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Newly Qualified ACA? What next?

almost 3 years ago by Phil Dye
Icaew

There is no trickier career crossroads than the one you will encounter when you are newly qualified. The ACA qualification can put you one step ahead of the competition, so should you further your career in practice, or make the move to industry? There is no right and wrong and it’s almost 50/50 in terms of stats of who does what, but leaving practice for a role in commerce is a major step and isn’t for everyone. 

Working in partnership with a specialist recruiter who will understand your career ambitions as well as guide you into the market is by far the best policy. Here are some things we believe you should consider:

Remaining in practice:

Many NQ ACA’s know that they would miss the client interaction they have had, as well as the chance to work across sectors and with companies of varying sizes, so a move into industry doesn’t appeal to them. If this is you, then there are still options you may want to consider:

1. Stay where you are

A fantastic career plan may be staring you straight in the face with your current employer – but it’s worth thrashing out with your superiors the path you want to take. Retention is high on their agenda, so they will listen.

2. Move to another practice

A change of environment or a better career map ahead of you may be at another practice. You will probably have a counter offer to deal with should you pursue this route, as your employer would prefer the return on their investment rather than see you leave for a competitor.

3. Change specialism

If you have specialised and studied for a long time in one area, it might be that changing to something else after qualification is the right move. Again, this could be internally or at another practice.

Moving to industry: 

If you have a long-term goal, then there may be an obvious route for you, but the most common positions to consider are:

Group Accounting

A Group Accountant role offers a top down view of how the business operates; sitting within the Group function allows a greater overview of how the business works. These roles also offer plenty of opportunity to interact with individuals at a senior level.

Financial Accountant

A Financial Accountant role has a more technically orientated slant. These roles are perfect for someone looking to adapt and apply their technical experience gained in practice within the commerce and industry environment. These roles are a stepping-stone to a Financial Controller position.

Management Accountant

The role of a Management Accountant sits within the head office finance team and provides the financial information that will ultimately be used by senior members to make decisions.

Financial Planning & Analysis

Financial Planning & Analysis is for the more commercially minded. An FP&A Analyst scrutinises the company’s finances looking for data anomalies, trends and deviations. This can then be used to introduce strategy for improvement and change.

As well as the actual role, there are a number of other considerations you should discuss with your recruiter, who will be able to advise on where might be the best fit for you, in terms of corporate culture and career progression. It’s also important to consider which sector you might want to move into and the size of the employer. Above all, don’t settle for anything less than a role and industry that excites you!