the worldwide standard for preparing enterprise financial statements. It goes without saying that if you work in accounting, you should know about IFRS.

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  • 3. anti-money laundering (AML)

    Anti-money laundering is exactly what it sounds like. AML is a set of procedures, laws and regulations intended to prevent income being generated through illegal means. Knowledge of AML will help you in a variety of finance and accounting roles, but most notably analyst roles.

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  • 4. public accounting

    Public accounting involves being an independent third party that examines the financial statements and documentation of a client or company. This is in opposition to private accounting, which is done internally. Public accounting typically requires extensive knowledge of accounting standards, and is highly sought by employers in the accounting sector, particularly accounting firms, which serve a variety of external clientele.

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  • 5. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)

    Much like international financial reporting standards (IFRS), GAAP is a series of standardized accounting rules to promote financial transparency and consistency. Unlike IFRS, GAAP rules vary by industry, however. Some employers prefer GAAP, others prefer IFRS, and both remain popular and sought-after skills in accounting.

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  • 6. french bilingualism

    In Canada, many companies manage a single head office that handles accounting and finances for the entire country. That makes knowledge of French a huge asset, as companies operating in all of Canada's provinces, including Quebec, will typically need to deal with both French and English language documentation. 

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top finance and accounting certifications

Reflecting the need for skilled accountants, accounting designations top the list of best finance and accounting certifications for 2020. Unsurprisingly the chartered professional accountant (CPA) designation holds onto the top spot, followed by certified management accountant (CMA). Rounding out the top three is a chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation.

best certifications

  • 1. chartered professional accountant (CPA)

    The chartered professional accountant (CPA) designation tops the list for another year. Accepted as the gold-standard in the Canadian accounting sector, if you are a CPA, your skills are instantly in high demand.

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  • 2. certified management accountant (CMA)

    Second on the list of most desired skills in the finance and accounting sector is the CMA designation. Though similar to the highly popular CPA designation, becoming a CMA requires additional strategic and management expertise, in addition to the accounting skills of a CPA. That makes CMAs more suited to business and strategy oriented roles, rather than strictly accounting roles.

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  • 3. chartered financial analyst (CFA)

    Covering a broad range of expertise in the financial and investment sector, a CFA credential is the gold-standard for financial analysts in Canada. Offered by the CFA Institute, this designation is highly regarded in the finance industry and is often a requirement in banking and investment roles.

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  • 4. certified internal auditor (CIA)

    The CIA designation is an important one for auditors in Canada. Not to be confused with the US's central intelligence agency, in Canada, CIAs are certified internal auditors. CIAs are experts in analyzing financial records and minimizing risks and financial losses companies are exposed to.

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  • 5. canadian payroll association certification

    Payroll is a crucial segment of the accounting specialty. The Canadian Payroll Association offers designations including payroll compliance practitioner (PCP) and certified payroll manager (CPM). PCP is the entry level payroll certification, while CPM is the choice for payroll specialists who have their eye on a management role. 

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  • 6. canadian securities course (CSC)

    The Canadian Securities Course is considered an entry-level course for those who want to work in the Canadian securities industry. It can also be a requirement for other financial jobs dealing with mutual funds, stocks and fixed income securities. It's offered by the Canadian Securities Institute.

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