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Why not consider a career in accountancy?

There are a lot of reasons why you should consider a career in accountancy. We recently spoke to Patrick Tigwell at Exeter Works’ sponsor Thomas Westcott, one of the largest independent accountancy practices in the South West, about his thoughts on starting a career within the industry.

  1. A career that can fit around your lifestyle…

In the past a career in accountancy was (somewhat unfairly) seen as a full time, 9-5 role with very little flexibility.  However, these days the industry is much more in tune with how we live our lives today.  

So although many of the roles are indeed full time, many are also part time and the nature of the work means that these part time hours can be flexed to suit school hours or caring for elderly relatives, for example.

  1. A career for all ages…

Again, these days, you don’t have to take the traditional route of school/university followed by an accountancy career.  You can train or re-train to become an accountant at any age. For example you may have previously worked in the Public Sector or in the Armed Forces for say 20 years but you can still re-train as an accountant and have a second great career. Perhaps an accountancy apprenticeship may be for you?

  1. You don’t necessarily have to work in an accountancy firm…

Accountancy as a career covers much more than simply working in an accountancy practice; you could work in the accounts department of a non accountancy firm for example,  or set yourself up in business as a self employed book-keeper or accountant.

  1. There are multiple ways to access training…

You can choose whether to undertake the Accounting Technician training (AAT) with the professional body, or perhaps the more advanced Chartered Certified (ACCA) or Chartered (ACA) programmes.  

AAT is a good starting point because it lets you ‘dip your toe in the water’ so you can see if accountancy is for you.  It can also be self study and can fit around your existing work or family commitments.

ACCA is a great qualification as, due to its modular structure, it can be undertaken a bit at a time.  It can be done self study but the costs usually mean that you would need a firm to sponsor you.

ACA is also a great qualification and although the standard is similar to ACCA, it is more suited to block study.  Arguably it also enjoys great kudos than other qualifications, although being an ACA myself, I would say this!

  1. Your Accountancy qualification is a great passport… 

The UK has a large thriving accountancy industry which means there are many opportunities for qualified accountants at any level.  You might want to specialize in Tax, Corporate Finance or any other of the myriad service lines that the larger accountancy firms offer. Or perhaps use your qualification to access other roles within the industry or the Financial Sector generally – it is a great start point!

Additionally, UK accountancy qualifications are normally internationally recognized so when circumstances allow, it could be your passport to a role overseas.

  1. It’s all about people…

Accountancy is very much a people business; you might work with lots of them but even if you are a sole practitioner, you will be working with lots of clients and networking with lots of contacts and introducers.  

It does help if you have a fairly analytical mind but you don’t need a Double First in Maths from Cambridge; you will however, need good people skills – ‘people buy people’ is a commonly used phrase.

  1. Remuneration…

I thought I would leave this one until last!  Although perhaps not as well paid as you might imagine, it is nevertheless a reasonably well paid industry and, with many different ways to progress, it does mean that you can start to command the higher salaries as your career develops.

As an accountant of 25 years, I have found my career to be very rewarding and I have met some great people and great business owners during the course of it.  I have also enjoyed confounding the stereotypes about what a typical accountant is like!  These days it is very much a people industry and if you are personable, you like people and you have a reasonably analytical mind, then a career in accountancy should be considered.

I am very happy to talk to anyone that might be considering an accountancy career – in the first instance, drop me a line at patrick.tigwell@thomaswestcott.co.uk.