How to make the Move from Practice to Industry as a Newly Qualified Accountant

21st September 2017
Geoff Collings

As a newly qualified accountant, there will likely come a time when you start to question the career path ahead of you. One of the decisions you’ll have to make is whether you want to stay in Practice Accountancy, or move to a role within Industry.

There are pros and cons to both, but if you are looking to move into industry, you may feel a little daunted by the task ahead of you. Here are a few considerations you may wish to think about to help you make the move.

Practice or Industry?

Practice Accounting offers an extensive amount of client exposure and management experience. It can help you to hone your technical skills, across both accounting and tax, which could be helpful further down the career path. Furthermore, the business development, networking and negotiation of rates exposure that a career in Practice Accounting will give you can’t easily be matched in Industry; there are very few roles that are customer facing or have the requirement for someone to be well networked.

Industry Accounting will give you a much closer working relationship with one or a group of specific companies. This will enable you to support the business as it grows, gaining exposure to a more operational career.

It’s important to remember, however, that choosing one route over the other doesn’t have to be final; a specialist accountancy recruitment agency will happily support you in the move either way.

Your Consideration

On a personal level, when deciding whether to move from Industry to Practice, you do need to look ahead to your future to a certain extent. For example, consider the following:

  • If moving from Practice to Industry requires you to downsize, is this for you? It’s harder to get back into a multinational company once you’ve been with an SME for a while.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? A cliché, but you need to choose a job within Industry which will allow you enough opportunities for growth, as well as hold your interest. This is due to the fact that as a general rule, it looks better on your CV if you stay within your post-qualification role for three to six years.
  • Try to ensure that your CV isn’t dominated by one industry sector, as this may pigeonhole your career in future years.

Making the Move from Practice to Industry

Industry roles are always sought after, and are therefore naturally more competitive. One of the easiest routes is to come from an audit background into a Financial Accounting, Management Accounting or Internal Audit position, although this isn’t for everybody. If your passion lies elsewhere within the realms of accounting, you’ll probably prefer something more commercial. If possible, target industries which you already have experience of through your Practice work. This will help to give you a more competitive edge during the interview process.

When making the move from Practice to Industry, employers are looking for you to sell yourself. If you can show how well you’ve managed client relationships, show strong presentation and communication skills, and that you’ve gone above and beyond for your current employer, you’ll be in a strong position to make the move.

Taking on a Financial Accounting or Reporting role is a good way to prove yourself. This may give you an opportunity to work with an FP&A or a commercial team outside of your normal core responsibilities, or expose you to the business and non-finance stakeholders to build crucial internal relationships.

The Benefits of Using a Specialist Financial Recruiter

Using a specialist financial recruiter will certainly make your decision to move, and the move itself, a smoother process. An accountancy recruitment agency can help you to look at both Practice and Industry roles concurrently, allowing you to make a well informed career decision.

Furthermore, using a specialist recruiter can provide you with advice on structuring a CV to the market you are trying to target, as well as provide interview technique support. The expectations and requirements from both Practice and Industry can be very different, so it’s important to approach each sector accordingly.

The market for first time movers from Practice to Industry has been strong over the past year. As a specialist Accountancy and Finance recruiter Essex, Suffolk and Kent wide, MacKenzie King are happy to help you with your first move. We are always willing to offer advice to our candidates, even if you ultimately decide that a move into Industry isn’t for you. Either way, get in contact today to start building your future career!