Should I stay in practice or move to industry?
Remaining in practice or jumping across to industry is a question that arises for many newly qualified accountants. Ideally during your training, your firm should give you a broad range of experience, across varied departments and also experience working with clients in different industries. This will of course depend on the size and the structure of the firm, but if you have some ideas of sectors that you would be keen to work in then don't be afraid to ask your line manager about specific possibilities. Gaining valuable insights in a number of sectors will put you in a stronger position of knowing which one you might want to move into. At the same time, getting exposure to different sectors will reap dividends for your CV.
That said, staying in practice shouldn't be seen as the easy option. It's never too early to plan. Think about what you want to achieve over the next three to five years and be proactive by having a meeting with your line manager or HR department to see how this can be achieved.
Big versus small?
If you are moving from a big public practice firm to a smaller practice firm, do make sure you are happy to make that shift in scale. Remember it will be much harder to move from a small company to a multinational five or 10 years down the line. At the same time, moving to a smaller practice firm can sometimes mean less of a rigid structure. You could take on more responsibility earlier in your career and rise up the ladder much quicker.
One of the great benefits for newly qualified accountants – particularly if you are in your early-to-mid 20s – is that you may have relatively few ties or commitments. If so, this is the perfect time to consider working abroad. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, building up international experience and having a good understanding of regulatory requirements in different jurisdictions can put you in a very good position when you return home.
But be warned: compared to five or 10 years ago, getting a job abroad is not always a shoo-in. Those who have chosen to stay in popular accountancy hot spots will be ahead of you for local roles. Make sure that you do your homework about different regions when it comes to the culture, work ethics, the cost of living and whether the role will enhance your CV. After all, this shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity for a working gap-year.
Don't be lured by money alone
Try to avoid falling into the trap of jumping straight into the first well-paid job that comes along. Mark Primrose, who qualified six years ago and is now a technical manager for a fund administration firm in Jersey concurs. "Don't be lured by money alone,” he says. “It's where you go with your role rather than just thinking about the entry level.”
Some companies, in order to attract people into the role could pay above the market rate, but in reality the job may not be great for your career prospects or suited to your skills.
Ongoing training and mentoring
Qualifying is no mean feat and after all that hard work and studying, you probably want to banish the thought of further courses for a while. However, the reality is whatever stage you are at in your career, building up new skills, both technical and managerial, is imperative. Make sure your employer is going to be progressive and give you the right training. Primrose adds, "You need an employer that's going to bring you on. The reality is very different to Examland."
Andre Boland, an accountant based in New Zealand, also believes finding the right mentor is important. "I was allocated a mentor at my work,” Boland says. “He is an audit manager and has been somebody that has been looking out for me the whole way. In any organisation there will be people that will take the time out and invest in you. It is just about finding them."
Gain leadership skills as early on as possible "Being able to supervise, manage and coach others in your team are crucial skills you need to develop early on in your career,” advises Abigail Stevens, managing director of Think Global Recruitment. Being able to delegate and take on this responsibility shouldn't be taken lightly. Not everyone is a natural manager, so if you struggle in certain areas do talk to your line manager or HR department to see what courses you can go on to improve your leadership skills.
Show your commercial nous /cross-sell services
Today's accountants, and certainly those hoping to progress fast, need to show they are far more than a number cruncher and have commercial flair too. As Stevens explains, "Meet other departments in your firm to find out what they could offer your client. Having this understanding means you can be quick off the mark to spot opportunities and cross-sell your firm's services.”
If you lack the confidence to go direct to your client or feel it's not appropriate in your role, then talk to your manager who can progress the lead.
Make sure you prepare for interviews
Don't be blasé about the interview process. Having your accountancy qualification isn't a guarantee you can waltz into your next role. Take time researching the company, reach out to your network and peers to find out what working life is really like and think about what tricky questions you might be asked. At the same time, don't expect your interview to be based purely based on technical knowledge and experience. Employers want to see what type of person you are and how you would get on with others in the company. Think of examples from outside of work that demonstrate impressive or different achievements from the norm.
Successful career planning will involve some careful thought and you will need to be realistic about your objectives. If you make some smart decisions and career choices in the few years after qualifying, you will have laid firm foundations for building a very successful career in your 30s and later life.
Simon Wright is operations director at CareersinAudit.com
Article courtesy of Economia
Posted on Monday Jun 22