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Accountancy Career

Accountancy Career

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I came across this site whilst doing a google search for advice on the same issue. 

In short, I am thinking of a career change. I am 29 and graduated in 2006 with a 2:1 BSc Economics from a top 10 uni and have four A levels at grades AAAB (IT, History, Economics and Maths). At the time, I did apply and received offers for ACA training contracts with big organisations. However, I also applied to the Police and indeed that was the route that I went down.

2006 was a different world, pre downturn and a lot of careers were a land of opportunity. I was attracted to Policing because it was still regarded as a good career with exciting opportunities to specialise and earn promotion. Alas things are not quite like that now, masses of good people fighting for minimal promotions / the odd specialist post, huge cuts in pay and a real worry about career development. I didn't join for the money and I do okay with bits of overtime and some temporary pay for covering a higher rank, but I am now worried about another 30 years in a role that is becoming a bit 'Groundhog Day' with limited progression. 

I have mused upon a career change for a few years now and am getting to the stage of thinking it might be time within the next 12 to 24 months. I say might be, because I have a young baby and mortgage (although we haven't hugely overstretched things). My partner works and I could afford a pay cut if I knew it was a temporary hardship to allow a  better future. We have settled in the Midlands and so a move to London is not viable at the moment.

I have been looking at grad schemes, mainly in audit with ACA training. There appears to be no bar on age to these schemes. Has anyone experience of older graduates on these schemes? Would this be the best way for me to go? Has anyone completed ACA or similar training juggling home life and children? Is the Midlands a good place to build an accountancy career?

I know that I can shine in an assessment centre. At least I hope that I can, as although Policing doesn't give you much in the way of professional qualifications, it's given me a lot of the so called soft skills (nothing tests your communication skills like talking a suicidal person off the top of a building) . I am a bright, hard working and approachable person. I just want to be realistic about what is best for me, my family and our future and so any advice regarding a career shift is most welcome. 

Many thanks in advance

Replies (14)

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By duncanedwards
30th Jul 2014 20:16

If you replace ...
the word policing with the word accountancy (or probably many professions), you'll be close to the truth. If you do change career, do it because you want to because chances are you'll find the same issues as you have currently.

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By cathroberts1
31st Jul 2014 12:59

Anything is possible

Who knows what the accountancy profession will have to deal with in 3 or 5 years time.

I would become an accountant because you would enjoy the work, no other reason.

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By GuestXXX
17th Mar 2015 17:13


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By EmbHrb
01st Aug 2014 03:43

Part of the reason
That I want to make a change is that I feel I'm wasting my intelligence and education (I know how that might sound). There is the possibility of internal moves but without promotion the pay (even with OT) isn't there, and more importantly, nor is the future proofing that accountancy offers. There are no professional qualifications of any note in Policing. That worries me a lot. If in ten years I got injured and so lost my Police job, I would have nothing to fall back on. I think / hope accountancy might offer me more mental stimulation and more security.....(post written at 4am after a late shift!)

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By tom123
01st Aug 2014 07:03

No reason why not

There is no reason why you shouldn't change 'career' - although I would point out that the accountancy profession as such is a broad church - yes you have the people working in the big four firms, but then you have a majority working in smaller firms of accountants, or, like me, working in industrial companies.

Why not give yourself 'one last chance' and make a plan for the following 12 months within the Police Service to really see if you can manage a sideways move or something. Then, if it doesn't pan out. at least when you move on you will know you tried every option.

In any career there will be those wishing to change - and thinking something with a name on it (accountancy, teaching, social work) is preferable to what they currently do.

On another board I visit there are as many nurses wanting to change to teaching and vice versa. There are accountants wanting to 'give something back' and become nurses. People want to be lawyers, and people want to stop being lawyers etc etc.

Have you thought about the legal profession - it might fit better perhaps?

Good luck

(speaking as someone who was in Special Constabulary for ten years)

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By Kirkers
01st Aug 2014 09:48

I live (and work) in the Midlands as a trainee accountant. I must admit, it doesn't feel particularly difficult in my area to find accountancy firms that are hiring. I certainly haven't seen such a drop in work as others have (from reading other posts).

Saying that, I've noticed the trainee wages here seem to be considerably lower than my friends further afield. I would expect you'll be on quite a large pay drop. 

You've really got to work out if accountancy is your top choice. It gets tedious, as a trainee you'll wish you had more money, and there's a hell of a lot to learn - both qualification wise and experience/on the job training. If you're sure about accountancy and you're willing to take the pay cut and work your socks off (from your post I can see you're determined and hard working) then I'd give it a go. 

Audit can be a struggle - a lot of firms nowadays are not audit registered, and its quite specialist. If you find yourself in an audit department of a medium sized firm you probably won't be doing a lot else and will find it hard if you ever decide to move into tax/accounts. My advice would be to study ACA while doing a more general role - accounts trainee etc. You may get the opportunity to delve into audit and see if its really what you'd like to do. It'll be easier to get into audit with accounts experience than get into accounts having only done audit.

