Share this content

Career Advice - Next Steps

I’m after advice on where to go following some changes in my life.

Didn't find your answer?

Hi All,

I'm after some career advice from the community, anything would be a great help.

I've been working in finance now for over 10 years, and I'm currently a Financial Controller and part of the senior management/board for a tech company. The company has grown from a £3m to £10m turnover in my time. I am the most senior Finance member of staff. I have an Accountancy Degree, and I am currently studying my CIMA exams. I have passed one so far (E1).

I love what I do and love where I work, but I have two none work related situations that have brought me to a crossroads, hence the reason for the post. The first is a recent health issue, having been diagnosed with Epilepsy, I had my first seizures over the last few months at 33, having never had any signs or symptoms previously. The second is my eldest child has a Severe Learning Disability which means he requires a high level of care and support. He is coming towards the end of primary school age, and I am conscious that he will require longer term support over the next 5-10 years and onwards.

All of this has brought a sort of lightbulb moment for me, and made me think about what I'm going to do long term.

Without blowing my own trumpet (something I don't like to do), I am well skilled in what I do, hence where I have got to so far, without doing my exams. I was a finalist of four regional accountancy award categories in 2019, and have developed a wide range of skills, having worked with and alongside some fantastic individuals throughout my career. I've built in depth financial models and presented to senior executives internally and externally (our bank's feedback on a our recent CBILS presentation was that it was the most impressive they had seen)

I have full faith and confidence in my abilities, I'm just unsure on what are the next steps for me, and where I go with the skillset I have developed. I think long term, I harbour desires of doing something on my own, whether that be financial/business consulting, bookkeeping, or something of that mold. I want to be able to do something that will allow me to give my eldest the best opportunities in his own life. Money is a nice to have, but its far from the most important thing to me, nor is it my biggest driver. 

I'd be keen to get others thoughts on where I could potentially go next, any advice on whether CIMA is the best route for me, or whether I should look at other qualifications. Ideas on reading, podcasts, and other useful information. Or anybody who would be interested in being a mentor or adviser.

Thanks in advance


    Replies (14)

    Please login or register to join the discussion.

    By jonharris999
    03rd Aug 2020 06:50

    I'm sorry to hear about your health difficulties and your son's situation. Life isn't easy any which way, and these factors make it even harder for you.

    I can see why some sort of s/e consulting looks attractive in these circumstances (and you sound like the kind of person who would be attracted to it anyway). But that isn't easy either, so rather a lot depends there on what you *need* to earn (which is distinct from your inclination that you wouldn't always choose the most money).

    Your present position has a lot of advantages, especially for these times. The tech sector is relatively (!!) secure (!!). You are established, capable and well-liked. You like your job. A firm of that size is going to be better able to help you through your health/family situation (probably) than you will on your own.

    I'd say stay where you are. Use the rest of your 30's, and your child's teens, to finish CIMA at your own pace and with the support of your employer (you are sufficiently experienced that you'll probably find most of it a breeze). Don't add to the pressure now. Your 40's will be plenty of time to start your own thing if you feel like it then.

    Life goes by so quickly. Slow down. Experience the pleasure of your loved ones. Good luck.

    Thanks (3)
    By paul.benny
    03rd Aug 2020 08:05

    Very much agree with the previous post.

    Self-employment can be feast or famine and you can't always control which. A sympathetic and supportive employer is going to be much better than having clients wanting/needing attention Now.

    My understanding is that for many people, epilepsy can be well controlled, even if it takes a little while to get the right meds and dose. Until then, don't let that drive your decision-making.

    I hope you're getting the welfare benefits that your son's condition entitles you to receive. One of the factors is the degree of care needed compared with an 'ordinary child' (sorry). The gap tends to widen as they get older which may mean that eligibility has increased. Some benefits change at age 16, which may work to your advantage. Citizens Advice website has a lot of material to help.

    Thanks (1)
    Routemaster image
    By tom123
    03rd Aug 2020 08:07

    Hi, I have been on this website for 20 years. (eek), beware the grass is greener effect!

    I am CIMA qual, working for a business a bit smaller than yours.

    I have friends who are accountants 'in practice' struggling with recalcitrant builders and bags of receipts on a daily basis.

