ACCOUNTANCY: PRACTICE VS. INDUSTRY

Practice or industry – the age old Accounting question.

It’s a decision that splits the Accountancy world, with valid positive and negative reasons spouting from professionals on both sides of the fence.

As a Consultant specialising in Accountancy roles, I decided it was time to put my own opinion out there, no doubt join the great arguers of this superfluous debate and be remembered forever more.

Firstly, the pros and cons of each career path need to be understood before a valid argument can be created. It’s like we’ve gone back in time to our A Levels, or even degree, to understand arguments on either side.

Practise

Working in practice in Layman’s terms means you work in an Accountancy firm. You deal with clients from various industries to ensure their finances are kept in order. You will deal with a variety of tasks from accounts preparation, to tax audit and legalities.

There are many pros to working in this style of environment. Firstly, you get to develop a strong relationship with your clients, understanding their requirements to ensure it is delivered in the best way possible. This type of social interaction enables you to develop long term relationships with clients, which as we all know in business, is something to be desired.

Within practice you can also cultivate clear career progression and pathways. Smaller practices are more likely to offer you study support, where the company fund your accountancy qualifications, most likely AAT, ACCA or ACS. The more attention provided to an individual, means you can understand the individual needs more aptly, and accountancy is no exception to this.

However, the cons to focusing your career towards practice should be considered. Clients can be tough work. The demands of bespoke services can take up more time than you have, and we all know there’s not enough hours in the day already! This means you work-life balance could potentially suffer, especially when working within Auditing. When required you may have to attend a client’s site for several days to ensure their audit comes back with the best results.

But, is this all worth it when the progression to Partner status could be the light at the end of the tunnel?

Industry

Industry is a whole different kettle of fish. You will be dealing with the finances of a business or corporation from the inside. Whether you are the sole Accountant or part of an Accountancy team, you will ensure the optimal financial performance of the business.  

This can have many pros, starting with dealing with only one client – your employer. Your focus does not have to be divided between various clients, upsetting one when focussing on another. Additionally, you know how the company works. You know how the people work and why certain systems are put in place.

Additionally, once promoted to a senior level, you will have the opportunity to input your thoughts into vital commercial decisions in the business.

However, industry accountancy can provide a large culture shock when entering the corporate realms, especially exuberated when moving from a small practise to a large corporate commercial business. There can be limited contact with clients, and as such, the role can lose its personable touch.

Finally, what should be noted is the difficulty in getting back to practise once you have entered industry. Therefore, it is not a decision to rush into.

Summary

What becomes evident when looking into these different areas of accountancy is the difficulty of transition to practise from industry. This isn’t necessarily a negative, but something to keep in mind when finally deciding the career path you want. However, if you decide to go to industry from practise it can a much simpler process. Not everyone will want to move, but be sure that once you move from industry to practise, you probably won’t go back.

Whether you’re an industry or practise accountant, looking to transition from one area of accountancy to the other, or simply have decided to move to a new employer within your chosen field, get in touch!

Callum@express-recruitment.co.uk / 0115 9240010

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