Bookkeeping and accounting are two essential functions in any business. Both bookkeeping and accounting are concerned with managing financial information, but they are distinct processes with different roles and responsibilities. In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between bookkeeping and accounting, including their functions, roles, and responsibilities.
What Is Bookkeeping?
Bookkeeping is the process of recording and organizing financial transactions. It involves keeping track of financial records, such as receipts, invoices, and bank statements, and organizing them into a system that provides a clear picture of the financial health of a business. The primary function of bookkeeping is to ensure that all financial transactions are accurately recorded, classified, and reconciled.
The bookkeeper is responsible for recording all financial transactions in the accounting system, which may be a manual or computerized system. The bookkeeper’s duties include:
Recording financial transactions: The bookkeeper records all financial transactions, including sales, purchases, payments, receipts, and other financial activities.
Classifying transactions: The bookkeeper categorizes transactions into appropriate accounts, such as sales revenue, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and expenses.
Reconciling accounts: The bookkeeper reconciles accounts, such as bank accounts and credit card accounts, to ensure that the balances are accurate and match the corresponding statements.
Generating financial reports: The bookkeeper generates financial reports, such as balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, based on the information recorded in the accounting system.
What Is Accounting?
Accounting is a broader process that involves analyzing, interpreting, and presenting financial information. It goes beyond bookkeeping and involves making informed decisions based on financial data. Accounting is concerned with the overall financial health of a business and provides a strategic view of the company’s financial position.
The accountant is responsible for analyzing financial information and making decisions based on the information available. The accountant’s duties include:
Analyzing financial data: The accountant analyzes financial data to identify trends, patterns, and opportunities for improvement.
Creating financial forecasts: The accountant creates financial forecasts based on the company’s financial history and projections for the future.
Preparing financial statements: The accountant prepares financial statements, such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements, based on the information recorded by the bookkeeper.
Providing financial advice: The accountant provides financial advice to business owners, such as how to manage cash flow, reduce expenses, and increase revenue.
The Differences Between Bookkeeping and Accounting
Now that we have a basic understanding of bookkeeping and accounting, let’s explore the key differences between the two processes.
Scope: Bookkeeping is a narrow process that involves recording and organizing financial transactions. Accounting is a broader process that involves analyzing, interpreting, and presenting financial information.
Focus: Bookkeeping is primarily concerned with ensuring that financial transactions are accurately recorded and reconciled. Accounting is concerned with the overall financial health of a business and provides a strategic view of the company’s financial position.
Level of detail: Bookkeeping involves recording financial transactions in detail, such as the date, amount, and purpose of the transaction. Accounting involves analyzing financial data at a higher level, such as identifying trends and patterns in the data.
Skillset: Bookkeeping requires a different skillset than accounting. Bookkeepers need to be detail-oriented and organized, with a strong understanding of accounting principles and practices. Accountants require a broader skillset, including analytical skills, strategic thinking, and financial forecasting.
Responsibilities: Bookkeepers are responsible for recording and organizing financial transactions. Accountants are responsible for analyzing financial data, preparing financial statements, and providing financial advice to business owners.
Timing: Bookkeeping is an ongoing process that occurs daily, weekly, and monthly. Accounting occurs at the end of the accounting period, typically at the end of the fiscal year.
Regulation: Bookkeeping is not regulated, but accounting is subject to strict regulations and standards, such as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and international financial reporting standards (IFRS).
Why Is It Important to Understand the Differences Between Bookkeeping and Accounting?
It’s important to understand the differences between bookkeeping and accounting because they are distinct processes with different roles and responsibilities. While bookkeeping is essential for ensuring accurate financial records, accounting provides a strategic view of the company’s financial position and helps business owners make informed decisions based on financial data.
By understanding the differences between bookkeeping and accounting, business owners can ensure that they have the right professionals in place to manage their finances. Hiring a bookkeeper is essential for maintaining accurate financial records, while hiring an accountant is necessary for analyzing financial data and providing strategic financial advice.
In conclusion, bookkeeping and accounting are two essential functions in any business. Bookkeeping involves recording and organizing financial transactions, while accounting involves analyzing, interpreting, and presenting financial information. Understanding the differences between bookkeeping and accounting is essential for ensuring that your business has the right professionals in place to manage your finances and make informed decisions based on financial data. By hiring a bookkeeper and an accountant, you can ensure that your financial records are accurate, and you have a strategic view of your company’s financial position.
As an accountant in the UK, having the right skills and knowledge is essential to succeed in your profession. Accounting is a challenging and demanding field that requires a unique set of competencies to excel. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the top five skills that every accountant in the UK needs to possess to be successful in their career.
Attention to detail: Accuracy and precision are crucial in accounting. As an accountant, you’ll be working with large amounts of data and complex financial information. Even the smallest mistake can have significant consequences for your clients. Therefore, having an eye for detail is essential to ensure that all the information you work with is accurate and error-free.
Communication skills: As an accountant, you’ll be working with clients and colleagues from a range of backgrounds and levels of expertise. Being able to communicate complex financial information in a clear and concise manner is essential to ensure that everyone understands the information being presented. Effective communication skills are also crucial for building and maintaining client relationships.
Analytical skills: Accounting involves analyzing complex financial data, identifying trends, and making informed decisions based on this information. Having strong analytical skills will enable you to quickly identify and resolve financial issues, interpret financial data, and provide meaningful insights to clients.
