You’ve just finished your last ACA exam and you want to move into industry or financial services. First things first, have you looked at all the internal options at your current company? If you have and still think it’s time to move on then you need to check that you’ve got the ‘admin’ side of things sorted.
Ask yourself, have you completed all papers? If they were first time passes, say they were. Have you got all your hours signed off? You’ll need to have at least 450 days work accounted for. Make sure you do this before you leave your current company, as it’ll be much harder to do so later on.
Work out what role you want
Corporate Reporting – what’s happened in the past?
Analysis (or Commercial Finance) – what’s happening now or will be happening?
Corporate Finance – funding, liquidity and investment
Typically, if you’re coming from a Big 4 background, it’s going to be fairly easy to go into a reporting role because of your audit experience. You should feel comfortable with the transition as it is a similar role to what you would have been doing in practice. This choice is one of the best routes to become a Finance Manager/Financial Controller with a view of moving into Directorship. It’s also a well trodden path for ACAs who want to get into a commercial or analytical role longer term.
Analysis or Commercial Finance
These roles are more commercially focused as you are producing budgets and forecasts and analysing data to understand how the company is performing against various metrics. You will then provide commentary to support strategic decision making and business growth. These roles commonly involve looking forward so you will also be working with and producing financial models so a high level of modelling competency is required. Good business partnering requires great communication and influencing skills.
Corporate Finance is the area of finance dealing with the sources of funding and the capital structure of corporations and the actions that managers take to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders, as well as the tools and analysis used to allocate financial resources.
These roles have the highest level of competition and require you to have been worked in areas such as M&A or Corporate Finance whilst completing your ACA. When the market is good, this sector is also very buoyant as it’s more transaction focused.
Why work in real estate?
The choices open to newly qualified accountants are vast. However, a career in the real estate sector offers many benefits:
- Real Estate finance professionals are amongst the highest paid when compared to others in similar positions in other industry sectors
- Real Estate businesses offer ACAs a genuine platform to develop specialised skills sets and many ACAs take up the opportunity to move around and work in various roles across the business, many start off in reporting but move in to commercial or corporate finance.
- The skills you pick up working in a real estate company are highly transferable to other sectors as you’re dealing with a constantly changing product base. Especially when working in funds or commercial property, any other industry with large, blue-chip, big revenue companies are perfect to move to. Real Estate also has good links and can transfer easily to top-tier financial services, private equity or venture capital firms.
- Real Estate is a tangible asset. You can see and understand just by looking at the London skyline what you’re working with, which you can’t necessarily do in a other asset management organisations.
- You’ll gain a wealth of overseas exposure as you’re not just dealing with UK assets but European and worldwide assets, especially post-Brexit. This will expand your technical knowledge and dealing with a various regulations, individuals and organisations.
- The real estate market is constantly changing, especially in commercial property. What you work on in one year will be different to what you work on in another.
- The UK, and London in particular, Real Estate sector is a world leading market with investors from around the globe placing their money here.
When you’ve considered all your options and are keen to make the move into a real estate role then it’s time to talk to Cobalt. It’s always best to come in and meet with us so we can get an understanding of who you are and what you are looking for from your next career move to ensure we find you the best role.
Before you start applying for roles
Once you have decided on what you want to specialise in, then review the structure of your CV. Tailor it specifically to the roles that you are applying for. You may not have looked at your CV for a while or even since graduating. Add as much detail as possible, naming the clients you’ve worked for and using specific examples, including detailed facts and figures. There’s no point saying you did X and Y for a large company, when it could be anything from £200 million to £2 billion.
If you are looking for great service from great people, our Real Estate Finance team can help.
Our Real Estate Finance team has a combined 27 years experience in assisting Qualified Finance individuals find their next role, including an ex-accountant.
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