To set the scene and give a little background, my first “real job” was working within a medium-sized CA firm. I spent almost three years there, so I do truly understand the joy of six-minute timesheets and the end of the financial year. Fast forward to my recruitment career, I have been recruiting in public practice firms for over three years and helping our people develop careers in accounting that take them places.
Over the years I have noted and filed in the memory banks a fair amount of information and created a recipe for careers in accounting; ways to help BAS experts to progress, develop, climb the ladder and inevitably maximise their potential earnings.
1. Put your hand up first!
You will need a solid base of experience in compliance first, yes, but at the beginning of your career, you need to be the first to put up your hand for projects. The best projects are budgets, cash flows, forecasts, monthly or quarterly management reporting, business plans, sitting in on client meetings face to face, software implementation (internally or externally), due diligence and reviewing work during peak time. Your next step after you get these projects is to keep asking until it becomes a regular part of your work.
2. If you’re not moving up, move on
I meet candidates with 5-10+ years’ experience who stay with the same firm at the same level, which is a red flag. Why? Because like it or not, if you are not progressing within a firm you will most likely go up in salary and not in responsibilities. When you do decide to move, you will have to take a salary cut which makes it even harder to move. Yes, it is a risk to move to a new firm. but it is more of a risk to stay where you are in a stagnated career.
3. Get your CA qualification
This may be considered a no-brainer, but not everyone is aware of this one. Don’t get me wrong, not every firm cares about a ‘piece of paper’. However, if you want to move above senior level, you will need your CA qualification or equivalent. Why? Because as a good Senior you will do the initial review and a Partner would like you to do the second review and sign off. What if you only want to get up to senior level? It is an expectation that the longer you stay, the higher your pay will go – in my experience, this can put a cap on your salary earning potential so you’re only limiting yourself.
4. Get career advice annually
Talking to a knowledgeable specialist recruiter is helpful for your career before your review. We are aware of market trends and salary banding and we can let you know where you sit in the market personally. We can always let you know where you could develop to get your career to the next level, which is what you ask for in your review. Your current employer may say they check for market salaries, but I can assure you this is not always the case. I have spoken to candidates who have been paid $20K under market salary, so it’s always best to check. It is worth noting, not all recruiters are unethical and overly ‘salesy’ – there are good and bad in every industry.
These are my top tips for BAS Accountants, is there anything else you would add about for careers in accounting? Get in touch if you would like a confidential conversation around your career or the market or the current opportunities.