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Five key career paths for newly qualified accountants

If you are a newly-qualified accountant, now is a good time to consider your career options and you have a number of options available to you.

 As a newly-qualified accountant, understanding the different career paths available and identifying which area your skills set is most suited to can help when planning your accounting career.

Here, we explore the various pathways for a newly qualified accountants and what you need to consider for your future career.

Internal Audit

Internal audit offers project-based work as opposed to just the pure audit you would see in an external audit role. It presents an opportunity to be very visible and develop key relationships across the entire business. It’s a great way to get to know the work of other departments. 

Typically, an Internal Auditor position involves project work, controls and risk, and really understanding how the business works. Stakeholder engagement is also key. If you’re from a practice background, internal audit can be the perfect platform to launch your skills into industry.

Within these roles, finance professionals gain huge exposure to the latest technology in analytics and develop a data-centric approach to problem-solving. With such great exposure to these technologies and level of data really develops your analytical skills and capabilities

A career in internal auditing can lead to many opportunities of across various roles once you have gained the essential experience in a business. It is a career path that may lead you to positions such as chief audit executive up to board or C-suite level.

Management Accounting

Management accountants utilise a combination of skills in their role, including accounting, management techniques and business strategy. In this area of accountancy, you will assist in the commercial decision-making process of a company rather than merely looking after the books and recording data.

Your responsibilities will include looking at the financial implications of any decisions in order to aid growth and build profit, often working closely with the managerial team – at the core of the role you are there to assist those at board level to answer tough questions. For this reason, key skills we look out for are attention to detail, problem-solving, communication skills and analytical and numerical skills.

There are endless opportunities for management accounts across numerous businesses, from Big 4, private, SMEs to start-ups. A career in management accountant can take you on the path to becoming a finance manager or finance director.

Finance Manager/ Finance Controller 

Industry experience at any level for an FA or FC position is highly sought after, with the finance manager level the busiest in the market.

Finance managers or financial controllers are responsible for the financial ‘health’ of an organisation, providing strategic direction and development plans to help increase profit and reduce risk. Industry experience at any level for an FA or FC position is highly sought after, with the finance manager level the busiest in the market.

The day-to-day role of an FM or FC typically involves management of the wider finance function, financial planning & analysis, tax & treasury and project work related to mergers & acquisitions and general business development and planning. 

Finance managers or finance controllers work closely with executive teams and highlight opportunities for efficiency to board level stakeholders.  

There are many career directions for FM’s and FC’s and depending on experience and qualifications, can often become CFO within five to 10 years.  Certain small companies often outsource their accounting and financial advisory sectors offering vast interim opportunities across the board to help assist in the financial growth and sustainability of multiple SME businesses.

Group Accounting

Group accountants play a vital role in some of the largest and most complex companies in the world, helping to keep them on the path of profit and sustainability. As a group accountant you will most likely work in the head office, ensuring the company is complaint and in line with the right accounting procedures.

Group accountants will be involved in preparing consolidated financial statements and may be asked to provide financial information to help the decision-making process at board level, while looking at the profitability and overall business performance.

As well as strong technical accounting skills, companies, not just financial businesses, but clients across numerous sectors tend to look for strong communicators. They want business partners with drive and ambition who can communicate directly to the board. Managing the board is an essential part of the group accountant position and the sooner you are managing a team in commerce, the sooner you will climb the ladder.

With deep experience within a group financial commerce position will fast track your CFO ambitions. We see professionals we place into group accountant positions develop the essential skill sets and understandings that have provided leverage to achieve career ambitions such as becoming CFO.

Business Analysis / Commercial Analysis

There is a diverse set of opportunities for an experienced business analyst professional. A business analyst is someone who works with people within an organisation to understand their current business problems and needs and then interpret, translate and track the required business needs in terms of specific business requirements for solution providers to implement. 

There is a diverse skill set required for a business analyst, but the key skills are deep analytical knowledge and problem-solving abilities to translate the business needs into specific solutions for business development and profitability.

The biggest attraction to a career as a business analyst is the diverse career paths it can take you. Based on your interests and qualifications, after a few years’ experience you can pursue a career as an operations manager, product owner or management consultant.

Deciding which path will be the most suitable for you after qualifying can be quite a challenge. Therefore, determining your career objectives during the early stages of your profession is important as each option can lead you onto a different road. 

For instance, if you’re aware that you want to be a financial director in the next five years then following an audit management accounting and group accounting path could be your best options to begin the journey.

Whether you are looking to unfold a long-term career objective or simply looking to gain experience in the short term before determining what your next role will be, we encourage newly-qualified accountants to be open-minded about the opportunities available.

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