Asian Spectator


Volunteer work ESSENTIAL for budding accountants, claims leading accountant

  • Written by Tess Sanders Lazarus

According to accountant Coco Hou, volunteering should be a pivotal element of an accountant’s career and schedule. She believes that accountants are uniquely trained to add value as volunteers to charities, community organisations, business networks and startups.


Hou is the CEO of Platinum Professional Training. Platinum is one of Australias largest accounting training and internship providers with offices across all major Australian cities. Hou is also a CPA qualified accountant.


“I tell every young accountant to think about volunteering. It’s an absolute must for anyone who wants a successful and fulfilling career as an accountant. Accountants make the best volunteers because they offer a skill that very few people have, and that very few people are willing to give away for free,” Hou said.


Hou believes that accountants, using their extremely unique skillset, have a lot to offer charitable and community organisations.


“There are thousands of community organisations out there that either lack the capacity to hire an accountant, or don’t see the need for one. As a budding accountant or even one with decades of experience, the value you could add is immeasurable,” Hou said.


“There is an overwhelming need for people with accounting expertise across the community and by volunteering your time, trained accountants can fundamentally change how a community organisation is run. Not only that, they can improve the efficiency of charitable organisations that do amazing work for people in need.”


According to Hou, even professional accountants who have worked in the accounting industry for a long time, are ideally placed to volunteer their time.   The ability to give back through one’s expertise is a valuable way to contribute to the community.


“Volunteering is typically something we assume young people do to ‘get ahead’. But even more senior accountants can make volunteering part of their routine,” Hou said.


“Volunteering isn’t just about providing services.  You can also donate your time as a speaker to business networks.   For accountants who want to get more involved, offering your time as an informal advisor or consultant at a concessionalised rate for budding startups means a lot to most business owners.


“Community organisations and charities have boards and committees that need volunteers and helpers. They will jump at the opportunity to have an accountant as a board member.”


According to Hou, volunteering is more than just an ethical thing to do, it can also give you valuable experiences that you can use to further your accounting career.


“A lot of young students and graduates I meet are surprised by the amount of people they have to compete with to get those highly-coveted graduate positions. The whole experience can be extremely daunting,” Hou said.


“Employers will always look favourably upon a candidate who has donated their time and accounting skills to community organisations, charities, startups and business associations. Being the treasurer of a society or club at university helps as well!


“In fact, an employer may even be more impressed by volunteer work in accounting than an actual degree. Volunteer work shows you’ve actually worked with the software programs that you’ll be expected to use at a proper job. It also shows that you have initiative, drive and have acquired hands on experience.”


Hou is critical of the way many universities teach accounting and in particular, their lack of focus on practical skills and software training.


“I started Platinum Professional Training because I noticed that accounting graduates were graduating without the practical skills needed to work as an accountant. We teach accountants everything from how to use the big cloud based accounting software programs to how to interact with clients. We skip a lot of the theory that they have already covered at university and instead focus on the real essential workplace skills they need to be employable and promotable,” Hou said.


“Volunteering is the best way of applying and developing the skills that we teach. Employers want to see that you’ve learned the skills, and you know how to use them.”

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