Problem-solving skills: Accounting can be a challenging and fast-paced field, requiring accountants to think on their feet and solve problems quickly. Being able to identify problems, find solutions, and implement them effectively is essential for success in accounting.
Continuous learning: The accounting field is constantly evolving, with new technologies, regulations, and best practices emerging regularly. To stay ahead of the curve, accountants must be committed to continuous learning, keeping up with industry developments, and investing in their professional development.
In conclusion, possessing these five essential skills – attention to detail, communication skills, analytical skills, problem-solving skills, and a commitment to continuous learning – is essential for every accountant in the UK who wants to succeed in their profession. By developing these competencies, you’ll be well-positioned to provide the highest level of service to your clients and grow your career in accounting.
There’s no doubt about it. Beginning your career in Accounting & Audit can build a fantastic foundation to your future, and your career potential. However, at the same time, if you don’t play your cards right, it can be the poison chalice you forever regret taking on in your career.
When you’re looking for jobs, you’re going to have a whole host of options once you fully qualify as an accountant, especially if you have Big 4 experience! Your time achieving your qualification can show grit and determination, and a level of knowledge far superior to many other people in the finance industry.
Over your first three years (assuming you pass all your exams first time), you will build some great on-the-job experience, and really learn about yourself and what makes your brain tick during your exams. I put my exams down as the key element of growth for me in my life to date. I really learnt what I enjoyed, how my brain worked, and how to know when “enough was enough” when it came to a work-life-balance.
Despite all this, it is essential that you take your experience and skills, and run as soon as possible…
Because you have worked in Audit, you will have a very broad look at the world of finance. You will likely have worked on various clients in different areas. The problem arises when you stick around for too long. You will compartmentalise yourself as “The Auditor” and not “The Accountant”. The longer you stay in Audit, the harder it is to get into the interesting jobs in finance with high potential.
Let’s be frank….I doubt there are many Audit Directors who have managed to move their career into a CFO role, or a head of finance role.
The Benefits of an Accounting Career
Experience – working in Accounting/Audit for a few years will give you that solid foundation to expand your horizons in the financial industry. You will work on a large variety of clients, meet new challenges and see different ways of doing things which other’s in the financial world will not see. Employers know this when you hand your CV in and they see three years of experience at a Big 4 or top Accounting firm.
Knowledge – The knowledge you obtain during your Accounting Exams is priceless. Once you obtain that certificate, it is effectively the key to being paid a salary far beyond the local average for the rest of your life, and even has the potential to give you the stepping stone to achieve really high positions within a firm (and really high pay-cheques…)
Prestige – The firm you train at does matter to some extent. Being able to put “Big 4 Accountant” on your CV or your LinkedIn will really benefit you in the process of landing your next job. If you’re up against another person who has impressed in the interview process just as much, but they’re not Big 4….you’re likely to get the job over them. It won’t make up for poor interview skills, or a lack of knowledge. However, the prestige that training at a Big 4 firm brings is worth its weight in gold.
Versatility – I always urge young accountants to get a broad level of experience during their time in audit. The more you can work on, the better of an idea you will get of what you enjoy. Sure, once you realise you LOVE a certain area, then try and focus onto that. For example, I really enjoyed investment funds, so my focus was on Hedge Funds while I worked at my Big 4 firm. Now I work at a Hedge Fund! Your versatility will really lend itself as a skill later on in your finance career as well, as it allows you to chop and change roles, and be easily ‘mouldable’ as difference requirements arise.
How To Leave Your Accounting Career Behind!
Right, we’ve spoken about why an accounting career is great, but how do you get out of it? You first need to question yourself on exactly what you want to do. I have trained alongside people who become qualified accountants, and then finance is the last thing they want to do. For example, someone I worked with ended up becoming a Personal Trainer a year after they qualified because during their studying they had grown a love for fitness.
What I would recommend is sitting down and writing a list. What do you enjoy doing? Were there areas during your role in accounting that you LOVED, and were there areas you HATED? Are there any other studying requirements for the roles you may really be interested in? For example, I questioned the possibility of a move into Investment Management at one point. However, that meant I had to complete the CISI exams to become a qualified Investment Advisor. After three years of intense Accounting Exams….that was the last thing I wanted on my plate.
Once you have your list, you need to start researching and finding out more about the different positions you might like to take on. I would always recommend trying to network with people in your local area who may be in those roles already. They may be the gatekeeper to your future job! Or they may be able to advise and point you in the right direction for your perfect job.
I also recommend talking to various job recruiters. I say various because recruiters are a little like car salesman, in that they have a tendency to not be 100% honest, and are only there to get a commission on a ‘sale’. There are good car salesman out there, and bad car salesman. This is the same for job recruiters. I spoke to maybe 8-10 different recruiters when I was beginning my plan to leave the Big 4. 90% of them wouldn’t listen to what I wanted and kept trying to convince me that a career in Fund Accounting is what I wanted to do. The reason being is that there is an abundance of Fund Accounting roles in my area. Therefore, it is the ‘easy’ pay-day for them if they can convince me to go for it. As opposed to finding the very specific niche of job I would have liked, and risking me losing out to fierce competition (which means work for them, without pay.
You will eventually find a recruiter who you get a good ‘vibe’ from. Once you find a recruiter who’s good, they’re a big like a hairdresser…you’ll keep going back and trust them.
You’ve Found the Perfect Job? Great!
Now, you need to get that job, and this all comes down to your skill in an interview process. Everyone is different here. For example, I am very naturally good at thinking of good answers on the spot in an interview, while others need to prepare for every eventuality of question.
