10 things I wish I'd known before I became an accountant

I received an email today about attending a careers networking event where you can give or receive advice. Not 100% sure if I will be able to attend because of the whole nursing my baby thing but it got me thinking about what advice I would like to have given myself 10 years ago.

1. Research into all the places where you can study for accountancy.

2. Start studying as soon as you finish university or even better, while you are at university (if you have the funds) to keep yourself motivated and to keep going.

3. While you are studying and working you will have no life. ( but more of a life than being a mum to a baby and a toddler)

4. Accountancy is more of a people facing job than a hiding in an office and dealing with numbers all day as I was lead to believe.

5. The four main accountancy bodies are ACA, ACCA, CIMA and CIPFA.

6. If you want to set up your own accountancy practice make sure you work for approved accountants and keep your training records up to date and signed.

7. Accountants in industry earn more than accountants in practice.

8. Accountants in practice have more technical knowledge than accountants in industry (And will eventually earn a lot).

9. Anyone can call themselves as accountant but if you have a qualification it shows that you follow a set of rules and that you know what you are doing and won't swindle people out of money by doing sub standard work.

10. Accountants are quite a friendly and funny (!) bunch of people. Check out some popular accountancy blogs.

FirstTab's picture

Great to see you    1 thanks

FirstTab | | Permalink

Hi Lilac1 great to see you blogging.

Looking forwarding to hearing more from you when you busy schedule allows.

Old Greying Accountant's picture

If you want to go in to practice ...    2 thanks

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... I can't see the point in going to university.

Do a business studies diploma instead of A levels, get a job and study ACCA at night school/correspondence course, you will qualify quicker, have less/no debt and be of much more practical use to the world!

Although, seeing the papers over the last week I think ICAEW may be opening up that route too!

I think the same goes for industry too. In practice you see both sides and it is frightening seeing gradute qualifieds with good qualifications wreaking accounting havoc due to learning everything but knowing nothing!

For instance, ask a newly qualified with no work experience to fill in a tax return and see what happens (and how long it takes!).

As you say at 4, one of the most important thing you will learn studying whilst working is people skills and client facing skills. I cringe listening to newly qualifieds telling a long in the tooth trader how to run his business (and I am not saying what they say is wrong, but they need to learn how to convey their suggestions / recommendations without causing offence!).

Working Mums    2 thanks

Sarah K Dunks | | Permalink

I also think that working for yourself as a Mum gives you greater flexibility with the children. I have friends who had high flying jobs but which aren't child friendly. Many have had to give their jobs up. We are the lucky ones who can have both. Like many, I fell into a career in accountancy but with hindsight it was a good choice.

Very interesting points. I    1 thanks

Monas | | Permalink

Very interesting points. I especially agree with working and studying ACCA together which I am currently doing myself. I can more appreciate information given in books and can apply it in real life quickly then when I was at Uni. On the other hand it is true that you need to give a part of your social life for a few years. But I hope it will be worth. 

k743snx's picture

7. Accountants in industry    2 thanks

k743snx | | Permalink

7. Accountants in industry earn more than accountants in practice.

8. Accountants in practice have more technical knowledge than accountants in industry (And will eventually earn a lot).

Evidence please?

My experience...and a bit of tongue in cheek!

Lilac1 | | Permalink

This is based on my experience of going from practice to industry and back into practice again within a space of a couple of years. Although I'm still waiting to eventually earn a lot. Not sure what a lot is though. Also, I'm sure Hayes recruitment used to do some sort of salary comparison and industry always seemed more than practice. Then again I suppose it depends what level you go in at.

Old Greying Accountant's picture

generally ...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

k743snx wrote:

7. Accountants in industry earn more than accountants in practice.

8. Accountants in practice have more technical knowledge than accountants in industry (And will eventually earn a lot).

Evidence please?

... I would agree accountants in practice have a wider range of technical knowledge, but those in industry probably have more detailed technical knowledge of the bits that directly affect them! For instance, the import/export VAT knowledge of an accountant working for a freight forwarder is likely to be vastly superior to a practitioner (as is likely to be the knowledge of import/export managers).


rlikhang | | Permalink

I am an ACMA doing management consulting. Would an MBA add any value? Some people talk about a good MBA, what is meant by a good one?

In practice

ken of chesterl... | | Permalink


Have you not heard of ICAS?


Ken of Chesterle Street CA

As an accountant we have some

Bowie tony | | Permalink

As an accountant we have some responsibility. From the above document  it is cleared that parents choose the best products from their baby to give them a healthy and hygienic life. It is the primary and most important responsible of parents. Baby things has no limitation, we can found several types and brand of baby products available in market. All are not good for baby, for this consider on the composition of baby products essential.

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I know I'm not the first person to be a mum and an accountant nor the last. I don't want this blog to be patronizing or offensive in anyway but hopefully some mums or potential mums might be able to relate to some of these blogs. It is simply my thoughts and how I'm getting through some of the juggling acts. Also, I know that in a few years I will probably have found something I enjoy doing or some sort of work life balance and will be in a less stressed out place but until then, or as I get there, I think I will vent all my frustrations out on these blogs! And the responses I've had to the blogs have been quite nice which spurs me on to keep going.