Audit Exit Opportunities – Case Study: How to move from Accounting & Audit to Commercial Finance

We’ve previously talked about how we managed to break out of accounting and audit & covered a few interesting and overlooked audit exit opportunities, but what about hearing directly from some of TheSwiftExit.com’s customers and where they’ve ended up?

 

This is a guest post from “Joe,” who spent 3 years in Big 4 Audit / Assurance in Sydney Australia. He shares how he made the move straight from Accounting & Audit to a pure Commercial Finance role in a Fortune Global 500 company.

 

1) Hey Joe, so to get started can you tell us about the company and new role you’ve secured?

 

Yes of course. I managed to secure a pure Commercial Finance role at a Fortune 100 technology company straight from Audit and with little other work experience.

 

In this Commercial Finance position, I’ll be advising the sales team on major deals and working with various other stakeholders throughout the company to get deals executed.

 

The position involves no financial reporting or traditional month end duties, but instead I’ll be working with cross functional teams completely outside of the accounting & finance department to determine the most profitable opportunities for the business.

 

I will then develop financial models based on marketplace trends, expert insights and competitor analysis to identify which of these opportunities will be commercially viable in the marketplace. Jointly with my sales team we’ll present our final plan to senior execs in the company for approval/sign off (i.e. for the allocation of resources, staff time etc. we need).

 

I’m then expected to be right there in the action with the rest of the cross functional team executing our game plan and ensuring we ultimately improve the profitability and market share for the business.

 

You could almost consider the position to be a mini CFO / Finance Director for a certain set of products and service lines of the company.

 

2) What hurdles/challenges did you face (or thought you faced) coming from Audit?

 

I think the biggest challenge was getting my foot in the door for an interview.

 

I only applied at extremely large tech companies and there were around 300+ applicants for every position so getting past the computer system to a human was a huge hurdle.

 

Additionally, recruiters only wanted to put me in traditional accounting and audit roles since that’s where I had experience.

 

Every recruiter I spoke to said it would be extremely difficult to move into finance from audit and that after 2-3 years in an accounting position I could potentially transfer into something somewhat commercial and strategic.

 

I think it’s important to realize that recruiters want to place you as soon as possible and don’t necessarily have your best interest at heart. You need to be persistent about what it is you’re looking for in your next role when speaking with them and don’t take their answers as gospel.

 

[Co-Founder of TheSwiftExit.com here. Joe makes some really good points in this answer that are worth delving into. If you’re not quite sure what he means when he talks about recruiters being a hurdle in your quest to break out of traditional Accounting & Audit check out our post on how to ensure recruiters take you seriously.]

 

3) Having shown recruiters and your peers that can be possible to move straight from traditional Accounting and Audit to a pure Commercial Finance role, how has your Audit background helped you secure the position?

 

Within the first month of starting at my Big Four firm I bought The Swift Exit’s Accounting & Audit Exit Options Landscape guide, which informed me on the type of experiences that the commercial roles valued. Through that, I began volunteering for more modelling and analytical type work and working on skills outside of traditional Audit that allowed me to stand out of the traditional Accountant box.

 

[Co-Founder of TheSwiftExit.com here. We honestly didn’t even ask Joe to say this ha! But we have included a link here because we definitely think you’ll find it useful too!]

 

Further to the above, I realised I actually had so many brilliant experiences from my standard technical Audit work that I never considered to be an interesting topic of conversation, yet I was praised for them in my applications and interviews!

 

I also truly believe traditional Audit roles really develop communication, time management, and working with teams in fast-paced ambiguous environments, which is extremely valuable in any profession. 

 

4) What would be your main tips for your fellow peers trying to break out of Audit?

 

I think it’s extremely easy to get siloed into the same mindset as everyone you work with in that you have to suffer for 3-6 years in a traditional Audit or Accounting role and then leave for a Senior/ Manager Accounting role in industry and work your way up to be a Financial Controller etc etc.

 

However, there are so many more options, which may be way more interesting and lucrative to you, if you just take a chance and put the effort into your applications/interviews. 

 

5) How has working with the The Swift Exit team helped you with your career mindset, applications and progression?

 

The Swift Exit team helped immensely in my job hunt and securing this role, specifically through showing me what was available and then tailoring my experiences to beat out people with more years of experience and more relevant experience than myself.

 

On top of everything else I’ve mentioned about the Accounting & Audit Exit Options Landscape guide, it also taught me that public accounting is a great experience, but if you don’t utilize it to transition out as soon as possible you’re more and more likely to get pigeonholed in a career which you feel apathetic about. 

 

If you get too comfortable where you are then the learning curve slows, it makes for a tougher personal mental challenge when you do try to jump ship and it’s also dead clear to recruiters you haven’t shown “hunger” for real progression in personal development.

 

It’s not impossible to move at any stage of your career of course, getting your solid story together for your career decisions can make anything happen, but it’s clear to me how it gets more difficult the longer you leave it.

 

This is a guest post from “Joe,” who spent34 years in Big 4 Audit / Assurance in Sydney Australia. He shares how he made the move straight from Accounting & Audit to a pure Commercial Finance role in a Fortune Global 500 company.

 

Want to hear from more The Swift Exit customers? Find out how Sandy moved from Accounting & Audit to a tech startup and Adam from Accounting & Audit to Consulting

 

Exit Options | Mapping the post-accounting & audit landscape

A lot of the clients we coach ask about moving into more strategic & commercial roles after spending time in traditional accounting & audit, but don’t know where to start or even what opportunities exist …so-much-so that we’ve put together a map of the landscape of accounting exit opportunities, which I encourage you to check out!

 

Spice up your CV/Resume for the post-accounting & audit world

We’ve created a digital guide specifically to help those of you applying for more commercial & strategic roles. Our straight-talking CV/Resume advice for Accountants/Auditors is the only guide that is highly-specific to the traditional accounting & audit background: we give you real-life good & bad examples for showcasing your experience for strategic roles, the best structure & content to win over recruiters, a strategy for distributing your CV/Resume, interview advice, and more!

 

Want personalised advice from one of our Co-Founders?

We’ve been where you are and can help you forge your swift exit. Click here to Get Coached.

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