Accountancy and Finance 

Contract Career Opportunities and Qualifications

Accountancy is a career which offers a graduate environment, variety, people contact, a professional qualification, high salaries and opportunities to work internationally. (Who said accountancy was boring?). Many accountants use their qualification to move into general management or to set up their own business

Accountants work in all areas of business, plus the public and voluntary sector. Many work in firms of chartered or certified accountants (this is referred to as working in “private practice” or, confusingly, as “public practice”). Others are employed by banks, manufacturing companies, local authorities, charities, publishers, film companies, hospital trusts, insurance companies, universities – you name it!

With clients as part of an audit team and reviewing their business operations and financial records to establish the validity of the company’s accounts. Auditing gives you a chance to visit 10 or 20 companies a year, examine their finances and strategies and and ask questions about the way they work. You see what makes some profitable, some fail, some good places to work and others bad: after 3 years training you have a unique insight into what makes a business successful.

Other work includes tax consultancy, business advice and insolvency work. This gives a broad insight into many different businesses and areas of business, which is why many accountants choose to qualify in private practice before moving into industry and other areas. If you train in private practice you will qualify with one of the chartered accountancy institutes or with the Association of Chartered Certifed Accountants (ACCA)

Accountants in industry and commerce use their financial expertise to inform management decision-making, to advise other departments within their organisation and to maximise its profitability and effectiveness. In the public sector they perform a similar role but with the emphasis on ensuring value for money.

There are several different professional bodies which regulate the training and work of accountants in the UK (see below) but, as a general rule, qualifying as an accountant will involve three years of study, exams and relevant employment. Training for professional exams is provided by employers. Early responsibility and fast promotion is available if your work and exam results are satisfactory

The difference between Management Accountancy (CIMA) and Certified Accountancy (ACCA)

Management Accountancy (CIMA) Focused on business and uniquely covers: 

  • Operations
  • Change Management
  • Relationship and Project Management
  • Marketing

CIMA puts emphasis on:

  • Human Resource Management
  • Applied management accountingtechniques
  • Stronger emphasis on application and analysis of knowledge.
  • Qualified to deal with business decisions.

Certified Accountancy (ACCA)Focused on professional practice and uniquely covers: 

  • Taxation of corporate and non- corporate entities (using actual tax rules)
  • External audit and assurance
  • Law


             ACCA puts emphasis on:

  • Information systems
  • Financial accounting and reporting


Professional Accountancy Bodies and Qualifications

Employers in accountancy place great value on professional qualifications either with candidates who have achieved them or who are demonstrating their willingness to study and achieve them.

Qualifications can be grouped into 2 categories:


Specialist areas of expertise include non chartered financial accountants, accounting technicians, bookkeepers, taxation, practioners and payroll professionals. The majority of students study 3 courses offered by the following professional bodies.

  • Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
  • Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT)
  • Institute OF Credit Managers (ICM)
  • Institute of Payroll Professionals(IPP)
  • Institute of Financial Accountants(IFA)
  • International Association of bookkeepers (IAB)
  • Association of International Accountants (AIA)

Achieving specialist status allows people to look at job roles in four principle catergories:

Taxation experts – who advise clients on tax matters and assess tax liabilities

Financial and accounting technicians – who work alongside accountants and other financial professionals in managing the financial affairs of an organisation

Financial accountants who are not chartered

Accounts, wages and other financial professionals and bookkeepers


Chartered and International equivalent

Chartered Accountancy 

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) includes training vacancies
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland you can obtain a Scottish qualification with employers throughout the UK
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland covers the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Certified Accountancy

  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) includes the ACCA Graduate Guide and jobs database

Management Accountancy

  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) includes “Directory of Opportunities”

Public Finance Accountancy

  • The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy includes training vacancies; an ‘Ask the Tutor’ service and an interactive map of the colleges that teach CIPFA

Tax Work

  • Chartered Institute of Taxation the ATII examination provides an alternative, or an additional, qualification to accountancy for tax specialists
  • TaxWorking job opportunities in the tax profession

Achieving Chartered Status allows people to look at job roles in two separate categories:

Financial managers and Chartered Secretaries – who plan and organise, direct and co-ordinate financial information and advise on company financial policy. While Chartered Secretaries organise the work associated with meetings of directors and shareholders

Chartered, certified and management accountants – who provide accounting and auditing services, advise clients on financial matters and collect and analyse financial information to perform other accounting duties required by management to plan and control an organisations income and expenditure.

Accountancy Training in the Public Sector

  • National Audit Office train as a chartered accountant with the independent “financial watchdog” monitoring government spending.
  • London Treasurers Local Government finance graduate scheme (no web link)


Contract and Interim opportunities exist across the industry for candidates with good Numerical skills, communication skills and a flexible approach to the work place.

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