Thinking of transferring from public accounting to something new? Many accountants in the industry are looking for different ways to use their skills in other kinds of roles.
In this blog post, we will explore some top exit opportunities available for those in public accounting and how they can take advantage of them.
From transitioning into government roles or joining a consulting firm, there are a myriad of possible fields one can enter with an accounting background! Read on to learn more about these awesome opportunities and jumpstart your career change today!
What is Public Accounting?
Public accounting is a specialized field of accounting that involves audit, taxation, and other financial services offered to clients such as corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.
In public accounting firms the professionals perform financial audits which provide assurance regarding the accuracy and reliability of these client’s records. The purpose of public accounting is also to ensure these records comply with accepted standards or specific regulations set by government authorities.
Additionally, accountants and auditors in public accounting can help their clients identify potential areas of opportunity and risk for their businesses while offering solutions on how to address them.
The job responsibilities within this sector could vary significantly depending on the size of the firm one works with but generally involve preparing accounts statements for companies or organizations.
Top Public Accounting Exit Opportunities
With many public accounting exits on the horizon, individuals can pursue their accountancy interests in a variety of industries such as follows:
Industry accounting roles (controller, financial analyst, etc.)
Public accounting provides a unique stepping stone to other career opportunities in the professional world, such as industry accounting roles like controller or financial analyst. The role of a controller is to be responsible for all aspects of managing an organization’s finances and reporting.
This includes streamlining processes around bookkeeping, budgeting, monitor financial risks and more. Financial analysts on the other hand are tasked with analyzing different elements throughout a business—specifically focusing on understanding assets and liabilities that relate to quarterly performance reports.
These two positions often top the list as prime exit opportunities from public accounting due to their skills overlap between public accounting, finance & analysis.
Public accountants can make use of their expertise in regulations and policies along with strong analytical thinking lately needed in these specialized roles, particularly controllers &analysts coming from Big 4 advisory/audit backgrounds have premium demand given they typically bring very good interpersonal skillsets built within Big 4 organizations who are reputed advisors across industries coupled with BI analytics capabilities certain sectors need.
Related Article: Top 5 Financial Due Diligence Exit Opportunities
Corporate finance roles (FP&A, treasury, etc.)
Corporate finance roles have become increasingly attractive options for public accountants looking to pursue a career outside of traditional public accounting. FP&A (Financial Planning and Analysis) managers head the management accounting department and are responsible for financial planning, analysing data collected from both internal and external resources, monitoring key performance indicators, developing strategies based on insights provided by the analysis, producing presentations sharing market trends with business leaders across different departments, forecasting future scenarios, maintaining processes related to the budget forecast cycle and assisting in long-term financial strategy decisions.
Treasury positions involve working closely with CFOs to develop robust cash flow procedures dissipating risk though active cash management including but not limited to: managing banking arrangements such as loans & overdrafts; setting up secure payment systems; overseeing foreign exchange activities; handling any mergers/acquisitions or company restructures that require increased finance guidance.
Both of these roles require strong analytical skills and an understanding of various software applications relating to accounts receivable/payable; forecasting techniques; budgeting skills combined with expertise in creating complex models – all essential qualities for aspiring professionals seeking progress beyond their current public accounting role.
Consulting firms are top venues for public accounting exit opportunities. The Big Four consulting firms (Deloitte, PWC, EY and KPMG) provide a wide range of roles in corporate finance, executive positions and CFO positions.
McKinsey, Bain and BCG offer further options such as treasury management, long-term strategic planning, tax planning advice and mergers & acquisition support services. Consulting roles within the same firm or at other consulting firms can be pursued to get career promotion and explore new opportunities.
Deal Advisory and Transaction Services are two major lines of service associated with consulting companies that offer potential career paths to public accountants looking for exit opportunities.
Related Article: A Comprehensive Guide To Consulting Exit Opportunities
For public accountants, joining a venture capital team or working with startup companies can be an exciting and potentially highly lucrative route. CPAs who specialize in serving VC-backed startups typically enjoy competitive salaries and bonuses.
To get started, individuals typically need a strong background in finance, entrepreneurship or another related field. Startups now have more than just Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and acquisitions as exit options – they have the choice of mergers, spin-offs and strategic partnerships too.
