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The Future of Finance for Newly Qualified Accountants: where do you start?

by Callum Jones-Bray

Your whole life has probably had a pretty clear route up to this point, school led to a university degree which in turn led to you getting your first graduate accountant role and ultimately aiming towards getting your CA/CPA.

Now you’re there, or at least approaching it if you are reading this… where next?

Everybody talks about the future of finance, but what does that mean for a newly-qualified accounting and finance professional? How do you continue your career now the road isn’t so clearly mapped out?

Hopefully, this article can provide a few signposts along the way.

If you are coming from a chartered background or have even moved through a commercial path, there is a lot to be said about doing a couple of years in a technical reporting role to build your base. It will give you a solid understanding of all the moving parts within a finance function along with the ability to produce the reports that most analysts are trawling over! You might think that doing an audit or getting your CA gives you this skill, but it is a very different beast when you are doing rather than reviewing.

The future of finance is definitely moving towards “business partnering” and more analytical roles. That in itself is making it a really exciting time to be part of the finance function. Finance is now one of the key voices in a business, helping guide the strategy of the key decision makers and analysing performance. Anything with a dollar sign is within the finance mandate.

The question I am often asked by up and coming candidates is how do I get into these “partnering” roles, in particular, if their background is more Auditing or Reporting focused. It can be a challenge to get that role without having done it, the classic case of needing the experience to get the role but needing the role to get experience!

In short, there is no sure-fire way, but what you can do is honestly sit down and review your current skills and; on the flipside, your current skills gap. Chances are you have a strong technical base without having had many opportunities to hone your soft skills. Taking the opportunity to work on your soft skills is very important, which include:

  • Dealing with stakeholders both internally and externally
  • Influencing outcomes
  • Gaining support for ideas
  • Presenting to senior members of staff

These are all great skills you can develop, even from a financial reporting role that will ultimately help get you that more commercially focused role in the near future. Don’t be afraid to back yourself and get involved with things outside your comfort zone to get the experience you need. Successful people don’t fear failure, they learn from it.

This is the key to getting the roles of the future in accounting and finance.

Are you about to get your CA or CPA qualifications, or a newly-qualified accountant, and need help working out what the next step in your career should be?

Our experienced consultant team can help you work out your skills-gap and provide advice on what roles would suit you best with a career optimiser planning session.

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