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How do I move into Industry roles please? Too old?

A good starting point for a MAAT qualified and ACCA PQ like me.

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How do I move into Industry roles please? Too old for this entry?

I have been trying to crack this in one shot for a while. I feel like I have only got one shot. Nearly 33 and switched careers far too many times and I might have gone far too deep into depression and have just bounced back.

I have worked in IT support for some time and hated every minute of it. Bachelors in IT.

I worked in a business development role as a sales manager for three years and hated every minute of it. Masters in business management.

Now, I have worked in a small accountancy firm voluntarily and really liked preparing P/L accounts, bank reconciliation, bookkeeping in general, maintaining ledgers for our clients, dealing with HMRC (!), speaking to people about compliance and what not. Long story short, I have been offered MAAT full membership based on my practical experience in this finance role and my academic papers from ACCA part qualification. (three more professional papers to go!)

 

My question is, I don’t want to not complete ACCA and would really like to make something out of it. I would like to work in an industry role when I will be dealing mainly internal stakeholders. I realise I have heavy competition from younger work force who just don’t mind taking on AP silos or AR silos in this type of role and toil away for couple of years. Should I follow the same route?

Are there any other routes I can mull about? For example, sticking with a practice until becoming fully qualified and make the move into industry as an assistant management accountant or a junior financial controller or something?

Please give me some suggestions. I feel like I am too old from all this studying, volunteering and working full time for the past three years and always need three points of contact (!) to even stand upright! Sigh. ☹

 

 

Replies (14)

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By mrme89
10th Oct 2019 18:46

Too old at 33? No way, Jose. You're not even half way into your working career.

I'd stick with working in practice, complete Acca and then review your options.

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By Ncawnc
10th Oct 2019 18:59

Retirement not on horizon. :)
That’s nice (!)

No seriously, thanks for the response. I did work way too hard with my full time job on the side to finish 11 papers in ACCA before they merged P1 and P3 into one. Grrr.

You reckon, I should stick with the small practice. Hmm. It’s just the salary (22k) is a bit low but I guess, I like doing what I am doing, something relevant to what I studied. At least can get paid properly and not volunteer during rubbish hours anymore.

I had a chat with few people in the industry working in AP and AR and they are basically doing bookkeeping on an international scale with SAP and see no way out of it.

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By mrme89
10th Oct 2019 20:04

The salary might not be great now, but you also need to put a value on the experience you are receiving. I think there's a huge value in that.

With the qualificiation and some solid experience, the salary will naturally come.

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By Ncawnc
10th Oct 2019 21:29

Thank you!

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By Accountant A
11th Oct 2019 13:21

Ncawnc wrote:

I had a chat with few people in the industry working in AP and AR and they are basically doing bookkeeping on an international scale with SAP and see no way out of it.

I'd certainly be very wary of finance roles in very big companies. There's a lot of "division of labour" where you only see a tiny bit of 'the picture'.

I would say it's definitely best advice to stay put and get your qualification - more so if you already have a CV with lots of moves.

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By Ncawnc
11th Oct 2019 15:30

You are absolutely right. You have your hand on the pulse on what I have sadly described. I was merely considering the transactional roles as an entry point into the company. It would take forever if not at all to get out of the silo.

One way is to stay put which I am probably intending to do.

Another way is to try assistant management accountant or assistant financial accountant roles?

Time to whip out a glowing cover letter explaining all this with precision.

My worry here is, how should I go about bettering myself along these lines during an interview? Are these even a valid entry point?

Obviously, the competition is a tad bit higher from people younger than me, sharper than me in for example, identifying and costing a random job problem during an assistant management accountant interview test...

Should I just keep trying until I have my hand on the art of excelling these costing tests? I also wonder who actually performs well during these tests. They are always a bit tougher for me. I failed at least three of them over last 4 weeks. I was able to clear the telephone interview, even with the hiring manager but they have come back to me basically saying I am rubbish at the tests.

