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Newly qualified? Now what?

You have worked hard for your qualification but to make it work for you think about your long-term goals, says Morgan McKinley’s Shamiso Chirimuuta.

Shamiso Chirimuut

September 2018

Opportunities for newly qualified accountants are plentiful and diverse, with demand for ACA candidates remaining high despite economic anxieties surrounding Brexit. However, with such vast choice, it can feel that you are approaching a crossroads in your career, with uncertainty clouding each path.

At this point, it can be tempting to go for the most glamourous route on offer. Clarity can be found by researching your options thoroughly and considering each one carefully. How will this move help you reach your long-term goals?

Public Practice 

A post-qualification career in public practice offers challenging and rewarding work, with opportunity to specialise your skill set, and develop managerially. There is also the potential to develop outside of core assurance.

If you have qualified outside the Big Four, then adding one to your CV now can unlock a world of possibility within larger corporate organisations. The first-class training provided at bigger firms will allow you to develop professionally, specialise in a sector, and have a varied work life.

If you are considering a move from one Big Four firm to another, this option can greatly enhance your portfolio as you come into contact with a wider, more diverse client base. Equally, a move to a smaller firm can offer a wealth of opportunity, with smaller firms often equipping qualified accountants with hands-on advisory experience.

Financial services 

Whether retail or investment, a career in banking brings with it attractive salaries and challenging environments for newly qualified accountants. Offering the opportunity to work alongside some of the best technical experts, the sector provides the infrastructure for career progression and mobility.

While increased regulation within the sector is ongoing, banking continues to experience huge growth and consolidation, maintaining its status as one of the most rewarding career paths for qualified accountants. For this reason, entry into financial services is exceptionally competitive, with candidates requiring strong technical ability with an academic record to match. They will also need evidence of hands-on sector experience as well as impressive interpersonal skills.

Commerce and Industry

A move to Commerce & Industry is most accessible upon qualification. Qualified accountants are often attracted to the possibility of being at the heart of a business, maximising its commercial performance. This career path offers the chance to gain valuable commercial skills and work within multidisciplinary teams.

There are, however, important considerations you’ll need to make before finalising your decision. What sector are you particularly interested in? You will need a strong justification to set you apart from other interviewees. As well as this, you will need to evaluate your affinity for the product and brand. In this sector, company size and culture can be supremely important, so you will need to evaluate what environment is most conducive to your learning, if you are to reach your long-term goals.


Upon qualification, candidates have plenty of opportunity to specialise further within tax, either through progression within professional services, or a move into a commercial in-house role within financial services or Commerce & Industry.

Some candidates choose to reinforce their accounting qualification by studying towards one of the specialist tax qualifications, such as the CTA. This tends to be the pathway towards the more strategic, advisory driven roles. Roles within industry often have a broader focus, offering accountants the opportunity to interact with a wider community within a single business.

Shamiso Chirimuuta is ACA Resourcing Consultant at Morgan McKinley.

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