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First career move from practice to industry

First career move from practice to industry

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Hi all

I am a qualified ACA & ACCA member currently working in top 10 practice working as audit senior. I qualified as ACCA member in 2008 & ACA member in 2010, I started my career in a small practice back in 2005. In the last 7 years, I have worked in 3 practices and prepared statutory accounts, bookkeeping, auditing, corporation & personal tax although in the last 2 years, I am only working in audit.

I have now reached the point when I have really had enough of working in audit under tight weekly 7 working days budgets, running to different business location & difficult clients, working evenings &  weekends. I have been looking to move into more settled positions, roles in industry & commerce as general accountant, or management, financial accountant, however, it seems like it is very difficult to get into such roles. I haven’t been getting good response from the applications i have been making online through agents. I understand that we are competing against the professionals who have experience already working in industry.

Does anyone have any suggestion as to what is the best route, and what sort of organisations should be approached. Are there any courses that would be useful doing getting into industry roles such as training in ERP systems such as SAP, Oracle & Hyperion etc? I am currently on 40k, and i believe as this is the first move into industry, there would be a need to get into assistant roles, so to take the salary at 30k. Could you please advise if I am on the right path, or what is the best way to get into industry roles including large corporates to SME’s.  Are there any agencies who are good at this in particular? Your thoughts and feedback will be highly appreciated, as I keep searching within myself.

Thank you all!

Replies (17)

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17th Aug 2012 15:03

I was in a very similar situation to yourself 13 years ago.  The agencies tried to push into applying for internal audit roles within industry, which I wasn't really interested in.  I eventually secured a position with a large family business who wanted a financial accountant to work alongside the management accountant.

It would be good for to apply for positions in industries that you have had exposure to during your life in practice and highlighting your knowledge of those industries.

Promoting a good knowledge of Excel is always helpful.

Good Luck and hope you find a worthwhile role.

By the way I returned to practice (my own) 6 years ago as I couldn't cope with the long hours my job in industry entailed!




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By zarathustra
17th Aug 2012 15:35

Don't compromise on salary

If you are on £40K now, I would not accept less to move into Industry as this would probably send out the wrong signals and it will take you ages to get back to £40K.

Practice to industry normally results in a rise.

As the previous poster said, I would emphasise applications to industries in which you have had prior exposure.

If you dont mind me asking, are you older than the average 4yrs PQE?

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By rohit
17th Aug 2012 16:19

Self employment

I totally agree with the above comments and strongly suggest you stay where you are as generally the move from practice to industry boosts earnings.

Even in industry employers are becoming more and more demanding these days (as L Walsh has highlighted)  & expect employees to work very long hours etc. You always have the option of starting up your own business & believe me you will not regret for one minute working for yourself as opposed to some monkey.

You have not 1 but 2 accountancy qualifications under your belt and good experience (from what you say) in accounts/tax/audit required for opening own practice.

I know this doesn't really answer your question...if you are still wanting to move then get your CV across to the big agencies but be very picky in terms of roles and don't simply jump straight into a position which you may regret later on. Highlight areas which involve commercial skills and attributes required for the job so having a good understanding of the role requirements is a must.


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By Ken Howard
17th Aug 2012 16:19

Grass is greener

Don't assume that you won't experience the same kind of pressure and long hours in industry.  I moved to industry and it was A LOT WORSE than being in practice.  I was looking for different jobs within months and ended up back in practice.

As said above, have you considered starting your own practice or looking for partnership roles within smaller practices? 

Even if you're not wanting to stay in practice at the moment, have you considered the necessary practising certificate in case you want to get back in the future?  It seems you're currently ideally placed to get the requisite experience signed off by your current employer to get your PC - if you leave for industry without getting the PC, it may be a lot harder for you to get it if you ever do want to return to practice (and of course you can't practice without a PC).  May be worth staying for as long as necessary to get your PC and then think of your next move.

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Replying to ksalter:
By scg
18th Aug 2012 21:15

Grass is Greener ...

I am moving into practice after almost 20 years in senior finance roles within industry, aside from a brief stint with Deloitte.

I have employed quite a few ex practice accountants (into internal audit, tax and financial accounting roles) in my time and on paper it sounded like it would work and they would bring the right skill set to the role. None -- from memory -- lasted more than 2 years, I can think of 3 that lasted less than 6 months before returning back to their accounting firms. Our company will no longer contemplate such hires. Dont burn any bridges as it is quite different. The hours are long, you have only one client and if they are a pain (and they often are!) there is no relief.




