As the ACA results have just been published, much is being written about the next step for the first move out of practice into industry. However, it is also worth stressing that towards the back end of the year many people will be qualifying from two other qualifications; CIMA and ACCA.
In a two part blog, I will be looking at the next steps for both and how you can use these qualifications to excel and progress in your career.
CIMA – Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.
CIMA qualification is a crucial early milestone in your career, but it is important to choose your next move carefully. Undertaking the qualification opens many avenues and begins a new chapter in your career. The first goal is to get a detailed understanding of the main opportunities then to think carefully about which route is best for you and how best to follow it.
Things to consider
The path you follow will depend on your own areas of interest and career aspirations. There are many ways to investigate this and discussing your career goals and motivations with others is crucial. As well as friends, family, work colleagues, recruitment consultants can also provide a good objective view of the market, particularly if you are looking for a new role. You need to ask yourself the most important questions – “what do I enjoy?”
It is also worth researching organisations and roles that will help support this decision making process. This applies equally whether you are hoping to apply for internal jobs or promotions, or taking your CV to the external job market and scouting out new job opportunities.
You may also consider the international opportunities; the CGMA designation gives your qualification recognition right around the world as the successful partnership with the AICPA – the most respected accountancy body in the US – has only gone to underline how vital management accountants have become but gives you scope to explore new avenues.
The time after your qualification is also a time to reflect. During this long process of becoming qualified with CIMA, you have acquired knowledge of business and finance, and experience of decision making and project management skills. All fields, including commerce and industry, financial services, public services and not-for-profit are open to you as a result.
It is worth evaluating your long-term career goals. You may want to become a chief finance officer or finance director in which case working in commerce and industry in a large corporate organisation can offer structured development and career progression. If you have a more entrepreneurial flair, small and medium-sized enterprises can give you the freedom to grow alongside the company, working closely with owners and senior management to gain a broad business overview. It is recommend that people work backwards – think about where they want to be and what they need to do to get themselves to that goal.
The next role?
Now you are qualified you may look at new avenues. Taking someone who has been in an Assistant Management Accountant role there are 4 routes that are worth considering.
• Management accountant is the obvious route. Although this role can vary significantly between companies, it is at the heart of the finance function focusing on producing the management accounts, closing down month end/year end and other duties such as fixed asset register, prepayment and accruals. Whilst varied, the role for some can be seen as repetitive.
• Secondly, finance analyst, which is most in-demand from candidates at this level. They are more commercial and more focussed on how the business makes money – they get into the heart of the business. You will play an integral part in the budgeting/forecasting process, provide ongoing support to departments in the business, and provide a running commentary of variances and other analysis to support the decision making processes.
• Third, Finance manager is a role that you typically find in smaller businesses with a leaner finance function. This role will be more varied and you will get more opportunity to focus on a number of different areas of finance. Whilst your experience will be broader you won’t get the chance to specialise in any particular area.
• The fourth is financial accountant, although that is a little less common for CIMA members as the qualification is focused towards management accounts. However, it has been known that people have progressed down such a route.
If you are a recently qualified CIMA accountant and are looking at that next step then please feel free to get in touch.