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Where can my chartered accountancy qualification take me?

If you're completing your chartered accountancy exams, you may be wondering where a professional accountancy qualification such as ICAS can take you. The skills you develop during your qualification will provide you with a solid foundation to take your career in any direction you want. The truth is, the jobs and companies open to you are vast and varied. Whether you're interested in working for a multinational, a start-up, the Big 4, or entrepreneurship, a professional accountancy qualification opens doors. And lots of them!

Whether you're starting out or looking to take your career as a newly qualified accountant (NQA) to the next level, let’s explore some career paths for recently and newly qualified chartered accountants and look at career development opportunities.

Where can I work?

Of course, traditional accounting roles like auditing, tax, and advisory are there once you qualify. But, with the high demand for skilled accountants, once you are qualified, you'll be well-positioned to secure a role in different industries and sectors.

Working as a chartered accountant in public practice

Many ICAS-qualified accountants work in public practice with an accountancy firm. You'll work with different clients, from small businesses to international companies, helping them manage financial matters and provide tax advice. You'll have the chance to focus on an area of accounting, such as audit, tax, or advisory.

Using your ICAS qualification in Industry

ICAS-qualified accountants are in demand across industries, including finance, retail, and manufacturing. In an industry role, you'll work for a company, helping them to manage their finances, and budgets, and make strategic decisions. You may focus on an area, such as financial analysis or risk management.

An accountancy career in a not-for-profit or government

ICAS-qualified accountants work in the public sector, including government agencies and non-profit organisations. Here, you'll be responsible for managing public funds, ensuring compliance with regulations, and providing financial advice.

Once you've completed your ICAS qualification, you will have:

Diverse Career Paths

A chartered accountancy qualification opens up many careers, from traditional roles such as audit, tax, and advisory, to non-traditional roles such as finance leadership, risk management, and working as a finance director. Chartered accountants have exciting roles in businesses and industry. These include

  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO.) As CFO, chartered accountants set the financial strategy and manage the finances of a business. They oversee financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, and tax. CFOs drive growth, profitability, and strategic decision-making.
  • Forensic Accountant. This specialised field combines accounting, auditing, and investigation. Helping firms detect and prevent fraud, they conduct investigations and provide testimony in legal cases.
  • Management Consultant. Chartered accountants can work as management consultants, advising businesses on areas, including finance, strategy, operations, and technology.
  • Corporate Finance. Chartered accountants work in corporate finance to give advice on mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, and strategic transactions.
  • Risk Management. Risk management consultants identify and manage risks, including financial, operational, legal, and reputational risks. They develop risk management strategies, assess internal controls, and give guidance on regulatory compliance.

Global Opportunities

If you didn’t have a chance to take a gap year or travel much as a student, once you’re qualified, the possibilities to work abroad are endless. A chartered accountancy qualification, such as ICAS or the ACA from ICAEW, is valued around the world and internationally recognised. This means accountants can work and advance their careers overseas. Popular locations include:

With an ICAS qualification, you'll be able to apply for membership with other accounting bodies around the world, such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

Working overseas can lead to exciting experiences, learning languages, and understanding cultures as well as career advancement. Yet, working abroad isn’t for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with London or Glasgow.

High Earning Potential

With the demand for skilled accountants, employers often pay a premium for ICAS-qualified candidates. Accountants with professional qualifications earn higher salaries than those without and have benefits such as flexible working, training, development, and career advancement. As you progress in your career, you'll also have the opportunity for promotions, pay increases, and greater responsibilities.

Leadership Opportunities

If you're interested in a career in financial leadership with your ICAS qualification, there are three steps you can take to increase your chances of success:

1. Gain relevant experience

To become a financial leader, it's essential to gain relevant work experience in accounting and finance. This can be in an accounting firm, in-house finance team, or a related industry. Look for roles that enable you to work on complex financial transactions, develop analytical skills and decision-making, and gain experience working with financial data and reporting.

2. Develop your soft skills

In addition to technical expertise, financial leaders need strong soft skills, including communication, leadership, and strategic thinking.

3. Build a strong professional network

Networking is essential in any career, including financial leadership. Attend industry events, engage with your professional body, and follow online communities. Build relationships with mentors and peers who can offer career advice.

So, there you go. The world is your oyster! And, if you’re an ICAS, CIMA, or ACCA finalist, part-qualified, or have five years post-qualification experience, our DNA of a Finance Leader event is on May 11th, 2023, in Glasgow. You will discover how your qualification can open doors in financial leadership, as well as network with peers and business leaders from companies such as Morgan Stanley. Reserve your place:

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