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By zarathustra
17th Aug 2012 16:29

@Ken Howard

I agree

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By wilcoskip
18th Aug 2012 22:27

Different worlds

I moved into industry soon after qualifying.  I stayed in industry for around 18 months. 

One change I didn't like was the tedium of the work.  As someone else has mentioned, you go from working for many clients (which has its own frustrations and time pressures) to only working for one.  Even if it's pleasant there, the lack of variety could be stifling (as I found it to be).

Secondly, instead of being on the front line of fee earning, you're now a backroom overhead, and attitudes towards you change.  The engineers in the firm I worked for enjoyed lavish Christmas lunches and bonuses.  The accounts team enjoyed (?) a brief Christmas lunch at a local cut-price hotel and were warned not to spend too much time there before returning to work.

Practice may be a pain in the backside sometimes, but overall it works better for me (particularly now I run my own gaff.)


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By Weald Accountant
23rd Aug 2012 12:38

Was in audit, now in industry, looking to go back to practice...

I made the move from audit to practice just under 2 years ago and work as a Senior Financial Accountant for a US owned media company.

Going in to financial accounting is probably the easier step from a practice/audit background as you still prepare stats and manage the audit process etc. I achieved a pay rise coming in to industry, and like you I had grown bored of audit, constantly living out of a suitcase in crappy hotels.

I would offer the following advice from my own experience -

Industry & Commerce is different from practice, not better, not worse, just different. After a nearly 2 years of month end and quarter end procedures I am bored, bored bored bored. It is the same thing month after month. I am looking at moving on now and could easily start looking for more money in a similar role, but instead I am considering taking a pay cut and going back to practice, mainly as I want to use my brain again! Who would have thought I would ever agree that money isn't the only important thing in a job!? Also, I have an ambition to work for myself in the future and feel practice would be the best route to this (unless I want to work as a temp/contractor in industry, but that doesn't really appeal).

I hated the restriction on holidays that life as an auditor brought (no holidays from Christmas to Easter anyone?), especially as I love ski holidays. In Commerce & Industry in a management accountant/reporting role there would usually 1.5 - 2 weeks every month that you cant go away if you are involved in the month end process. Then if you have a 31st December year end, say goodbye to those ski holiday plans again as year end close, stats prep, year end audit, possible internal audit and a few month ends and March quarter end suddenly mean no holidays until april again.

So - is the grass greener? My own experience is no, just different.



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By arandall
23rd Aug 2012 12:39

Consider this...

I must confess I have not worked in practice, having gained my qulaifications in industry.  But I would say, hold onto to your salary level if you want to work for a large company.  However, consider this. I went from a large corporate, which was boring and tedious, to a smaller family company where I learnt an enormous amount, had great variety (you get involved in lots of different things) and was fun.  You may need to revise your pay expectations for this, but it will stand you in good stead if you then decide to return to practice either on your own or with someone else.  I would agree with the comments though that advise you to get your PC before you leave practice.

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By SarahL2011
23rd Aug 2012 13:16

More thoughts....

I left practice about 18 months after I qualified to move into Industry and have never looked back. I left practice because I was bored & failing to see the value in audit work (in those days it was much harder to move into non audit areas in the big 6 (as they were!) firms). I wanted the challenge of being at the coal face and actually delivering value on a day to day basis rather than just reviewing other people's work - which is how audit had begun to feel to me.

You do need to make sure you are moving for the right reasons. Hoping to reduce the amount of overtime that you do is definitely not one of them! Accountants in industry work very long hours, which have only increased as the recession has hit and department budgets are cut. They can also often end up in very routine jobs and if this isn't to your liking then you need to do your research and make sure you are avoiding many of the more traditional management or financial accounting roles.

On the whole most senior people in industry tend to prefer to take newly qualifieds out of practice & into industry because they don't shy away from doing the low level work that is needed when they take the sideways step into industry (remember that there is a lot you will need to learn). It looks like you've been in practice for about 7 years now, so that might be part of the problem. My best advice is to sign up with one of the large finance agencies and get them to help you write your CV and practice your interview skills.

If I was interviewing today for a newly qualified I would want to see someone who could evidence excellent written skills and could show me good interpersonal skills.






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By paulhuber
07th Dec 2016 06:36

Good career move will bring good positive results for us. Therefore, before choosing a career goal, we should first take suggestions from experts and inspire from other successful people. So during practice, we may face several kinds of negative phases and when we move to industry, we are able to gain better experience to improve our career goals.

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Hallerud at Easter
07th Dec 2016 10:43

An observation re pressure:

Working in practice has multiple time deadlines for multiple clients, from a time pressure perspective that can be pretty unrelenting, but you tend not to fully vest/identify with the clients.

