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Remain or Leave? Career choices for Newly Qualified Chartered Accountants.



Remain or Leave? Career choices for Newly Qualified Chartered Accountants.

To remain or to leave aren’t just important choices in the world of politics. For newly qualified Chartered Accountants in practice they can be career defining selections. What are the benefits of staying in practice and what advantages lie ahead for those who chose to move out?

As recruitment in the Real Estate sector is well underway for Autumn 2017 I thought it would be worth giving a take on the market for people at this stage of their professional lives.

The post-summer, pre-Christmas months are full of zip and within Real Estate Finance professionals have plenty on the go. Employers and accounting candidates return from the holiday season with fresh ideas and plans for the New Year and the most organised are opening up avenues of conversation from September onwards.

Chartered Accountants are often highly active shortly after qualifying. They are at a point where they can gain more complex knowledge and management opportunities but the question really lies as to where. After completing a professional training contract and studying the ACA/ICAS course two paths tend to form for those in practice.

The Audit route

The first is to remain in external audit and move through their business’ management levels, typically on to Senior Audit Manager or possibly even Partner. Staying in practice can be highly rewarding with exposure to multiple clients and good opportunities to run teams in the field.  The chance to help clients’ businesses grow is an added bonus and at larger practices auditors can work with FTSE100 and FTSE250 firms. Advantages of working in audit as a qualified accountant include:

- Access to a wider range of clients than when training
- Building your CV with greater records of personal experience
- Building on basic understanding of auditing and accounting standards
- At Manager level you are regarded as an expert in that field
- Becoming a big asset for that area with more responsibility and generation of fees
- Learning how an accounting firm operates
- Managing diverse teams across tax, consultants – not just accounting
- Exposure to regulators and the FRC – finding out more about challenges in the industry
- Excellent route to Partnership in a business
 
The Internal Audit path should also be noted and some of the advantages include:


- More corporate route
- Higher exposure to companies’ senior managers or directors in an accountancy firm
- Meeting those that make business critical connections
 
The In-house route

The second is to move in-house and work within a particular industry or company. In Real Estate this could be with a wide range of firms from Private Equity houses and Investment Managers to Residential Developers and Estate Agencies. An in-house accountancy role offers the chance to specialise within a particular market, learning about specific products, investment vehicles and asset classes. It can provide opportunities to settle in a company and potentially go on to a senior level position with board exposure or equity options. In today’s economy, working in the Real Estate sector can open doors to international exposure whether in the form of portfolios, clients or even travel so there are many positives to take in when considering.

Advantages for employers

On the employers’ side hiring at the junior level offers two major advantages.  Newly Qualified accountants will have a good understanding of accounting principles and experience working in teams of varying size. They will also still be at a stage of their careers where they are eager to learn more about Real Estate industry or products and mouldable into the company they are joining. Real Estate audit experience is always a bonus but for many in-house roles not a prerequisite, particularly when somebody has qualified from one of the top practices.

What else is out there?


Of course not everybody chooses or desires to work in a Finance role after qualifying; in some respects the ACA/ICAS are as much business qualifications as they are accountancy ones. Joining a Finance team can however be an excellent way to begin your career within a Real Estate firm. In investment houses CFOs and Financial Controllers can be open to people moving across the company into a front office role or even another area of Finance. In these organisations Fund Accountants can work closely with the investments, acquisitions and transactions teams. This can be another attractive prospect of moving into a Real Estate in-house Finance role at the newly qualified stage.

And finally...

It is really important to remember that at small to medium sized firms excellent in-house Finance roles do not often come about often and they will regularly put together attractive packages for good candidates. The exposure to internal and external stakeholders is strong and arguably higher than in larger organisations.

In the calendar January is a natural start point for a new role and candidates who know they will be looking to move tend to start looking now, particularly if they have a longer notice period. It is a great time to start networking and getting out into the market!

It would be great to hear your thoughts on this article whether you work in Audit, Real Estate or even another industry.

Omkar Khot specialises in placing Accounting professionals across the Real Estate space. For more information on outstanding opportunities please contact him at okhot@macdonaldandcompany.com or phone 020 7629 7220.

You can connect with Omkar on LinkedIn by clicking here.