Straight Answers to Real Questions
Question: I’m a second year Manager in the Assurance Services practice of a Big 4 firm. I don’t have any aspirations to make a career out of public accounting so I think it’s time for me to leave the nest and look at a career in industry.
I’ve done a bit of thinking about what I want to do next but so far I’ve haven’t really come up with a game plan. The only thing that I’m definite about at this stage is that I don’t want to move into an audit job.
How do I figure out a way of entering industry that will me set on a path to success?
Answer: Determine your ultimate destination first. Do you have aspirations to be the CFO of a large, public company someday? Or do you think that ultimately you’re going to segue out of accounting into operations or sales? What industries are particularly interested in? Do you want a career that involves travel or perhaps an international posting?
Asking these sorts of questions is the first step in the process and your answers will in part be informed by your experience in public practice. Since you were in assurance services, you should have had the opportunity to gain insights into a number of different industries and types of companies. Think about why some of your clients were particularly interesting or enjoyable and why some of them were not. Was there anyone you ran across in one of your clients that you thought had a really interesting job?
You’re not committing yourself to anything at this point; you’re just trying to figure a general direction. If you found that you hated all your financial institution clients and can’t stand reading exposure drafts, it’s probably a pretty safe bet to pass on the IFRS job at the bank some recruiter called you on.
Coming out of assurance services in public accounting, there are basically five jobs available to you in industry: financial reporting, management reporting, financial analysis, general accounting management and audit. Of course you can aspire to a job in corporate finance or equities analysis but unless you’re extremely lucky, the jobs you’ll see will be some version of the functions listed above.
It actually isn’t all that important what function you start off in. What’s important isn’t so much where you start as where that position may lead. And that’s going to be a function of the company you join and the industry you’ll be part of.