Practice or Industry – How do I decide?

Jul 2023 | Blog

Perhaps you are at a crossroads in your career.  Newly or soon to be qualified. Or perhaps you are just starting out and you know you want to become an accountant but not sure which path to pursue.

Read on to have your questions answered here in What’s best for me? Practice or Industry?


What’s the difference?

Most of you will already understand the difference but for those who may not, a quick summary is that Practice is when you are working for a firm of accountants who provide accountancy, audit, taxation, business advisory services to a range of companies. Industry (or In House) is where you work for one company, looking after the accounting for that company alone, or it’s group of companies.

In this 3-part series, we will look at Roles & Responsibilities, Progression & Status and finally the MONEY.


Roles & Responsibilities

There are several roles you can undertake working in practice or industry. In industry there is financial accounting, management accounting, analyst roles, the list goes on.

In practice you can be an auditor, tax specialist, statutory or management accountant, forensic accountant, work with mergers and acquisitions, again the list goes on.

They key thing to consider here is what elements of the job do you like most. If you are currently working in practice and thinking about where to go next, you will now have an idea of what you like doing.  It is also worthwhile taking into consideration what type of firm work in. The role of an auditor/accountant is very different in the big 4 where you are working with some of the largest companies on the planet in comparison to working in a 10 partner firm where you are perhaps dealing with companies turning over say £10M – £50M. In a larger firm you tend to be working in large teams and perhaps only small sections of an audit.  A smaller firm more commonly will allow you to oversee all stages and sections of the audit and gain a greater understanding of the entire business.  Add to that you may well have interaction with the actual business owner whereas with larger companies perhaps only the FD or members of the finance team.

I’ll take it as a given that you have some kind of affinity to numbers and as mentioned above there are a range of roles that you can do in both practice and industry.  I feel the key difference comes down to the client facing aspect. If you are sociable and enjoy interacting with clients, attending client meetings and enjoy working with a variety of different businesses then staying in practice will ensure you continue that part of your job. If client meetings fill you with dread, then industry will probably be your preferred path.


What now then?

Ultimately, do you want to work for one company, focus on the finance of one entity, in one industry sector and add value from that stand point. OR. Do you enjoy working with a variety of companies across different sectors (although you can specialise in a particular sector), and adding value as an advisor as opposed to an internal employee?

So maybe part one of this mini-series has already answered your question and now you know what you want to do. If it hasn’t, look out for part 2 where we explore progression and status.  If you can’t wait, then feel free to get in touch with one of our consultants at GPN Recruitment who will happily offer you completely impartial advice on what to do next.

Until next time



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