Career paths for new Accountants

Posted October 2 2023 By Michelle Kirkpatrick

Congratulations, you’ve finished your training with ICAS, ACCA or CIMA to reach the highest professional accountancy level and qualified for a successful career in business and beyond.

As a newly qualified accountant, there are a number of things you’ll need to consider. How do you ‘kick start’ a potentially life-long career in accountancy? What are your short- and long-term ambitions, and how will you achieve those? How will you take yourself to market and ensure you are seen as a desirable prospect?

Practice or Industry?

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from recently qualified accountants is this: Should I look to Practice or Industry to further my career?

The answer – as is the question – is complex, as it can depend on the candidate and what they are looking for from their career. There are many preconceived ideas – some true, others not – about both the Industry and Practice sides of the market. As a candidate, you may wonder which is the better path for you in terms of both personal and professional development.

The advantages of working in practice are that it is more varied than industry as you would be dealing with clients from many different sectors, and you’ll have to be adaptable and meet the needs of different clients and have the chance to build-long term relationships with lots of different clients. Typically roles for a practice accountant include;

  • Audit

 Auditors are always in demand across the UK finance and accountancy market as you develop a highly technical skillset of financial reporting, becoming an expert in a range of reporting standards across sectors.

  • Tax 

Tax is often described as a niche area of finance. A career as a Tax Consultant allows you to be more analytical and advisory without being restricted by sector and size. Due to the limited number of tax consultants, you would probably progress quickly in your career.

  • Corporate Finance

This field appeals to accountants with a commercial mindset, as they can help businesses with growth strategies, such as valuations, due diligence, mergers and acquisitions. This may demand longer working hours than other practice areas, but it can be very satisfying when deals are finalised.

  • Treasury

A career in treasury allows you to provide valuable support to all key functions. You’ll have the chance to work with key business stakeholders and network with a wide range of professions. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to work across the business in broad roles covering liquidity, funding, risk and investor relations.

The advantages of working in industry are choosing what type of business you work in, from the industry to the size and the location. You get the chance to delve deep into the success of one business rather than spreading your efforts across many clients, and you might get the opportunity to stand out, make a clear impact and drive the success of the organisation you work for. Typical roles within industry accountancy include;

  • Management Accountant

A management accountant is often a good route for newly qualified accountants as you can experiment with different things and discover your strengths. You’ll usually have the chance to work on both month end accounting and more commercial analytical work.

  • Financial Accountant

Financial accounts roles offer candidates the chance to acquire a highly specialised skillset and an opportunity to enter a business of their choice. As a Financial Accountant, you can contribute to the broader controls and year-end processes, ensuring compliance across the company.

  • Finance Manager

Industry experience at any level for a finance manager position is highly sought after, with the finance manager level the busiest in the market. Within this role, you’d usually provide strategic direction and development plans to increase profit and reduce risk.

  • Internal Auditor

Internal audit roles are very similar to external audit, the difference being that with internal auditing, you are examining risks and compliance within a single business. This means you can often participate in various strategy projects for upcoming changes and support the executive team in getting ready for them. You can also review existing processes and suggest how they can be enhanced.

  • Financial Analyst

There is a diverse skill set required for a Finance Analyst. Still, the key skills are usually having deep analytics knowledge and problem-solving abilities to translate the business needs into specific business requirements for solution providers to implement. 

So, if you’re a Newly Qualified Accountant wondering how to kick-start your career or are looking for advice on the Accountancy market, click here to get in touch with me to discuss your options.

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