Your Career in Finance – Here’s what you Need to Know

Man with his back to the camera looking at a laptop

Rutherford Cross’ Gillian O’Neil takes a look at the career options available to newly qualified accountants, and discusses the benefits of each.


If you are a trainee accountant about to become fully qualified over the next couple of months, now is a good time to start exploring what your options are. It is an exciting time, with new doors opening and plenty of opportunities to consider.

The current job market still remains buoyant and you may find that you already have had recruiters approaching you with various job opportunities. For some, this may not have been something you have given much thought to yet while studying for your exams alongside full-time work. So, in this blog we are going to touch on a couple of points you may want to consider when thinking about where you want your future career to go.

Where to Start?

Typically, the decision for accountants who have trained in practice often lies on then whether to remain in practice or make the move to industry. In this current market, the demand for qualified accountants in both practice and industry remains extremely high.


Training in practice allows you to build a strong foundation for your career. Chances are you have built up a good technical skillset, one which you may wish to further develop.

The benefits of working in practice include the element of variety which some people thoroughly enjoy from dealing with different clients across a variety of sectors and travelling to different sites.  There is also the opportunity to work alongside other accountants and like-minded individuals.

Careers in practice often offer a very clear pathway for progression which can entice people to stay with their current firm. If you are choosing to stay in practice, you could also explore the option of moving to a different firm where the progression pathways may be better.


If you decide you want to make the move into industry, you will find there is opportunity to use your skillset in a very different environment. You’ll be able to focus on the specific needs and requirements of the business you work in, rather than across many clients. You will also have the responsibility of owning a process from end to end.

Some may enjoy channelling their focus here and might have a specific sector they are keen to get into. In the West of Scotland we have a great variety of industries including a very strong FMCG presence, growing Tech and Renewables sectors, a multitude of Construction businesses, as well as a thriving Financial Services offering.

A high level of our recent placements have been individuals who came from practice and acquired a desirable skillset which they can now enhance further in industry such as moving into Commercial Finance within one of the Drinks businesses and developing your analysis and business partnering experience.

Public and Not for Profit Sectors

Working in the public and not for profit sectors can be particularly appealing to those who have an interest in the community or a particular passion for a specific area such as education or care sectors. The public sector may not be as competitively paid as the private sector but can include many other benefits such as enhanced holidays and pension and being able to work in a role where you feel there is a strong element of giving back and making a difference.

Many individuals we have recently placed in the public sector also report better work/life balance and at times increased flexibility. We have found that individuals with good collaboration and communication skills to be extremely successful in the public sector due to having to accommodate and manage the expectations of a wide range of stakeholders.


Focus on what Counts

Upon becoming fully qualified, you can typically expect to see a significant pay rise. Titles can differ greatly depending on which organisation or firm you choose to go with and especially between the different sectors. Therefore, try not to get too caught up on the title, instead focus more on the day-to-day aspects of the role and the responsibilities involved. Consider which roles will add more valuable experience to your skill set, and help you grow to achieve your longer term goals.

Each individual has different priorities when it comes to building a career.  For some, it’s the salary or the development and opportunities for progression. Others might prioritise the enjoyment of the daily work or the importance of the work they are involved in. Work/life balance is high on the priorities list for many.  Whatever it is, it will be different for every individual.

Speaking to a recruitment adviser can help you better understand the current market and can help set your expectations appropriately, as well as ensuring you find a role that is best suited to your individual priorities and aspirations. Wherever you choose to go, it is important to make sure your own personal values align with that of the business to ensure a long-term fit.

If you are about to qualify or have recently qualified and would like to discuss your options in more detail please get in contact for a confidential discussion at [email protected]