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Private practice or in-house: what’s right for you?

Despite fluctuating economic conditions, demand has remained high for qualified accountants, and it's set to remain so for the foreseeable future.

With this in mind, candidates are in a position to choose which career path suits them best; whether it’s working for an accountancy practice or in-house for a bank or financial services provider.

With accountants typically starting their careers in private practice before moving to industry, the major choice is whether to remain in private practice in an external consulting capacity or to move to an in-house role.

Both sectors are able to offer the potential for career development and high salaries, but there are specific qualities of both that professionals should be aware of when making a decision.

Private practice

In a private practice role, it is possible for accountants to gain experience working with a wide variety of clients across a range of industries. For qualified and newly qualified accountants this provides a chance to develop technical skills as well as an understanding of the needs of businesses across different sectors.

“For professionals looking for variety in the challenges they tackle, private practice roles may be more appealing,” commented Martin Fox, Managing Director of Robert Walters Canada.

“Growing fields like audit, tax and advisory can provide you with the opportunity to develop solutions for clients with unique needs and a wide range of business practices, giving you a great deal of variety in your day-to-day work,” Martin continued.

With accountants typically starting their careers in private practice before moving to industry, the major choice is whether to remain in private practice in an external consulting capacity or to move to an in-house role.


An in-house role will focus on providing support to the business in terms of cash-flow, cost control and budgeting. While some in-house roles will be broad in their scope it is also possible to specialize in areas such as financial accounting, management accounting, cost accounting and treasury management.

Making the move from private practice to an in-house role will give you the opportunity to focus on the specific needs and requirement of a single business over the long term. At the more junior level, in-house roles may focus on more ‘core’ functions, but as finance professionals become more senior there is an increasing emphasis on providing long-term strategic financial advice that can shape company policy.

“We are seeing demand for finance professionals who can provide strategic insights to senior managers grow significantly,” commented Martin Fox.

“As senior managers come to recognize sound financial planning as a cornerstone of long term growth and success, the role of in-house finance professionals is expanding significantly, offering professionals in this field a wealth of new opportunities.”

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