Job Titles are irrelevant; here's why ... (Barden Recently Qualified Series)

Ever looked at a job title and got excited, only to read on and find it’s not the job you thought it was?  Welcome to the world of misleading job titles!

As you go through your career, you’ll find that the further you move up and through the organisational chain, the more difference you will see across job titles. In one organisation a ‘Financial Analyst’ will be someone who is very involved in partnering with commercial functions to provide insights, and in another it will refer to someone who performs the monthly GAAP close.   Just like a Financial Controller for a €1M turn over company will be doing a very different job to a Financial Controller in Facebook.

We’ve signposted the four main groups of positions you will encounter in the first few years after you qualify, and their possible titles!



AKA Commercial Accountant, Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), Commercial Finance Analyst, or, yet again, just… Accountant.  You’re starting to see the overlap in titles!

So, let’s define this category as everything you do ‘after’ the financial statements or month-end results are produced – variance analysis, budgeting, forecasting and profitability analyses, assisting with core strategies and key decision-making. These roles can be OpEx, CapEx or Revenue oriented.

What you’ll need to assess here is the % of time spent behind the computer screen analysing information and time spent interacting with key stakeholders and influencing decisions. A 90%/10% split in this dimension is a very very different job to a 10%/90% split. The key here is that ‘financial analysis’ can have a broad range of connotations, and can be used very differently by different companies, and in different structures – the distance between you and key internal stakeholders is often quite defining in terms of what it feels like to work as a “financial analyst”



AKA GL Accountant, Financial Analyst, Management Accountant, Statutory Accountant, Reporting Accountant, or just plain old… Accountant. Don’t let the term ‘Analyst’ sway you here.

This group can be defined by the common objective of “producing a set of financial statements for a business” – month end, quarter end and most importantly year end. The role will likely also include other variants, but your core mandate will be financial accounting delivery. Look out for items in the job description that might point to additional tasks you have, and also consider the organisational structure itself.  If it’s a shared service centre for a US business, you can bank on the fact a lot of the work will be quite month-end focused, and may have less interaction with the ‘business’ than perhaps an ‘Accountant’ role in an SME or multinational subsidiary.



Commonly just known as Internal Audit OR IA and related to titles like SOX Accountant, Internal Controls Specialist and similar.  This is probably the most misunderstood of the categories. Chuck out those ideas of it being the same as External Audit.

Internal Audit roles can be a great way of accessing certain industries, which ordinarily, may not be accessible, and to gain an understanding of how a business actually works. Despite initial impressions, IA presents quite a commercial opportunity and we highly recommend that as a recently qualified accountant you assess the long-term potential a route via IA can provide you. Most of the Group FC and executive level finance professional we work with have spent some of their career in IA, and you likely will do the same if you are ambitious and striving for the top.  IA gives you access to senior (if not executive) management like no other role and will enable you to pick and choose your career path within the business in the future.  We ask Craig Doherty in CRH what he thought about working in Internal audit and here’s what he said…..



AKA Transaction Services, Investment Analysis and you guessed it, Financial Analyst!

The term ‘corporate finance’ has a sexy image – but the trouble is that it is probably the most difficult of areas to access as a newly qualified accountant – unless you trained in corporate finance, of course AND you have a very strong, demonstrable, commercial acumen. Equally, what a large fund manager means when they say corporate finance is quite different to what a medium sized practice means and different again to what a private equity business means. If you have a keen interest in Corporate Finance and are not coming from a Corporate Finance department you will need to be the very top of your intake, have a top 1-5% educational record and have excellent financial modelling skills.


In summary, the message here is, read beyond the title, and get into the detail.  It’s how you spend your time,  not what you’re called,  that is career defining.  Oh…and try not to get misled by preconceptions you may have developed your training contract.  Factor them in, but be sure to challenge them!


Not only are most of our recently qualified accountant recruitment team in Barden (meet our team) accountants just like you, we have all been trained in the Barden Career Model (TM).  This unusual blend of experience, knowledge and training allows us to provide a different type of recruitment service!

Contact OR and our recently qualified accountant recruitment experts will arrange a time that suits you to start planing your future.

(Got another question?  Need a steer to keep you on the right track?  Check out the Barden Newly Qualified Accountant Career Guide right here>>>)


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