Do you pursue a career in an accountancy firm or out in the business world? At Benjamin Edwards we find jobs for financiers and accountants in accountancy firms (practice) and in-house roles in a business (industry). Both areas are fulfilling for those with a finance qualification. Let’s look at the differences of Practice v Industry.
Accounting practices offer professional services to both public and private sector companies. Services can include accounting, auditing, assurance, tax, consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance, and legal services.
Accountants in industry, however, go and work directly for a firm and manage their finances. Responsibilities might include budgeting, cost control, and accounting systems, and accountants in industry often form an important part of the management team.
Working in an Accountancy Practice is GREAT because!
Depending on the size of the practice and the team you are working for, you will have a varied client base covering all sorts of industries. This allows you the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with your clients over many years.
There is usually a clearly defined career path allowing you to progress up the senior ranks. Usually, newly qualified accountants will be working as a junior associate in a practice, moving on to senior associate, manager, and then director or partner.
As well as set financial routines, accountancy firms today rely on networking and external events, or you create added value content such as technical blogs or webinars to win new business. There is an expectation that today’s practice accountants need to be proactive with business development.
It is a collegiate environment. You will be working with a group of people at the same level as you or will have been at the same level as you, so you will enjoy lots of support from like-minded professionals.
Accountancy practice is a service industry. It is taken for granted that you will be competent and accurate in your field and clients can sometimes be very demanding, rude, and have high expectations. The customer is always right, right?
Work-life balance can get a little bit skewed especially if you have multiple clients who are all working to the same unmoveable deadlines.
Working in Industry is GREAT because…
If you are working in a business there is more of a focus on the economics of that business such as cash flow, cost control, and budgeting. You can have a real impact on the profitability of the enterprise.
You will have the opportunity and the time to delve deep into the success of the business rather than being spread across many clients. There is more of an emphasis on analysis, financial planning, and reports that will inform the forward strategy of the company.
The career progression may not always be as clearly defined. Usually, junior finance staff will start as accounts assistants moving on to become finance analysts, financial accountants, then finance managers, then Head of Finance. CFOs or Finance Directors are equivalent to a partner in a practice.
You may be the only accountant in the business, being the go-to person for any query to do with numbers or money, so there may not be the support you were used to whilst you were training.
Wherever your career takes you, the decision to work in practice or industry must be made on your preferences. Ask yourself a series of questions; is it the salary or the importance of the work you produce? Is it the variety, people contact, or your day-to-day work-life balance?
You can always change your mind, although it is a little easier to move from practice into industry rather than the other way around. If you want to try both, consider going into practice first.
Will your potential employer pay for you to do the accountancy qualifications and nurture and develop your career with training and support?
Here is a list of recognised accountancy qualifications
ACA qualification: The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is the regulatory body for Chartered Accountants. The ACA qualification is one of the most advanced learning and professional development programmes available.
CIMA qualification: The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Management accountants analyse information to advise strategy and drive sustainable business success.
ACCA qualifications: The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants are a global network. “Their qualification delivers the cross-sector accounting and finance knowledge, skills, professional and ethical values needs in all organisations and every industry.” Source: ACCA
AAT qualifications: The Association of Accounting Technicians. This qualification is the entry point for anyone thinking of starting or enhancing their career in accountancy.
CTA qualifications: Chartered Tax Advisor exams and membership is overseen by the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) which is the leading professional body in the UK for dealing with all aspects of taxation.
We hope these tips offer some valuable advice on deciding on a role in industry or practice. If you’re looking for a new role, get in touch with us at Benjamin Edwards Recruitment today.
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