Career path for newly-qualified accountants

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Our accounting & finance recruitment team has been managing the careers of newly-qualified accountants for over 30 years. So we're well placed to offer you the help you need.

Most CA (SA)  start out in public practice as trainees and set out to achieve the CA qualification within three years. During this time a CA (SA) will gain knowledge and experience as well as take on responsibilities, including managing junior staff members and client accounts.

Firms may offer trainees the opportunity for a secondment to another division, possibility overseas, to broaden their knowledge and have the chance to gain international experience. Trainees normally remain with the same employer throughout the training contract.

Your career path

The CA (SA) qualification can lead to many different career paths. Staying in public practice offers the chance for secondments or transfers to different areas of practice or, alternatively, a move outside of practice within commerce & industry and financial services. 

Why choose banking and financial services?

As a newly-qualified accountant, you are likely to enter the financial services sector through:

  • Investment banking
  • Investment management (through private equity, hedge funds, asset or wealth management)
  • Corporate or consumer banking
  • Insurance

There are a number of entry roles for newly-qualified accountants across the banking and financial services sector.

The roles available within investment and consumer banking are broadly the same as the investment management and insurance fields and include:

  • Technical or financial accounting
  • Internal audit
  • Product control 
  • Financial control 
  • Management accounting 
  • Regulatory reporting
  • Risk management
  • Treasury

Why choose commerce and industry?

As a newly-qualified accountant you can work in a huge range of sectors, including:

  • Construction
  • Energy / natural resources
  • FMCG / retail
  • IT / hi-tech / telecommunications
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing / media / advertising
  • Pharmaceuticals / bio-technology
  • Professional services
  • Public sector / not-for-profit / charities
  • Real estate / property

In a commercial business, there are five typical entry points into an organisation for newly-qualified accountants:

  • Internal audit 
  • Management accounting 
  • Financial accounting 
  • Group accounting 
  • Business analysis / commercial analysis

Today's market

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Managing Director at Robert Walters says, "The current job market for newly-qualified accountants is extremely competitive and organisations are very specific about who they recruit and what type of person they are looking for. Newly-qualified accountants need to build towards an end goal and, to avoid disappointment, not expect to land their dream job as soon as they have completed their articles."

Below are some tips from the specialist accounting & finance recruitment team at Robert Walters to help newly-qualified accountants achieve their career goals:

  • Focus on building and growing your career - Starting in an entry level position such as internal auditing, learning the business, developing the necessary skill sets and moving up the career ladder from there is recommended to help you achieve your end goal more quickly.
  • Be patient - Be prepared to wait as competition is fierce and vacancies are limited. The recruitment process can also be lengthy as organisations look for candidates who are not only high calibre but also have the right cultural fit.
  • Be open to opportunities - If the role isn't exactly what you were planning, look at the long -term career prospects the organisation can offer - it's not only about the short-term and a role that can start you on your career path is one to consider. Not only will you learn from the role but you will build on your skill set.

If you have a friend looking for a new accounting job, why not be rewarded for recommending Robert Walters? Learn more about our excellent referral scheme and refer your friend today.

For more career advice please contact:

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Managing Director
+27 (0)11 881 2414