After working in public accounting for several years, it’s common to transition into other careers. Thankfully, high demand provides accountants countless opportunities when shifting professional interests.
Perhaps you’d rather focus on strategic planning, internal consulting, and information system-based operations as an accounting manager. You’ll analyze information; focus on process improvement and performance evaluation; and act more like a partner than a staff member. You’ll need to be skilled in financial analysis and possess a solid understanding of the auditing process. In addition to traditional accounting practices, you must keep current on benchmarking, performance measurement, managing change, and other higher-level responsibilities.
If you want to rank just below CEO, you may want to become a controller. You’ll prepare reports showing your company’s financial standing, projected earnings, and expenses. You’ll turn a lot of data into information that company leaders can use to move the business forward. Your income will depend on company size and geography. Ensure you have your CPA designation and plenty of soft skills, such as quick and accurate decision making and the ability to influence company leaders. Management and organizational skills are also necessary in handling issues that arise when dealing with different departments. Utilizing continuing education classes or studying for the CMA exam will help you focus on technical accounting, business operation knowledge, and strategic management, all necessary to excel as a controller.
For top-level accountants with over a decade of experience, consulting is a viable option when leaving public accounting. Consulting offers flexibility and a variety of professional challenges, including resolving tax issues, tax compliance, and improving overall performance and business systems. You gain exposure to a variety of companies and industries, which helps build your network as you form new relationships with people. You may decide to work independently, or with an established staffing firm such as ours. A consulting career is an attractive option for experienced professionals leaving public accounting.