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Struggling in my career

Any advice please?

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Hello all,

I'm after some advice please. I feel like my career is going down the toilet! I have been a qualified ACCA since 2014. I come from a very small practice background, and have done an all-round practice role, bk, mngt ACC's, VAT, year ends, Stats, Tax returns, but no audit. I have transitioned to industry and find it difficult to adapt. I mainly contract with these roles as I can't commit to something permanent right now. What kind of roles would you go for in industry with my background? I enjoy year end accounts, and like to get involved with accounting standards. I am good at supervising junior accountants too. I don't have a great deal of experience in management accounting eg budgeting and forecasting. 

I just feel confused, and have thought about going back to practice. Maybe I should stick to small practice? 

Any advice would be great.

Thank you

 

 

 

Replies (20)

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By HeavyMetalMike
06th Jan 2021 16:53

You sound like the perfect manager that I need in my office. (vacancy)

But you sold your soul for the extra few thousand ££ in industry.! :)

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By HeavyMetalMike
06th Jan 2021 16:56

duplicate

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By the_drookit_dug
06th Jan 2021 17:29

It's easy to find yourself spinning around in the no-man's land between industry - where you get to know the business inside out but it gets a bit repetitive once you've got the monthly process nailed down - and practice, where there's much variety but loads of [email protected] to deal with, plus timesheets.

Sounds though from what you post that your heart is in practice.

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By bernard michael
07th Jan 2021 09:10

Fast forward 10 years. Where do you want to see yourself ??
Financial controller/director in industry
Partner/senior manager in practice
Whichever you choose will dictate the experience you need to gain

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By tom123
07th Jan 2021 09:18

Well, here's the thing. In 'industry' we generally don't care about year end accounts or financial reporting standards. It is all about what you can do to drive the business forward, or at least help it navigate.

That means forecasts, and outward looking stuff. Quick and dirty closes, rather than spending half the 'new' month worrying about poxy accruals for last month.

You need to get into the data, use pivot tables, queries etc and build yourself models that can refresh.

Learn what is 'special' about how your company makes it's money.

And - keep on top of debtors and stock. Those are (in my view) the two 'assets' of the company that are exclusively your function to keep safe in finance.

On the whole it is fun - these are 'your' numbers..

Plus - how are you on HR, Insurance, Export, Purchasing, Law, HSE, Quality etc etc.

Good luck - it's not a bad living :)

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Replying to tom123:
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By Donny7
07th Jan 2021 11:26

Thanks Tom. Would it be worth taking up a course for financial modelling then? I am trying to transition into an 'industry' accountant, but I need certain skills for it. My excel is decent, I can do pivots, sumifs, index matching. Not the higher level stuff though like macros VBA.

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Replying to Donny7:
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By [email protected]
08th Jan 2021 11:18

I concur with Tom.
being in industry is all about how to help the business function, thrive, survive. Lots more management accounting, cash, debtor, and creditor control.
Of course the compliance stuff is still there - you're just doing it for one company
I wouldn't worry about macros and VBA they'll be the icing on the cake if the company doesn't block the functionality.
Bigger companies tend to have financial accounting teams and management accounting teams whereas smaller companies tend to have a small team that does it all.
If you're contracting at the moment, look for interim roles , financial controller, etc. maternity cover, year end close. 3 to 9 months ish
Be flexible and you'll learn a lot in a short period.
Good luck

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Replying to Donny7:
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By tom123
08th Jan 2021 13:26

Never needed macros, but I do a lot of work using 'ODBC' which is the connection between Excel and whatever accounts system databases you are using.

These are difficult to 'learn' in the abstract, as it all depends on how the data is organised.

But, I could not usefully do my job in a timely fashion without having this capability.

Larger companies may well have specialist modelling tools that connect to the ledger systems.

Again, depends on the company.

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Replying to tom123:
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By Halex
10th Jan 2021 16:23

I don't use any of the above - left some of that sort of thing behind years ago. I use reporting and software integrations to reduce scope for spreadsheet errors

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Replying to Halex:
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By tom123
11th Jan 2021 09:23

Depends, of course, on budgets for IT.

In the absence of bespoke MI reporting software, ODBC is a next best thing in my view.

No 'rekeying' as such.

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By DJKL
10th Jan 2021 16:38

Agreed apart from the more advanced data skills, which I certainly do not have, when you get down to the smaller company in house role you basically become a problem solver who happens to also understand accountancy , tax and has a bit of legal and banking knowledge.

