Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

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A career in practice V’s a career in commerce and industry

So you’ve left university or just about to start working life and you’ve decided that accountancy is the profession you’d like to pursue but can’t decide the route to take. Do you work for an accountancy practice or a company in commerce and industry. Before you make that decision here are a few pros and cons to help you make that decision. Practice is often typically a supportive environment where a tried and trusted study plan is in place usually studying ACA or ACCA. Employees are often asked to sign into a study contract which details the support you get along with any penalties that maybe incurred should the contract be broken. The pro’s of working in practice:

  • Viewed as an excellent foundation by future employees  81% of FTSE 100 companies have at least one Chartered Accountant on their board.
  • Exposure to a client base of companies in a wide range of industries
  • Exposure to a client base of companies all varying in size including staff base, turnover and geography
  • Well supported study plan by both employer and often an internal peer group
  • Generous study leave
  • Security, everyone needs a good accountant so you tend to find accountants enjoy a more stable career than other finance professionals.
  • Easily transferable to commerce and industry

The con’s of working in practice:

  • Top firms will look at the top university and students with top grades first so competition for these roles is tough
  • Study plan can come with pressure some contracts do not allow exam failure
  • Low starting salaries, some practices offer lower salaries due to cost of study support offered
  • Outside of the top 10 accountancy practices candidates can find it difficult to make the move from practice to industry and commerce
  • Candidate’s skills can be viewed as Financial Accounting and not as well rounded raising questions over commerciality.

Whilst there are many positives entering a training contract you should be aware of any tie in’s after you have qualified as these can become quite costly if broken. Businesses in Commerce and industry are seeing the benefit of offering study to employees which include those working in the accounts department, you would be able to study AAT, CIMA, ACCA, CIPFA, ICM, IPM, CAT  but you wouldn’t generally have access to the ACA qualification. What you typically find in commerce and industry is the support will not be as all encompassing as that of an accountancy practice. Often books and exams are paid for possibly some study leave is granted but more often than not employees have to pay towards the costs of exams and study in their own time. Pros of working in industry and commerce:

  • High initial salary
  • Chance to impress and work up the career ladder without being reliant on the success of studies
  • Tend to gain more commercial knowledge / exposure
  • Become an expert in a specific industry
  • Chance to work in an industry of choice
  • Less pressure on exam success

Cons of working in industry and commerce:

  • Lack of defined study structure and pressure means it can take longer to become qualified
  • Focus is on your day job and not becoming qualified so it can be stressful fitting in time to study
  • Difficult to transfer from commerce and industry to practice
  • When you qualify the industry specific experience can be a limiting factor when looking for your next move
  • Unlikely to be able to study ACA qualification

Many companies within industry and commerce have recognised the benefits of a highly skilled work force and more are now offering structured incentive based study packages similar to that of practice. It is however difficult to find these roles as competition is high and will often require a contractual tie in for a time period after qualifications where the pay back penalties can be high. All industries and companies differ of course and these points are all based on opinions of candidates and clients in Kent that I have dealt with during 14 years recruiting in the area. I hope this article offers you an insight into both of these excellent career options. Accounting and Finance  – A career in Practice V’s a Career in Commerce and Industry – Kent

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