Newly qualified? To stay in practice or move to industry?

Aug 14, 2020

As a newly qualified ACA, you may look to decide whether to stay with your training practice or make a move into industry, financial services or even move to another firm.  

Largely, the state of the employment market has a bearing on this decision and must be taken into consideration. In normal times, traveling or spending a year away would be another option. Currently however the choice facing most 2020/2021 newly qualified ACAs is whether to remain on a practice career path or make the move into and industry role. Here are a few points to consider in this regard:


  • Being invited to stay in your training practice is a positive endorsement of your track record and calibre
  • With exams finished, staying in your firm will allow you the time to focus on client relationships and to  add new softer skills to your repertoire, like people management or delivering senior level presentations
  • Practice can sometimes be regarded as slightly more insulated from harsh market forces, but it is important to note that the professional services sector is impacted by any economic dips too
  • The path is clear in practice. There is a hierarchical ladder to climb with regular increments and you know what your next step entails. If your plan is to achieve partnership, the path is clearly defined 
  • If you enjoy interacting with clients, the practice model of client relationship management is very rewarding
  • Working with multiple clients and evolving varied projects in practice provides nice variety and many ACAs enjoy this new monthly change. Moving to a new firm can give you an exciting new client portfolio to represent


  • The earlier you move into industry after qualification the easier the move will be and the more options you will have
  • Remaining in practice to senior management or director level can make it slightly more difficult to take that step into industry although far from impossible 
  • A move into industry can introduce you to business and strategic decision making. Involvement in the commerciality of the business itself can become a feature of a move to industry 
  • There is greater variety and flavours of roles and titles in industry and financial services
  • Moving into industry, you can find a company or organisation with a culture and energy that really fits your personality and strengths
  • You can forge a new career path towards FD, CFO or head of finance positions. It may allow you use your qualification in a very different way ultimately ending up as CEO of a  charity for example or even leading a semi-state body as is the case with FCA Imelda Hurley 
  • Pay in industry and particularly financial services is usually a little better than practice equivalent roles 

There is no right answer in deciding whether to stay in practice or to move to industry. Both have their merits and it really depends on the person. It is worth noting that once you make the leap into industry it can be a little more difficult to go back in to practice. 

As always your Careers Team is here to advise and discuss decisions like this and any other career related issues so don’t hesitate to contact us upon qualification. 

Dave Riordan (ACA)

Recruitment Specialist & Career Coach