Accountancy Career Path: Chartered Accountant

11 Sep 2017 | 04.25 pm

Accountancy Career Path: Chartered Accountant

Chartered firms are the largest graduate recruiters in Ireland annually

11 Sep 2017 | 04.25 pm

Chartered Accountants Ireland is the largest and fastest growing accountancy body in the UK and Ireland over the past 10 years, with 25,500 members and 6,500 students. While there is a very strong network in practice, almost 65% of its members work in business, many of them as board members, CEOs and CFOs in every sector.

Through the school leaver and training contract options, thousands of people start their careers in accountancy firms and businesses nationwide each year. Chartered firms are the largest graduate recruiters in Ireland annually. For people already in the workplace, Chartered Accountants Ireland also offers a dedicated flexible route, and there are now over 1,000 people training in industry, financial services and the public sector.

The flexible route is designed to allow people study while they work. There is no training contract and students can study in their own time while working in their current role, or change jobs midway. Like their training route counterparts, flexible route students need to get an average of 3.5 years’ relevant experience – this can be across tax, audit, finance and IT with specialism in at least one area.

Eligibility Requirements

Regardless of the entry route, all students need to complete their education. The first port of call for anyone considering becoming a chartered accountant is to check their starting point. A university degree or Accounting Technicians Ireland qualification is required in order to be eligible to study. Students may be exempt from certain subjects based on prior education.

Depending on the starting position, students will commence at CAP1 (first year), CAP2 (second year) or FAE (final year). There is no cost to check exemptions and the Institute has a simple, cost-effective fee structure that includes everything needed to progress through the course (except for exam repeats).

Chartered Accountants Ireland delivers all its own education and provides the widest range of student services in Ireland. There are distance and face-to-face study options and two exam sittings per year. There is also a student society and a dedicated student services team in Dublin.

This focus on student service helps students get through the challenging curriculum – in 2016, the pass rate for the FAE was 80%. And while students have up to eight years to complete their studies and experience, almost 78% of people get qualified in under four years.

Enticing Salaries

When they do qualify, the most recent Chartered Accountants Ireland Leinster Society salary survey showed that a newly qualified chartered accountant earns in the region of €57,000. The same survey showed that 45% of respondents had been recently promoted. Throughout their careers, Chartered Accountants Ireland provides members with a range of lifelong learning, networking and development supports.

While Chartered Accountants are in high demand in Ireland, north and south, members also work in 90+ countries worldwide. The Institute is a founding partner of Chartered Accountants Worldwide, which represents over 640,000 members in more than 200 countries and has reciprocity arrangements that make the qualification extremely portable. There are over 1,000 Irish chartered accountants in Australia and there is unique recognition for members in the United States. That means that wherever their careers take them, chartered accountants are not short of options.

 

CAI CASE STUDIES 

Andrew Frazer (pictured above) is a trainee in BDO’s audit department. He began his chartered accountancy training in 2014 and will sit his Final Admitting Exam  this year. After finishing an MSc in Finance in the UCD Smurfit Business School, Frazer did a summer internship in a corporate finance house.

“Colleagues recommended that I look into getting a training contract with an accountancy firm and studying with CAI. A high proportion of CEOs started their journey with a qualification in accountancy and I wanted something that would give me options over the long-term,” he says. “I was also drawn to the supports that you get as a chartered trainee; study leave allows you to fully commit and focus on your studies and exams. BDO is really supportive on this front and gives more study leave than the recommended guidelines.”

Frazer has also found the in-house revision classes and small class sizes very helpful as they make for more engagement. “For anyone considering their options right now, it’s very important to research and understand all aspects, including subjects at each level, scheduled lectures and exam structure, as well as the expectations of both your training firm and Chartered Accountants Ireland. Good organisation and time management skills are key, as you will need to be able to balance lectures, study, work and life.”

Lisa Millet (pictured below) is an audit senior in Anne Brady McQuillans DFK, a medium-sized accountancy practice in Dublin city centre. While studying for a degree in business and accounting in IT Tallaght, Millett was drawn toward the chartered accountancy route. She completed her training contract in April 2017 and she will graduate from Chartered Accountants Ireland in October 2017.

 

The accountancy profession is structured and follows guidelines that all accountants are required to adhere to. However, the career is hugely varied too. “I no longer think there is a typical accountant,” she says. “Younger professionals have a lot of options once they’ve qualified as a chartered accountant. My training contract has taught me to strive to achieve the best out of my career. “Both partners in the firm are females and I want to continue to work hard to accomplish what they have.”

When it comes to balancing work and study, Millett advises to take time out for yourself so you don’t burn out. “Make sure that you always attend lectures and use the online tutorials provided too,” she adds.

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