Any Answers answered: Industry to practice

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AccoungtingWEB member dannybard challenged the status quo when he asked other AccountingWEB members for advice about moving from industry to practice. 

In an Any Answers post, he put the question to members: "How easy is it to do?"

With 12 years' experience, dannybard qualified with ACCA while working in the music industry and has seven years' post qualification experience. But, he said, he wanted to move to practice to achieve a better work life balance, and to be in charge of his own destiny. 

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29th Oct 2012 13:00

the move

business experience in a relevant area "in industry" can

a)add value to a firm which specialises in that industry which in Danny's case would be the likes of Sloan & co or Kilkenny's(for example)


b) can give a member with 12 years PQE a competitive edge in the business strategy end of the accountancy market. Danny may be able to explore this side of it rather than Setting up to practice on his own account and delivering annual accounts for the tax man or companies house. There are some CIMA who are in practice but as you know CIMA is no longer within the CCAB just like AAT are not in the CCAB.


so if danny went and hired himself out as a business consultant in the music industry he would be making maximum use of his skills and he could manage it around his work comittments, which in the current economic climate are best nurtured and developed than exploited.

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29th Oct 2012 15:45


My own article! What can I say!!! : - )

For information purposes I spent 5 years in music industry (DJ Management, Events, PR and record label), 1 year in restaurant business and 6 years in Property (Estate Agency, Construction & Property Development).

I'm also a comedian for what that's worth! But only in my own mind!

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30th Oct 2012 10:54

Wouldnt the biggest problem starting up your own practice be the ACCA pracitcing certificate?

Would it not be the case that in order to set up and use your ACCA qualification which yuo worked so hard for, you need 3 years experience in an ACCA approved firm?

It seems the only option to me when i considered my own practice was to drop my ACCA qualifiaction (I too work in indusrty and wouldnt meet the practicing certificate conditions).

Glad this has been highlighted though, I have often considered my own practice but the practicing certificate rules have always put me off.

(I was in practice for 10 years prior to industry move)

Once again, thanks for highlighing.


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30th Oct 2012 15:41

Practising Certificate

I am eligible for this....I have fulfilled the requirements and had my PCTR signed off while in industry by the external supervising accountant.....

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30th Oct 2012 17:55

Maybe not so simple
Danny I think what Craig is getting at is that when it comes to ACCA having enough experience signed off to apply for membership does not automatically mean a member is eligible for a practising certificate. They have silly rules that any accountant can sign off experience but to get a practising certificate it needs to be signed off by an accountant in a special list of theirs that they call ACCA approved.

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30th Oct 2012 23:34

Yeah I know

I have obtained both. Experience for membership and eligibility for a practising certificate.....the tricky bit is getting work as an auditor but it's not something I necessarily want to do anyway!

Wondering if ACCA need to change their qualifications to include this aspect - ie moving from industry to practise as most ACCA seem to work in industry and most ACA's tend to work in practise! Except for those within the top 100 FTSE companies!

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31st Oct 2012 14:30

I agree
Based on current conversations I am having with ACCA I would say their published guidance is misleading and you can get a Practising Certificate from an industry background quite easily provided you do have the necessary experience and can get it signed off by a CCAB qualified accountant. It's another story if you want to do audit as well where the requirements are a lot more stringent.

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31st Oct 2012 11:17

Industry to practice

I made this move in 2005, having been a finance director specialising in marketing services and consulting firms. I set up my own practice.  I don't do audit, tax or accounts preparation.

You need to start by considering where your advantages lie compared to typical accounting practices and how you could add most value to potential clients.

Do a business plan but do it properly. Use the business model canvas.

Once you have worked that lot out, then consider the formal side - practicing certificate, PI insurance, practice assurance issues etc.


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31st Oct 2012 11:42

My eldest son

did exactly the opposite. There was me hoping he would take over my practice at some stage.

The switch was amazing for him.So I guess you want to make the move because you are not happy with your lot. You have qualifications and personality so what are you waiting for. It won't drop into your lap. Go and make it work if that's what you want. I can assure you that it's hard work, long hours (unless you get big enough to have staff) but you can't imagine the job satsfaction, even with HMRC playing silly buggers.

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31st Oct 2012 12:04

What I would do

Find a small firm for sale, not too big as I am not sure buying clients is cost effective. Then say to the seller, Ok big Ears, Ill buy yer practice but you have to be here for 9 months (every day) and show me what the differences are between being an FD and dealing with micro clients.


