How to make a success of your first accountancy practice job

Making the change from studying accountancy or from an industry based finance position can be quite a challenge and certainly a shock to the system. We thought we’d put together a few pointers we’ve received from candidates who have previously made a similar transition.

The first thing to realise is that your work and your contribution have direct results on you, your clients and your practice. Every task you undertake, no matter how minor, should be treated with the utmost importance. From posting documents to HMRC right the way up to finalising year-end accounts.

If there was ever any element of hiding in your studies, this stops from now. One of the key aspects of becoming a good accountant is concentration. Paying attention to instructions and requests from clients is key and will stand you in good stead as you progress and as your workload significantly increases. An easy mistake to make would be to assume that because you’ve completed a particular task for a client before, you know how to do if for a new client now. Each client’s circumstances are completely different.

The best way to ensure your work has the appropriate checks and balances? Ask questions. Likely your accountancy practice will be filled with a plethora of experience and knowledge. You should ask questions continuously and take full advantage of this knowledge and experience.

Other tips we’ve received from candidates who have successfully found their first accountancy practice job are:

Understand that your interpersonal skills are just as important as your accountancy skills. Being able to successfully communicate with clients and colleagues will be just as important as providing the best tax advice. If this is a development area for you, be aware of it and make a conscious effort to steadily improve.

Find a mentor. This could be formally or informally. Reasonably quickly after joining an accountancy practice you will likely start to notice who would make a great mentor. Whether it's the most knowledgeable accountant, the semi-senior with great client relationships or the audit manager who has a fantastic local reputation. You can make it your aim to learn as much as you can from this person, often it is somebody who you will be able to develop a great working relationship with - which always makes thing a lot easier.

Some accountancy practices have a strong onboarding program which will include mentoring or “buddying”, some won’t. This is where an informal buddy comes along.

Keep up to date with industry news. Whilst your studies may be continuing, having an up-to-date knowledge of changes in the market of even local news within the industry will help you develop relationships with both clients and colleagues.