Newly Qualified, What next?
Jason is a Director at the Gleeson Recruitment Group, one of the UK's fastest growing Professional Recruitment & Executive Search firms providing permanent, interim and temporary professional staff from part qualified through to C-suite roles for organizations across the UK and Europe.
All of you will have studied long and hard to get your accountancy qualification, whether it's CA, ACA, ACCA or CIMA, the road to getting qualified is always long and arduous. These are all post grad qualifications and the exams are tough. Combine this with often working long hours, weekends and sometimes nights away and all of a sudden we can understand why results day is so important to you. So....now after all that hard work, maybe even a couple of setbacks, you're finally qualified! But what next?! Well, let me give you my take, after you've got over your hangover of course.
The demand for newly qualified accountants has never been higher. According to a recent survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation and KPMG the availability of permanent staff is at its lowest for over 16 years with Accountancy and Finance as a profession taking over the top spot. In my experience, the demand for newly qualified accountants is nearly always higher than that of part quals or middle to senior management positions. Why? Well simply put, there tend to more of these types of roles required in larger companies.
Why do big companies like newly qualified accountants? Well for a start, you've just passed technical exams on all of the latest accounting standards. The Finance Director may have passed his exams 20 years ago (anyone remember SSAP12? No?) and she/he is now way more involved in driving the business and planning its strategy. She/he needs help in this area. Sounds a bit dull to some of you but this is where you really start to put your studies into practice. Using your knowledge to help steer the business safely to its goal whilst constantly building your confidence in dealing with non-finance stakeholders.This is where you really start on your path to perhaps being that Finance Director in the future, so the choices you make now are pretty important. Does your company now recognise your market worth? Are they putting a career/progression plan in place for you? If not, why not? Ask! It's a reasonable question.
The fact is this, you have put yourself through the torture of exams for years for a good reason. You want to better yourself. You're the sort of person that likes a challenge. If you're not getting that challenge, recognition or development, read paragraph 4 again and know that you have options. Lots. Be careful though, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Sometimes it's decidedly brown and patchy. Find a good recruitment consultant, someone who understands accountancy career options, listens to what you want and then gives you great advice that you can trust.
I'm not telling you that now you are qualified you should jump ship, far from it. But make sure you're always taking stock of where you are on your career path. Sometimes we can find ourselves stuck in a rut without realising it. Don't be that person. Talk to your boss, ask them where they see you in 3-5 years and make sure it aligns with your goals. The experience you gain in the first few years after qualifying can really shape your career. You have a very bright future available to you now. Use your qualification wisely.