The Pitfalls & Temptations Facing 3,000 New Accountants

Thousands of accountants qualifying each year must take care with their career prospects if they are considering leaving practice after successfully gaining the coveted “chartered” status, warns Max Williamson, CEO at audit recruitment website Many organisations are offering high salaries and exotic travel to lure newly-qualified chartered accountants, but job-seekers need to look beyond short-term gain to whether the role will enhance their career longer-term.

With an anticipated 3,000 chartered accountants set to qualify in the UK each autumn, many ‘newly qualifieds’ will find themselves bombarded by recruitment agencies offering seemingly fantastic career opportunities which could include a move to sunnier climes or the prospect of a lucrative career within a City investment bank.

Max Williamson says:  “In past years at we have seen a surprising number of recently qualified accountants returning to the market within 12 months of stepping out of practice.  This is usually because they moved to a position that was not suitable or because they did not consider all aspects of what the job would entail."

“Newly-qualified accountants looking to leave practice need to look beyond the pay and perks to avoid an unsuitable job or ending up in a career rut that, 10 or 20 years down the line, will see them unable to progress to the senior and highly paid levels many covet.

To aid newly-qualifieds, Max Williamson has devised his seven top tips to help them make more considered career decisions:


  1. ‘Don’t become a one trick pony’– Make sure your  CV isn’t  dominated by just one industry sector.  This will not  only restrict your experience and exposure to key financial issues outside that industry, it creates a big problem when you wake up in your mid-40s to discover that the world of oil and gas no longer holds such an appeal.
  2. Is downsizing for you? – If you are moving from a big public practice firm to a smaller practice firm make sure you’re happy to make that shift in scale permanent. It will be much harder to move from a small company to a multinational five or ten years down the line.
  3. Where’s the next job after this one? – For the sake of your CV, you should stay in your post qualification role for three–six years.  You need to ensure there are enough opportunities for growth to sustain your interest for that amount of time.
  4. Jet set is not always the always the best –Make sure you carefully consider any jobs abroad.  The novelty of continuous sunshine and the chance to travel will soon wear off.  And when you return many employers often presume you have had it easy, even if you haven’t.  You will also need to consider whether you will assimilate into the culture of the country and other practical considerations such as cost of living.
  5. Keeping up with the Jones’s – Many newly-qualified accountants assume that the only logical option is to move to the City.  Don’t try and play ‘catch-up’ with your peers just because they may be getting huge salaries.  Make sure it really is the right move for you in the long term. Make an honest appraisal of your skills and personal qualities and whether you will be happy spending hours poring over spreadsheets in a technical reporting role regardless of what the role pays.
  6. Money! Money! Money! – Be aware of companies paying above market rates.  Some companies are forced to pay over the odds just to attract people into a role but the actual job may not be great for your career prospects and suited to your skills.
  7. Lies, damned lies and recruiters – Don’t allow recruiters to railroad you into dealing with them on an exclusive basis.  At the same time treat recruiters with respect, as a good relationship with a recruiter can be a rewarding partnership for many years.


Best of luck!



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