Bank accounting: Should you choose this industry?

7 min read
two women meeting at a bank

Skilled accountants are instrumental in supporting business growth—no matter the industry. They use deep financial expertise to help organizations remain profitable and compliant and can creatively strategize around key areas of development. In the banking industry, dedicated and skilled accountants are particularly important. 

We are taking an in-depth look at banking accounting so you can learn exactly what the discipline is, why it’s so important, and how you can break into this stable and lucrative field.

What is bank accounting?

A bank accountant holds great responsibility as the person responsible for all things financial. The tasks of a bank accountant are like those found in other industries, including preparing financial reports and maintaining records. Bank accounting also includes complex and compelling challenges that are unique to this industry. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (commonly known as the FDIC), “accounting impacts all aspects of bank operations and requires recordkeeping systems that generate accurate and reliable information and reports needed to meet the needs of customers, shareholders, supervisory agencies, tax authorities, and courts of law1.” 

The sheer volume of information management inherent to bank accounting makes the position high stakes and detail oriented. But it also includes important and very specific tax considerations related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting, cryptocurrency, and other complex issues.

What tasks await a bank accountant?

As we mentioned above, bank accountants perform many of the same tasks as accountants who work in other industries, but they also perform duties unique to the banking industry. Here are a few tasks you need to be comfortable doing to succeed in bank accounting: 

  • Revenue recognition 
  • Financial forecasting 
  • Analysis of financial statements, such as Report of Income, Report of Condition, Statement of Equity, Balance Sheets, and Statement of Cash Flows 
  • Analysis of average balances and interest rates, financial ratios, key performance indicators, and financial performance risks 
  • Navigation of the heavily regulated banking industry and all tax protocols 
  • Understanding of governmental regulatory bodies, major acts and policies, examples of enforcement actions taken, required reporting, and regulatory trends 
  • Evaluation of bank’s financial health based on financial records 
  • Management of digital assets, such as Bitcoin and digital financial resources 
  • ESG reporting 
  • Valuation of a venture, project, or investment opportunity and sensitivity analysis

Why is bank accounting important?

Millions of Americans put their trust, paychecks, savings and investments in the hands of banks, and that weighty responsibility demands a keen eye that only a banking accountant can provide. Yes, banks focus on turning a profit and being financially compliant and healthy, but those added stakes make skilled accountants even more important. 

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (commonly referred to as the Dodd-Frank Act) is a consumer-friendly federal legislation that was enacted in 2010 in response to the 2009 financial crisis. It mandates that banks maintain high levels of capital and liquidity. What this means for you is that, to remain in compliance with the law, banks have both a short-term and a long-term need for bank accountants.

What do you need to be a bank accountant? 

At the minimum, you will need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. A master’s degree in accounting unlocks higher tiers of bank accounting careers, but having a CPA license will open the most doors into this industry as it proves skill and experience in financial analysis, reporting, auditing, and many of the tasks outlined above. 

Together with these degrees and certifications, bank accountants also should also possess a variety of supporting skills as well as soft skills. These can include attention to detail, data analysis, financial planning, and communication.

Bank accounting foundational skills and education

Education and credentialsSupporting skills and knowledgeSoft skills 
Bachelor's degree in accounting or related field (required)Data analysis and managementAttention to detail
CPA license (often required)Financial planningStrong written communication
Master's degree (desired)Knowledge of bank regulationsOrganization
CPE credits in bank accounting (desired)Digital financesCollaboration

Bank accountant salary

Because bank accountants are essential in the industry, they are generally in high demand and can be extremely well paid. The average yearly salary is $69,6832, but it can go over $300,000. 

How can you get started as a bank accountant? 

This is where Becker’s CPE courses can be instrumental to helping grow valuable skills and meet your goals. We offer a wide variety of courses in banking accounting but for a comprehensive program to shift your expertise to the banking industry, consider our Banking Industry CPE Library. 

Banking CPE from Becker

With over 10 courses and 13 credit hours, you will gain the knowledge necessary to become an expert and trusted advisor in the field. Banking accounting and tax are complex, but Becker has a curriculum that will get you up to speed quickly. 

Becker’s CPE Banking Library includes: 

  • Mapping the Industry 
  • Mastering Revenue Recognition 
  • Analyzing Financial Statements 
  • Understanding the Regulatory Landscape 
  • Key Tax Concepts and Challenges 
  • Navigating Digital Assets 
  • ESG Reporting 
  • Regulatory Taxes 
  • State Taxation of Banks 
  • Overview of Transfer Pricing 

Get all the important bank accounting insight in one place so you can establish a foundation, then dive deep into specific banking issues. 

Learn more about the Banking Library of CPE courses. 

Now Leaving Becker.com

You are leaving the Becker.com website. Once you click “continue,” you will be brought to a third-party website. Please be aware, the privacy policy may differ on the third-party website. Adtalem Global Education is not responsible for the security, contents and accuracy of any information provided on the third-party website. Note that the website may still be a third-party website even the format is similar to the Becker.com website.