By utilizing their own expertise to accurately measure risk assessment for due diligence activities such as technical reports and financial modeling for new investments, public accountants are key players when it comes to helping secure new financing rounds.
Private equity/investment firms
Private equity firms are a great option for public accountants looking to transition into the world of investments. Private equity firms invest in or acquire private businesses that are not publicly traded, and they typically have an exit strategy that takes advantage of the value created from the investment.
The potential offered by both company growth and financial returns make private equity one of the top exit opportunities in this field.
Public accountants can leverage their skills in analyzing companies’ finances and capital structures to identify ideal targets for investment or acquisition as well as facilitate due diligence activities such as researching target companies’ latest shareholders report, revenue outlooks etc, which adds value to any PE firm’s operations tracking progress against strategic goals post-closing.
CFOs are the top officers of corporate finance and accounting, managing financial operations within an organization. They ensure that revenues and expenses are accurately reported and company assets effectively managed.
These senior-level positions come with great rewards in both salary and career growth potential. CFOs need a well-rounded business acumen along with experience in public accounting to hold this position successfully, from high-level strategic decisions to overseeing day-to-day operations through their direct reports – the Controller, Financial Analyst, FP&A Manager, Treasury team, etc.
To embark on a successful career as CFO one will also need certifications like the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA).
A CFO role is undoubtedly one of the best public accounting exit opportunities for successful transition into corporate world thus offering immense variety of careers paths available.
Government accounting is a potential exit opportunity for public accountants. It involves the maintenance and examination of records of government entities, as well as auditing them to ensure accuracy and compliance with established regulations.
The role of a government accountant has many similarities to that of private accounting – both require accurate financial reporting and following common principles – but also has distinct differences in terms of type of entities served and specific guidelines to be observed.
Government accountants must have detailed knowledge about not only their field but also national laws and state or local regulations which can vary across different jurisdictions. This ability to understand the nuances between public organizations makes these professionals invaluable members of any team, especially when it comes times for audit preparation.
Internal audit is a top exit opportunity for public accountants, as these professionals assess internal controls and evaluate risks in order to ensure that an organization is compliant.
Internal auditors use their deep knowledge of financial risk management principles, accounting processes and procedures, industry regulations, and best practices to ensure accuracy within the organizational setting they are hired by.
This specialized work requires breadth of experience in areas such as corporate governance, operational efficiency examinations, fraud investigations or data analytics. An internal auditor’s expertise allows them to identify potential weaknesses in an organization’s systems or processes and develop efficient corrective action plans for any issues found.
With this role comes great responsibility; it is the job of the internal auditor to provide objective assurance regarding the effectiveness of controls within both operational services offered by the company as well as compliance with applicable laws and regulations set forth.
Today, more and more accountants are choosing to pursue entrepreneurship as an exit opportunity from public accounting. Starting a business or pursuing a passion outside of the profession can provide greater career advancement opportunities and address the desire for control that is often lacking in traditional roles.
Additionally, this option allows recent graduates to put their CPA credential to good use without spending years at an accounting firm. Furthermore, many CPAs find that being their own boss offers flexibility with respect to workload and compensation as they begin establishing their practice.
Entrepreneurship also allows for creativity by focusing on new ideas which translates into innovation in process improvement and management expertise within firms both large and small.
Public accountants who are looking to transition out of the field have a wide array of options, including academia. Achieving success in higher education requires mastery of both financial concepts and management principles as well as the ability to clearly articulate their importance.
The roles and responsibilities of accounting and auditing professors involve preparing and examining financial records, designing courses for upper-division undergraduate or graduate students, assessing student performance through exams, essays or projects; researching areas of managerial accounting; providing solutions for topics such as risk mitigation or value enhancement; presenting at conferences; authoring journal articles or textbooks related to emerging accounting trends; forming ties with alumni in order to develop job opportunities.
The options presented above demonstrate that there are numerous viable exit strategies out there which will provide public accountants meaningful growth pathways outside their comfort zones without moving away entirely from their field of expertise.
For a successful career switch, make sure to invest your time in networking, continuous learning, following industry trends and seeking out a mentor in your desired field.