Share this content

What is the best way to switch to practice accounting from industry accounting?

What is the best way to switch to practice...

Didn't find your answer?

I've been a management accountant in industry/commerce since 2008 and AAT qualified since 2010. I am interested in making the move over to practice accounting because there is something about it that appeals to me and has done since my studies. Most of the people I have spoken with has said it is easier to move from practice to industry. I'm not really in a position to go it alone, so I'm after advice on the best way forward.

Replies (10)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

By Gem7321
07th Nov 2014 11:39

You may be best looking for firms which offer a full management accounts/bookkeeping/payroll service to clients as this may be your way in without having any existing practice experience.


Do you realise there is quite probably a pay cut involved with moving to practice from industry?

Thanks (0)
By David Gordon FCCA
14th Nov 2014 12:35

good luck


 This is a complete lifestyle change, there is no easy way to do this.

  This may mean a substantial drop in income. Even if you may find a larger firm of accountants able to use your current skills, and then move you round departments.

 I do not know the AAT rules regarding obtaining practicing certificates

 Whatever, you have to get some practical experience.

It may be better to keep at your job, but in the meantime do some home study on one of the tax qualifications. At least you then have something to offer.




Thanks (0)
By NP at PPW
14th Nov 2014 13:07

....and don't fall for the Franchise route ..

unless you have at least 5 years living expenses ( cash)  in the bank, plus the huge entry fees, and you're a brilliant salesman, not just an 'accountant', so you can spend the time buying low-value work to build up the business to pay their on-going fees.....


Thanks (0)
Replying to Accountant A:
By HeavyMetalMike
14th Nov 2014 13:18

Just tout your CV around?

Of course you know that you'll need to work three times as hard, as we in practice don't just work for the first ten days after each month end!


Thanks (1)
By paul0709
14th Nov 2014 13:22

I spent 20 years in Industry at senior level before moving into practice, largely through job related circumstances (not wishing to relocate), and I'm an FMAAT as you are. 

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join a small local practice where the main partner was looking to retire and managed to persuade him at interview to take me on with a view to becoming a partner after the first year. 

Yes the salary was lower than industry but travel costs were minimal so it made up for most of the shortfall and my lifestyle changed from spending 2-3 hours a day travelling to being able to walk to work if the weather was nice!. 

Culture shock to say the least .... no nice corporate office's and space was limited. Also found I had to earn respect of other staff as they knew my Industry background, but that came with time. 

After two years of excellent experience and learning as much as possible I became a partner, and decided to go alone shortly afterwards. Now in third successful year.

It's very different to Industry in that it's more friendly relaxed environment and there is far more people contact. I also like the feeling that you're helping someone with their business and in most cases client's are very grateful for help and advice.  

Management accounts skills are well received by clients. 

Not sure if this helps you or not but thought I'd post as I've been through the experience.

Thanks (1)
By Lambdenman
14th Nov 2014 14:37

Management accounting to practice

I am a management accountant who did just that and am now in a healthy practice as a CIMA MIP.

Several things. Selective local advertising (local free magazines not yellow pages); take clients on as extras to the day job; go every extra mile; wait for the phone calls and respond eagerly; offer advice as an integral part of doing the accounts and returns without any additional fee; let yourself be forced to reduce the day job hours because you can't cope.

If you are doubtful about doing it on your own for reasons other than income, find a local sole trader accountant in practice and talk to them. Put yourself about via networking meetings or chambers of trade. Invest in basic software  - Taxcalc and Sage.

Allow for more working hours and less sleep. 

Good luck.




Thanks (0)
By NigelDavies46
14th Nov 2014 14:51

Trust me it's worth it

I qualified with CIMA and worked in industry for 20 years before starting my practice in 2002.  It took a long time for income to grow to that of my former employment and in the early days I supplemented it with interim management, contract and part time FD work.  The lower taxes helped.

A number of accountants who had walked this path before helped me with technical advice and practical advice and I am always happy to help those that aspire to do the same.  Please feel free to contact me privately  is you wish - [email protected]

Whilst it took a long time to establish the income, it has been one of the best things I have ever done.  I would need Wayne Rooney's wages to be tempted to consider a change in my lifestyle.

I also recommend Sage and Taxcalc


Best wishes

Thanks (0)
By sheila t
14th Nov 2014 15:35

Franchise can work

Don't just ignore the franchise route, I went that way; had repaid the initial franchise fee within the first year and still made a profit that year.

From year 2 onwards I'm making more than at my previous job - and the franchise I'm with does the marketing for me and lets me get on with the accounts work. Yes there's a cost to going the franchise route but I'd never have built my practise as quickly without it; so for me when I did the sums it was well worth it and I don't regret my decision.



Thanks (0)
By Henry_AIMS
14th Nov 2014 17:08

Hi there,


If you are interested take a look at our opportunities page and get in touch to discuss further.

Thanks (0)
By Mrs_G
14th Nov 2014 17:37

I did it 11 years ago, hard work, but no regrets

Hi there

I was one of those people who came out of industry and jumped both feet in full time straightaway. No job security, regular income, etc. Apparently even my mother thought I lost my marbles.

To start off with the most difficult thing for me was making choices. Every software company, every insurance company, every website company, etc. saying that they have the best product for the accountancy market and reasons to have them, so I spent absolutely ages figuring out the backbone of the practice and spent a fortune on accountants' club memberships which in hindsight I shouldn't have. Luckily for you times have moved on quite a bit since then and cloud has arrived!

My advice:

1) Buy SWAT's manual called "The general practice procedures manual" - this will give you all the template letters, etc. so you don't reinvent the wheel.

2) Get the MLR end sorted - I use Creditsafe, but there are quite a few out there. Get PII insurance sorted - probably through the AAT initially?

3) Get your online codes and accounts for HMRC and Companies House so that you can use third party software filing and then keep away from HMRC's "software" offering. It slows you down no end.

4) Do not spend a penny on book-keeping software or accountants' club memberships. Put clients onto cloud software - popular ones seem to be Xero, Quickbooks and Kashflow. 

5) Buy VT for accounts prep and in house book-keeping and BTC for tax prep - both excellent and intuitive products at the right price and offer good support.

6) Have a good deadline tracking system for deadlines, they multiply very very quickly! I use Toodledo with several staff, having moved from a singing dancing practice management system that everyone hated. Toodledo costs me $30 per year per user, so the cost savings are massive as well.

7) Go onto Google Apps for email, cloud storage, calendar management, etc.

Earnings - Turnover in the first year was 24k, second year 46k, and on on and on. So first couple of years were definitely a drop in earnings.

Time - always worked hard in industry, but worked like a Trojan once moved to running my own business.

Chances of going back to industry after 11 years - none.

Feel free to PM me if you want help, more than happy to help - most importantly, good luck, and enjoy!

Thanks (3)
Share this content