What are the career opportunities once qualified as a Chartered Accountant


I understand that a large proportion of graduates leave the big 4 when they have qualified as a chartered accountant. Please can someone tell me what they tend to do afterwards? At what level could someone joining an insurance company for example expect to go in at straight after qualifying as CA?


If you are [[ACA]] qualified the world is your oyster really. You can do something in finance/accounting, or move into [[investment banking]] or any number of other things. The general starting salary for a newly qualified [[ACA]] in london is around £50-60k.

Where do you think you might want to go in the long run, if you could choose?


Someone on The Student Room made an informative post about this. Here it is.

Ok as a rough giude. Note this is written assuming a ‘normal’ market, as opposed to the current economic conditions:

Staying in Big 4: Salary on qualification c.£45k.You can expect to be promoted to manager after 1-3 years, which brings it to approx £60k total package, then senior manager (60-80), Director (90-110). Partners earnings start at approx £300k. Roughly 1 in 10 will make it.Hours wise not much better than IB. Looking at 60+ if you’re aiming for rapid promotion.

Front office IB: With an ACA you’d be looking at corporate finance (advising on mergers & acquisitions) or possibly equity research (a supposedly independent team within a bank who publish recommendations on companies stock). Competition for these roles is intense and you’ll need first time aca passes and a degree from a top uni as minimum. Salary wise you wont get better and certainly well into 6 figures with bonus. The flip side is the hours which can be anything up to 100 in corp fin.

Middle office IB: Main role here is product control who are the people who calculate the daily P & L for the traders.There are also some more technical roles in risk mgmt around. Competition not as intense as FO and hours more reasonable-typically around 8-6.30 mon-fri. Salaries start around 55-60k.

Moving into industry: You’d normally start in one of the following roles.In any case the pay starts at £45-50k and the hours are 9-5 ish.

Financial accountant: Your job would be producing the year end accounts and reporting to the financial controller You’d typically have people working for you posting invoices, doing bank recs etc.

Management accountant: You’d be producing budgets and tracking the performance of the business.

Treasury: Involves managing the company’s debt and exposure to interest rates and foreign currencies

Internal audit: Your job would be testing the company’s controls to ensure they are compliant with Sarbanes-Oxley. Pay is good but be prepared to spend a lot of time on industrial estates in Barnsley.

The next step up for these roles (apart from treasury) is financial controller, where you would basically be the deputy finance director. pay for these roles is around 60k. If you leave the big 4 as a manager you would generally go into a fc role-this is usually a quicker route than getting promoted within industry, so if you want to be an fc probably better to stay in big 4 for a bit after qualification. Beyond that you have finance director which can be up to £500k in ftse 100 although obviously very few make it that far. In practice people tend to move around different companies rather than say going from fc to fd at the same company.

  • Beancounter


Thanks for your posts.

I’ve always liked the idea of starting my own business. Do you think an ACA offer genuine practical business skills which I could put to use in setting up a firm?


Does it matter which firm you get your ACA from? is it more prestigious or something if you got it in the big 4?


i would say its like getting a degree at havard or oxford. getting an aca from the big 4 would probably be a good thing as its worth its weight i gold. you’re basically proving that you’ve been taught by the best and have learnt from the best! what more could an employer ask for??