Many “First Movers” choose to leave once they are CA qualified and at the Senior Accountant/Senior Analyst level. Many choose to stay on until they gain their Manager or Senior Manager promotion. There isn’t a definitive answer to this question, it really depends on your personal preference and career goals.
The clearest indicator is when you know the Partner route isn't the path for you. We have been informed that 95% of all graduates leave after they become qualified, and of the remaining, only 2% of accounting seniors and upwards will make the level of partner.
If you leave it later, there is the argument that there are fewer opportunities the more senior you go. There is, however, no correlation between the longer you leave it and the chance of securing a great opportunity at the senior level. We have placed people from Chartered straight into Group Financial Controller, Group Finance Manager, Group Reporting Manager, Financial Controller and FP&A Manager roles.
In the current climate, there are fewer opportunities at the higher level so it does make it a bit trickier. We are finding some clients are opting to look at "Second Movers" for more senior roles.
Moving at the right time can fast track your career. Don't rely on years of experience getting you further ahead in your career. Make sure you think about your current skills and career goals. Always ask yourself "By moving now will it get me further ahead?"
There are numerous options available to you when making your First Move.
If you’re coming from an audit background the easiest way to transition into commerce is through Financial Accounting, Financial Reporting, Management Accounting and Internal/External Audit roles. Once you have proven yourself and demonstrated your business skills and finance abilities extend beyond month-end, then analytical and FP&A opportunities will present themselves.
You can of course move straight into a Commercial/Business Analyst opportunity. This is a preference for many candidates as the roles are less technical and decision support focused. However, these are highly sought after and many organisations tend to go with candidates with this experience first. Depending on the Hiring Manager, sometimes they prefer to go for “First Movers" so they don’t come with any bad habits. If you want this kind of role, explore it first and see how you go. Don't let recruiters tell you otherwise.
If you’re coming from a Transaction Services/Advisory background you will be considered for a range of analytical and strategy focused roles depending on your skillset and client exposure. Larger organisations with FP&A, Strategy and M&A teams are always looking for high calibre first movers.
Above all else, does the opportunity align with your career goals? Think of your first move as a stepping-stone, it may not be perfect but if it gets you to where you want to go then it may be worth considering.
When exploring commercial opportunities there is a lot to consider. Put some thought into where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. It’s your career so don’t accept second best! Take the following into consideration:
The Opportunity itself
Will this role get me to where I want to go? A couple of years from now what will I have learnt and where will it take me.
What are the challenges of the role?
I have the potential but do I have the skills to perform it? What areas would I need to develop?
How has the role come about? Internal promotion (what role did they move into?)? Did they leave? If so, why?
Your Future Manager
You could work for the best company in the world but if your manager is rubbish it’s never going to work. Gut feeling is without a doubt the best indicator here. If you don’t click at the interview stage it’s unlikely they will change once you join.
Not only should you see this person as a manager but a mentor also. What can you learn from them? What training can they give you? Do I respect them?
If you’re using a recruitment agency they should be able to give you some insight into what they’re like, how they work, their expectations and their personality. If not try and gain as much as you can at the interview. It’s perfectly fine to ask about their background. LinkedIn is a great tool to do some research.
Assessing company culture is critical when making your decision. Enjoying where you work is key to having a great career.
Beyond looking at the company website you need to do some due diligence. Why? Because many organisations over the last few years have dropped the culture ball and finance teams, in particular, have been hit heavy with lack of investment in staff, resulting in longer hours and many unhappy employees.
Do your research. Ask your friends and network. What have they heard about them? If you know of someone who works or used to work there make sure you talk to them. They will be able to give you a true snapshot. If your current firm audits them chat with the audit members of this team and try and get some insight. If not explore websites like Glassdoor that provides reviews written by employees. BRW has a list of the top companies to work for.
At the interview ask how they would describe their company’s culture. If flexibility, company perks are important then ask. If they struggle to answer you have to question why.
Large? Medium? Small? Listed? Private? Local? Multinational? - all of these options can offer you a great career and opportunities. It’s a personal preference and an understanding of where you see your career going.
Larger organisations tend to have bigger teams resulting in more opportunities for advancement and progression. Medium/Smaller organisations can arguably offer broader and more varied roles. It really depends on what you’re looking for and what gets you excited.
Do you like what the company does? It helps if you can be passionate about them.
How big is the finance team? If it’s too small then you have to consider your tenure and what you can achieve in your time there.
Is the company profitable? A growing business can offer stability and security.
We have assisted hundreds of "First Movers" into a range of ASX, Multinationals and Private organisations both large and small. We have the knowledge, contacts and expertise to guide you in the right direction and make sure you're making the best possible career move.
For a confidential conversation, reach out to Richard Holmes on 0403 513 720 or Mitchell Parsons on 0413 830 776.