I like to create a little booklet of facts and information about the company and role I’m applying for. Being able to casually (and naturally!) litter little bits of information in your responses to questions about the firm will really impress interviewers. For example, let’s say the company pulled off a huge takeover bid last year, you could be talking about your interest in mergers and acquisitions, and then drop a comment about how interesting you found their takeover (and could even ask them questions about it).
Interviews can unfortunately take practice. Therefore, it might be worth still going to interviews that your recruiter recommends, but you may not necessarily like the sound of the job. I had 3 interviews (and 2 offers!) before I interviewed at the place I now work. I just knew they weren’t right for me, even though they gave me a convincing offer. Now, I’m very glad I stuck to my gut, and those three interviews really helped me get into the groove of the interviewing process (it had been 3.5 years since my last interview!)
Watch the video below for some tips, and also start trying to research potential common interview questions. Quite often the questions you will get are variations of the same common questions:
I hope you’ve found this breakdown helpful, and I will strive to answer any questions you may have in the comment section below (I answer them all!). I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you in your interview process, and hope you find your dream job!
There is some fear in the world of Accounting that as employees we may become obsolete in the future as automation and artificial intelligence becomes more of a significant tool in the workplace. I wrote a post which you can view here, which discusses the reasons that accountants will never truly be replaced in their entirety by robots. However, to summarise the post for you, I do believe there will be less of a need for such vast numbers of auditors and bookkeepers throughout the world. An audit office which previously had 1,000 employees will likely only need 100 in the future. As after all, these robots need some element of human interaction, and a human generally needs to make the final decisions on things. I cannot foresee a situation where the regulators allow for a robot to sign off the audit in replacement of a human partner.
It very much depends what area of accounting you work in as to the likelihood that your job could potentially be replaced. Tax preparers were rated as the largest chance of having their jobs replaced by automation. Bookkeepers and Auditors were not far behind!
Now, I did use the word “replaced” which I do think is unfair. Those of us who stay stagnant and do not move with the trend will likely be replaced over time. In order to remain in your tax preparation job and remain successful, you will need to become somewhat adept at managing automation within your role. Just like accountants who prepare accounts with a pen-and-paper no longer exist (or if they do, they’re a dying breed), eventually accountants who simply use excel and manually input data into excel sheets will become obsolete too.
The question then seem to have an obvious answer. As an Accountant, should you learn about Automation and how to automate your daily tasks? Well…of course!
Benefits of Automating Accounting Work
In my day-to-day job, I have really been pushing myself to automate tasks as much as possible. There are two key reasons for this; it saves my time; and it future-proofs my role.
Where I work, there is very little automation at the current moment in time, but it is something that is slowly beginning to emerge. Getting yourself ahead of the pack in this regard props you up to a position which means you’re not lagging behind, but it also saves a significant amount of your own time.
You will notice that your workflows significantly improve. I can now get more work completed in a day, which benefits the firm overall. And at the end of the day, what benefits the firm, will benefit me in the long run via promotions and bonuses. Admittedly, we don’t all work at companies who recognise efforts like these. However, even learning automation and being able to add it to your CV will enable you to climb the career ladder elsewhere.
For me, one of the key benefits of automation is the level of improved accuracy to work. When you’re dealing with many different spreadsheets and data-sources, you’re prone to making small mistakes over time. However, automation, assuming you keep on top of the setup being correct can lead to a perfect outcome. A robot cannot mistype a word, or input a number incorrectly with their fat fingers. The elimination of human error in my work, or at least significant reduction of it has been a godsend for me.
Tasks that Accountants can Automate
There are various tasks which can be made simpler in the invoicing process using programming such as Python. One of my favourite ones is being able to extract information from a PDF automatically.
Let’s say you have 100 invoices in PDF format sitting in a folder, and you know that you need to go through them and extract the key data: Invoice number, contact details, amount, payment details etc. Well, did you know that Python could automatically open up all of those PDFs and recognise those key pieces of information, and store them neatly within an excel file for you?
Tasks which could normally take hours, can take minutes when you know how to utilise automation and programming as an accountant.
The same benefits in the invoicing process can be applied to expenses. To use Python as an example again, you could automate the analysis and sorting of all expenses. A code could be created to automatically collate and analyse all expense data for your company on a monthly basis, and then automatically email that report to the relevant individuals within the firm.
The key benefit of automating payroll within your accounting/bookkeeping business is the simple reduction in human error.
This can be beneficial in the simple fact that nobody wants to be paid the incorrect amount. However, it also includes other benefits such as increased security. If everything is correctly automated, then nobody will receive someone else’s payslip due to human error of emailing to the wrong address.
There can be a significant amount of time saved during the payroll process if automated programming is utilised. This obviously has financial benefits for your firm in the long term, as well as making other areas of the business more simplistic, such as tax filings and reporting.
In conclusion – Should you learn about Automation as an Accountant?
I honestly think you would be silly to not at least learn some basic automation to help your role at work. I think in the next 15 years, automation will really become an essential part of the workplace in many offices, and when it comes to climbing the career ladder, being somewhat adept at creating automated processes will make you stand out from the crowd.
You’re currently still in school and think a career as an Accountant is in your future? However, you’ve got to decide which subjects you are going to take in your final years of high school in order to lead to your future career.
In this post I am going to answer several questions which will likely benefit you in your high school years if you wish to become an accountant:
Do you need to pick certain subjects at school to become an Accountant?
Should you aim to go to University if I want to become an Accountant?
