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Take your pick: your career options

What are your options once you’ve finally got qualified? Karen Young explains all

September 2015

Once you have passed your exams, the chances are you will look to capitalise on your newly qualified status and be thinking about the next steps in your career.
NQs are sought after in both finance and industry, and the contribution that a talented finance professional makes to an organisation is highly valued. At this stage in your career you will be about to make a number of exciting decisions to help you reach your career goals, but what avenues and opportunities are available to you and where are you looking to go?

Commerce and industry
If you are looking to work in commerce and industry, whether in a corporate environment or a growing SME, your options are wide and varied. If your long-term goal is to become a CFO or FD and influence business decisions, then working in a large corporate organisation can offer opportunities for structured development and career progression to reach the top. However, if you have more of an entrepreneurial flair, SMEs can offer opportunities more suited to this style, with the freedom to grow alongside the company and hit the ground running with a broad business overview from day one.

Financial services
Should the world of financial services, with deal-making and client-side work, appeal to you, then working in investment banking, asset management, private equity firms or hedge funds may be the path for you. You will need to have excellent finance and business knowledge, and a sound appreciation of risk and compliance, and will play a key role in supporting relationship managers advising their customers on investment strategies.

Professional services
If being at the cutting-edge of your sector is what gets you up in the morning, a career in professional services may be for you. This interesting work is no longer the preserve of the Big 4, with many mid-tier and independent firms tasked with challenging assignments outside of traditional service offerings. If you decide you want to stay within the profession, switching to a different firm might provide a new variety of clients and assignments to develop your career.
Remember to consider boutique firms if you are looking to specialise in areas like forensics, corporate recovery or corporate finance, or if specific fields such as energy property or the entertainment creative industries interest you.

Internal audit
Should you enjoy both financial and operational involvement in your work and like to see the end results, then working within internal audit might be the path for you. Within internal audit you would typically build and refine your analytical and influencing skills and apply this to your knowledge across all areas within the business, and see the impact of your recommendation and decisions. This means that you gain a wide exposure to company insights and make contact with senior management and heads of departments. It can be an excellent route into industry for those looking to move out of professional services, post-qualification.

Are you a problem-solver by nature and a very lateral thinker? Then a career in the world of tax may be the route for you. Within professional services, the appeal of tax largely rests on the industries in which clients operate, and the types of tax they seek support for. In industry, in-house tax professionals who can make their mark in mainstream tax compliance or reporting can look forward to challenging, stimulating work at the heart of corporate tax strategy.

Public and not-for-profit
If the impact of your work on society and your service user motivates and drives you, working within the public or not-for-profit sectors may be a fitting environment for you.
Public and third-sector organisations offer opportunities with clear future career paths, excellent training and opportunity to get strategic as well as operational experience onto your CV. There are many openings in both big-budget large organisations like the NHS through to small charities so should be something for everyone.

If the prospect of working internationally appeals to you, qualifications awarded by British accounting bodies are recognised and respected globally by employers large and small, both in industry and professional services right across the world. Relocating to work overseas for a period of time requires careful thought, but those who work overseas typically see a positive impact on their careers and lifestyles.
There are a number of pathways to consider after your exams and which route you follow will depend on your own areas of interests and career aspirations. Discussing your career goals and the work you enjoy with an expert recruiter can help you take the right next steps to plan your career and choose the path that you are looking to pursue. And of course, remember, if your exam results were not what you may have hoped for, think carefully about why and where you can improve before rushing to retake them. Think about what you can do to increase your chances of success next time and in the meantime you can still plan next steps so that you have a clear motivation for your next exams and your career path afterwards.
For information and access to job opportunities visit www.hays.co.uk/accountancy or visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/ HaysAccountancyFinanceUK
• Karen Young, Director, Hays Accountancy and Finance

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