Options For The Newly Qualified Accountant

Upon qualification of your ACA/ACCA there are many options for you as a newly qualified accountant. With this in mind, one of the most interesting options for any ACA moving away from audits is to get into tax.

Within tax, in practice it breaks down into two broad service lines – compliance and advisory. Within tax compliance you could specialise in a particular tax, or be a part of a team that provides a full service offering, ensuring clients meet their filing requirements for corporation tax, income tax, NIC and VAT. In larger practices you may specialise in tax advisory, such as the production of transfer pricing reports, tax M&A advice and guidance through HM Revenue and Customs enquiries.

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On the opposing side to this, smaller practices may be able to provide the opportunity to gain exposure to a range of advisory services whilst also continuing to maintain relationships with compliance clients.

As an auditor, it is important to understand the qualities needed to become a successful tax specialist:

–          An excellent eye for detail

–          Highly organised

–          Ability to work to tight deadlines at certain point in the year

–          Ability to be flexible with your hours at certain points of the year due to the work being cyclical

All of the above is a really easy way to make that transition from audits into tax and once you have a good grasp of the basics it is a really good time to start thinking about your career. A great way to advance your career and become a real specialist in your area is by choosing one of the following areas: VAT, planning and advisory, R&D tax or transfer pricing.


At the newly qualified level you will be compliance focused initially, preparing quarterly and year-end VAT returns. Compliance will in turn lead you into dealing with VAT health checks, planning and advisory.

Planning and advisory

Most firms will normally have you undertake some compliance experience before embarking on planning. Typical planning projects might involve company re-organisations, mergers and acquisitions, private equity deals and investigations. Candidates need to be strong lateral thinkers who can work well in teams and deliver on time. Hours may be longer, but the rewards and remuneration are far higher.

Research and development (R&D)

R&D is mainly available in the Big 4, Top 20 and some R&D boutiques. One of the newer areas of tax to be developed in the UK (more established countries would be Canada, USA and Australia). Teams are a mixture of tax professionals and engineers as the work involves making claims on behalf of clients for R&D tax relief. You would work closely with clients (typical sectors would be pharma, automotive, clean tech, financial services and oil and gas) analysing their processes and preparing claims.

Transfer pricing

A specialist area of corporate tax focusing on the setting, analysis, documentation and adjustment of charges made between related parties for goods or services. Teams are normally made up of economists and tax specialists. These roles will allow you to dissect the client’s trading activities and deal with some senior tax and finance managers within your client portfolio. You may be involved in reviewing, structuring or implementing a company’s pricing policy.

Pat Allison writes on accountancy on behalf of www.pro-tax.co.uk

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