Congratulations on passing your FAE’s – Now what?

As a recruitment consultant in the Accountancy market I spend a good bit of my time every week discussing career avenues with accountants of all levels.

Having completed your FAE’s and approaching the end of your contract there are so many different routes a chartered accountant can take it can be difficult sometimes to get clarity on how you want your career to move forward.

Given the recent excellent FAE results I thought it would be a good time to put down some pointers on things you can do to help decide what your next steps should look like.

Where do I start?

The first thing to do is to have a good think about where you would like to be in 5 years time. Would you like to be a manager in a large practice, a finance/commercial manager in a large or a small company, working in a different country, have transitioned to a new field, working towards making Partner in a small firm or even setting up on your own.  Have you considered what industry might attract you, FMCG, Technology? Pharma? or is industry something you consider important. The options are endless but if you don’t know your destination it is difficult to plot a course both in terms of type and title of the role you want along with the environment and sector within which you will practice.

The next thing to do is to write down what is important to you and to rank that in order of preference, starting with the most important. This list should include things like

  • Salary and earning potential
  • Work life balance
  • Location
  • Job satisfaction
  • Career prospects
  • Interesting work
  • Culture
  • Profile of position/company
  • Pressure
  • Prestige
  • Responsibility
  • People management etc

The preferences given to each of the things on the list are an individual exercise as what is important and delivers a certain hierarchy to clarify your thinking. This hierarchy will be a tailored fit for you, and others may find the order of their needs to be very different.

Challenge your assumptions

Now that you have an idea of the type of position that appeals to you, the industry sectors  of interest and have created a defined hierarchy around the points above it is time to start looking at where there may be contradictions or unrealistic avenues.

A simple demonstration of this is of somebody who would love to work in a small practice but earning potential is one of their primary motivators. Smaller firms tend not to pay as well as larger firms (although they have many other advantages). In this instance the primary motivator is not satisfied so ultimately a long-term career in a small firm may not be the answer. One also needs to realise that there is generally a trade-off. For example, by chasing earnings potential, work life balance may suffer. Do you have to work abroad for a few of years to advance your position within a certain company? Is it the case that your career is best served in your current role? All these questions need to be thought through before taking the next steps and at this point it can be very helpful to get advice before taking the next steps:

Research & Next Steps

Now that you have decided on your destination you need to figure out how to get there. At this point you can take proactive steps

  • Speak to a recruiter who specialises in the area.
  • Utilise LinkedIn to research the profiles of people who are doing the job you want to be doing in five years’ time and see what type of career moves they had made. Is there a pattern?

An easy example is of somebody who wants to work for an FMCG multinational and is coming out of a small practice. Given that many in-house roles go to those coming out of large firms it can be difficult to make the move directly. Rather the next move could be to a large firm to gain audit exposure to clients in this field for a few years and use that experience as a spring board to the next role.

You might however be somebody in a large firm who dreams of having your own practice. The next move for this individual could be to a small firm for a few years’ where you can gain exposure to the types of clients you would likely be dealing with should you set up on your own!




Congratulations on passing your FAE’s – Now what? Written by Ross Wynne, Director Accountancy recruitment.


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