Qualifying as an ACA, or ‘Associate Chartered Accountant’, is a great way to fast-track your career in accounting. Awarded by the ICAEW, ACA is a respected qualification that many around the world aspire to achieve. Unfortunately, this year’s June sitting for the Professional Level examinations and the July Advanced Level 2020 have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The global body for professional accountants, ACCA, the ‘Association of Certified Chartered Accountants’ has also postponed their exam sittings this year, as has CIMA, the ‘Chartered Institute of Management Accountants’. However, for those who have already qualified or are waiting to qualify or even just considering qualifying one of these professional bodies, we’ve found six things you can do with an ACA, ACCA or CIMA qualifications that will boost your career progression.
How to become a chartered accountant or qualified accountant
In order to become a chartered accountant, students need to have completed three years (450 days) of experience with an appropriate employer and pass a series of exams. You can do this by passing ICAEW's Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB), which includes the first six modules of the ACA. Then you can complete the rest of the qualification. ACCA and CIMA also have a series of exams that students can study for independently, or through centralised taught support through the institutions.
There are many graduate schemes and even fast-tracked apprenticeships to gain the desired qualification and become a professional certified chartered accountant, chartered accountant or management accountant.
6 career options for newly-qualified ACAs, ACCAs and CIMAs
The immediate period after qualifying with your chosen institution is a great time to take stock of your situation and think about what you want from your career. There are many options and doors open to you and knowing what you want will help you face the future with confidence.
Stay where you are
There can be plenty of career opportunities internally, whether you currently work in one of the large-scale practice firms like a Big 4, a smaller, boutique firm or even within industry. Given their support and encouragement many gain during the qualifying process as an ACA, ACCA or CIMA, this is often a good indication of future support and further opportunities to learn and develop your skills. It’s always a good idea to exhaust all avenues with your current employer before looking externally.
Commercial finance and management accounting
One of the most popular choices for ACA, ACCA or CIMA qualified accountants, corporate finance and management accounting involves how corporations deal with funding sources, capital structuring and investment decisions. This sector has a growing interest in people with accounting backgrounds rather than direct corporate finance experience, particularly if you also possess or are studying towards a CFA qualification.
Group and financial accounting
Financial accountants oversee a company’s financial transactions, recording, summarising and analysing financial information as related to the business. Group accounting in contrast is the consolidated group accounts reporting of subsidiary companies under the holding company and summarises the group’s total activities. Group and financial accounting usually requires experience in:
Working on cash flow forecasts
Preparing statutory financial statements
Reconciling balance sheets and journal entries
Being responsible for client accounts and relations
Managing corporation tax returns and sometimes income tax returns
Some knowledge of SOX or IFRS reporting standards
Internal audit usually involves assessing an entire company’s controls, risks, stakeholder management, project work and developing an understanding of all departments across an organisation. As recently a recently-qualified ACA, ACCA or CIMA you may have had your fill of audit work, but with a heightened regulatory environment, many businesses are ensuring they have the internal controls in place and therefore value the role that internal auditors play
Risk and compliance
Similar to internal audit, there has been a rise in demand for risk and compliance professionals, largely due to a more stringent regulatory environment but also due to increased (perceived and/or actual) risks facing a business including quality control, regulatory compliance, security of physical assets, fraud and other business crime, IT security and business continuity.
Fund accounting and investment accounting
Fund accounting continues to offer many opportunities to the newly qualified largely in the asset management sector. Many employers are looking for more diverse backgrounds than just immediate fund accounting experience; strong accounting and team leadership are very attractive skills to have.
Roles in fund accounting have a steady career progression and help enhance several desirable hard skills such as: asset management, investment administration knowledge and understanding of products like OEICS and Unit Trusts.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, there’s also a career path in tax, risk and compliance to consider exploring as a chartered accountant.
Edward Mann can assist you in finding the right career for you to use your qualifications to the best of your abilities. Our vacancies are specially picked so you can find a role where you can fully utilise your skills and plan for personal growth to ensure a bright future.