by Matt Booth
As I approach my 2-year anniversary at Blu sky I thought I would ponder and compare my previous employment to my current employment, so that people can get to know a bit about myself as well as providing some advice to people considering a career in accounting/finance.
Although I am now based in Newcastle, I am originally from a housing estate in Teesside. My education route took me to Northumbria University to study accounting. Now, while at University the options were always working in either industry or practice. My original plan was to work in practice, but life never goes the way you plan! After graduating I ended up obtaining a job in Industry within a building society.
The difference between industry and Practice
For those who do not know industry could be described as working for one company and solely working on the financial responsibilities of that company. Working in practice could be describe as one person helping many companies manage their financial responsibilities. In industry the further up the organisational structure you are the more say you may have when it comes to decision making at board meetings. In practice you help prepare financial information for clients to then use to make financial decisions.
Working in Industry
When it comes to working in industry everyone will have a different experience, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what working in industry is like. For myself, the key difference I encountered between industry and practice accounting is the number of companies I needed to understand. When working in industry it was important to understand in depth how everything worked in relation to systems as well as the financial activities of the company. Learning these were key, as every month I would be responsible for monthly financial reporting which were used at various board meetings. Every month I would collate the figures from our financial system, however the longer I was at the company the more responsibility I would have. Instead of just collating the figures I would then have analyse the results and document the effect the this would have on the company. Therefore, for anyone who works in industry accounting would potentially need to learn the company they work for in depth.
For anyone who was considering a job in industry one benefit of working in industry is the fact that you will become very experienced and skilled in one aspect of accounting. This will be best suited for a person who wants to become an expert in one particular area. So, for example someone who works in a construction company may become experienced in stock valuations and pricing methods.
However, the negative of working in industry is the fact you will miss out on learning a variety of different accounting tasks. Someone working in industry will never touch self-assessment tax returns or maybe payroll.
Working in Practice.
Working in practice is more about knowing sections of everything rather than everything about one particular area. Working in Blu Sky has giving me more responsibilities when it comes to clients. I have been exposed to all different areas of accounting, from Monthly Management Accounts to Year End accounts, Self-Assessment Tax Returns to VAT Returns. I have also been given a lot more client contact. In industry I feel you work in your finance team bubble, with a bit of communication to other departments. But in practice you have free rein. I’m regularly encouraged to talk to clients and take part in networking opportunities.
Working for Blu Sky has changed my opinion of what an accounting practice should be. A traditional accounting practice would wear suits and depending on the size of the firm may split everyone up into different accounting specialisms. However, at Blu Sky you will not see a suit around the office. Everyone wears smart casual trousers with our distinctive Blu Sky t-shirts and Hoodies. Also, at Blu sky you get exposed to a lot of client contact no matter what level you are. Some accounting practices will only allow senior members to talk to clients and attend meetings, where in Blu Sky every person is given the opportunity to contribute. We are also given opportunities to attend networking events to talk to a range of people, which is all beneficial from a development standpoint. One final benefit for work for Blu Sky is the size of the team. Although growth is nice, having a relatively small team means that all managers and directors are visible. Bigger firms may separate directors and staff by putting them in different areas of the office. In Blu Sky Dave and Jon always position themselves with everyone in the team, which is refreshing to see. This means we can build a rapport with them and it makes get togethers and Christmas parties certainly more enjoyable.
For anyone considering a job in practice the main benefit you will have is the exposure to a lot of accounting areas. Being aware of multiple areas will benefit you in the future both for personal growth, and if you consider applying for other jobs in practice.
The first thing that needs to be said is that everything I have mentioned is based on my personal experience. Everyone’s experience is different, and someone might have a better experience in Industry than practice. It is important to understand as an individual what you would like to do when it comes to accounting/finance, then take the path that helps you get there. Down the line you may decide that you want to change path, although financially this may be a negative move, but the what might be lost in finances will be gained in growth potential and job satisfaction.