So, you are either newly qualified or recently qualified and you have reached the crossroads in your career. After completing your training in audit, accounts preparation or management accounts you feel for certain it is time for a change in direction of your day job and the bright lights of commercial finance are calling your name.
However, given the current availability of vacancies in the market based upon the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important now more than ever to carefully weigh up your options and consider what move is going to continue adding value to your career and help achieve your end goal.
In this article, we will be briefly exploring how to weigh your options between financial accounting positions and commercial finance and why both can be equally as valuable to your career path.
When we talk about financial accounting positions, we are often looking at roles that feature a financial controls element in their day to day duties. As well as the standard duties such as the preparation of financial statements, statutory accounts, VAT & Tax work etc there is a big opportunity to get some added value-based work on your CV.
This regularly comes through working on continuous improvement projects based around existing reporting processes, controls and systems. Often when organisations are investing in qualified staff for these roles they are looking for candidates that can bring new ideas with them to assist in streamlining the departments work processes, seeking out cost-saving efficiencies and getting the best out of the team around them.
Often you can find yourself getting exposure to system-based work as well such as road-mapping for a new ERP/software/database implementation or working on a migration project which further down the line can be a pivotal experience to draw upon when you are in a position to be applying for senior leadership roles.
This is a rather broad area of finance but often we are approached by candidates specifically seeking out these types of role in the shape of FP&A, Analyst or Business Partnering positions.
Frequently these types of roles give you as the candidate an opportunity to work with the business and its stakeholders to provide insight into business performance and highlighting key areas to drive profit for the organisation.
Typical duties you will find at this level as a newly qualified will be working with stakeholders and budget holders in the business, reviewing budgets & forecasts and analysing results, reviewing KPIs and considering costs, margins, profit by product etc that overall affects the performance of the business.
The key thing to remember when taking your next step is what you want to achieve in your career. You will rarely find CFOs or Finance Directors who have not carried out their fair share of financial and technical accounting positions post-qualifying as well as picking up the commercial experience along the way.
You will find that commercial finance roles will often still feature some tasks that are often associated with technical roles such as financial reporting and consolidations. What is to say that picking up a financial accounting role now for 2 - 3 years working closely with a high calibre mentor won’t give you enough experience and exposure to seek out that dream commercial role in the future?
It is important to delve into the finer detail of the role, do not take the job title for granted or specification as an exhaustive list of what the job will entail. Consider what internal/external relationships you will be fostering within that business, what are the businesses strategic objectives and which areas can you add value in the business if you were to join.
If you'd like to discuss your career path further, please don't hesitate to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org