Sharpening the right skills for success as a newly qualified CA

Mike Leeman, Eden Scott By Mike Leeman, Consultant, International Finance at Eden Scott

15 September 2016

Now you are a qualified chartered accountant, the next steps and the skills you need to work on are dependent on your end goal, so make sure you know what it is.

As a newly qualified chartered accountant, where do you see yourself in 20 years?

I’m sure you’ve heard this before and probably never given it a second thought. Until now.

It is crucial you give this question some serious consideration now you have qualified. While nothing is irreversible the choices you make and the areas you focus on will set you out on a specific career path for as long as you stay within financial markets.

Having completed your training you now have two choices. Having recruited for both accountancy practices and firms across a range of industries both are looking for slightly different skill sets in their employees. So identifying a career path will help you focus your efforts.

Continue with an accountancy practice

If you have enjoyed practice life and have started to identify an area you would like to specialise in then you should focus your efforts on remaining with your existing company.

You need to immerse yourself within a technical discipline. Broaden your reading and identify opportunities to build your personal profile. Look at how you might use communication channels to increase your profile amongst opinion leaders in the industry, think about publishing your thoughts on blogs or on professional social media channels such as LinkedIn. Remember to measure your comments. While they may be your own, you are always representing your organisation.

You also need to work on your networking and business development skills. Continuing down this path will enable you to hone your technical skills and perfect your approach as you concentrate your efforts on one specialism. However, there will also be a focus on building the business and engaging with clients to help grow your sector. This is not always something people are comfortable with but, certainly in my experience, success in this space and a faster accent to partnership level comes to those who can balance both areas.

Going in-house

The other option to explore is to go out into the market and work in-house. This requires an alternative approach and has a very different end game.

If you choose to work within industry, we typically see a number of candidates choosing FMCG companies, the manufacturing sector and certainly of late, the tech sector. You will get a chance to use the full gambit of skills you have picked up during your training. There will be less specialism and more of a necessity to deliver on what the company requires.

This will be a challenge to see if you can adapt your skills to suit the market and find the right solution for that industry. While accounting by its nature can be very formulaic every industry is different and this route will call upon all your creative ability.

We tend to see a very different the career path down this route too. You will likely move from Financial Manager to Financial Controller, Group Controller, Financial Director before taking on Chief Financial Officer and perhaps onto Chief Executive. It’s also not unusual for you to find that next stage up the career ladder with another organisation. Moving between industries can sharpen your skills and perhaps allow you to combine another passion with your profession.


So while you have worked hard to qualify, the next steps are crucial in shaping the career you really want. Make sure you take time to identify where you see yourself in the future and go after it.

Need advice and support on achieving the career you really want?

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About the author

Mike Leeman has been working in recruitment for over 16 years in London and Scotland. His focus is on Financial and Professional Services and has helped over 300 people gain new roles throughout his career. Having worked for a major international recruiter as well as specialist boutiques Mike is well equipped to deal with the changing nature of recruitment and as well as being involved in more recent digital and social media campaigns he has an enviable network of professionals.

This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.


  • CA Jobs
  • Career development

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