What Career Path is Right for You?

You can be a successful Chartered Accountant by going into audit or tax, but there are also other options available.

Judith Kelly outlines some of the non-traditional career paths newly qualified Chartered Accountants can walk down.

An accountancy training and qualification is a great foundation from which to launch your career. The career path chosen post qualification need not necessarily be in mainstream finance. We have tracked the careers of our recently qualified candidates for the past twenty years, and some have surprised themselves in where they have ended up.

Traditional Careers
There are a few careers that Chartered Accountants go into after qualification. If this is the route you would like to go, that’s fantastic. There are many opportunities out there for you, and you have been well trained to do them all. Here are the traditional routes we often see Chartered Accountants go down:

Mainstream Finance Roles such as financial accounting, financial planning and analysis, internal audit, audit and tax. These roles typically lead to roles such as Chief Finance Officer and Financial Controller, Head of Financial Planning and Analysis, Audit or Tax Director and Partner etc…

Corporate Finance and Private Equity Roles such as corporate finance executives, credit analysts and investment analysts. These roles lead to a variety of careers including corporate   finance and private equity partners, Head of Research, equity sales and to operational roles including CEO and CFO – typically in investee companies.

Investment Funds Operations such as fund accounting and middle office operations roles with the global administrators. These roles can lead to global roles with major international corporations. As the IFSC has matured, we now have Irish accountants at the echelons of some of the global administrators.

Roles to consider
Your Chartered Accountants courses have provided great training, not just in finance and accounting, but in understanding how a business operates from a commercial perspective. From working with audit, tax or advisory clients, accountants have been lucky to get ‘under the bonnet’ of business and understand the drivers for success. There are a few routes you might not have considered for yourself.

Entrepreneurs – With exposure to different clients and business needs, entrepreneurs often start to notice a niche for new products and more efficient services. Accountants have been highly successful in setting up and running small businesses including:

  • Commercialising family farms, hotels and other businesses
  • Developing real estate opportunities, including hotels, apartment complexes, etc
  • Running online sales platforms for a variety of businesses

Commercial Operations – many candidates have moved into commercial roles, including operations and sales, across all sectors. Examples include:

  • Chief Operating Officers
  • Heads of Supply Chain
  • Heads of Strategy and Transformation

Recruitment and Executive Search –Every growing company in the world needs staff. The more talented and motivated the workforce, the better a company will perform. Accountants understand how businesses work, they are professionally trained and have access to a network of contacts. These skills and connections really aid in executive placement.

What about AI?
In my view, the role of accountants will change significantly over the next decade. Virtually all manual accounting processes will be automated from point entry to sale.
There will be a reduced demand for accountants and finance staff in the following areas:
• Accounts payable and receivable
• Payroll
• Management accountants
• Financial accountants

There will be increased demand for accountants in disciplines including:
• IT auditors
• Operational risk and compliance
• Supply chain and operations
• Financial planning, modelling, data mining and interpretation and insights

ESG Opportunities
Undoubtably, there will be more opportunities for accountants both in-house with corporates, with investment managers and with the advisory and consultancy firms.

Companies will have to redesign their financial systems and process to measure carbon impact, reducing energy costs, managing pollution and waste and stay current on environmental regulation. They are already designing and embedding financial risk frameworks to ensure compliance.

As ever, every business and industry needs great accountants. Now, there are significantly more options than was previously the case. It is a great time to venture further and explore.

At FK International, we have over 20 years’ experience in assisting our clients and our candidates. We are here to support and advice and we would be happy to have a confidential discussion about how we see the market, your recruitment options  and any career advice.

Judith Kelly

Director – Business Development & Operations