What subjects will benefit me most in learning about Accountancy?
Do you need to be good at maths to be an Accountant?
PICKING SCHOOL SUBJECTS LEADING TO A CAREER IN ACCOUNTING
I remember when I was in High School, and I really struggled when it came to choosing which subjects I would continue with. There were some subjects I really enjoyed, but had zero relation to my target career path. However, there were others which I hated, but were almost essential.
For example, I am a guitar player and love music. So, despite my better judgement, I decided to take music as a class. However, this didn’t actually detract from my ability to become an Accountant, in fact, it benefitted it! Often in an interview scenario, you will be asked about your hobbies – showing you’re not boring and that you have a personality is key to landing your dream job (see my post on nailing a Big 4 Accounting interview).
I find that often people focus too much on the academic side of things. While in reality you need to be a pretty balanced and well rounded candidate to really succeed in the accounting world. There’s a stereotype that we’re all boring and don’t have a personality. This isn’t the case at all, and the best Accountants I know are a lot of fun. It is the boring ones who end up in the same job for 30 years and don’t make much progress.
DO YOU NEED TO PICK CERTAIN SUBJECTS IN SCHOOL TO BECOME AN ACCOUNTANT?
Short answer: No, not really.
There are certain subjects which will benefit your learning more when it comes to going to University, or starting yuor career. However, I think it doesn’t matter too much.
The only subjects I would say are essential, are Maths and English. These are two skills that you need to be at least “good” at in order to be a successful accountant. I don’t think you need to be in the top class for Maths, or amazing at it. You just need to be able to solve mathematical equations and not feel out of your depth when doing some relatively basic maths.
Other than English and Maths, I think just choose the subjects you enjoy. You will succeed far more doing subjects that you really enjoy and are passionate about. Getting an A in Music is far more important than getting a C in an Accounting class. Generally Universities will look at grades, not subjects. As I’ve said, the only subjects I generally see as a ‘requirement’ are English and Maths
However, a tip I would give is to go and look at the entry requirements for University Degrees in the subject you want to study, and also the entry requirements for local jobs looking for trainee accountants. Do they expect you to have a degree? Are there certain high school grades/subjects they expect? This will give you certainty over what subjects to pick at school to continue your career path as an accountant.
SHOULD I GO TO UNIVERSITY TO BECOME AN ACCOUNTANT?
There isn’t a simple answer to this. I do not believe that having a degree will drastically improve your ability to be an accountant. However, I do believe it teaches you significant lessons about hard work and social skills. It is those lessons which create a divide between the good trainee, and the average trainee.
If you can’t afford to go to University, or it really isn’t something you want to do, then going straight into a trainee position is possible.
If you go straight into the work place from school, you could be a fully qualified Accountant by the age of 22 – I went to University and didn’t fully qualify until I was 25. That’s an extra 3 or 4 years of salary you will be receiving, and that can be a huge different on your personal life. Those 3 or 4 years mean you could get on the property ladder far sooner.
Let’s also remember the debt of going to University.
Personally, I don’t regret going to University. However, I do believe I would be financially better off if I hadn’t gone. However, I wouldn’t have landed the successful jobs that I have had without going to University. It led me down a path where I was able to get an incredibly prestigious Accounting qualification (ICAS requires a degree), and I moved to a location far from home after graduating. These events wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t go to University.
My advice would be to sit down and think about exactly what you want from your career, and the answer will likely become obvious.
WHAT SUBJECTS WILL BENEFIT ME MOST IN BECOMING AN ACCOUNTANT?
I’ll keep this bit pretty simple, and just state the subjects I think will benefit your learning. Some schools may not have these subjects, which makes it difficult. For example, I know people who studied Accounting in High School, however, my school didn’t have this as a subject.
This one is obvious. If your school offers this as a subject, and you want to be an Accountant, I think you’d be a little silly to turn it down as an option. This will likely give you a great foundation going forwards. You will understand things your peers don’t when taking on your qualifying exams, and this will stand you in good stead for success.
Economics will teach you the power of money, and how it works around the world. This is a key understanding for Accountants, and something that really benefitted my understanding of finance as a whole while at University.
The closest thing I had to an accounting class at school was business management. It was my favourite class. Your future accounting qualification will have a business management style module, so this is very relatable to your future qualification. If your school offers it, I would 100% take it.
Maths is often on the entry requirements for an accounting course at University. I know many people hate it as a subject, and I know a lot of the subject is highly irrelevant to real life. However, it is usually an essential, and you will struggle to get into a University course, or even an entry level trainee role without it.
English just helps your basic understanding of the English language. It will allow you to communicate better, and write better and more concise emails. There’s nothing worse than a colleague who can barely string a sentence together, or regularly makes spelling errors.
DO I NEED TO BE GOOD AT MATHS TO BE AN ACCOUNTANT?
No, but you do need to take it as a subject.
You don’t need to be getting top level A’s in Maths, but you need to at least show you are competent with numbers. I would recommend taking Maths and trying to do as well as possible in it – despite how much you likely dislike the subject.
OVERALL, I WOULD RECOMMEND TAKING A LOOK AT SOME OF THE BELOW LINKS:
We can discuss the differences between an MLM and Pyramid Scheme until the cows come home. However, the principle difference is a Pyramid Scheme is a straight scam where there’s generally no product. While an MLM company will at least be distributing a product, but the general structure is relatively the same.
