Episode 5: How to make the move from practice

Female businesswoman excused from a meeting to take a phone call

The Robert Walters ‘How To’ podcast series is hosted by Tom Andrew, Manager within the Robert Walters Operations team. The episodes in this series will be punchy, short, sharp messages to candidates about the current job market within certain sectors.  

Joining Tom in this episode is Dominic Horne, Manager within the Robert Walters commerce business. This episode covers 'How To' make the move from an accountancy practice with Dom sharing advice for those looking to make their first move away from a practice firm.  

If you would like to get in contact with Dom or Tom please find their contact details below:

Dominic Horne - Dominic.Horne@robertwalters.com
Tom Andrew - Tom.Andrew@robertwalters.com

 

Tom Andrew
Manager
Robert Walters

LinkedIn

 

Dominic Horne
Manager
Robert Walters

LinkedIn

 

Transcript:

Tom Andrew:
Hello and welcome to the fifth episode of the Robert Walters ‘How To’ podcast series hosted by myself Tom Andrew, I look after the operations team down at Robert Walters focusing on financial services. This week I am joined by Dom Horne, an absolute veteran of the RW commerce business, eight years with us, cheers for joining.

Dom Horne:
Thank you very much, thank you for having me.

Tom Andrew:
Welcome, and how many times have you been forced to do a podcast?

Dom Horne:
I think this is the third or fourth so definitely not my first rodeo but I wouldn't say it's something I do every day.

Tom Andrew:
So just a little bit about Dom's market, you work across commerce businesses, that is essentially accountants in every industry.

Dom Horne:
Pretty much anything that isn't a bank, effectively is what we will cover, so from the moment you qualify either in practice or industry you'll fall under my teams remit and there's anything from retailers, hospitality, oil & gas businesses, tech, pretty much anything and everything really.

Tom Andrew:
Should we start by defining what is practice, because the how to for our title here is how to step away from practice. What is practice?.

Dom Horne:
An accountancy practice, so traditionally known as the audit firms. The best known ones will be the likes of Deloitte, PWC, EY, but this will go right down to much smaller firms who will be practicing audit in any way, shape or form. Today we will be trying to cover people's first move out of that.

Tom Andrew:
Okay, so let's assume if I have several years in practice, when do people start looking? when's the best time to step away?

Dom Horne:
Most people will probably do a three year qualification cycle there where they will sit all of their exams, complete all of the necessary time they need to put in, in order to qualify. Probably the most common time for people to start looking is right when they're time qualifying/fully qualifying. I think that's quite a natural break point where people will either look to try and progress up to manager or senior manager level or they’ll want to hop out into industry. I think, certainly from what we've seen, the most options that you will get at any point of leaving practice is at the point where you qualify, or 6-12 months after that. It is possible to leave if you've stayed in practice for another four or five years after that, one hundred percent you can still do that, it's just that the options tend to diminish somewhat the more senior you get within the practice world.

Tom Andrew:
I think that is natural in pretty much every business area, you don't have 80% of your task force as managers. So what are we talking then, is that a three year route to qualification, becoming fully qualified ACCA?

Dom Horne:
Typically the higher grads straight out of university go on a three year course where you’ll complete 15 exams and there's a set number of hours of experience you have to log before you time qualify. Once you’re time and exam qualified you then can submit everything to become fully qualified, you get your certificate from the ICAEW and off you go into the world of accounting

Tom Andrew:
Good stuff, so you mentioned audit earlier, is that a high volume part of practice, and do people then have to look for audit again somewhere else, or are there more options?

Dom Horne:
I would probably say it is the highest volume that we see, obviously the other areas of practice, tax, corporate finance, M&A but audit is probably the most common one that we tend to help people to leave and exit. In terms of the options, yes, you can certainly go from one audit firm to another and that's a relatively common path where people want to look at getting different groups of clients, if they want to look at specific industries. I would say, most people once they qualify want to leave practice and the easiest and probably most common route is for you to take something that is a bit more reporting focused. I think the common misconception is that this is just going to be doing everything you were doing in practice, but just on the other side of the table and actually I think it's quite far from the truth. Most people want to get away from that month end reporting and they don't want to be doing that 24/7 and I would say, the vast majority of businesses that we deal with will close their month end in four, five, six days which leaves three quarters of the month for you to be supporting the business commercially and getting involved on other projects, other bits and pieces, which is definitely the aim and the goal for a lot of people when they want to leave practice.

I think other options, you can get into something that is a lot more commercially focused straight up, it's just a lot harder to get into that. There are much fewer of those roles around and they tend to be pretty hotly contested, so we tend to advise somebody to get in there early, get some of that reporting skill set on your CV, under your belt and it will really hold you in good stead for the future.

Tom Andrew:
I suppose the scale of the reports, the audits or the volume that they might have done before would impact where they can go and surely the types of roles they can apply for potentially?

Dom Horne:
Yeah definitely and I think if you take the likes of massive FTSE businesses or very large listed clients they will often look for individuals who have large multinational audit experience on their CV just because it's similar to who they are, and the types of work and terminologies that they'll be using. That said as well, the SME market will probably look for somebody that's had slightly smaller audits where you had a bit more breadth of experience as well. Now is it impossible to move to one as you've got the other? no definitely not it just makes it a little bit more tricky.

Tom Andrew:
I think I have certainly been educated in terms of audit and I feel enlightened for it. The point of these podcasts is not just to have us talking and reaching out to our candidate pool. We obviously want to give them a little bit of chance to get to know our team here Robert Walters as well, so I will ask you a question you've had less time to prepare for and, obviously, given the time of year it's got to have a theme, what's the weirdest Christmas present you have ever bought for somebody or given to someone?

Dom Horne:
Certainly something I have very little knowledge of, but a couple of my cousins are of that tik-tok age, tik-tok generation which and you can't see me but definitely know that i'm not of that age. They have been asking for these light rings that are on stands for them to stick their phone into that they can go out and stand in the street, recording these tok-toks and dance around like lunatics. I definitely did not look like the average individual going into a shop buying one of those the other day I can tell you that.

Tom Andrew:
So you say if we walk down the street and see someone with a halo like light ring it’s probably you're cousins?

Dom Horne:
Probably yes

Tom Andrew:
Well let's wrap this up by asking who do you want to talk to this week?, who do you want to reach out to you? Which CV’s do you want to see?

Dom Horne:
Anybody that wants to leave practice, even if you're thinking about it, even if you're not sure what's out there, if you want to look at example jobs, facts and things like that, more than happy to have a chat. We've actually just released a PDF guide as well. We'll stick a link to in the description for this, if we can and we can send copies of that which just gives you a bit of a flavour as to really what's out there in a bit more detail than we have gone through today.

Tom Andrew:
Absolutely, as always, all the contact information for everybody who is a guest on our podcasts and myself as well, will be attached. Thanks a lot for listening and I really hope you enjoyed. Dom, thanks for joining us and fingers crossed we learn something.

Dom Horne:
Thank you.

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