At this time of year, this is the phrase we hear most from newly qualified ACA’s. As they come onto the market during September and October, it is often the first chance they have had to properly consider their future after intense studying, and though there are a number of options available to them with their excellent qualification, “I want a commercial role” is often the first thing they say to us. Our answer of “Such as?” is almost always met with silence or a vague job title like Corporate Finance Executive.
We’re generalising of course – there are NQ’s who have had their career mapped in detail from day one and know exactly where they want to go next – but overall, the general sentiment is that the grass is probably greener in commerce and that they want to get out of audit into a role with as little financial reporting as possible. When we dig deeper, it becomes clearer that what they often want is to add real value to a business – to take information prepared by the Financial, Management or Group Accountants and analyse then translate it into valued information. While this goal is admirable, the frustrating reality for many NQ candidates is that the majority of roles when moving out of practice will still contain a reporting element to some degree, but in our opinion, this isn’t what they should be focusing on.
Now is actually the time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture – where do you ultimately want to be and what do you need to do to reach that goal? Most FD’s and Commercial Leads in any organisation will at some point have been responsible for preparing Financial Statements including balance sheet, income and cash flow statements. If a senior leadership role in either a blue chip or an SME is the goal, then evidence of producing statutory accounts and financial statements could give you a genuine competitive edge. Realistically, choosing a role for one or two years that affords experience of encapsulating a company’s operating performance and its financial position is more likely to lead to a better commercial role as a second move, and potentially the FD and CFO roles later.
If you have recently qualified and want to learn more about what moves are open to you in the current market, or want advice on the optimal stepping stone role to give you the best chance of reaching your ultimate goal, then talk to us today.