Nu Skin isn’t a new competitor in the marketplace. In fact, they have been around for quite a while. They were founded in 1984 in the US. So, they definitely know what they’re doing at this point when it comes to structuring an MLM company and how to run it effectively.
Their general motto is that they will help you “achieve financial freedom, and live your best life” or some generic American Dream-esque tagline. Irrespective of their legal practices or ethics, their whole framework hangs on the premise of attracting people who are desperate for easy money and the dream life….
….If you’ve got a solid job which pays well, you’re not going to be leaving it for this “dream” being sold. Once again, you could debate the ethics on preying on individuals in this financial situation all day.
The problem stems from how the lifestyle is marketed. These days it isn’t uncommon to see people peddling products online showing their glamorous lifestyle and selling some course or product which promises you can do the same.
The simple way the model works is that you make money from the products you sell, as well as the number of people under you. So, the more people you attract to join the team, the more money you make. This leads to many glamorizing their lives in order to attract suckers….sorry….”distributors” to their teams.
ETHICAL ISSUES OF NU SKIN
Here’s an interesting quote from the Federal Trade Commission in the US:
“Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. If the money you make is based on your sales to the public, it may be a legitimate multilevel marketing plan. If the money you make is based on the number of people you recruit and your sales to them, it’s not. It’s a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and the vast majority of participants lose money”.
See the similarities?
The fact is, you DO make money from products you sell. However, there is nobody within the Nu Skin structure making significant amounts of money solely on the product. They are making money because they have many people signed up in the layers below them.
The way Nu Skin gets around this is by making their structure so complex that it is difficult to get any specific concrete evidence to argue that they are 100% a pyramid scheme. I personally land on the side that believes most MLM companies are just Pyramid Schemes who manage to dance around the law.
According to an actual Ex-Nu Skin Representative, the way Nu Skin gets around the Pyramid claims is by stating that their structure is only 6 levels deep, and therefore they cannot be considered as a Pyramid Scheme (evidence).
STATS AND FACTS
Nu Skin currently operate in 52 marketplaces worldwide and they have over 800,000 distributors worldwide.
All sounds very promising so far, right?
Sandie Tillotson is one of the co-founders of Nu Skin who started her business career by starting the Cambridge Diet, another “multi-level marketing company” who eventually went bankrupt. You can see a 1983 article about the demise of the Cambridge Diet here. But, I’ll give Sandie the benefit of the doubt, she might have changed her marketing strategies and ethics.
During the year ending December 31, 2012, approximately 89% of Nu Skin’s revenue came from its marketplaces outside the US, according to the New York Times.
In fact, Nu Skin has a shrinking market in their native United States. Active distributors AND active customers are diminishing.
On a month-on-month basis, only 14.19% of active US distributors actually earned a commission check, and the average commission paid out amounts to $2,112.05 PER YEAR. Yes, that isn’t a typo, the average commissions being handed out by Nu Skin is barely enough to pay your rent for a few months. So, let’s put that figure beside all the luxurious lifestyles being portrayed on Social Media…
LEGAL HISTORY OF NU SKIN
Nedra Roney is also a co-founder of Nu Skin, however, you won’t find her name listed on the website. Supposedly this is due to Roney being involved in prescription drug fraud in the 90s which Nu Skin would rather avoid being associated with. Further to this, if you search for Nedra on Google, you will find that in 2013, her husband was charged with sexual assault of an 18 year old (article).
DECEPTIVE INSTAGRAM ADVERTISING
I decided to write this whole blog post based upon my experiences of seeing their Instagram Advertising on a daily basis. As someone who used to work in the marketing industry, I find Instagram Marketing interesting. However, there was a girl I went to school with promoting this Nu Skin brand regularly, and some of the claims just didn’t make sense.
I’m not going to claim that all marketing tactics are 100% ethical and truthful. However, some of the claims she was making were just hugely skewed and wrong. This is what led me to do some research on Nu Skin, as I hadn’t really known much about them until I started to notice her chatting about them on her Instagram story.
I worked in marketing for around 7 years, and I currently work in the finance industry. The reason this specific ‘advert’/claim peaked my interest was because it was regarding Nu Skin’s performance on the stock market:
Let’s break down all the different aspects of this screenshot, as there is actually quite a lot going on.
NU SKIN – “LEADING WALL STREET”
The context behind the article she is referencing in the photo is that Nu Skin was the largest ‘gainer’ on a specific day (May 1st 2019). Their share price had gone up by 25%. So, they aren’t “leading wall street”, they just increased by a significant amount that day.
The reason they increased significantly that day is because that day was earnings reporting day. So, all companies on the stock exchange move erratically depending on whether or not their earnings met/exceeded/under-performed compared to expectations. In Nu Skin’s case, they over-delivered.
However, if we look at a graph showing the past year of Nu Skin’s performance, that impressive 25% gain doesn’t seem quite so impressive:
The area highlighted in yellow to the far right is the 1st of May 2019, where this 25% spike occurred. It closed that day at $64.32 per share. What the distributors won’t mention is that $85.46 was their peak share price in 2018, which means that at the top of this 25% spike, their share price is still down by over 32%.
Now, it is the 15th of May today, let’s take a look at the movement in their share price the past month:
So, their share price closed out at $52.42 per share yesterday. This shows that every day since that spike of 25%, the share price has gone downhill.
This is often the case for drastic changes on earnings reporting day. Many company share prices will erratically change, and then return to normal later in the month. So, this marketing method of discussing of how great their company is based on this 25% jump is complete bulls*** to be honest.
