Facebook Tracking

Connecting to LinkedIn...

Back to all Blogs


Posted almost 5 years ago by Rob Gibbons

Macs 10

As a newly qualified accountant, there are a wide range of opportunities available to you in Finance and this is the stage in your career which will have the biggest long-term impact. Understanding the different paths available and most suited to you is key when planning your career in Finance.

Having spent the last few years focused on passing exams, working towards clear targets and building a close network of peers, you may now find yourself in a position of figuring out what comes next, and how best to go out and get it.

There are a number of important factors to consider when thinking about leaving Practice once qualified, including the type of role, business and industries to target, as well as the small matter of how much you should be getting paid.


What kind of role?

If you are nearing the final stages of your accountancy qualifications, you will be thinking about the areas of your certificate that you have enjoyed the most, and the experience built up on the way. Your first move out of Practice can accelerate you on the right path towards the area of Finance you see yourself working in for the rest of your career. It's important at this stage to think about your short, medium and long-term goals and how best to achieve them.

There are plenty of opportunities following qualification in Practice, with some more easily achievable than others:

  • Management Accounting
  • Financial Accounting
  • Analysis & Business Partnering
  • Group Accounting
  • Internal Audit
  • Financial Reporting



Management Accounting

Management Accountants are responsible for providing daily, weekly and monthly financial information which is used to make key commercial decisions in the business. As well as month-end processes, you will also gain more exposure to analysis of budgets and forecasts, and providing financial support to non-finance managers across the business

Financial Accounting

Taking a role as a Financial Accountant will allow you to build on your strong technical knowledge in a commercial business environment. This is a good starting point in industry to then move into a more commercially focused role, or progress into a Financial Controller and leadership position. Gaining the right technical experience early in your career can be the key to unlocking sought after FD & CFO opportunities in the future.

Internal Audit

Internal Audit is generally the most seamless and accessible move from practice into Industry. Taking a role in Internal Audit can be a very smart step, providing you with a high-level view of a business and the ability to build strong internal networks, making a senior internal move much easier down the line.

Analysis & Business Partnering

If you have a commercial and business focused mind-set and the ability to work with non-finance functions, then you may be more drawn towards an analytical role. This will encompass elements of financial modelling, commercial analysis and business partnering with non-finance teams. This can be a tough move to make straight from Practice, given you will have a lack of exposure to the  commercial side of a business, and is generally a highly competitive area.

Group Accounting

Similar to Internal Audit, Group Accounting offers a great high-level view of a business and can be a smooth transition from practice. As a highly visible role in the business, it's also a good "stepping­ stone" before progressing into more commercial areas of an organization, whilst sharpening your technical skills and growing internal networks.

Financial Reporting

The main duty of reporting teams is to interpret financial information and communicate the story of the business to senior management. These positions can give you a great view of the business, without delving too deep into the accounting or analysis. Generally these roles will involve a mix of accounting/analysis and offer good variety.

Think about what you want out of your career; the type of role, the hours you want to put in and where you see yourself in 5 years time. Do you see yourself working towards an FD or CFO position where you are a leader within an organization? Or do you see yourself becoming a Subject Matter Expert in a specific field. If you don't have a specific goal, choose a path that broadens your experience and skillset, to keep your options open.



What sort of businesses should you target?

Once you have decided what role you want to specialise in, you should start to think about the type of business you want to work for. The main thing to consider here may be whether you see yourself working for a "blue chip" large organisation or whether you lean more towards working for a more SME type business.

There are pros and cons to consider for both so ask yourself what factors are important to you and prioritize these. Factors to consider include training, level of responsibility, breadth and depth of role, salary and scope for long-term progression. If you are moving to a FTSE100 business you are likely to be given much more scope to rotate and progress around different functions and roles in the business. If you are joining a smaller firm, you will have a broader role and the opportunity to make a bigger impact from day one.

Having trained in Audit you will have developed an in-depth understanding of your clients over your training period - hopefully across a range of industries and a variety of sizes of business. Think about the types of challenges those businesses were facing and what you found attractive about working for them.

“Whilst working in practice can offer a variety of experience across a range of clients and sectors, a move to industry can offer more direct commercial exposure for those with a genuine interest in business.” Says Ivan Trevor, Finance Director at Travis Perkins, a Northampton-based FTSE listed business.

On the variety available in Industry, Ivan added “Finance tends to touch every aspect of the enterprise, and joining at a newly qualified level from practice, particularly into large corporates often comes with the opportunity to rotate around different disciplines and teams within finance to give an invaluable and broad foundation which can shape careers towards more senior finance positions and ultimately FD or CFO.



Explore the Market 

Keep an open mind about the size and types of organisations you would like to approach - treat the interview process as an opportunity to build a picture of the market and challenge any biases you may have held previously. It is only once you have had interviews and researched various industries that you will start to get a clear picture of the direction you want to take.

We always recommend taking an open, yet targeted, approach and trusting the Consultants at Macildowie to help guiding you into the right environment. We know our clients intimately, understanding the culture, the people, the line manager and the possibilities for progression. By helping us to understand your goals and ambitions we can match you with businesses you will likely not have previously considered.

“Think about what other experiences you can highlight and draw out your personality as far as you can – recruiting from practice generally means technical quality as standard, beyond that I tend to recruit on attitude and cultural fit.  To that end, think about what kind of company you want to work for and what you bring to a team – good Consultants spend time working with corporates to understand what type of individuals will fit the organization and matching personality is as important as matching experience.”



Staying Put

Another option is staying at your current organisation and certainly there are a lot of benefits and opportunities here. You understand the business, know the culture and have established existing relationships internally. You may have had conversations with your line manager about succession planning and meeting your long-term goals.

It may be that you aren't 100% sure on what your long-term ambitions are yet and so sticking out in Practice until you figure this out may be the best option.


Salary & Package

One of the most important and most tricky areas to research when moving from Practice is around how much you should be looking for on salary. Following the traditional career trajectory of a newly qualified accountant, it is unlikely that you will have gone through an interview and salary negotiation process many times before, so it's important to seek advice from your Consultant and know your worth in the market.
Be honest about what you are currently earning and what your career aspirations are. Think back to your long-term goals and whether you are prioritizing short-term financial gains over long term ambitions. 

Salary depends on many factors (size of business, location, quality of your CV and experience, etc) but as a general rule in the East Midlands for a role within Industry, you would be looking at between £40,000 and £45,000 base salary.

If you are looking at roles further south in London, in industries such as Law or Financial Services then this can be higher, up to £55,000. Equally, if you are looking to relocate further North or reviewing roles in Public Sector or Not-for-profit then you will generally be looking at a lower salary banding.




Next Steps

Building your professional network is key to progress your career and open yourself up to opportunities in the market which might otherwise slip under the radar. Leverage our expansive local network of clients and candidates by attending our LinkedIn and Future Leaders academies.

To speak with an expert in Qualified Finance Recruitment covering a local market, get in touch with Macildowie to arrange a face to face consultation and discuss all of the opportunities and challenges outlined above.

Browse our live vacancies in Qualified Finance by clicking here.