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options post qualification

The scope of assurance extends far beyond its traditional role of routinely testing the truth and fairness of annual financial reports.

Assurance teams are relied upon by clients to add value by enhancing performance, identifying areas of vulnerability and ensuring scrupulous integrity. Many firms are conscious of the need to provide their most talented assurance professionals with opportunities to accelerate their careers. Those in assurance are usually first in line for secondments to clients or specialist teams.

Assurance work may include:

  • Scoping and scheduling assignments
  • Project-managing your specific areas
  • Supervising junior staff
  • Reviewing financing arrangements
  • Providing guidance on financial accounting procedures and systems
  • Seeking information from non-finance teams or external third parties

You will work closely with your client's own finance team to understand why transactions are recorded in certain ways. Because assurance is often bracketed with service lines such as risk management or compliance, you may also lead a multi-functional team from your firm. Many clients turn to their assurance service providers for guidance in areas such as taxation, IT, remuneration and pensions, giving you an added opportunity to turn your own ideas into viable solutions. Typically, a small or medium-sized firm will deal with owner-managed businesses and SMEs with turnovers in the £5-20m range. Larger firms will give you exposure to listed companies and multinationals.

Skills you will gain or develop

Your assurance experience will strengthen your ability to apply your financial expertise in a business context. The work will stretch your technical and client skills to the limit:

  • Adapting to work with new IT systems (at each client) will give you a firm grasp of technology
  • Operating on-site, especially working with new people, will develop your communication skills
  • You will learn how to exercise sound judgment in both financial and strategic matters, and be kept up-to-date in the latest technical and legislative reporting requirements
  • Seeing at first-hand how different companies operate, you will develop a deeper understanding of business, learning how to identify or instill good financial practice\

People who have spent time in assurance are recognised to be flexible and able to meet different challenges with a structured, logical approach.

How assurance will enhance your career

Because work is conducted mostly at clients’ premises, you will be continually networking. Assurance also remains one of the best options within the profession for overseas travel. Accountants who qualify in smaller firms find that assurance is an excellent route into the Big Four, providing not just superb technical training (vital to your future career) but also a 'stepping stone' from which to move to specialist roles such as corporate recovery, consultancy or forensics.

Assurance offers diverse and challenging career paths within a field that in recent years has enhanced its reputation for helping businesses succeed. Clear and defined paths towards partnership or directorship in industry are certainly achievable.

Contact your local public practice recruitment consultant today.