First of all an apology as I realise this question seems to be asked a lot in different forms, but things seem to change quickly and depend on circumstances and the more I read the more confusing I seem to find it. So I'm going to ask it again.
I'm looking to get into an accountancy career and really need some advice on which is the most appropriate qualification to start first.
I realise different employers have different preferences but after speaking to a fair few local (north east England if it's relevant) employers it seems to be the general consensus that having some form of qualification would make it much more attractive to their companies. However there doesn't seem to be a clear view on which one is best.
My background: I did an Economics degree with a lot of maths in it, so numeracy isn't a problem. I then had a sales career for about 15 years, culminating in a spell as a partner in a small start up business. While doing this I did some of the book keeping and financial management as well as monitoring the numbers more generally, which is what gave me a taste for this work.
I'm steering away from CIMA as while I find that side quite interesting I'm quite keen to get a broader taste for the whole field before specialising in one narrow area. Likewise for tax.
I have a slight preference for practice rather than industry, at least to start off with, as I think this gives you a broader range of experiences.
I know employers can't ask, but I'm 40 so not a fresh faced graduate but I probably have near enough 30 years of work left to go so I'm hoping it isn't too late to switch.
Would really appreciate the input of people in the industry as to what qualifications they would recommend and why.
Thanks in advance