Grad schemes are good, but you've got to remember there are normally a huge number of candidates for one job. If you're not good enough and they throw you out on your ear they can easily replace you with the high interest they get. Have you thought about local accountancy firms? Lots of places are willing to train you up and provide a decent training contract. I'm probably a little biased as I work for a smaller firm but I find that because they've invested so much time in you already (+ paying agency fees if they've chosen that route) that they're willing to put in extra effort to train you up, more study leave, more flexibility on how many exams per sitting etc. You're also more likely to be able to dip into the other aspects of practice work.

There's a lot to think about and if you'd like any more information feel free to message me. Depending on where in the Midlands you are I might be able to recommend some accountancy focused agencies to start searching through.

All the best!

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By andy.partridge
01st Aug 2014 10:20

Longer term

Accountancy is a good career but it's not the best.

A friend of mine, ex-copper, retired at 50 on a very decent pension. He now only does work that he wants to do because he doesn't actually need to do any if he doesn't want to. Only an elite or extremely fortunate accountant could contemplate that.

So be very wary of what you might be throwing away and for what.

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By Alan Davies
01st Aug 2014 10:30

Why not

When I trained with Deloittes (Touche Ross as it was then) in Leeds we had a number of 'mature' grads in the graduate scheme.  So I'd say go for it! Be sure to apply for the big 4 schemes too as they tend to pay more and all the large cities in the Midlands have big 4 and mid tier firms so you shouldn't have to travel too far.  Leveraging the 'life skills' that you will have picked up will make you stand out from the rest of those who apply.

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By marco75
01st Aug 2014 12:09

Be clear what you're applying for


A word of advice, if you are applying for graduate schemes at the Big 4, make sure you know which one you're applying for and why this stream. They are split into audit and tax routes. My experience of being part of a Big 4 audit department was that the audit department does pretty much only audit of financial statements and where there's any type of tax query this gets farmed out to the tax team and the audit team don't really get involved.

This is fine when you're there, but if you have the ambition to have your own firm with part of your services being corporate tax and personal tax advice, then the time you've spent doing audit won't really help you. You'll know accounting standards and auditing standards and you'll have seen the inside of some big businesses and that can be valuable in your career if you want to work in an accountancy practice as an auditor or in business as a financial/management accountant.  But three years doing just audit work won't give you the experience you need to preparing tax returns for individuals/businesses and that's something that most people think accountants do.

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By mrme89
01st Aug 2014 12:25

Regarding graduate schemes, I would think that most of the big employers would deem your degree to be 'out of date'.


Have you thought about studying the first level of the AAT qualification to see if it's for you before fully committing to a full career change?

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By neileg
01st Aug 2014 13:05


Does your force have an Economic Crime unit? That would make a good springboard into a private sectore job.

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By FCExtraordinaire
01st Aug 2014 13:27


Why don't you venture on some part-time study,  get the books and do the first level of ACCA or AAT.    See if you like it and can get to grips with it.

You don't have to throw away your career in the Police straightaway and if you got a few exams done, then you could change and be a bit further up the ladder.    In that way you could find out if you have an aptitude for accountancy and that you like it.

Think of smaller companies too,  they sometimes pay quite well and will support study leave. 

In so far as the job goes,   even at an FC level it can be repetitive at times.  There is more competition that ever before it seems.  But if you are good at what you do ,  that shouldn't worry you.

In so far as the studying,  I did it with a mortgage and two kids under 5.   I think I am still catching up on my sleep but it was all worth it. 




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By marting
16th Jun 2018 05:03


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By EmbHrb
04th Aug 2014 21:05

Thanks for all of the advice guys. I fully understand what people are saying about Policing in regard to the pension, early retirement etc but those days have completely gone. The pension and retirement age that I will face are a world away from cops retiring today in their late 40s and 50s. My generation are working until normal retirement age and of course, most won't get there by virtue of failing fitness tests as the body fails in later life. 


I also understand the comments about working in economic crime and similar areas, but these roles don't really exist anymore. The City of London police take the lead on a lot of fraud investigation, as do the financial institutions themselves. There are units that deal with the proceeds of crime act but again a lot of the work is done by those outside the organisation. 


I quite like the idea of starting some study in my own time. I know that I can study whilst working as I've passed both the Police Sergeants and National Investigators exams in the top 1% nationally but this was admittedly pre-baby, when free time was abundant. If I start ACCA or AAT study now, then I can give Policing a few more months to see if anything improves and like has been suggested, be more sure that what I am studying is what I want to pursue.


I'm really encouraged though that people think the move is achievable and realistic.  I am going to start working on applications over the coming months and researching where to aim myself - big, medium or small firms. I



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