Exams are over! Congratulations! Passing your exams is a massive achievement and will play a huge role in shaping your career moving forward. But what next?
Here’s the advice from Alan McBride (a former FD and Senior Financial Recruiter), Matt Newman (Camino Partners MD and Senior Financial Recruiter for Camino Partners' USA division), Molly Hogan (Senior Financial Recruitment Consultant), Tom Manning (Financial Recruiter) and Harry Hewson (Head of Practice and CFO/FD level Recruitment Consultant).
The world has NOT ended
Firstly, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t pass. Don’t kick yourself if it hasn’t happened for you this time. Just knuckle down and focus on the next exams. To ensure you’re still getting progression in your career, talk to your FC/FD/CFO about what extra responsibilities you can take on and what projects you can work on. Just because you’ve not qualified yet doesn’t mean you need to stop moving forward.
Consider your options
Consider whether you should stay in my current role or whether qualifying is a good time to make a career move. Many choose to move at this time.
“Before moving I would consider my longer-term career goals/vision and make sure that my next move/role was a logical step towards this goal. For example, if my goal is to be a listed company plc FD, I might not move to an SME. In contrast, if I see my finance qualification as a stepping stone to more commercial roles in future, I wouldn’t move to a more technical group accounting role in a big plc. Instead, I’d look for a smaller business where I could make an impact; perhaps one operating in an industry I had knowledge of or some passion for.” - Alan McBride.
You’ve not made it yet, be a sponge
“Don’t see qualifying as an end in itself. It’s the first step in your ongoing personal and professional development. Commit to lifelong learning. Perhaps having done a few years of more technical learning, now would be a good time to focus on interpersonal skills, such as communication, leadership and management – assuming these will be useful in life and in your future career.”- Alan McBride.
“Get as much practical experience as possible. You may be qualified, but do you have the practical experience required to step up?” - Matt Newman.
Speak to a Recruiter
Talk to a specialist financial recruiter. They will advise you how on what salary you can expect as a result of your recent qualification and will become an invaluable career coach to you.
Don’t rest on your laurels
“Passing these exams is only the start of your career, so don’t rest on your laurels. Whilst some bask in the glory of completing their exams, others set themselves apart by proactively seeking continuous self-development. Sit down and ask yourself the following questions;
- Am I happy in this sector?
- How much progression can my current firm offer now I’ve hit this milestone?
- What is the next step in my career?
- Do I want to be in a big corporate or a fast-growing SME?
- Is the culture of your current firm something you enjoy?
- Have I got an appropriate mentor to help me develop?
- Is there a clear pathway to success?”
- Harry Hewson.
“Don’t go into interviews with “recently-qualified arrogance”. There are many, many qualified accountants. You may be able to set yourself apart from part-qualified candidates with your shiny new qualification, but you need to be able to draw upon quantifiable achievements to set yourself apart from other qualified candidates.” - Molly Hogan.
Keep your standards up. If you’re planning on leaving your current company, do it on good terms. The value of a good reference or recommendation cannot be underestimated.
Check your salary
Becoming qualified usually means that a salary increase is to follow. Ideally, you’ll have already spoken with your employer before getting qualified about how you should expect your salary to change after, so that you know whether you’re happy with what’s being offered and whether to look for new roles. If you haven’t, don’t worry, qualifying means you’re now in a strong position to renegotiate your salary.
“Be realistic with your salary expectations and don’t be holding out for that massive jump. It may be beneficial to you to accept a salary below what you expected, to get into the industry you want and with visibility of long term career development.” - Tom Manning.
Check your contract. Ensure you have fulfilled all pre-agreed commitments, whether that is a specified time you must stay with your business, post-qualification or paying back your study support (which may end up being very costly).
Get a mentor
‘It doesn’t need to be an official one, but an industry-leading accountant who knows their stuff who is willing to give you advice and support will be an invaluable addition. Now that you’ve passed your exams, you’ll need advice on putting it into practice.’ - Molly Hogan.
Passing your exams is a magnificent achievement, but the hard work doesn’t stop here. What it does do is give you a great platform to accelerate your career.
Make sure you focus on your professional development and getting the right support system in place, i.e. a mentor and a financial recruiter. Consider how you are going to further your career and put a plan into place to allow you to achieve this.
If you are interested in looking at new opportunities or would like advice on your next career steps, get in touch!
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