Accountancy Industry – Is The Grass Greener?

Posted August 7 2018 By Hollie McKnight


The Accountancy market in Edinburgh is a thriving, flourishing one. The Financial District has been garnering plenty of traction in business titles as it continues to evolve and grow. As a recruiter, it’s exciting to be a specialist in a market that is so buoyant.

One frequently asked question amongst Accountancy candidates is a fairly complex one: Is the grass greener in Industry or should I look to Practice?

It seems prudent, therefore, to examine this question in depth, as it is one that is raised so often. There are many preconceived ideas – some true, others not – about both the Industry and Practice sides of the market.

If you were to look at Industry, one of the things that jumps out is the fact that there is no business development to be done – which can be a plus for those candidates who prefer not to be on the phone, clocking up call times with clients. Since you are working exclusively with one client, there is no need to try and secure more business.

Working with just one client, in turn, entails that you can have a hand in building up a business from a strategic point of view; making analytical and calculated decisions to benefit your client. There is also the potential to get involved with projects at a more senior level, for example, corporate finance.

Industry roles in general are also initially more lucrative in terms of basic salary and the work / life balance on offer to candidates.

However, having said all of that, it could be argued that it is more difficult for a candidate to become an “all-rounder” in the market as you are, ultimately, responsible for the needs of one client. It is easy to become entrenched in the needs of that one business, preventing you from gaining a fuller understanding of how businesses operate across several markets and specialisms.

Therefore, if candidates were to look to Practice roles, they might realise that it has as many positives to offer as Industry. Graduates tend to gravitate towards the programmes offered by the Big 4 as they are seen as expansive and progressive with plenty of opportunities to engage in further training and employee nights out. It’s also easier to secure a graduate position within Practice than it is in Industry.

Within these bigger set ups, there is also a higher chance of career progression – in an SME even more so than within the Big 4 – as you are exposed to a much more well-rounded Accountancy experience, and organisational structures with less layers of management. There is the chance to hone your business development skills as you build your desk with multiple clients. You are more likely to challenge yourself as you seek to build on client relationships, understanding that the needs and deadlines of each client is unique.

Working within SME practice, you will develop certain habits that will help your career for the rest of your working life. You’ll learn to seek out dedication and excellence, have professional skepticism and be able to take a broader view of a business. These are all skills that will serve you well in any other firm you choose to join – be it Industry or Practice.

If you are interested in pursuing Accountancy roles, across all specialisms of the market, I would love to help match you to an exciting career path. You can get in touch with me by calling 0131 357 5333 or emailing



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