If you’re looking to start an accountancy career or maybe you’re a part qualified accountant who already has their foot in the door of the industry then you may be keen to start climbing the corporate ladder.
Unfortunately accountancy careers can often offer slow progression in the early days but there are some measures you can take to ensure that as a new starter or part qualified accountant you’re giving your accountancy career the jumpstart it requires.
In this article we are looking at 5 ways a part qualified accountant can supercharge their accountancy career.
1. Ensure You Are Always Studying
In the early part of your accountancy career the aim should be to collect as much knowledge as you possibly can. This needs to be a mixture of practical knowledge which comes from working in accountancy and undertaking relevant work experience and “text book” knowledge which comes from studying for a relevant qualification and passing exams.
Depending on when you started your accountancy career this may be very straightforward. Part qualified accountants who went to university first and then secured a graduate level role will usually start their roles just before commencing with a professional level qualification such as ACA or ACCA. This ensures that whilst accumulating relevant work experience you are also working towards a qualification.
For those who started their accountancy careers without going to university and undertook an entry level qualification such as AAT before progressing onto a higher level qualification such as ACA or ACCA there can often be a long break between qualifications. Although during this time you will be gaining valuable practical knowledge you will not be sitting exams which are essential to achieving the ultimate goal of becoming a chartered accountant.
The key is to minimise the amount of time you spend not studying towards a qualification. Of course you will need to take into account the additional stress caused by studying but the sooner those exams are passed the sooner your accountancy career will really take off.
To learn more about accountancy and tax related qualifications check out our article 5 UK accounting qualifications that will supercharge your career.
2. Ask For Secondments Or Role Swaps
To best position yourself for a successful accountancy career you will want your early work experience to be as varied as possible giving you exposure to different areas of accountancy. One way a part qualified accountant can achieve this is to ask their employer to either swap roles with a colleague or be seconded to another department.
A secondment for a part qualified accountant will involve being temporarily lent out to a different department within the same company. If you work for a large enough accountancy firm this could mean moving from your usual role in business services and spending a month working in personal tax or moving from the audit department to help out in the payroll department.
A role swap can be very useful in small accountancy firms where a secondment to a different department is not possible. Where there is another member of staff at a similar level to you by swapping roles you will be exposed to a different way of working, possibly under a different manager and for different clients.
Both secondments and role swaps are great ways for studying accountants to gain more varied work experience and progress their accountancy career.
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3. Find Relevant Work Experience
If your employer cannot provide you with varied and relevant work experience then one option for a part qualified accountant is to look outside of your employment for opportunities.
This could involve taking on a weekend job, offering your accountancy services to a family member who has a business or completing self assessment tax returns for your self employed friends. Even if you are doing this free of charge you will benefit from the experience and in the longer term it will help to enhance your accountancy career.
Just be careful to read your existing employment contract as some employers require you to inform them of any second jobs and can even restrict you from taking on private clients although this only usually applies where it is done for commercial reasons. Where your motive is to gain relevant work experience they are unlikely to object.
4. Additional Learning For Part Qualified Accountants
If you have already started your accountancy career then you will be aware that everyone who works within the industry is constantly learning and updating their skills.
Other part qualified accountants who are working towards a qualification of course have to study and pass exams but even those who are already qualified have to complete a certain amount of continuous professional development in order to maintain their qualifications.
This means that if you really want to stand out from the crowd and progress with your accountancy career you will need to do more than just study towards a qualification (after all that’s exactly what your competition are doing as well).
To really stand out you will need to commit yourself to additional learning. Even if you’re just doing 10% more than the other part qualified accountants this will be enough to set you apart as that knowledge will compound over time.
Luckily the way we can access learning material has changed and this additional learning won’t require you to sit in a classroom or attend snoozy lectures. The Accounting & Tax Academy provide an extensive catalogue of digestible online content and is an example of where a small investment in yourself and your additional learning can really fast track your accountancy career.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Change Roles
Changing roles as a part qualified accountant when you are part way through a training contract isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly and where you are getting the exposure you need (even if you aren’t particularly enjoying the role) it’s usually best to see out the training contract.
There are situations though where your existing employer just can’t provide the experience you need as a part qualified accountant with ambitions of a high flying accountancy career. Where this is the case you shouldn’t be afraid to look elsewhere but if you do change roles then try not to let it impact your study timetable. If you have to pause your study whilst changing role this can cause you to lose momentum and can really put a halt to your progress.