Broadly speaking you are likely to end up going down one of two paths as a trainee accountant – the practice path or the industry path. Both paths lead to becoming a qualified accountant, but the journey to qualification will be very different.
“Industry” pretty much refers to any business that isn’t an accounting practice; and that’s a whole lot of companies!
Broadly speaking, industry can be divided into two distinct categories – those with a financial product/service and those without a financial product/service. Let’s look at these two categories in a little more detail to help you tell them apart and understand some of the key considerations for each.
1) Financial product/service companies
Examples of financial product/service companies include Banks (e.g. Bank of Ireland), investment banks (e.g. JP Morgan), insurance/reinsurance (e.g. VHI/Axis Capital), aircraft leasing (e.g. Avolon) and fund administration (e.g. State Street). In addition to providing a financial product/service, these companies will typically be:
- Found in larger cities. Dublin, for example, would have the vast majority of these companies in Ireland (so your future career is more likely to be in Dublin than in, say, Sligo);
- Employ a larger number of people and have very large finance teams (this makes sense seeing as they are finance companies); and
- Employ accounting graduates in typical accounting roles and also, within operational finance roles. You can work in the finance team, but also in the actual business in a front-end or middle office setting.
2)Non-financial product/service companies (pretty much everything else!)
Examples of non-financial product/service companies include pretty much every other company you can imagine. IT software (e.g. Google), IT hardware (e.g. Intel), pharmaceutical (e.g. Pfizer), medical device (e.g. Boston Scientific) and retail (e.g. Pennys/Primark). These are large multinationals through to smaller Irish companies; companies that make a product or provide a service, distribute a product/service or sell a product/service directly to businesses or to the public (that’s you or me!) through retail outlets or online. In addition to providing a non-financial product/service, these companies will typically:
- Be spread more evenly throughout Ireland (but, of course, with a bigger density in Dublin/Cork);
- Represent both Irish companies and multinational companies that have a presence in Ireland (think of snowflakes – they might look the same at a glance, but each one is different);
- Employ a varied number of people with one-person accounting teams up to 300 person accounting teams; and
- Have accounting graduates working in accounting and related roles, but not so much in operational roles (at the beginning anyway).
The sheer variety of different company and industry types can be a little overwhelming…
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We’ve put together a blog series to help those of you coming out of your training contracts. These blogs are written with you in mind and will provide you with the help, support and insights you need to make the best next step in your professional accounting career.