The most important skill in my opinion is the ability to be a one stop shop willing to learn everything and anything thrown at you and for this I, to a degree, thank my non accountancy general Scottish degree that instilled that ability and willingness to read, research and distil knowledge from a broad spectrum of subjects (In my case English Lit, History, Economics, Maths and Philosophy) with my technical abilities in accountancy and finance being a post graduate addition, being a bit of a jack of all trades is I believe why my employers gave me employment; in essence I do nothing really well but a wide range of things well enough.

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By Practicaledd
08th Jan 2021 15:36

It seems to me that you're trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

Everything that you talk about liking is the reason that I decided I WANTED to go into industry.

Contracting all the time is likely the root of some of the problems, getting deep into the issues and using those analytical skills is what industry is all about. It must be frustrating to be moving around.

Life is too short to stick out something that you don't enjoy unless there is enough of a pay out at the end of it, is this a step to something else you want to do? Is there a problem working in small practice?

On a side note - learn to use power query (that is my standard advice to all accountants at this point), it's endlessly useful for getting data together and you can get a lot of bang for buck in a very short period of time.

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Replying to Practicaledd:
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By Donny7
08th Jan 2021 15:50

To be honest, I really don't have much passion for the profession anymore. I am just hanging in there to earn a few bucks. I feel burnt out and have little motivation to continue with it. I am an FCCA, and I don't even feel that I live up to that title. I have good skills though, I can work hard, deadline driven, can work under pressure, but I don't feel motivated to continue. I don't know what else I can do with my career.

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Replying to Donny7:
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By Practicaledd
08th Jan 2021 17:08

I fully understand that feeling. I'm lucky to have found a company where everyone is hungry for more analytics so I've been able to lean into the side of the work I enjoy the most.

Does ACCA have an equivalent of CABA? They offer a lot of support to ICAEW members in your position (I've used them myself) to guide them through these types of issues.

If you can it might be a good idea to find out, let a pro help you find where you can use your hard won skill set somewhere you can enjoy it?

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Replying to Donny7:
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By DJKL
10th Jan 2021 16:44

Practice can be a bit like a hamster in a wheel (Clients and their returns come round and round, over and over)and you can be a bit removed from business decision making (unless you run the practice). What I like about industry is seeing things I started on, made decisions about, come to fruition, often over years - in my case driving through Edinburgh and seeing a site that I had input in say getting the original change of use planning, or maybe we built it out, or I raised the finance, is very satisfying.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
10th Jan 2021 19:36

Like you, DJKL, I started in practice; but, unlike you, I've only flirted with commerce / industry. Initially by moonlighting for; and, later, by buying into clients' businesses. I guess we're in privileged positions, seeing all (but knowing nothing) so spotting winners isn't too difficult.

But I do like to keep a foot in both camps. Knocking out accounts - not to mention getting clients to fall in with MTD, always assuming that ever comes to fruition, is (let's face it) money for old rope. There's an electrician in my office square with a similar licence to print money problem (of money v lifestyle/family & kids/wellbeing).

But that's just table-stake money; to pay the bills and keep the wolves from the door, if you will. IMHO the real money's in industry and/or commerce. So are the risks, incidentally; although no more than most practitioners' daily exposure. There, that's all I have to say about how to have your cake and eat it. Good hunting!

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By DJKL
10th Jan 2021 22:43

I also kept my hand in with practice with the part time practice, though I did about 6-7 years solely in industry before restarting. (For one thing I had to get my employment restrictive covenant relaxed and it seemed sensible to get my feet under the desk with my employers before broaching the subject)

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By tom123
11th Jan 2021 09:34

Don't make your whole life about work.
Make sure you have other interests.

In my case, admittedly, these are often 'admin' based things like being a school governor or charity trustee.

Which - right now, means mega zoom meetings!

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Replying to tom123:
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By DJKL
11th Jan 2021 11:01

A salutary example of someone who obviously forgot the wise words, " never tell anyone what you do for a living." (It tended to be my other half who landed me in the Trustee/Treasurer roles and it was quite a bit of work after over 20 years to extract myself from their grip)

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Replying to DJKL:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
11th Jan 2021 11:44

Wise words, DJKL. Mrs I'msorry once landed yours truly right in it on holiday when, one rainy Cornish evening, she volunteered me as bingo caller when the owners decided to put on some alleged entertainment. I'd managed a bingo hall in what I suppose amounted to my gap year, which information served only to raise the guests' expectation levels - I believe they were expecting a Bruce Forsyth! Good game!

A number of the guests hailed from Bristol, and during their after hours stop-on the owner turned on the bar's baby monitor in our room just in time for those at the bar to hear us doing impressions of them from our bed (Garrrrrrden gate, number 8; Unlucky for some, Arrrrrrgh; that sort of thing). As a result of which nobody spoke to us much for the remainder of our holiday, which suited me admirably as it got me off bingo duties.

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