From Bean Counting to Big Picture: Challenges and opportunities when transitioning from Accounting to Commercial Finance & Strategy

Remember that first nervous day on the job, juggling endless spreadsheets and reconciling numbers? Now, fast forward a few years.


You’ve honed your analytical skills, become a master of accounting practices, and the balance sheet holds no secrets. But somewhere in the back of your mind, a different dream stirs. You crave a bigger picture. You see yourself not just analysing the past, but shaping the future, driving strategic decisions, and leaving a tangible impact on the company’s success.


This, my friend, is the inevitable calling of commercial finance and strategy.


Imagine wielding your financial expertise to influence corporate investments, exploit market trends, or craft winning business strategies. This isn’t just a fantasy; it’s the exciting reality of commercial finance and strategy roles. In fact, a 2023 study by Forbes Finance Council, “20 Key Skills Finance Professionals Need To Cultivate”, reveals a skyrocketing demand for finance professionals with strong business partnering and strategic skills, with salaries reflecting this increased value.


However transitioning from audit or accounting to these commercial finance and strategy roles can feel like navigating uncharted territory. A whopping 92% of’s surveyed readers aspire to move into more commercial & strategic positions, yet only 18% feel adequately prepared.


The good news?


Differentiating from your peers and bridging the gap is entirely possible, simply by equipping yourself with the right skills and embracing a new mindset.


Join us as we delve into the challenges you might face, explore insider insights from seasoned professionals, and uncover the compelling reasons why making the move from accounting and audit to more commercial and strategic career paths could be the most rewarding decision of your career.


Challenges: More than numbers

Transitioning from accounting and audit to commercial finance and strategy isn’t without its hurdles. It’s like scaling a mountain: you’ve got the technical grip and meticulous eye of an accountant (which comes in handy for most career paths), but the summit demands broader vision, a business-savvy compass, and the confidence to navigate uncharted terrain.


It requires a mindset shift:

  • Adapting to a business-oriented perspective: Switching gears from meticulous accuracy to big-picture thinking can be daunting. It takes training and practice. It’s not just about accuracy anymore, it’s about wielding financial data as a weapon, influencing decisions using world-class frameworks, and becoming a confident ambassador for financial insights.
  • Understanding the bigger picture: Accountants and auditors excel at analysing specific details, but commercial roles require understanding of the interconnectedness of financial data and its impact on the entire business.


There’s a notable skills gap:

  • Financial modelling and strategic analysis: Many commercial roles require proficiency in building financial models and effectively communicating financial data to non-financial audiences with actionable recommendations, all which are not typically core skills built within accounting and audit.
  • Development opportunities: It is incredibly difficult to obtain the relevant skillset in your current role and long drawn-out certifications (e.g. CFA) don’t provide the skills required. In fact, they enhance the technical appearance of your CV/Resume – the opposite of what you need!


Difficulty convincing recruiters and perception barriers:

  • Marketing your relevant skills and experience: Recruiters know it is impossible to learn the full extent of the required commercial skills in a traditional audit and accounting role, so are looking for experience beyond your existing role.
  • Finding commercial finance and strategy roles: If you’re unable to demonstrate “commercial acumen” and are perceived by recruiters as a “reviewer”, rather than an “executor”, your inbox might be full of vanilla accounting roles that you’re just not interested in.


Opportunities: Reaching your full potential

Transitioning from accounting and audit to commercial finance and strategy is a path lined with rewards, but as we’ve explored above, the climb won’t be effortless. So, before you embark on this new journey, let’s explore the reasons why the summit might be worth the sweat.


Having greater impact and visibility across a business

  • Directly influencing strategic decisions: No longer just a passive observer to the big decisions, you’ll move beyond audit, compliance and reporting to actively shape the company’s future.
  • Increased exposure to senior leadership: Collaborate closely with leaders of a business, gaining valuable insights and building career-boosting relationships.


Greatly enhancing your career growth:

  • Broader skillset acquisition: Ditch the stagnant trajectory of traditional accounting to expand beyond technical accounting skills and play a pivotal role in shaping a company’s path. Think: deal structuring, mergers and acquisitions, new product launches or spearheading market expansion initiatives – the possibilities are vast.
  • Stay ahead of the curve: Equip yourself with in-demand skills for the future of finance, increasing your adaptability and marketability in a world of AI and automation. A 2023 press release by EY suggests up to 77% of business leaders expect a significant impact to their workforce due to AI adoption and a 2024 report by McKinsey, How finance skills are evolving in the era of artificial intelligence, states Finance job postings show demand for traditional expertise falling in favor of interpersonal skills and driving business impact. Specifically, “strategy” was the least exposed skill to AI replacement in the long-term, according to one poll of strategy and product professionals on LinkedIn. This isn’t just about career progression; it’s a necessity – future-proofing your professional journey.  


Indulging in more diverse and dynamic work on a daily basis:

  • Varied projects and challenges: You’ll get to dive into different facets of the business, avoiding repetitive audit tasks and experiencing new opportunities (and colleagues) regularly.
  • Faster career progression: The strategic nature of these roles often offers quicker pathways to leadership positions compared to more specialised accounting functions, as you’ll be more exposed to board-level style decision-making


Increasing your earning potential immediately:

  • Demand for strong commercial finance and strategy professionals is surging: This translates to potentially higher salaries compared to traditional accounting roles, especially if it comes with strong performance.
  • Long-term career growth: The broader skillset and experience open doors to more lucrative opportunities in diverse fields.


Don’t Get Left Behind: Upskill for a future-proof career in commercial finance & strategy

The possible rewards of transitioning into a commercial finance and strategy role are almost endless.


The key to unlocking these roles and reaching your potential lies in upskilling. Building a robust commercial finance and strategy skillset empowers you to confidently showcase your worth and seize opportunities.


In an AI world where routine finance skills are being automated, it’s not just a “nice-to-have”, it’s a necessity.


But where do you start given the challenges we’ve outlined above?


Frustrated by the limited access to commercial finance and strategy career advancement, our’s clients have yearned for a concrete upskilling solution.


This is where our Commercial Finance & Strategy – Principles and Executiononline course comes in. The first and only course tailored specifically for early-career accountants and auditors, it equips you with the essential knowledge and tools to secure AND excel in these coveted commercial finance and strategy roles.


Gain 10+years of hard-earned on-the-job commercial expert knowledge in this one course. Efficiency, delivered.


We’ve combined our experience across 1000’s of global client interactions, with real-life experience working on the front-line in commercial roles, alongside recruiter and commercial strategy expert insights to create a proven upskilling asset for your needs!


“Having steered 3 start-ups through adversity, I wish my whole finance team had access to this course. Building impactful companies requires strong financial input and leadership. This course is a game-changer.” – CEO & philanthropist


This course is NOT simply theory. You’ll delve into the best-practice principles AND executional excellence required to help you nail the role and add real value from day 1.


Through interactive modules, case studies, and real-world applications, you’ll learn how to confidently build financial models, assess business opportunities, and everything else needed to contribute meaningfully to strategic discussions.


Read more about our Commercial Finance & Strategy – Principles and Execution” online course here.


By actively upskilling yourself, you bridge the skills gap, unlock your potential, and become a true financial strategist.


Maybe you’re still deciding if commercial finance and strategy is right for you, so not ready to commit to a course?


Exit Options | Mapping the post-accounting & audit landscape

Most of our clients we coach want to move into more commercial & strategic 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!


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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