Outstanding demand for qualified finance professionals continues to grow, with employers across multiple sectors seeking exceptional finance candidates to provide vital in-house functions for their businesses. Now is the opportune moment for newly qualified professionals to take the next step into an industry role.
Are you a finance professional looking to transition from private practice into industry? Katherine Allwood, Qualified Finance Manager at Robert Walters, shares some key advice to help you make that career-defining move.
Be aware of your options
When you’ve trained and developed within private practice, it can be difficult to know your options outside of this sphere which can limit your job search. Katherine explains the routes which are open to professionals with a background in practice:
“Typically, your experience in practice will be focused on audit, although you may have worked in other areas such as Corporate Finance, Transactional Services or Tax, for example. This traditional skillset tends to lead most seamlessly into internal audit, financial accounting, financial reporting, management accounting and financial planning and analysis roles. With demand surging across the UK, you’re well placed to find a suitable role.”
“Whilst these are considered the typical routes when transitioning from practice, further experience you’ve acquired beyond audit could mean you are also eligible for commercial and business partnering positions. Talking through the skills and experience you’ve gained in practice with professionals with in depth industry knowledge can help you to ascertain the right path for you.”
Decide your progression route
Depending on your personal preference, and how you envisage developing your career, your first move into industry is an important milestone which will determine your progression route for the next couple of years. In current market conditions, you’re in a great position to really consider how you want to shape your career within industry.
Katherine continues, “Professionals should view the move as an important ‘step stone’, as it will define how they go on to build their careers going forward. The advantage of going for a larger firm with a large finance team is the linear progression route. Those who are looking to advance internally should look for larger enterprises that can promote them to senior and managerial level positions.”
“On the other hand, opting for the start-up or SME gives professionals exposure to greater variety and hands on experience. This brings exciting work, and is particularly useful to build up experience to take with you when you go on to make your next career transition.”
Consider the company culture
Depending on your own approach to working life, it’s important to take into consideration the culture you will experience when assuming an industry role. Katherine details how the transition into industry demands a completely new way of working:
Professionals should view the move as an important ‘step stone’, as it will define how they go on to build their careers going forward.
“The change from private practice to industry entails getting used to a completely new working culture. Commerce and industry roles mean your one client becomes the company you work for, bringing completely new working opportunities and challenges. Being part of a large finance team provides you with a more similar environment to practice, with the same level of support and training to successfully adapt to your new role.”
“However, something that encourages professionals to move to industry is its stark contrast to the large accounting firm. For this reason, the opportunity to take on a high-impact role in a smaller organisation may have greater appeal. Professionals can find that they adapt well working in an SME with open communication and a less corporate structure, integrating into the culture straight away.”
Draw on your experience in practice
As a core, cross-sector function, the work of a finance division can differ drastically from one industry to another. Make the decision of the type of business you want to work for by focusing on the projects you found stimulating and enjoyable when working in practice.
Katherine explains further, “Lean on your experience in practice to focus your job search on the sector that motivates you. If you’ve specialised in financial services, or any other industry during your time in practice, there’s a clear path to continue working in that sector. However, in the same way, if you didn’t find that work enjoyable, it’s worth looking beyond that specific industry sector when making your move into industry.”
“If you know the sector you want to progress in, it will benefit you to seek out ways to gain some experience in that field in practice. Working with qualified finance professionals, it’s incredibly interesting and insightful to see the types of industry roles candidates can first land depending on their previous experience and personal career goals.”
Look for the opportunity
Whilst a competitive salary, well-recognised name and central location might attract you towards a particular job, it’s worth taking a holistic approach to the application process. Look at what you will gain from the business in long-term:
Katherine comments, “Think about the opportunity and what you will gain from it. Of course, a competitive salary is desirable, but you also want to know as and when you will receive pay reviews and the scope for your remuneration package to expand over the next few years. Similarly, make sure the job will offer you enriching and challenging work, learning and development opportunities and a positive work-life balance, rather than going off brand name only.”
“Location is also an important consideration for many prospective industry professionals. There are a multitude of opportunities for qualified finance professionals regionally, as well as in the city centres. I’d always recommend weighing up how important location is to you – an outstanding opportunity might be worth a slightly longer commute.”
The transition into industry is a significant leap for every qualified finance professional so you should find the time to really consider what direction you want your future career to take.