Are you looking for a career where you can influence the strategy, direction and profitability of an organisation? Or maybe, a career that gives you the opportunity to make a real difference by ensuring your employer has the funds to deliver its charitable work? With a range of industries and sectors to work in, a career in chartered accountancy really does offer exciting and limitless opportunities.
Professional services and public practice
A public practice firm’s accountants deal with the accounting and financial needs of a client whilst remaining independent from their staff. Accountancy practices vary in size, type and location. They offer a range of services including:
- Audit and assurance
- Business advisory
- Business recovery and insolvency
- Corporate finance and risk management
- Forensic accounting
- Tax advice
Why work in public practice?
Public practice can be challenging, and can present trainees with a wide variety of experiences, working in multiple industries and providing a lot of flexibility.
This area of accountancy also offers an opportunity to specialise in areas such as audit or consultancy. Public practice is often seen as a sector that can offer job security, whereas other sectors can be hit hard by recession.
Routes into public practice
There are large international firms within public practice; these include the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms – PwC, EY, KPMG and Deloitte. There are also smaller accountancy firms, known as small and medium practices (SMP’s), so there is a lot of variety for graduates entering this area of accountancy. Specific entry roles into public practice include Audit Trainee, Assurance Trainee and Financial Analyst.
Business and financial services
A growing number of graduates are beginning their accountancy careers in banks and businesses. Whether you work in a large global organisation or a small business, working in this sector means that you will experience the full process of financial management and reporting. Typically, accountants working within financial services work in middle office banking roles such as monitoring trade activity. However, you will develop an understanding of IT, marketing, sales and operations.
You will be in a highly competitive environment at times, with rapidly-changing risks and constant demand for innovation. As your career progresses, you will bec
ome involved in making strategic decisions to drive the business forward, creating plans and leading change for business success.
Why work in business and financial services?
Working in this industry allows you to make strategic decisions and work towards the growth of a company, which can offer a great deal of personal satisfaction. Many choose to work in commerce within an industry that they are particularly passionate about, such as media or technology.
Routes into accountancy in industry
A common route into commerce and industry for accountants is to make the move once they have completed their three-year training agreements. This includes major commercial companies, such as those in the manufacturing, retail and telecoms industries, though many of these companies also offer ACA training through themselves.
Accountants are needed in all areas of industry to manage budgets, monitor the economic health of the company and to make important strategic decisions. Consequently, accountants often occupy the most senior positions in companies, all the way to the chief executive.
Financial services include global banks with departments that offer accountancy training, such as Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Macquarie.
Charity and not-for-profit
If you would like to use your skills to make an impact, then you may be looking at the charity and not-for-profit sector. There are a range of opportunities for accountants including working in a management accounting role, managing budgets and financial systems or liaising with budget holders and trustees to manage the needs of the organisation. You could also work for an auditing firm that specialises in the charity sector, delivering high-quality audit work, systems reviews and consultancies into the needs of charity clients.
Why work in charity and not-for-profit?
There are many reasons why working in a charity or not-for-profit organisation can make for a rewarding and satisfying career. This area of accountancy generally offers very gratifying work – knowing that you are helping an organisation that exists to make a positive difference in the world. This area of accountancy is also known to have a healthier work/life balance than other sectors.
Chartered Accountants in the public sector manage, distribute and invest finances in public services such as health, education, housing, emergency services and local authority services. They are constantly challenged to reduce expenditure and improve efficiency to ensure value for money. They are also in charge of holding government departments to account by monitoring spending.
Working in this sector means that you will be responsible for making sure that public money is being spent properly for the benefit of the nation. You will be helping local communities and changing people’s lives, while leading a successful and satisfying career.
Why work in the public sector?
Many graduates choose to develop their career in the public sector as it affords the opportunity to give something back to society. If you work in the public sector, you will quickly develop commercial and decision-making skills as you allocate and monitor resources – helping you to see that they are effectively and efficiently employed to give value for money. Additional benefits, such as good pension schemes and longer holidays can be a deciding factor when it comes to choosing to work in the public sector.