Practice or industry – Making the right choice as an accounting professional

August 19th 2021 | Posted by Dave Cross

Demand for qualified accountants continues to grow despite the difficult economic climate right now. Roles exist in both practice and industry.

One of the biggest decisions that accounting professionals have to make is which path to take.

Often, accountants begin their career in practice before moving on to roles in industry. However, some stay in practice whether at a small firm or large multinational like KPMG or Deloitte. One thing that is certain is that every accounting professional has to make a decision between practice or industry at some point in their accounting career.

When making this decision, it’s essential to take time to consider the pros and cons of both paths.

Working in practice

The main benefit that accounting professionals, especially newly qualified accountants, get from working in practice is experience of working with clients across different industries. They gain experience of audit, taxation, and accounting advisory services.

In addition, the main pros of choosing a practice role are:

  • Interaction with valuable contacts which enables the creation of long-term relationships and networks.
  • Varied roles which allow individuals to develop well-rounded experience and make informed decisions about potential future specialisms.
  • Progression potential within firms.

Some cons of choosing to work in practice are:

  • It can be difficult to work with demanding clients whilst maintaining polite professionalism.
  • A work-life balance may be harder to maintain when working with several clients rather than concentrating on the requirements of one company in an industry role.

Accounting roles in industry

Industry accounting roles often allow the opportunity to specialise in areas such as management accounting, financial accounting, and treasury management. This is a major positive for an individual who has identified a specific function they want o focus on.

Focussing in this way enables them to provide real value for the organisation by providing strategic insight.

Other pros of choosing a role in industry are:

  • An opportunity for in-depth involvement in the success of one organisation rather than spreading work and expertise across several clients.
  • The chance to make a standout contribution to the successful progression of the organisation thereby building a reputation that aids career progression.
  • Wide range of opportunities making it relatively easy to choose a preferred industry, company, and location.

Potential cons associated with an industry accounting role include:

  • Progression may not be as easy as in practice which can limit earnings potential.
  • Moving from practice to industry can be difficult as it may involve going from being a member of a team of accountants to becoming the only accounting professional in the organisation.

The choice between practice and industry is always going to be a personal one for an accountant. There is no right or wrong path to take and individuals need to make career decisions based on a consideration of the pros and cons and what they believe is the right path for them to take considering their aspirations and skills.

If you are an accountancy professional looking for your next role, register with us. If you are on looking to hire an accountancy professional, get in touch.