Carol Cheung is associate director, financial services at Robert Walters Hong Kong.
What career options are there for a jaded accountant?
I have been working as an accountant for close to a decade now and I am feeling a bit jaded. I no longer have the enthusiasm for the job that I had when I started out. I am also conscious of the effect automation is going to have on the profession.
I would like to move into another field but I am unsure where I might turn. What are the possible career options for someone who has worked only as an accountant?
As it happens, I myself worked for a Big Four accounting firm for almost ten years before I got into recruitment. You’re hardly alone and the field I moved into is itself a viable option for a career change.
If you’re not happy with the industry or field you are working in, it can seem like an insurmountable obstacle to change things.
But I agree that staying in the wrong job or the wrong field will prevent you from using your skills and talents in a way that will truly make you happy. If you have a hunch that it’s time to make a big change soon, ask yourself a few crucial questions – as I always advise my candidates to do so.
The first is, have you hit a ceiling with your upward mobility and what you feel you can accomplish in your role? Are you good at your job? If so, are you staying with it just because you’re good at it, or do you actually enjoy it? Are your skills being utilised?
Or are there things you are good at, and passionate about, that aren’t recognised in your current role and industry? Are you constantly stressed about work, to the point that you dread going into the office every day?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, it’s time to move on.
In terms of your new career path, never limit yourself, the possibilities are endless. However, if you want to leverage your accounting skills, you could consider being a business analyst in certain finance projects, such as finance process streamlining or system implementation. This could also be a path to up-skill yourself to being a tech-savvy accounting professional.
Other options would be compliance, internal audit or operational risk management. However, given that you are quite an experienced accountant already, bear in mind that you may need to take a pay cut if you change to other functions.
On the other hand, you could also consider further education, a CFA qualification might open options to some quantitative roles like market risk and, of course, an MBA programme which offers placement opportunities could be an option too for business or management relations positions.
There are a lot of great jobs out there, so if you’re stuck in the wrong one – or the wrong industry altogether – it’s time to make a move. As well as looking into the job market, you could also talk to a professional recruitment consultant who can line you up with great positions that might be just the thing you need to boost your professional enthusiasm.
Once you decide to set a change in motion, you’ll probably find it’s way easier, and definitely more rewarding, than you had imagined.