Hiring a Part Qualified Accountant…What’s Involved?

In Barden, we’re often approached by employers considering hiring a part qualified (PQ) accountant, but who are unsure about what’s actually involved, what they need to consider or even where to begin.

The following is a brief guide to hiring a PQ accountant, and outlines what you need to know.

Professional Accounting Qualifications – Summary

As a hiring manager, and or employer, it’s worth checking out the various professional accounting qualifications that are out there, and in particular becoming familiar with the different exam and work experience options and requirements. You’ll need to be aware of these when choosing candidates, holding interviews, making offers and supporting the individual (e.g. exam leave) as they continue to study.

To help you get a start on this here’s a brief snapshot. Keep in mind that requirements can vary depending on previous qualifications and experience that the student holds…

ACCA: 14 exams in total, with varying levels of exemptions offered based on the undergraduate or MSc that the person has taken. Work experience is generally 3 to 3.5 years.

CIMA: 13 exams in total (with varying exemptions) and 3 case studies. Minimum 3 years verified relevant work-based practical experience.

ACA: Various routes, including training route and flexible route, available. 3 levels of exams – CAP 1, CAP 2, FAEs. Work experience can vary from 3 to 4 years.

CPA:Four stages of exams – F1, F2, P1, P2. Three years relevant training work experience required.

*Make sure to visit the website of the relevant accountancy body to check for more info and specific details. 

What’s Important to PQ Accountants when Making the Move?

The biggest factor for PQ accountants when making the move is to make sure that they are getting the proper exposure and opportunity to grow professionally as they are progressing throughout their exams.

The team, the culture and the chance to progress are huge for them, and need to be highlighted by hiring managers if it is available. Having the opportunity to grow the role and its scope as they are progressing with exams is also very important.

Why Should You Consider a PQ Accountant?

Deciding to make a move during your professional accountancy exams and training is not an easy one, and often those who decide to make the move have thought about it long and hard. As a result most PQ accountants, who are willing to move, have considered their options, know where they are going and are focused in achieving their career goals.

Often for the hiring manager, and or employer, hiring a PQ accountant can be more cost effective than hiring a Newly Qualified (NQ) accountant. For example a PQ accountant can often do the same work as a NQ accountant but with less “years” under their belt may not look for as high a salary.

Obviously it’s impossible to generalise about this, and we do need to keep in mind that each case and individual is different, however many NQ accountants come with quite specific experience and from a particular cultural background. Upon joining your organising they may, in some cases, need to be shown some of the basics and need time to adjust.

In our experience we have also found that most PQ accountants are eager to learn and grateful that the employer has taken the chance on them!

What Are the Usual Concerns Hiring Managers & Employers Have When Considering Hiring a PQ Accountant?

As experts in part qualified (PQ) accountant recruitment we deal daily with hiring managers and employers on this topic. The following often come up in discussions as concerns when considering hiring a PQ Accountant:

  • It’s different, it’s new to them, it’s not the norm – Very true and doing something new or different always raises some concerns. However the trend is changing and we are seeing more and more organisations taking on PQ accountants to fill their specific business needs. This is an opportunity for you to get ahead of the curve…your rivals are already doing it!
  • I’ll hire them, pay for remaining exams and then they’ll leave – Investing in your team is always a positive and will reap benefits not only for the individual but also the team and business. Many employers take steps to help protect themselves losing out on investments like this, an example of which could be to build in a payback scheme depending on how long the person stays.
  • Experience and ownership of work will be an issue – Often, hiring managers are worried about PQ accountants not being able to take ownership of the work. Depending on the level of the work, this can be true (i.e. someone with a few months experience and one or two exams under their belt isn’t going to be able to prepare a financial statement or provide analysis as to why a product or service isn’t as profitable as it could be!). However, you would be surprised at the high level exposure that some PQ accountants have had, and the value that they can bring to an organisation – another perspective can really result in a different approach being taken.

What Are the Usual Questions That Arise When Considering Hiring a PQ Accountant?

From working with hiring managers on a daily basis we gain an excellent insight into the usual questions hiring managers have when considering hiring a PQ accountant. Generally the top questions that arise surround exam support requirements, salaries, development and career progression. Further information about exam support can be found below.

Exam Support

In terms of what is expected with exam support, companies generally pay exam fees, however this can take many forms including:

  • The company pays 100% up front.
  • A 50-50 split, with the person being reimbursed once they pass.
  • The person pays up front and is then fully reimbursed, by the company, once they pass.

Exam leave is also important. The industry standard for ACCA and CIMA is the day of the exam, and then one or two days per exam as additional leave.

With ACA it is somewhat more tricky as a lot of time is needed for FAE’s (the Institute recommends 35 working days), but a lot of orgs in industry wouldn’t have to offer as much as their working hours would not be as intense as practice.

Again it’s important to keep in mind that each person and situation is different. One size doesn’t fit all. The difference with Barden is that we consult with each hiring manager and individual and provide bespoke information, advice and guidance.

If you’re a hiring manager considering taking on a Part Qualified (PQ) Accountant talk to Dale Amond, lead Associate on our Part Qualified Accountant team in Dublin.

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to hello@barden.ie and we will take it from there!

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At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future.
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