Getting a job in accountancy and financial management
Graduate careers in accountancy and financial management: getting a job, applications, working life and salaries.
How to get a job in accountancy and financial management
Accountancy is a career which requires professional qualifications so a graduate training scheme is the way in.
Most graduates working in financial accountancy work in public practice – professional accountancy firms ranging from the Big 4 (KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and PwC) to mid-sized and smaller firms. There are also opportunities within commercial organisations and industry, as well as with government departments and regulatory bodies.
For management accountancy, large organisations such as industry conglomerates run graduate training schemes in which you will usually rotate around different divisions or departments to gain a broad overview of management accountancy.
Different areas of work
Financial accountants provide specialist services to commercial and non-commercial organisations to ensure that they are financially sound and comply with legal requirements and regulations. Their main areas of work are:
- Assurance and auditing
- Business advisory/financial services.
Management accountants specialise in providing information and advice to managers in all kinds of organisations.
The application process
Some large accountancy firms operate what is known as the ‘accountancy milkround’ in October of each year. Increasingly, students can expect to apply online direct to the firms. Alternatively some firms still use their own paper application forms, although this is becoming more unusual. The forms are sent directly to careers offices and completed forms are collected on the closing date.
Most of these firms arrange presentations in colleges and universities to inform students of their services, what type of candidate they are looking for and their application process. Check with your local careers service and also on the firms’ websites for specific details on how and when to apply. For accountancy positions with other types of organisations the application processes will vary, but will usually involve an application form or CV, aptitude tests and at least one interview.
When to apply
Deadlines seem to be getting earlier and earlier in the academic year – some as soon as the beginning of October – so be prepared.
Qualifications and skills required to work in accountancy and financial management
You don’t necessarily need a finance or accountancy degree but you will need good academic results to prove you can cope with studying for professional exams. On top of being numerate, accountants require strong communication, analytical, time management and team working skills. They also need an ethical approach to business and good commercial understanding.
Opportunities for professional development
In your first job, you will train to become a qualified accountant, so you need to be prepared to combine work and study. There are several professional associations for accountancy, and employers will help choose the qualification that best suits your chosen career route. If you have a finance-related degree you may be exempt from some parts of the qualification process.
Professional bodies in accountancy and financial management
Because financial accountants provide specialists to other organisations you can expect to spend a lot of time in clients’ offices. When carrying out an audit you could be at a client’s office – and sometimes working away from home – for several weeks. Management accountants are usually based in their own employer’s offices, where their role is to provide business information to the organisation.