You get free training along with some real clients to practice on and a head start...and maybe some cash.


The key to success is finding new clients tho.....




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By nkwayne
31st Oct 2012 12:35

My two pennorth


I did it - was FD in a computer games manufacturing company, and decided for my sanity to move to practice.  Did it in early 2001 - within 2 weeks foot & mouth had arrived and gloom dominated the local economy big time (I am in the middle of Devon).  Not the best time to start my own business, but I managed.


Like you was nervous about the change, lack of practice based experience, so I joined one of the accountancy franchises (AIMS) to get some back up and initial training.  Worked for me, there's always a price (franchise fees) but the comfort blanket was a good option for someone out of practice for such a long time.


But the grass is always greener.  First year work-life balance was good (not many clients, not much to do, plenty of time for family), but after that, the busier I got the worse it got.  You won't have an employer any more but you will have loads of bosses, every client basically since they pay your wages.  The more successful I became the more I returned to the same pressures and stresses that I originally sought to move away from.  Christmas and New Year were particularly unhappy times as I got more clients with the build up of work and pressure in the dreaded tax return season.  The bank holidays just became a damn nuisance in the way of getting the work finished in time which, as you can imagine, was not conducive to playing happy families.


So swapping for work-life balance did not work for me until this year, now big enough to have a couple of good employees, well ahead on work planning for January and this is the first year since starting on my own that I will actually be able to rest and relax over Xmas & New Year.  There have been plenty of other compensations, running my own business I get to do things my way, quite important for me, but income dropped and it took a long time before it came back up to what you would expect a professional to earn.


With the benefit of hindsight, I think the decision should not be made on the basis of work-life balance.  Thats a decision you should make irrespective of "practice" v "Industry".  The answer to that question lies in 2 parts - do you want to run your own business, and do you want to do and advise on other people's accounts and tax (as opposed to working on the inside of a business where, effecively, you do 'your own' financials).  I made the decision on work-life balance and was not correct to do so, I still work very hard and still feel stressed and pressured.  Most people who care about their work probably feel the same.


If you decide you do want to change, the route will partly be dependant on the type of practice you want to run.  A fairly typical GP firm needs a bit of back-up from somewhere if you dont have the experience.  One of the franchises or accountancy groups, perhaps, or someone you know in practice that you could perhaps pay as a consultant.  But not knowing now is not really a barrier to immediate entry.  Unless you stumble upon a cluster of clients in deep trouble needing urgent help and advice, you will have time, when you start, to learn the bits you dont know.  But if you target higher size/fee/value clients you will probably need to impress them with your experience when you pitch to them for their business, so you may well need a job in practice for a while to get the experience relevant to the size of businesses you want to target.


And never lose the comedian - remember the only difference between a badger and an accountant in a pinstripe suit is that you dont get skid marks on the road in front of the accountant...


Good luck

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31st Oct 2012 14:33

I made the move from industry to practice just over a year ago.  I started in a big 4 practice and left a year after qualifying.  I then worked in banking until I became FD of a marketing business followed by a couple of years of consultancy.

Being FD of a small business really opened my eyes to all the things that a business needs to do regarding tax, payroll, VAT, etc that you never see as a big 4 auditor or in a large organisation.

I don't think that not having worked in a small practice has held me back too much.  If anything it has helped because I came into this with no pre-conceived ideas of how things must be done because that's how everyone else does it.

Sure my technical knowledge needed working on.  I bought the ACA tax study manuals which are useful for reference and went to a number of seminars.  However the most useful resource for picking up on the various oddities that people come up with has been, without trying to bloe smoke up anyone's ass[***], is any answers on accountingweb.  I don't comment too often but I make sure I spend around half an hour a day reading the questions and comments.


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05th Nov 2012 10:09

A franchise with you in mind

I moved from industry and set up my own practice 10 years ago now.  Now have office and 5 staff with a healthy client base,  best thing I did but very hard work and a massive learning curve.

I am just developing a franchise plan so that we can make this easier for people going forward.  It will only be open to qualified accountants, we will act as an umbrella support and provide training on all the practicalities and the technical side of life, plus offer to fill any skill gaps as they arise (which they always do).

We will be running a pilot in Exeter after the January rush and then roll out after that.


Feel free to get in touch if you are inetrested - [email protected]

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05th Nov 2012 10:20

Don't Tax Assist Direct

do something on those lines?

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