    Whilst it is comforting to have working for ones-self as a dream, the reality doesn't seem too appealing.

    Bear in mind, also, that people with a CIMA background can assume there is a ready market for consultancy type work - and then jump to practice, only to find really it is almost all tax based.

    I have ATT too.

    I would chip away at your CIMA exams if I am honest.

    Thanks (1)
    Replying to tom123:
    By Tom 7000
    07th Aug 2020 14:26

    5% audit
    2% mgt accounts
    10% payroll
    rest tax and accounts of various descriptions

    Thanks (0)
    By bernard michael
    03rd Aug 2020 09:02

    The CIMA route and job security are what probably best for you. Epilepsy is normally well controlled and shouldn't be a hindrance.
    My son was also severely challenged from birth and as he grew older different expensive monetary requirements emerged. Job security enabled these to be coped with. Consultancy carries with it the risk of periods of no work followed by periods of overwork and long hours
    Go for security

    Thanks (2)
    By sonoftwosheds
    03rd Aug 2020 10:11

    Agree with all of the previous posts, have been a one woman band for the past 30 years, and it has been difficult at times. However, I would just like to point you toward the ketogenic diet for your health issues. Do some reading up on it, seems to have been very sucessful in treating epilepsy, amongst other things.

    Good luck with whatever you decide

    Thanks (1)
    By lesley.barnes
    03rd Aug 2020 10:36

    Have to agree with everything that people have said. The problems with setting up a consultancy is who to pitch it at. Very often smaller clients are not interested, don't feel they can recoupe the cost of financial consultancy v savings or can't afford to pay a consultant. The larger companies have an inhouse finance person and usually have access to external accountants/auditors. As people have already said you will find yourself doing accounts & bookkeeping rather than consultancy. Unless you buy an established practice it would be starting with nothing and building up slowly. There are lots of posts on here about how to start and accountancy business and how to attract clients if you use the search facility.
    The hours can be long - you might find yourself looking after your son during the day and meeting clients then catching up with your accountancy at night.
    Clients are not always understanding and can be demanding, often handing paperwork in at the 11th hour and expecting it to be completed on time. So it can stressful.
    You may get consultancy work through agencies but you may find that the pay isn't as good as your current role because of IR35, you won't have the flexibility or a supportive team around you.

    Thanks (1)
    By Sam17
    03rd Aug 2020 10:56

    Hi All,

    Thankyou so much for the responses. There massively appreciated, and it means a lot that people have taken the time out to respond.

    I will digest the information, and come back with any further questions based on responses.

    Thanks again


    Thanks (1)
    Red Leader
    By Red Leader
    03rd Aug 2020 11:16

    Lots of valuable advice given.

    My only thought is that perhaps your current employer could agree to some sort of flexi working or more working from home. I imagine that would make childcare issues a bit easier.

    Thanks (2)
    Replying to Red Leader:
    Red Leader
    By Red Leader
    03rd Aug 2020 13:08

    I'd also add, get your CIMA qualification. Despite your proven skill level, you just won't get past some job applications which have a filter for "qualified accountant".

    Thanks (1)
    By Southwestbeancounter
    03rd Aug 2020 15:21

    I can't add anything to everyone's brilliant answers but I just wanted to wish you well.

    Thanks (2)
    By kestrepo
    03rd Aug 2020 20:55

    My first port of call would be to the company that you work for. Sing the right tune and they might fall over backwards to help you out..... or even offer you more money!!

    Thanks (1)
    By RaxJ
    04th Aug 2020 17:18

    Sorry to hear about your health issues. I do tend to find that a lot of accountants working in industry prefer setting up their own practice and working for themselves. Why is that? I tell you why, after building up experience in finance, people become uncomfortable with the 'overhead' tag. If your dream is to set up something for yourself, do it. CIMA may come in handy with that but ideally a practice role is the best route.

    Thanks (1)
    By Tom 7000
    07th Aug 2020 14:27

    You need to be the MD and 100% shareholder of something.... not necessarily an accounts firm.... As the FD in a small company you are just No1 employee... and its only time before you stop and think... wait a minute here, I am running this and my boss is '@#+ and how come he gets the big bucks....

    Its what I did...and never looked back...

    Thanks (2)
    Share this content