This is where my issue with Nu Skin lies. Your average individual who isn’t financially educated would look at that screenshot and think “wow, that’s impressive!”. They’re simply preying upon and manipulating individuals who lack the education to know any better.
UP THERE WITH APPLE!
The final part of the Instagram Story post is that Nu Skin is up there alongside Apple, because they happen to both be on this article’s list. I should also add that this screenshot is from an article written by Seeking Alpha, which isn’t an overly reputable source. However, I’ll ignore that.
Let’s compare Apple and Nu Skin and see how similar they are:
Apple Market Capitalisation: $912.84bn (and this WAS above $1trn at the end of 2018)
Nu Skin Market Capitalisation: $2.91bn
Apple September Quarterly Earnings 2018: $62.9bn
Nu Skin September Quarterly Earnings 2018: $0.675bn
As it is pretty clear to see, comparing these two companies is simply moronic. It is like comparing not even Apples and Oranges, that phrase would be too positive about Nu Skin’s comparisons. However, the marketing ploy here is that EVERYONE knows Apple is huge and successful. Marketing through association. Association through a questionable article source.
LET’S STICK TO STOCK MARKET ANALYSIS
Seeing as we are on the topic of the Stock Market, let’s have a look at some more comparable companies. It is silly to compare Nu Skin to Apple, as they’re in completely different markets, with totally different margins etc. So, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and compare Nu Skin to two skincare companies who are generally received as legitimate skincare companies: Estee Lauder & L’Oreal
Nu Skin (NUS)
Estee Lauder (EL)
I didn’t want to do any deep financial comparison to Apple, as they’re not comparable companies. However, looking at other companies within the same industry, we can see Nu Skin still doesn’t shine. I won’t go into too much detail on the financial comparison. I may do a more in-depth analysis in a later post.
ARE THE PRODUCTS ANY GOOD?
It is perfectly reasonable for Nu Skin to actually have good products. I’m not questioning their actual products, just their marketing structure and ethics. However, I did do some research into this as well, as I’d seen a smattering of posts on Instagram claiming they’d won numerous awards.
ConsumerAffairs.com had an average rating for Nu Skin of 3.5 out of 5 stars. This isn’t horrific, but you’ve always got to take these websites with a pinch of salt, as it is very possible that a portion of the reviews aren’t genuine. Here are some of the more negative reviews:
My galvanic spa just quit working. It’s not worth… I got it for more than $400. I called customer service. They said I need to buy a new one. Wow… The life span is so short. I asked for possible repair but none.
This company is deceptive and immoral. I ordered one thing with a certain price and was charged another and was enrolled in an auto pay/shipment plan without my permission. Sad that a company has to lie to get business. Two different phone reps were rude and hung up on me. Additionally the product that was supposed to last 30 days lasted for two days. Shame on this company.
For Three billing periods, now Nu Skin has double charged our checking account causing several NSF charges. I contacted them when it first started and they assured me it would never happen again. Well, it did and it caused more NSF charges.
The issue generally doesn’t seem to be with their products. They do appear to have won some awards (albeit, not as many as they seem to claim). However, once again it is their ethics and bad business practices coming to the forefront.
HOW THE NU SKIN COMPENSATION SCHEME WORKS
There are certain requirements which must be fulfilled prior to being able to receive a commission check. One of these is managing to complete at least $100 in sales per month.
It should be noted that Nu Skin does not disclose the amount of retail sales made by distributors to actual regular customers. This seems like a questionable piece of information to omit for a direct selling company. This means that their sales figures are highly skewed by stock being sold to distributors.
It would be illegal for Nu Skin to disclose the structure of their distributors, as this would show a shape of a pyramid, and therefore imply that it is likely indeed a pyramid scheme. In fact, it is a part of Nu Skin guidelines to not show any illustrative structures and any illustrations should not extend beyond 2 levels deep.
It seems as though the main way for Nu Skin distributors to make money is simply by signing up more distributors below them, and then selling them products. Despite the figures not being disclosed, I’d bet money that very large portion of Nu Skin products end up being passed down the trail to distributors, as opposed to being sold to customers. In fact, I’d imagine most higher level distributors don’t even promote to customers at all, and simply sell stock to the distributors within their “team” below them.
CONCLUSION ON NU SKIN
In my opinion, Nu Skin is likely indeed a pyramid scheme. They have managed to jump through loopholes in order to avoid this label.
Everyone within the structure is making money by paying someone above them, in order to be eligible to sell stock to someone below them.
As a whole, they have historically used diseptive marketing tactics in order to convince those who may be desperate or unaware to join them. Their income claims are questionable at best, and those are the claims that are actually made public.
Over 85% of ACTIVE distributors do not earn a commission. This alone should be a reason to avoid this company.
Are there any other companies you would like me to do an analysis of? Leave a comment below, and I will start researching! Please Note: The viewpoint displayed within this article is simply my opinion, backed up by facts. I always recommend you do your own research prior to coming to any conclusions.
So, I’m back to add some more to this post, after quite a long time since initially writing it. My viewpoint hasn’t really changed much, but I have been able to gain some more viewpoints from other people.
There is a Reddit community called “AntiMLM” which discusses NuSkin in quite a bit of detail, so I wanted to touch on some of my findings from there.
One of the posts I found quite funny was by a guy who works in the factory which bottles a lot of NuSkin product (and other similar companies), and the sad reality is that him being paid $16/hour is significantly better than the vast majority of NuSkin affiliates. The fact is if you’re a NuSkin affiliate, you’re not an employee of the company. You don’t get official work hours, or time off, or benefits like a pension etc. Because of his position within the factory, he was able to give some insight into some of the products.
