A career in chartered accountancy offers exciting and limitless opportunities, with a range of industries and sectors to work in. Whether you want to influence the strategy, direction and profitability of an organisation, or make a difference by ensuring your employer has the funds to deliver its charitable work, find out where a career in accountancy could take you.
Business and financial services
Whether you choose to work for a small business or a large global organisation, an increasing number of graduates are beginning their accountancy careers in banks and businesses. Working in this sector typically means you gain experience of the full process of financial management and reporting.
If you work in financial services you may find yourself in middle office banking roles such as monitoring trade activity. You will work in a highly competitive environment, with rapidly-changing risks and constant demand for innovation. You will gain an understanding of IT, marketing, sales and operations.
As your career progresses in financial services, you will be 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 business and financial services allows you to work in commerce within an industry that you are passionate about, such as media or technology. A career in this area allows you to make strategic decisions and work towards the growth of the company, which can offer a great deal of personal satisfaction.
Routes into accountancy in industry
A common route is by making the move once you have completed your training agreement. You could find yourself working for major commercial companies such as those in manufacturing, retail and telecoms industries. You may find that many of these companies offer ACA training themselves.
Financial service firms may include global banks such as Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Macquarie, some of which will offer accountancy training.
A Chartered Accountant in the public sector manage, distribute and invest finances in public services such as education, housing, health, emergency services and local authority services. If you work in the public sector, you will be constantly challenged to reduce expenditure and improve efficiency to ensure value for money.
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, and you will be in charge of holding government departments to account by monitoring spending.
You will also, of course, be helping local communities and changing people’s lives while leading a successful and satisfying career.
Why work in the public sector?
There are a lot of benefits to working in the public sector, and many choose this route because it enables them 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 which will help you see that they are effectively and efficiently employed to give value for money.
Another deciding factor for those wanting to work in the public sector are the number of benefits that come with it, including a good pension scheme and longer holidays.
Professional services and public practice
An accountant in public practice deals with the accounting and financial needs of a client whilst remaining independent from their staff.
These practices vary in size, type and location, as well as what services they offer. This could include;
- Business advisory
- Audit and assurance
- Business recovery and insolvency
- Corporate finance and risk management
- Forensic accounting
- Tax advice
Why work in public practice?
Public practice can be challenging, but it does present trainees with a wide variety of experiences working in multiple industries and providing lots of flexibility. It is often seen as a sector that can offer job security, as other sectors can be hit hard by recession.
There is also the chance to specialise in areas such as audit or consultancy in this area of accountancy.
Routes in to public practice
Large international firms sit within public practice, so there is a lot of variety for graduates entering this area. Companies such as the “Big Four” accountancy firms – PwC, EY, KPMG and Deloitte all sit within this sector.
On the other end of the scale there are also the smaller accountancy firms, known as the small and medium enterprises, or SME’s. They both have their benefits and their drawbacks so be sure to do your research before you decide which firm is right for you. Specific entry roles into public practice include Audit Trainee, Assurance Trainee and Financial Analyst.
Charity and not-for-profit
Those who work in the charity and not-for-profit sector do so because they want their skills to make a difference. There are a range of opportunities for accountants in the charity and not-for-profit sector 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 work for an auditing firm that specialises in the charity sector, delivering high-quality audit work, systems reviews and consultancies into the needs for charity clients.
Why work in Charity and not for profit?
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 known to have a healthier work/life balance than other sectors.