For recruitment consultancies and specialists, the newly-qualified ACA market is one of the most important and lucrative sectors.
For employers of all natures, whether in the commercial, financial services or third sectors, the calibre and consistency of candidates originating within these training grounds represents a critical resource for ensuring the continued success of the finance function.
Given the weight of competition for the market’s best talent, recruiters and employers will do (more or less) anything necessary to secure high-performing individuals from the newly-qualified market. Salary increases; hints at internal promotion; grand promises of diversity and opportunity: all can sound truly tempting to the newly-qualified ACA.
For candidates, both latent and in active pursuit of new career options, the sheer breadth of opportunity combined with pressure from businesses and recruiters can lead to impulsive decisions over what should be a considered and carefully managed stage of the career.
In the midst of this pressure, sometimes something can go amiss and in many cases, this ‘something’ comes down to a single question: is moving now the best thing for my long-term development?
Adam trained in a Top-10 Practice in 2011 having specialised in Tax. Within months of qualifying, he had handed in his notice and moved to a multinational Investment Banking firm on the business’ highly-vaunted ACA programme. 15 months on, Adam has tendered his resignation and highlights his pre-determined decision to move post-qualification as a key factor in the challenges he has faced since leaving Practice.
“In retrospect, I made the decision to move out of Practice without taking the necessary steps to consider the longer-term impact on my career,” Adam states.
“The banking sector has a good ‘sales pitch’ and I was well supported throughout the recruitment process, but I also let the money factor talk me into a move which didn’t support my longer-term career plans”.
With his career now at a crossroads, Adam is aware that he cannot afford to make another miscalculation in his career.
“This is probably a good point for me to reassess the next steps for me, professionally. I’d like to think I can get away with one mistake at this point, but doing so again might prove too costly.”
Steven currently works as Group Reporting Manager for a FTSE100 market leader, a role which Partner Financial placed him into last March. Following a successful first 11 months, Steven feels confident in suggesting that his 10 years spent within a Big 4 practice better prepared him for the move into commerce last year.
“I really enjoyed my time in practice and it certainly offered me a wider range of experience than I could have achieved in almost any other arena. The range of activities and tasks I was engaged with, almost on a weekly basis, have ensured that nothing is too daunting when it arrives in my new role,”
“By taking a secondment to one of our main clients in 2010, it crystallised my interest in industry and commerce, but it also crystallised the fact that I was ready to go and add value to a commercial organisation,”
“When I did move to my current business, I had already spent a long time gathering experience which helped to prepare me for the challenges that you face in any new role – but particularly one in a new industry,” and, he adds, “it helps me to keep one step ahead of our auditors!”
Playing the Odds
Of course, making a move immediately after qualification can be an instantly successful path and is an established route that hundreds of Chartered Accountants manage to great effect each year. Similarly, even the most carefully planned route into industry and commerce after a cautiously executed search can be fraught with unforeseen pitfalls.
From a recruiter’s perspective, we would always advise individuals looking to make a move to separately consider the driving factors and the ramifications associated with moving straight after qualification.
For most individuals, a career in finance is a lengthy and committed profession; ensuring that it does not become defined by poorly-planned decisions at the nascent stages, particularly in current economic conditions, is more important than ever.
Steven offers this as advice:
“Don’t go too quickly and don’t forget to get all the experience you need before making a move,” he reflects.
“Make the most of the experiences that are available to you and, when you do move, get ready for a change in attitude and culture; there really is a big difference!”