Working for one employer can be very different, if you are now making decisions within that business/for that business in a senior role (depends upon scope and size) the buck stops with you- get things wrong you could damage/kill the business.

I have found that over time I am proprietorial, I may not own shares in the entities we control but myself and one other day to day run the business for the owners, I feel like it is mine, I begrudge every payment going out the door, budget over-runs make me wince, selling/leasing property for less than expected is a blow.

Now the strong bond may be partially because the particular industry (property and development) became a banking leper post 2008, we have had years of teasing out lending positions/ reducing debt with banks (Stressful and not good fun) and meantime we were seeing other property companies in Edinburgh fold/go under (there are a fair few no more and some big name casualties amongst the fallen), we were lucky, we were not as exposed as the rest and had a good swathe of assets that were marketable.

Now given what we had built ,up to 2008 (I had pre 2008 spent 9 years full time helping build the group) ,it can be pretty dispiriting seeing it diminished/sold etc, albeit there is always the consolation of driving around and mentally saying , we built that, they are our plans etc (though no plaques on the buildings yet)

Accordingly what such identification may induce is that the problems and ills of the business may come home at night- there is a different stress, it is not a panic, must finish everything, it is, gosh- did I get that right/ what if......?

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Replying to DJKL:
Routemaster image
By tom123
30th Jan 2018 13:42

hear hear

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By Weald Accountant
12th Dec 2016 11:26

What a wake up call!!

This message thread popped up again because of the recent posts. I originally commented back in 2012 when I had been in industry for 2 years, was bored, and looking at moving back in to practice.

Another 4 years down the line and it is quite scary looking back at my old views.

So here are my thoughts as I look back at my views then and what happened since. I think they are still relevant to the topic:

I did change jobs, but I stayed in industry, moving to a smaller business as a Financial Controller and then Group Financial Controller and now have fairly clear path to becoming a Director in the future. All fantastic right?


A change of scenery was good for a while. A change in job role and new responsibilities has also been good, but that all wears off eventually. So 4 years down the line I am still bored of month end, quarter end, year end, audit, interim audit, due diligence all of which has doubled since we are now US owned and now do everything in two formats. It is same thing time and again. The hours worked have become longer and pressures on personal relationships have become more acute. I have learned that as the business grows there are always growing pains before systems/recruitment requirements are addressed. These pains always result in later nights and more stress and always lead us to say 'next year we will have more time to do xyz', or 'once this project is finished it will return to normal'. I have gradually realised that this is what 'normal' looks like. I look at the current FD and I should be striving to be them and to have their job, but then I see the 2am emails, the Friday night/Saturday night emails, how tired the FD looks. The title of FD might sound great and be a boost to anyone's ego and result in a wave of 'congratulations' on linkedIn, but do I want to have that life? No. Would that life lead to serious consequences in my personal life? Yes.

So why is this a wakeup call? I have been looking to move back to practice again. This move is now more difficult than 4 years ago as my practice experience is even further out of date and the pay cut to get back in will be very significant. I see that in the last 4 years, my heart and gut feeling have not changed, but 4 years ago the lure of another pay rise clouded my judgement.

To look back at this message and see that I have been walking down the wrong path for 4 years is depressing. It has just made it very real to me how little progress I have made on my personal long term goals. Where might I have been now if I had made the move 4 years ago?

I now need to turn this into motivation and drive for the future. In another 4 years, what do I want to look back and see? 4 years further into a career that I know deep down is not for me and that I struggle to connect with emotionally or draw any satisfaction or intellectual stimulation from?

Or do I want to look back in 4 years time and be proud that I took the risk, to try something different even if I earn less.

There are many versions of this quote I have heard, but it seems appropriate here:

'You will regret the things you didn't do far more than anything you did'.

Right then, onwards and upwards. Thanks to the recent comments for reviving this thread and giving me the opportunity for reflection!

All the best.

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By Weald Accountant
23rd Jan 2017 11:00

Hello again,

Further to my 'Wake up call' comment on the 12th December I just wanted to add that I have now handed in my notice from my role as Group FC and have secured a role within a small firm to make that transition back into practice.

Here is hoping for a successful 2017 and that taking the plunge (and the pay cut!) will pay off in the long run.

All the best,


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Replying to Weald Accountant:
By stevenmc
30th Jan 2018 12:23

Just being a nosy outside reader, how has the change been?

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Replying to stevenmc:
By wilcoskip
31st Jan 2018 14:12

It would be good to get an update.
Surely this thread wins some award for spanning the amount of time it has?

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