Jul 3, 2024
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Your Career in Finance - Post Qualification

Jul 3, 2024
Jul 2, 2024
Senior Finance Articles

Your Career in Finance - Post Qualification

Do I stay or do I go?

Becoming a fully qualified Chartered Accountant is a remarkable achievement that requires immense dedication and sacrifice. Balancing your studies with work, family, and a social life is no small feat, and you’ve managed to do it successfully! This qualification not only symbolises your hard work but also opens numerous doors for your career advancement. After you have celebrated your achievement, you may then ask yourself is now the time to make the move into an industry role or stay within your accountancy practice...

Staying in Practice

Once you have qualified, there is a natural feeling of wanting the next challenge. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to move into an industry role however, as there is an abundance of opportunities to stay within your practice role. While transitioning into industry is a proven and effective career plan, it may not be suitable for everyone. This decision holds significant weight in the early stages of an Accountant's career, with various factors to carefully consider:

  • Some of the most rewarding and senior roles in finance (not to mention reward packages too!) are held by people who have stayed in practice to Manager, Senior Manager, and Director level. More have made it to Partner, CFO, and CEO, working in organisations that are doing great things.
  • Audit Manager is a very privileged position to be in and a great learning space. You are more exposed to business owners – guiding and advising them on their investments and business plans. With more flexibility and the opportunity to influence which clients you work with; this is often the most rewarding time in your practice career and an opportunity to create a broad frame of reference for many of the decisions you will be making later in your career.
  • Managers get to see the real successes and challenges of business (and not just what PR and social media tell us). They are in the heart of the business – the engine room and the board room.
  • Every newly qualified accountant will make mistakes and will learn from them. When in practice, there will be controls in place, and support to highlight them to ensure that they become development points and not bigger problems. Roles in industry could be less forgiving, less constructive in development advice, and come with higher immediate expectations.

Moving to Industry

Interestingly, 58% of newly qualified ACCA, CIMA and ACA/ICAEW staff move once they have qualified. Transitioning from an accountancy practice to an industry role could significantly enhance your career. Here are key reasons why this move could be beneficial:

  • Industry roles expose Accountants to various business operations beyond traditional financial reporting and auditing. This broader scope enhances business acumen and can make you a more versatile professional.
  • Industry roles often come with more predictable working hours, allowing for a healthier balance between professional and personal life.
  • In industry, there are great opportunities to advance to senior management positions, such as CFO or CEO, compared to an often very competitive path to partnership in accountancy firms.
  • Industry Accountants work on diverse tasks that directly impact their organisation, making the job very interesting and fulfilling.
  • Industry roles often offer competitive salaries, bonuses, stock options, and comprehensive benefits, providing great financial rewards.
  • Accountants in industry roles contribute directly to the success and growth of their company, leading to great job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

Transitioning to an industry role offers numerous benefits, from diverse experiences and at times a more structured work-life balance, great stability in the right company and career advancement opportunities. For qualified Accountants, this move can be a strategic step towards a rewarding career.

Salary benchmarking

As an employee, understanding how your salary compares to others in similar roles can be empowering and validating. Here’s why salary benchmarking matters to you:

  1. Validation of Efforts: Recognising that your compensation aligns with industry standards can affirm that your hard work and contributions are valued.
  2. Negotiation Power: Equipped with benchmark data, you can confidently negotiate raises or promotions, knowing that your requests are grounded in industry norms.
  3. Career Planning: Understanding salary ranges helps you set realistic career goals and expectations, aiding in your professional growth and development

We never advise any candidate to make a career decision on salary alone, and we never judge any offer just on the basic salary. However, it has always been the dominant feature in candidate motivation, and it is fascinating to see where the market currently sits.

  • Over 90% of ACA newly qualified Accountants have been looking for a salary and car allowance package of at least £50,000.
  • The average base salary for all newly qualified is around £45,000 - £50,000.
  • Candidate expectations are a pay rise of between 10 to 15% for moving jobs after qualifying.

To Summarise

Achieving your Chartered Accountant qualification is a monumental step in your career. The next phase involves strategic planning and exploring the opportunities available to you; this will allow you to make the right choice to suit you and where you want your career to go. At Pratap Partnership we are experienced in helping our candidates through this important part of their career so please get in touch to see how we can help and to discuss the live roles we are currently working on.

Leighton Thomas – Read my Q&A here

Mobile: 07732 495 873

Email: leighton@pratappartnership.com

Read my other 'Your Career in Finance' Articles in my series here:

Nik Pratap
Lorraine Pratap
Elise Walsh
Gillian McBride
Nicola Worrow
Amanda O’Neill
Karen Caswell
Dale Spink
Stacey Rhodes
Charlotte Morgan-Smith
Jess Lister
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Claire Screeton
Claire Screeton
Euan Begbie
Euan Begbie
Marie Carroll
Marie Carroll
Lucy Miles
Nicola Beach
Leighton Thomas

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