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Congratulations! Now What?

 23rd Aug 2022

It’s that time of year again when exam results are out and many newly qualified accountants start to consider their options. Now that you’re qualified, numerous doors will open for you. You may have multiple messages from recruiters, big interest from potential new employers should you decide to leave, as well as a counter offer from your current employer. 

So, what is there to think about? 

Salary and title: 

As we know, becoming fully qualified comes with a pay rise, varying from firm to firm, and you may have also been given a new title to reflect your newly qualified status. In terms of salary, this varies depending on location, size of firm, specialism and other qualifications you might hold. Many of the top firms can sometimes give up to 20% increment, whereas at other firms, this may look more like a 5-10% increase. We are happy to talk this through with you if you’re not sure. 

An important point to bear in mind is that earnings are subjective, therefore it’s up to you how you feel about a particular level of remuneration as it relates to that specific opportunity. You hear the phrase ‘market rate’ a lot, but in truth that is a moving target based on supply vs demand at any given time. Invariably most people are seeking an increase when moving between firms but regularly candidates will move for the same or slightly less, if they feel the overarching opportunity, experience on offer and career move merits it.  

Titles are fairly arbitrary as they change from practice to practice. However, if you are looking for a move into industry titles can become a little more tricky. The important thing to remember is that it’s not your title that determines your level, it’s your skill set and responsibilities. 

Practice v industry: 

There is no right and wrong decision on whether you should stay in practice or move into an industry role. If you do want to move into industry, while competitive, now is the ideal time. Waiting until you’re a Manager in practice can seem like a good idea, and in certain specialisms, it definitely pays off, but you’re more moldable when you’re newly qualified. It’s the one time in your career when you’ll have the most variety of options available to you! 

Choosing an industry sector is also a big factor, financial services, in particular, holding a large volume of opportunities in Edinburgh. 

But remember that staying in practice doesn’t mean you have to stay exactly where you are, you could move into a different specialism or to another firm which might offer better progression.   

You can read more about the pros and cons of practice vs industry here.  


You may have specialised in a certain discipline e.g. audit for a few years now, and want a change (you’re not alone). Now is a great time to switch into tax, corporate finance, forensics or whatever interests you, but also consider that there is the option to stay in your specialism. Audit has proven to be an excellent pathway to other things.  

If you are considering a move into industry it can be tricky to understand the options available to you. You may often see your peers moving into industry roles, but what is it that they’re actually doing? 

While this decision won’t determine the rest of your career, it is still an important one. If you need any help deciding our team can provide advice. 

Career progression: 

The salary and title you get given after you’ve qualified is something you’ve earnt and deserve, in recognition of all your hard work. However, it’s important that you also see your responsibilities change or progression on the horizon.  

If you’re still doing the same level of work, I would question whether your experience is really being valued. Are you getting exposure to more challenging work? Bigger clients? More advisory and less compliance? Managing staff? 

If the answer is no, then it could be time to look elsewhere. 

Study fees: 

How do outstanding study fees affect leaving your current employer?  

Once qualified many will be free to leave their employer straight away without a fee clawback. However, if you do discover there will be a clawback, some firms will help out with anything you owe, so don’t let money on this side of the equation sway your decision-making.  

If you have recently qualified and would like any advice on your next career move, contact us today. 


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