What to look for in a career change from accounting

If you are an accounting professional who has been contemplating a change in career path, you’re not alone.

Accountants have the knowledge and experience necessary to work as trusted advisors to the public or within a company, so your certification qualifies you for a variety of career paths. From financial planner to investment banker to business analyst, there are many roles to consider if you find yourself looking for something new.

However, many forward-looking accountants are making a simple change that is reigniting their passion for the profession. It’s called advisory services, and it builds on the client relationships you already have and the expertise you’ve worked so hard for.

But where do you start? All it takes is a change in mindset and a shift from hourly billing to value pricing, and soon your firm will open up new revenue streams, engage more meaningfully with clients, and boost your bottom line.

Here, we make the case by taking a look at the current landscape of the accounting profession and why transitioning to advisory services could be the career path you’ve been looking for.

Why are so many accountants quitting?

According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 300,000 U.S. accountants and auditors have left their jobs in the past two years, a 17% decline. And with fewer college students going into accounting, there is a gaping hole in the profession that doesn’t seem to be closing anytime soon.

From the retirement of Baby Boomers, to The Great Resignation, to “quiet quitting”, there are many factors contributing to this mass exodus. But for individuals who’ve already chosen an accounting career path, there lies an opportunity to capitalize on a changing landscape and make your mark in a profession that’s in demand, but in a new way.

What career can an accountant switch to?

If you’re looking to transition out of the accounting profession, consider entering an adjacent industry like finance or banking, or perhaps working directly for a corporation. Many corporate roles like financial analyst or internal auditor require experience you already have, so lean into your transferrable skills like bookkeeping, budgeting, forecasting, etc.

Many accountants looking to make a career change have also leveraged their experience and made the shift to advisory services. It’s a career path that can be as lucrative as it is rewarding—and it’s built on a foundation you already have. There are several different areas of advisory to investigate, such as tax advisory, business advisory, M&A advisory, and accounting advisory.

Not so long ago, manual data entry dominated an entry-level accountant’s day—from formatting financial statements to entering trial balance data. Today, technology has automated much of the accountants’ daily workflow, enabling even junior staff to jump right into value-added and engaging work like analyzing trends, providing insight, and offering guidance to clients.

Accounting advisory services include a variety of engagements—from tax planning and strategy to counsel on tax-related legislation—and centers on your unique knowledge and experience. The result is more meaningful work, deeper client relationships, and a boost in profitability.

Career paths in accounting

Career paths in accounting can be personal, public, or corporate. While many accountants work in traditional tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services, forward-looking accounting professionals are making the shift to offering advisory services like:

  • Tax planning and strategy  
  • Counsel on tax related legislation  
  • Insight into setting and achieving business goals
  • Understanding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Strategic planning
  • Examining overall profitability
  • Investing and wealth management
  • Cash flow forecasting
  • Benchmarking and analysis
  • Budgeting

Advisory services like these help your clients achieve their business goals—and often lead to additional advisory opportunities along the way. This shift not only increases your firm’s profitability but also positively impacts your clients’ business and financial lives.  

Career paths in finance

Finance and accounting are different but related career paths. Career paths in finance can be personal, corporate, or public, similar to accounting.

A finance professional helps their clients make smarter financial decisions, including saving and investment strategies. They also help businesses and individuals understand their financial position.

Offering advisory services is also a lucrative career change for finance professionals. Similar to tax and accounting advisors, financial advisors work one-on-one with clients to understand their financial goals and develop strategies to help them achieve them. This is an engaging and meaningful career path that can positively impact organizations and individuals—and your bottom line.

Is accounting advisory a good career?

In one word: yes! In today’s competitive business landscape, accounting advisory means much more than simply preparing tax returns or compiling financial statements. It’s about personal relationships with clients and helping them achieve their financial and business goals using your unique knowledge and expertise.

Supporting this shift is technology that automates mundane tax compliance work and instantly provides insights into trends that can benefit your clients.

Perhaps most importantly, accounting advisory work is not only more profitable, but it also fosters deeper relationships with clients and a stronger sense of purpose in the services you provide.

Making the transition to advisory

At the end of the day, a career change from accounting doesn’t have to be drastic. A move to advisory utilizes your hard-earned CPA skills while exploring how to serve your clients year-round.

While most accounting firms construct their business model on the number of tax returns completed, they are often answering tax-related questions and providing guidance for clients throughout the year—without being properly compensated for it. If a client comes to you with a question that goes beyond the scope of their tax return, consider that an opening into a new career.

By making the transition to advisory, you can make the most of your unique knowledge, build a brand around it, price your services competitively, and reallocate your resources appropriately. And that’s where Thomson Reuters Practice Forward® comes in.

With a market-proven methodology, Practice Forward offers content, tools, and guidance for forward-thinking accounting firms like yours who are interested in expanding into advisory services. With access to over 160 tools, including proposal templates, pricing calculators and checklists, and personalized consulting, Practice Forward can help you:

  • Implement and execute a proven advisory sales process  
  • Identify and package your firm’s advisory services  
  • Develop a pricing strategy for advisory  
  • Standardize business best practice advisory delivery  
  • Transition existing clients to advisory relationships  
  • Uncover client advisory opportunities

Each of our seasoned Practice Forward consultants are experienced in successfully guiding firms like yours through our proven process. They dedicate themselves to helping you implement advisory services in a way that best serves your firm and your goals.

So if you’re an accountant looking to change careers, take a moment to consider advisory. Start your journey with Practice Forward and rediscover your passion for serving clients.

For more information on advisory services, read “Accounting advisory: What you need to know.”