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By Ncawnc
10th Oct 2019 21:35

I have been living in a house share for far too long, just can't seem to get out of living poorly.

Anyways, I still have the qualification to complete which will keep me going.
I just hope I can get on a practice somewhere that can offer me within a £25k - £30k range. May be I will work part time at my current place at 22k and try to get on to another practice?

I would like to have the routine responsibilities that an internal industry roles can bring but the salary there is even more poorly and are ranging just over minimum wages for entry level roles 'assisting' the financial controller.

Maybe I have to finish ACCA first and become at least an affiliate member?
I still don't know how to enter or become a company accountant.

Would auditing specialisation help? I have a choice of ACCA's professional papers between auditing and financial management..

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Replying to Ncawnc:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
10th Oct 2019 23:07

In my experience (which is very out of date) given the smaller accountancy firm experience you currently have, and the size of clients you likely currently work for, maybe a smaller industry role would fit best- say as number two or three in a company with 3-4 accounts staff.

Both my roles in industry (previously with a company with a chain of clothes shops) and currently with a property group came about because they were clients who approached me, it was not the slick world of larger accounting departments but it fitted with the experience I had up to the first offer back in 1990(2.5 years with a larger national CA practice then 2.5 years with a smaller CA practice)

Everyone is different but I certainly by then knew I did not want to be spare wheel no 10 in a 10-20 strong accounts team (had seen enough of them during the first 2.5 years of my career)

If auditing, what sort of size companies will you audit? Frankly if you are conducting small , virtually one man audits, mainly in house from client books say handed in and are not away on site evaluating systems/controls etc at larger clients, what real experience do you gain to step into a larger corporate world?

Unless you are actually really doing some systems analysis/evaluation etc what do you bring to the bigger employers in industry, what experience do you really have they want?

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By Ncawnc
11th Oct 2019 07:56

Hello, good morning.
Thanks for your response. That’s lot to think about.

Smaller industry roles seems like a good idea. As you have correctly identified, the company would have 3-4 accounts staff and would have the opportunity to learn lots while working there.

I can imagine it would become a rat race between senior and junior members of staff. Between years old staff and new on-boarders. It’s understandable politics that exists in all companies.

Oh, I wish clients would approach me but they usually are not that big at my current place never mind I am just working part time and volunteering there during unsocial hours. I don’t get to speak with clients often but when I do, it’s usually very clinical and that’s no way to build rapport.

That just makes me sad. I already feel like a spare wheel at my current practice and I haven’t even been working during sensible hours of the day.

With regards to joining a smaller company role, would you say I should join as an accounts assistant? Maybe on accounts payable and/or accounts receivable? Work with the financial controller as an assistant or maybe with a management accountant as their assistant?

Or are you suggesting a company a tad bit smaller than this where they might not have separate individuals to do all this but do it between themselves with 2-3 members of staff reporting to a financial controller?

I am just trying to breakdown and understand my options in front of me.

I have an offer from a very small practice run by a single partner and 2 staff members and they want me to come on board and take responsibility for managing the bookkeeping, preparing VAT and CIS returns, monthly RTI submissions and finalising accounts.

It would mean, I would be on a path towards a practice manager responsible for handling everything and the partner don’t have to come to office.

They are only offering 22k in the first year and I have already started dreading questions from rental letting agencies with regards to my affordability if I want to move locally to the area. Never mind buying a property.

I don’t see any prospects of moving away from there if I start full time. It is a full on responsibility for day to day running of the practice, I was told even have to maintain attendance, and be fully responsible for deadlines. This means I am running the practice as a salaried staff full on for peanuts.

With regards to auditing, I just floated the idea to see what might come out of it. I have never worked in a place that does audits. I do have to have some understanding of it at least academically and hence have to study the audit paper for ACCA.

Or maybe, I should not take this offer for 22k and look for a practice that does audits. So I can have more options down the line when I finish my papers in 6 months time.

