Finally there is good news for graduates. The Highfliers Graduate Market 2014 report found that the UK’s leading employers expect to recruit significantly more graduates in 2014 and are offering 8.7 per cent more entry-level vacancies than last year, the biggest annual rise in graduate recruitment for four years. Some of the biggest growth in vacancies is expected to come from the finance industry, in particular accounting and professional services firms as well as City investment banks.
A qualification in accountancy provides graduates with an interest in finance the opportunity to work in almost any industry or sector, in a variety of roles.
Public Practice Sector
Public practices provide a variety of accounting, business and advisory services to clients. They are accountancy firms that offer fee-paying services including: audit and assurance, business recovery and insolvency, tax, management consultancy, corporate finance, forensic accounting.
The potential roles available in public practices are varied and include tax consultant, forensic accountant, business advisor and financial analyst. The sorts of firms you would be working for include Deloitte, RSM Tenon, UHY Hacker Young as well as medium and small accountancy firms. The starting salary you can expect in this sector is from £18,000 to £25,000.
Financial Services Sector
The financial services sector is where accountants deal with the management of money. Accountants in this sector deal with complex financial products so must be astutely aware of the relationship between risk and return within the banking, insurance or asset management fields.
Opportunities are available in global banking organisations such as HSBC, Santander, Barclays, Zurich as well as internationally recognised blue chip organisations and potential roles include risk manager, corporate financier, anti-money laundering officer and fund accountant. The starting salary range is similar to that in public practice.
The public sector comprises of not-for-profit organisations which deliver public services in the UK such as the NHS, UK government departments, charities, police and education. Accountants in this sector help these organisations deliver value for money and manage public finances.
Potential roles include finance manager, management accountant, internal auditor, financial accountant and starting salaries range from £15,000 to £26,000.
The corporate sector is where accountants assist and support an organisation to make decisions through business insight and by developing investor and partnering relationships.
Opportunities in the corporate sector can be in almost any industry from retail to aviation, for example Arcadia and British Airways and also included small or medium-sized enterprises. Potential roles include management accountant, business analyst, risk manager, group accountant and starting salaries range from £18,000 to £22,000.
All of the above sectors have both large and smaller organisations operating within them. While the attraction of working for a big, well-known brand is obvious, building your career in a growing business can give you far more exposure to different areas of work, and bring you closer to the challenges and opportunities a business faces.
Skills For The Workplace
Whether large or small, employers these days are looking for more than just a degree; they want to know if the person they are hiring has workplace relevant skills such as the ability to work in a team, communication skills, commercial awareness and strong organisational skills. Commercial awareness is increasingly important and employers are always telling us that graduates need to understand how their business operates and the issues that impact it. Excelling in these areas and proving it by detailing your work experience and skills, helps employers to spot the high flier who will not only fit their team, but bring long-term success to the company.
As you progress with your studies and career you will be expected to develop further skills such as the ability to influence and challenge, acting ethically and legally, building professional relationships, mentoring and motivating other team members.
A qualification in accountancy is an excellent grounding for a career in a many different areas of finance and business, beyond just accountancy. It provides an excellent understanding of the key areas of finance and can lead to a career as an analyst, corporate financier or risk manager. Many accountants even set up their own businesses. Accessing a career in finance can be a daunting prospect, but gaining a solid grounding through further study in accountancy provides an in-depth grounding and a sure-fire route to a career in finance.