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Is now a good time to leave a job in practice and move to industry?

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For a lot of freshly ACA qualified accountants, their first question to us will be "is now a good time to be leaving my job in practice for industry?". The simple answer is, yes. The finance department is becoming more vital than ever to businesses during the pandemic and there is increasing demand within industry to fill out teams. 

Industry can offer many opportunities that aren't available in abundance within practice, and some not at all. Many find in-house work rewarding as it provides a chance to stand out and make an impact within a single business through continuity and focus. 

Industry can offer the widest range of career options and specialist routes for someone who is ACA qualified. These are not just tied to accountancy or finance, you may find yourself interested in moving to a more operation role within your chosen business. 

Below we define some potential avenues for a newly qualified ACA within commerce & industry. 

Group Accountant - In this role, you will typically have some quick exposure to senior individuals across the business, whether this is In-country FDs and FCs or perhaps Divisional Finance Directors/Heads of. You will be involved in providing the consolidated information for the business which will be of keen interest to the board. Group roles can range from being the centre of excellence for technical accounting, producing statutory accounts through to Group Financial Analysis and Planning.

Financial Accountant - This will involve statutory reporting, preparing full sets of accounts, balance sheet, profit and loss and cash flow, balance sheet reconciliations, compliance and reporting. This can provide a great opportunity to get into an industry that excites you. Some feel that they may have specialised for three years and do not want to continue doing a similar role. However, these roles provide the opportunity to gain knowledge of the organisation quickly whilst your core responsibilities may be more familiar to you. Some businesses will offer this to you as a 12-18 month option to gain knowledge before moving on to broaden your experience in other divisions/disciplines.

Management Accountant - Broadly speaking we are now into the more forward-looking roles and you will likely be up against those that have qualified in industry through industry programmes such as the CIMA qualification. Your experience may enable you to bring an interesting perspective to a commercial role and some of the larger organisations will have the time and resource to make sure you receive the proper guidance and training to help you reach your full potential. In this role, you will be exposed to budgeting and forecasting, management accounts, variance analysis and month-end P&L.

Financial Analyst – Diving further into the commercials, this role is the least business-critical so there tend to be fewer of these roles and they are generally the most competitive. In these roles, you will typically be involved in partnering closely with your non-finance counterparts from your supporting divisions (sales & marketing for example). You will likely be more involved in the allocation of resource or the potential weighting of investment in order to either generate more revenue or reduce cost. You will do this through P&L analysis, variance analysis, profitability analysis and market/competitor analysis.

Our second most asked question from newly qualified ACAs? "What do I do next?". Well, your first steps are to update your CV to effectively demonstrate your skills and experience so that internal and external recruiters know all the relevant information. Contact us now if you'd like to discuss your move to industry further.