One product (which im not aware of the name of) is claimed to be made from dead sea salt. However, in a 5,000 gallon batch of the product, about 1 gram of sea salt ends up in the mix. I mean, I’ve heard of dramatic marketing, but this seems ridiculous!
NuSkin are mostly famous for their “LumiSpa”. I must admit, I’ve actually tried this, as I was intrigued to see if their products were actually good. It is possible the products aren’t terrible, just the practice behind selling them, right?
Well, I have to admit, it isn’t terrible. But have you seen the price!? It costs a small fortune. So, I did some research, and found the following products on Amazon which I found to be equal, or even superior to the LumiSpa!
I found this video with John Oliver quite funny/interesting, in which NuSkin gets a special mention. It is definitely worth a watch!
It seems to me as though the word Pyramid Scheme has been replaced by Multi-Level Marketing, and I’m still unsure as to how they get away with it. In the same way that I’m unsure how the Church of Scientology gets away with what they do. The only logical reasoning for it is legal power, and they must pay a fortune in legal bills.
I mean, in 2016, NuSkin had to settle for $47 MILLION in a lawsuit which claimed that they had a pyramid scheme acting in China. What makes you think their set-up in China is any different to anywhere else in the world? The simple fact is they’ve managed to become so ingrained within the community in the USA and beyond, that they’re a bit like a cockroach you can’t remove.
During the video with John Oliver, you can see a clip of a man from another MLM style company basically admitting the company is a ‘Pyramid’…but it just isn’t illegal. Which roughly translates into the fact that they’re just jumping through loopholes to get around the law.
In other words…these aren’t Pyramid SCHEMES….they’re just Pyramid Shaped….makes sense…right?
Something I get asked quite often about is the validity of a degree in Accounting. You don’t technically need one to be an accountant, so why bother? Is it worth the time and effort?
I would always wholeheartedly recommend a career in which you become a qualified accountant. However, whether or not you precede that with going to University and getting a degree in the subject, is very much dependent on the individual.
Cost of University when Studying Accounting
For me, this is the core factor in deciding whether or not to go to University to study accounting. This will be highly impacted by where in the world you are. To some extent, I think America is more demanding for people to have a University Degree than other countries.
I am located in the UK, and it is quite common to pursue an Accounting Qualification, without having been to University.
But saying that, not all Universities are the same in the UK, and not all are the same cost. The University you decide on is going to determine how much Student Debt you will have to deal with later in your life. Coming from experience, this can be a real pain when you’re trying to progress with your life. For example, I didn’t realise until a couple of years ago how much student debt impacts your mortgage-ability. Despite the fact my student debt payments were not huge (£250-ish per month), it took about £50k off the amount the banks would lend me to buy a property. Luckily for me, I left University with about £15k worth of debt, which is nothing compared to some people. So, in my instance, I just paid off the £7k remaining on my balance, and got the mortgage. However, not all people will be that lucky.
Because I grew up in Scotland, University Education is mostly free. I got a ‘Student Loan’ to help with paying for accommodation etc. This is not the case for those going to University in England, for example.
While I wouldn’t say don’t go to University if it is expensive for you, I do think it is a factor to think about. You could be working for the Big 4 straight out of school for £20-25k a year, instead of getting £25k a year of debt.
Having a degree in Accounting does improve your ability to be hired, and that’s a fact. Many people I’ve worked with who didn’t go the University route have tried to convince me otherwise, but the harsh reality is that if two contenders for a job are relatively equal in most areas, but one has a degree…the employer will pick the individual with the degree most of the time.
Some employers will demand that people applying for jobs have a degree, while some do not care. I do think by the time you have acquired your Chartered Accountant or CPA status, it does become less important to some extent (as these qualifications are infinitely more difficult than University). But, it is still a factor.
Long Term Career Goals
Do you even want to be an Accountant in the long term? For example, I am a qualified Accountant, but my day-to-day job does not directly involve Accounting work. I work with a lot of numbers, and I review some accounting implementation. However, this is mainly more from a ‘review’ point of view, than actually performing Accounting work.
My point being is that I think if you have no wishes to become a fully-fledged Accountant in your career, and just want to benefit from the foundation that becoming a Qualified Accountant gives you in your future career, then having an Accounting Degree is even less important.
Furthermore, you should really consider whether the life of an accountant is really something you want to aspire to. Especially when working for “Big 4” firms, you can expect long hours with little reward in the short term. I wrote a post about the realities of Big 4 busy season.
Accounting Salary Benefits
There can be some slight salary benefits to having a degree, rather than going into the world of Accounting straight from school.
For example, when I landed my first Big-4 job after University, I was paid £25,000 per year. Comparatively, my non-Uni colleagues at the same level were paid £20,000 per year.
Once you become fully qualified (a ‘senior’ in my firm) then you are all on a level playing field. But for the three years leading up to this, you are always paid at least a little bit more than your non-University Degree counterparts.
On top of this, I was also offered a sizeable 0% finance loan (£7,000 I think) by my company when I first joined to go towards my student debt (not that I used it on that, of course…) While those which joined the firm straight from school were not given this.
While you may have a degree in Accounting, it doesn’t mean you need to go into a career in Accounting. But it does give you access to a whole swathe of potential finance careers, which those who didn’t go to university might have to work a little harder to get access to.
