How to find work as a subcontract accountant?

Ex practice owner, FCCA accountant with 20hrs per week spare - how do I find work?

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I'm wondering if anyone would be able to give me any tips or advice on how to find work as a subcontractor practice accountant while I build my new startup?

A little bit of background about myself if it helps: 

  • FCCA qualified and I hold an ACCA Practice Certificate
  • Started my own practice and grew it to circa £180k GRF before selling last year
  • Completed additional ACCA qualifications such as Certificate for Digital Innovation in Finance and almost finished the Certificate in Data Analytics
  • Tech & productivity geek (I love systems & IT) with complete WFH setup (new desktop PC, triple monitors, professional studio microphone & HD webcam etc.)

My startup uses Power BI to link into multiple systems like Xero, Google Analytics, Sharepoint, Web etc. via API and create custom built dashboards with rich visuals so executives have a complete business overview in the one place.

Development is going well, however it's going to be a while before it gains traction (hopefully!) and I'll have around 20hrs per week spare for the foreseeable future - hence I'm looking to pick up some subcontract work to keep my practice accounting skills sharp.

Would anyone be able to recommend the best way to find work? I'm guessing recruitment agencies wouldn't be able to help, therefore would it just be a case of firing my CV into accounting firms along with a well-written cover letter asking them to get in touch should they require assistance on an ad-hoc basis? Or is there perhaps a good website or forum for this kind of thing? 

Thanks in advance!

Replies (14)

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By the_drookit_dug
13th Nov 2020 10:44

Sending in CVs is too passive - easily thrown to the side and ignored.

Try to make contact with firms in person, such as at chamber networking events etc (easier said than done in the current climate, I admit). Use your current network, plus LinkedIn is a great tool.

BTW, I think your new business offering is a fantastic idea.

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
13th Nov 2020 10:51

Pick up the phone and ring local accountants.

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13th Nov 2020 12:31

If you love tech, systems and presumably processes have you thought about consultancy to smaller practices who need a bit of support with such things. It would need to be practical though - more you need to bolt x to y, rather than expensive plans and assessments.

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13th Nov 2020 14:03

It would help if you gave on here your approximate location

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Replying to NYB:
By TriBilly
13th Nov 2020 15:10

Sure - I'm based in Scotland, however due to the pandemic I would only be looking to carry out services on a remote/WFH basis and would therefore be happy to work for an accountant anywhere in the UK

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By exceljockey
13th Nov 2020 15:46

Check out - they are England based but they do often have WFM roles.

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By Sandnickel
14th Nov 2020 09:20

I'm not sure why you've discounted recruitment agencies? Personally, I'd try as many different avenues as possible and agencies will have contacts at accountancy firms.

LinkedIn, other social media you're part of, contacting local accountants, indeed, people per hour. Many options to choose from.

Best of luck

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Replying to Sandnickel:
By TriBilly
17th Nov 2020 09:23

I assumed there would be no benefit to recruitment agencies since they're not placing an employee and therefore not receiving any % salary commission etc.

If I put up a post on LinkedIn and an agent messages saying they can help or do know someone, I certainly won't turn down their offer :)

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By MayfieldChris
14th Nov 2020 09:26

TriBilly without wishing to nick your USP.Can I ask a question, do you need a good grounding in MS Excel before you jump into PowerBI or can you just pick up what you need as you go through the PowerBi learning process?

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Replying to MayfieldChris:
By TriBilly
17th Nov 2020 09:32

Power BI is a whole beast in itself, it's not like Xero where you can load it up for the first time and become fairly confident in a few weeks and be able to figure out everything easy enough on an ongoing basis.

Power BI reports for the end user are super easy to use (anyone could use them with no training) - however it's designing the reports, managing the data and linking the APIs etc. that is the hard part. It takes a good few months to learn the basics of how to do that, and even then you're only scratching the surface of it and you're going to encounter a lot of little quirks/problems etc. all the time and get very frustrated along the way :)

There is something in Power BI called DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) which is similar to Excel - having good Excel cells certainly wouldn't hurt but it's not essential.

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Replying to TriBilly:
By MayfieldChris
17th Nov 2020 11:58

Cheers, TriBilly.

Appreciate the reply and note the advice therein. Think I'll plow on with a few more MSExcel courses and then make the leap into PowerBI.

I don't think that I have fully exploited the time - saving and opportunities available to advise clients through better utilisation of VBA - though I am conscious MS is looking to ditch VBA for JavaScript.

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By ShakingMyHead
17th Nov 2020 11:21

Surely if you started your own practice and grew it to circa £180k GRF before selling last year - then just repeat whatever you did then? How did you do that? Would your old firm need you on a subcontract basis perhaps?

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By Tom 7000
17th Nov 2020 13:52

my mate John, got yellow pages and started at A and called each accountant and said got any work... He got to Brown and co before he was offered a place...

It really is that easy... what d you want per hour btw... we might have some

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Mark Lee headshot 2023
By Mark Lee
19th Nov 2020 11:01

Admire your enthusiasm and what you've achieved to date. Little confused though as to why you're not simply replicating what you did last time. Maybe that's a red herring and the circumstances were very different.

Have you tried using Linkedin to connect with local firms and sole practitioners? Ensure your profile on Linkedin makes clear your expertise and your availability to take on more outsourced work. Create or update your profile there before you start trying to connect with anyone. Once you have connected and if your profile gives a positive first impression, you can then offer your services.

Remember to look at it from their perspective. It won't be about offering you work as such. It'll be about solving their resourcing problems.

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