Financial Accounting Skills Gap - Part 2

With the unprecedented rise in demand for technically strong accountants for the 2nd part of our articles we have spent some time talking to some of the best technical accountants who have made the move to industry across the region

Jul 29, 2021
CFO News Article

With the unprecedented rise in demand for technically strong accountants for Financial Accounting & Group Reporting roles, we provided an overview of the background in our article last week (click here ). We have spent some time talking to some of the best technical accountants who have made the move to industry across the region and have summarised their key comments below;

 

·       Ambitions to become a Finance Director have been the main motivator for moving from practice to industry.

·       Technical accounting roles represent a very smooth transition from practice to industry and have allowed these candidates to hit the ground running and keep a lot of forward momentum in their careers.

·       Practice training gives a real differentiator to many candidates – high level technical training and exposure of working with a variety of clients, not to mention giving a network of advisers for the rest of their career.

 

Many accountants have made smart decisions to stay in practice and progress further. Joe, Ben, Kieran and Emma took the decisions to move to industry shortly after qualifying;

 

Joe Ascroft moved from Deloitte to Source Bio Science as Group Accountant in January;

What attracted me to move from practice to my role was the opportunity to "be the client" and see things from the other side. Having gained fuller exposure to how the business I work in functions, because you are there every day, then gives greater insight into how pieces slot into the bigger picture. 

I see a technical role as being one which still allows a transition into the full spectrum of other roles but also is a box tick to then move upwards later where you might manage people in technical roles.

 

Ben Rapinet moved BHP to ELG Utica Alloys as Financial Accountant last July;

A number of motivations lead to my decision to move to industry;

·        Instead of managing a portfolio of clients(who in reality you have very little control over), you are managing your own team and finances. Hard work in one month to improve a process directly translates in time savings the following month, which overall improves your work quality of life.  Compare that with practice, you solve one client’s problem and a new one pops up straight after. You have a lot less control over your own workload.

·       An improved work/life balance. It is not necessarily about earning more money but improving your 'working/free time' balance while earning enough to maintain a lifestyle you enjoy. 

Some accountants love to be really technical and keep up to date with all the really fine details of accounting, not me! I always wanted to be high level finance, overseeing the ultimate decisions but would much rather ring our own accountants/auditors when I need to get into the nitty gritty. Too many employers expected this of a first-time mover and I never wanted to be this “oracle of knowledge” that some companies expected from a technical role. For example, Irun the South African finance team and I do not know anything about South African financial GAAP. I have a good overall knowledge of finance and provide valuable assistance to the team out there, but if I ever need any South Africa specific knowledge, I ring up our accountants out there, ask their opinion, and then make the final decision.

 

Kieran Lewis moved from KPMG to Fulcrum as Financial Accountant in March

 

I left practice for a role in industry that involved technical accounting because I wanted to use the skills I had developed and the knowledge I had gained from audit to perform a role that provided real value to a business - I wanted to be able to provide the answers to technical questions in the first place, and not just come in later on to check they had been answered correctly!

I saw my role in technical accounting perhaps leading to a Finance Business Partner role, and then ultimately onto a financial controller or director position

 

Emma Lindop is Financial Controller at Morgan Sindall having qualified with Grant Thornton

Having studied ACA alongside on the job experience in audit / preparing statutory accounts, I feel as though I gained exposure to different types of clients in multiple industries, and knew my strengths and interests were more suited to the statutory and technical reporting in the longer term.

 

Making the move from practice to industry comes with challenges and can be a daunting process. It feels like the Finance Business Partner and Commercial Finance roles shout a lot louder about their charms than their technical equivalents!

It is no surprise to hear that so many accountants have ambitions to become Finance Directors, but it is worth remembering that there are over 2,000 Finance Directors across Yorkshire and they all have a variety of roles and depths of challenges. Some of the highest profile financial leadership roles, offering the best rewards and levels of job satisfaction are in complex businesses, across plcs and private equity and with international operations. Qualifying in practice can give an advantage for some of these roles, but does not fully equip anyone for those challenges. Staying in practice or moving into technical roles represents the smoothest transition and consolidates the experience significantly.

 

In our next article, we will talk to a number of clients who lead departments responsible for financial reporting.

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