I don’t think I can bring much to bigger employers in industry as of now except hard work, willing to learn quickly, ability to see the bigger picture and people skills.

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By Duggimon
11th Oct 2019 08:41

Started one career, hated it. Started second career, hated it. Started third career, love it, should I move?

I think you need to place a higher value on having found a job you like. Your salary will increase if you can stick at it, whether at the workplace you are now or doing the same role somewhere else once you get the qualification, don't be too hasty to move on to a role that is very different to what you're doing now and might prove to be a big step backwards in terms of job satisfaction.

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By Ncawnc
11th Oct 2019 09:44

Hi, thanks.

You are right. ☹ I was not able to stay in my first IT support career because of personal reasons and wanted to get away from a toxic environment, that was largely within my mind although. It was the right thing to do at the time. Moving away from everything I was familiar with to a brand-new place as an economic migrant, it gave me new hope and got to know that the world is a much bigger place than my small community.

The second career as a sales manager was not too bad but hated talking about meaning less strategies all day long. Dealing with wild speculations all day long and ‘required’ to lie through my teeth every time to everyone unsuspecting. That’s just the way the sector operates, however one slices or dices it.
To choose accountancy was a rational decision I had to take not overnight, not over a week or even a month but over several years. I have been volunteering with several small accountancy practices ranging from answering phones calls to bookkeeping to sorting the exciting (!) bag of rubbish invoices largely to keep myself busy and not to be lonely.

I have fallen in love with it and have made the decision to pursue ACCA. Without any exemptions offered, I had to sit through every single paper. It kept me going.
You are right again; I need to place a higher value on the job I have found. 22k is not minimum wage and one can live relatively comfortably with some degree of personal freedom.

It’s just that I felt like I have one more shot in choosing either a practice life or an industry role. Upon asking around and from working for the past few years (My sale manager role is for an accountancy practice and that’s how I got into the industry in the first place), have a very poor work life balance. Especially, If I am on a pathway to become a practice manager, I just don’t see the situation improving.

It is true for industry roles with weekly payment runs, month end processes, quarter ends and year ends audits. People say I will get bored within a year. I might switch back into practice very quickly as I have good contacts in the sector if I can’t cope. What I have difficulty for now is in trying to work out what are the entry points for people like me.

Becoming qualified will certainly help, I guess. One thing is sure, I just don’t see moving away from the accountancy industry. I just love it and won’t be going anywhere soon.

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By Duggimon
11th Oct 2019 09:55

Your anxiety is understandable but I think it's misplaced. People will tell you that you ought to be in your role by age X or Y is too old to switch to something new, but it's not true. There are no hard and fast rules, no required age for switching, and you have over 30 years left in the workforce. No employers are put off by someone with 'only' 30 years left to offer.

I think you're doing too much measuring up and agonising. As long as you keep going in the right direction you don't need to stress so much about the destination. Have a plan, have goals by all means but don't be so defeatist about the timescales you expect or want.

33 is young, you've found the area you want to work in and are most of the way to getting a good qualification that will help you find new opportunities within that area. Keep going where you are, clear the hurdles in front of you and then take a breath, see what's on the horizon and make a plan from there, but don't be a slave to it.

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By Ncawnc
11th Oct 2019 10:44

Interesting. I have not considered that employers measure up the ‘time left to offer’ as a factor in working out someone’s suitability for a role. I have been keeping my head down for a while as I have got so much on my plate.

I thought this is the right time to stop my other full-time position and switch over to this practice role, from Monday actually. Hoping to have a relaxed weekend, hope you will too!

Thank you for your kind words of encouragement, it certainly made my morning! :)

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By Ncawnc
12th Oct 2019 09:17

I think I should stick with a practice for the first year or so and complete the ACCA qualification.

I could keep trying assistant management roles or assistant accountant roles in the mean time.

People in transactional roles in industry are trying to get out but studying chartered qualification. There is no point in me trying to join one being part qualified. Or is there? Hmm

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