Career Advice for newly Qualified Accountants
With training contracts finishing soon and your qualification successfully attained, the first job you take can be an important decision to make. A newly qualified ACA accountant is an attractive candidate for many employers across a range of positions. This is your first opportunity to shape your career over the next 3-5 years. So, what comes next?
Should you stay working in practice beyond your training contract?
Whilst many people leave practice as soon as the training contract finishes, staying in practice is an option for many. There is strong demand from a variety of firms if you want to leave practice but staying can be a good option for some candidates.
Staying in practice may give you the opportunity to continue to build your skills and gain more traction with progression such as moving into management positions. Managing larger teams and being more exposed to stakeholders can bring with it its own learning curve and opportunities. Perhaps there may be the opportunity to start something fresh within your company such as moving departments also bringing with it new learnings.
If you are coming from a small or medium sized firm, moving to one of the Big 4 will give you exposure to larger multinational clients, which can make you more attractive to these companies down the line.
There are many things to consider when deciding to stay in practice or move. Are there opportunities for new learnings in your current company? Is it the right cultural fit for you to stay? Is there the opportunity for a higher pay if you move? These are all factors to consider when thinking about staying in practice or making a move.
What kind of industry should you be looking at?
As you are just at the beginning of your career, deciding on your first job outside of practice can bring with it the opportunity to steer your career in a new direction. This brings with it a tough decision. Some will want to move to join a larger company with a strong reputation, others will want a better work/life balance. It is important to take all your personal preferences into consideration when looking at your next move. Here are some areas to consider:
Commerce & Industry
This is a particularly good avenue to consider if you are a good problem solver and have strong ability to think on your feet. If you decide to go down the SME road, you will have the opportunity to help guide and monitor businesses perhaps in their early stages of success. Should you decide to go down this avenue with a larger company you will also have the opportunity to engage with high level stakeholders to help them make financial decisions that are vital to the business. Large companies may also give you the opportunity to work internationally.
This is a flavour of just a few of the avenue you could consider. However, it is important to research the full breadth of roles and opportunities available to you as a newly qualified accountant.
This is a fast-moving industry for accountants. With constant changes to legislation and regulations you will have the opportunity to continually learn, grow your knowledge and strategize. These roles can offer a wide range of exposure to different industries and give you scope to move disciplines internally. It can give you the opportunity to gain insight into the entirely of the business.
This is often the most popular field for those who are newly qualified but the competition is high. Strong academic records along with high levels of enthusiasm are required to explore this avenue should you decide to go down this road. It will give you the opportunity to work in a variety of fields including insurance, asset management, and investment to name a few. This can bring with it a range of experiences in itself and working for these companies while following this career path can bring with it the opportunity to learn from a range of challenges in a more diverse role.
What kind of salary should you expect?
Salary is an important factor when making the decision to move into a new role. This can be largely dependent on the company/industry you decide to work within. The general consensus deems the salary to be between €45,000 and €55,000 for a newly qualified accountant. It is important to take into consideration a range of factors when viewing salary. Is the overall package good? Is there benefits such as your pension and health insurance?
Don’t forget to take into consideration the possibility of career progression too. Often a company can offer you a high salary to start with but in turn there may not be much opportunity to grow and learn within the organisation. It is important to take all these factors in when making a decision about your next job.
Should you talk to a recruiter?
This is an excellent opportunity to have an open and frank conversation with someone around the job role you want to progress into and gain insight and guidance into the current job market. A good recruiter will be able to match you with a company suited to you, the role you want, make sure the company culture is the right fit and listen to your needs throughout the process.
A recruiter will also give you a competitive edge and can guide you through the interview process and will be able to ensure the hiring manager makes a decision should you be interviewing with a variety of companies.
What if you fail the FAEs?
If this happens, don’t worry it is not the end of the world. You can decide on repeating your exams the following year however, this means your best option is likely to stay in practice. An alternative option may be to look at the ACCA qualification which offers a lot of flexibility. There is still a wide range of opportunities available to you.
If you would like more information on available roles, or to talk about the next step in your career, feel free to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or view our latest job vacancies here or follow us on LinkedIn to keep up to date with the latest industry news and trends.