During the course of market fluctuations over the decades, a career in accounting has presented itself as a sanctuary for success in the financial sector. It comes as no surprise that accounting firms are growing at an exponential rate every year – with a key focus on developing and fostering talent within the financial services industry – and so too, are a wealth of other public and private accounting and finance firms.
Securing a job at an accounting firm and passing the CPA exam is of fundamental importance at the onset of one’s career. In fact at this stage, you may not have given much thought to the long-view career path you wish to embark upon or the skills you wish to develop. That’s a common trait held by many recently qualified CPAs. It is, however, one you should address. Constructing a concerted, long-term plan that provides a clear understanding of the direction you wish travel is of utmost importance, in order to garner the greatest rewards and fulfillment throughout your career.
Envision yourself in 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years
If you have yet to ask yourself the question as to where you want to be during these time frames, the time is now! Whether you’re trying to make partner at a public accounting firm or to become a chief financial officer, the process generally takes 10 to 15 years. It is therefore critical to lay the groundwork, establish the foundation, and begin guiding your career in the right direction.
Focus Early On
With opportunities abounding in a dynamic marketplace, it is integral to define and set your focus to a particular area of accounting that is of interest to you, and polish those skills. If partnership is on your horizon, work toward gaining significant experience and exposure within your firm. CPAs are particularly well-suited to becoming CFOs, and if that’s the course you wish to follow, position yourself within the industry of interest to you. A clear and concise vision of your short-term, intermediate-term and long-term goals will encourage you to implement incremental action items during the course of your climb while maintaining focus.
Develop and Build a Marketable Skill Set
Your skills need to be marketable. If you are an auditor working with clients outside your career ambitions, hone your abilities, and focus on working with clients in your targeted industry in order to gain experience. Competition is fierce – If you cannot gain the significant and valuable experience at your current firm, and you’ve seized all your opportunities, consider moving to another division or firm. Ultimately, as time goes by, it will be increasingly difficult to make the transition into another industry.
The underpinnings of a successful career path in the financial sector rest on the consideration and implementation of three initiatives: Plan your career; Focus your goals; Develop your skill set.
Congratulations on achieving your CPA and embarking on your career. It’s time to prepare a formula that generates your lasting success.