Because you can prove you have at least a good understanding of finance due to the fancy piece of paper you got when you graduated from University, employers will be more likely to interview you for finance roles with some element of confidence. As opposed to a School Leaver who says on their CV they’re interested in finance. While technically the school leaver could know just as much as you, the unfortunate reality is that employers take a degree certificate with my certainty than a claim of knowledge on a CV.
Fund operations is an essential component of the financial services industry, particularly in the realm of asset management. This field encompasses a broad range of tasks and responsibilities that ensure the smooth functioning of investment funds, such as mutual funds, hedge funds, and private equity funds. For qualified accountants seeking a dynamic and rewarding career, a role in fund operations offers an excellent opportunity to apply their skills and expertise in a thriving and ever-evolving sector.
Roles and Responsibilities
A career in fund operations involves managing the day-to-day activities of an investment fund, ensuring that all operational aspects run smoothly and efficiently. Responsibilities vary depending on the specific role, but some of the most common tasks for qualified accountants in fund operations include:
Financial Reporting and Regulatory Compliance: Accountants play a crucial role in preparing financial statements, ensuring that they adhere to the relevant accounting standards and regulatory requirements. They also collaborate with internal and external auditors to verify the accuracy of financial data.
Net Asset Value (NAV) Calculation: Accountants are responsible for determining the NAV of an investment fund, which reflects the fund’s total assets minus its liabilities. This involves tracking and reconciling portfolio holdings, valuing investments, and recording income and expenses.
Trade Settlement and Reconciliation: Accountants ensure that executed trades are accurately recorded and settled in a timely manner. This involves reconciling trade confirmations, resolving discrepancies, and monitoring the status of unsettled trades.
Cash Management: Fund operations professionals manage cash flows, including subscriptions, redemptions, and dividend payments. They also monitor cash balances, execute foreign exchange transactions, and ensure that funds have sufficient liquidity to meet operational requirements.
Risk Management: Accountants contribute to the identification and mitigation of operational risks, such as trade errors, pricing inaccuracies, and regulatory breaches. They collaborate with risk management teams to implement robust controls and monitor their effectiveness.
Investor Services: Qualified accountants in fund operations may also be involved in investor relations, responding to inquiries, and providing detailed reports to investors regarding fund performance and other relevant information.
Why Fund Operations is a Great Opportunity for Qualified Accountants
Diverse Learning Opportunities: Fund operations exposes accountants to various asset classes, investment strategies, and financial instruments. As a result, professionals in this field develop a comprehensive understanding of financial markets and the broader investment landscape. This knowledge can be invaluable for career growth and progression, both within and beyond the world of fund operations.
Dynamic and Evolving Industry: The financial services industry is constantly evolving in response to shifting market conditions, technological advancements, and regulatory changes. Qualified accountants working in fund operations have the opportunity to adapt to these changes and continuously refine their skills, ensuring that they remain at the forefront of industry developments.
High Demand for Expertise: The asset management industry is a significant driver of economic growth and wealth creation, and demand for skilled fund operations professionals is consistently high. As a result, qualified accountants with expertise in this field have strong job security and numerous opportunities for career advancement.
Collaboration with Cross-functional Teams: A role in fund operations involves collaborating with various departments, such as portfolio management, compliance, risk management, and investor relations. This provides an excellent opportunity to develop a broad network of industry contacts and refine communication and teamwork skills.
Global Opportunities: Asset management is a global industry, and many fund operations roles offer the chance to work with international clients or even relocate to other financial hubs around the world. This can be an exciting and enriching experience for qualified accountants looking to broaden their horizons and develop a truly global career.
Competitive Compensation: Fund operations professionals are typically well-compensated for their skills and expertise, with many roles offering competitive salaries, bonuses, and benefits packages. As professionals progress in their careers and assume more senior positions, their earning potential can increase significantly.
Opportunity to Make an Impact: Qualified accountants working in fund operations play a vital role in safeguarding the interests of investors and ensuring the efficient operation of investment funds. By contributing to the success and stability of the funds they manage, these professionals can make a meaningful impact on the financial well-being of individuals and institutions alike.
Professional Development and Growth: Fund operations offers ample opportunities for professional development, with many organizations prioritizing ongoing learning and skills enhancement. Qualified accountants can expect to attend industry conferences, participate in training programs, and pursue advanced certifications to further their careers.
Work-Life Balance: While fund operations can be demanding, many roles in this field offer a healthy work-life balance, with organizations recognizing the importance of employee well-being and work satisfaction. Flexible working arrangements, remote work options, and generous vacation policies are increasingly common, allowing professionals to maintain a fulfilling personal life alongside their career.
Transferable Skills: The skills and expertise developed through a career in fund operations are highly transferable, enabling qualified accountants to explore opportunities in other areas of the financial services industry or transition to different sectors altogether. This versatility ensures that professionals have diverse career options and can pursue a path that aligns with their long-term goals and aspirations.
A role in fund operations presents an excellent opportunity for qualified accountants to leverage their skills and expertise in a dynamic, fast-paced, and rewarding environment. With diverse learning opportunities, global exposure, and the potential for significant career growth and advancement, fund operations offers a fulfilling and lucrative career path for those who are up for the challenge.
By embracing the exciting world of fund operations, qualified accountants can look forward to a future of continuous learning, professional development, and the satisfaction of contributing to the financial success of the funds they manage. In a rapidly evolving industry, these professionals are poised to lead the way in navigating the complexities of asset management and forging a successful and rewarding career.