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Practice or industry – Which is best for you?

 3rd Sep 2021

 

Demand for qualified accountants in the UK remains high despite the tough economic climate due to the pandemic.

After qualifying, newly qualified accountants who have trained in practice have the choice of either continuing to progress their career in practice or taking an industry role out in the business world.

Whilst the first move post-qualifying won’t dictate the remainder of your career path, the decision remains an important one. Therefore, it’s essential to take time to consider the pros and cons of both paths.

 

Why practice?

The main advantage that accounting professionals, especially newly qualified accountants, get from working in practice is the experience of working with clients across different industries.

Pros:

  • Interaction with valuable contacts which enables the creation of long-term relationships and networks.
  • Practice firms provide a very clear career path as they want to retain the best talent, so progression opportunities can be excellent.
  • Exposure to ‘best-in-class’ technical training and subject matter, which can help to make informed decisions about possible future specialisms

Cons:

  • Work-life balance is often harder to maintain when working with multiple clients rather than concentrating on the requirements of one company in an industry role.

 

Why industry?

Industry accounting roles often allow the opportunity to specialise in areas such as management accounting, financial accounting, and finance business partnering to name a few.

Focusing in this way enables accountants to add real value to the organisation by providing strategic insight.

Pros:

  • Chance for in-depth involvement in the success of one business rather than spreading efforts across many clients.
  • The opportunity to make a standout impression on the successful development of the organisation thereby building a reputation that supports your career progression.
  • Wide range of opportunities offering the platform to get involved in a variety of projects and industry / company-specific content

Cons:

  • Progression may not be as clear-cut; practice firms allow moving up the ranks in a structured manner.
  • It could be a culture shock to move from a firm surrounded by people doing the same work, to potentially the only accountant in the business.

 

The choice between practice and industry is a personal one and there is no right or wrong path to take. The decision should be based on what you believe will meet your career aspirations when considering all the pros and cons.

Don’t forget that you can change your mind, although it should be noted that moving from practice into industry is slightly easier than the other way around. If you want to try both, consider going into practice first.

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