By Daniel Hunter

Graduates interested in a career in finance can play a major role in driving small business growth by pursuing a career in smaller accountancy practices, according to global accountancy body ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

This comes after research showed that almost half of small and medium sized accountancy practices (SMPs) were looking to recruit.

With SMPs traditionally serving small and medium sized business clients in the UK, ACCA believes that its graduates have a critical role to play in driving the UK’s on-going SME growth.

Sarah Hathaway, head of ACCA UK said: “Graduates are very likely to play a bigger role sooner in their careers in a smaller practice and with the practice’s SME business clients. There’s nothing wrong with starting a career within a large accountancy practice or a major company, but there is sometimes a sense of being a tiny fish in an enormous pond. For graduates who want to be in the thick of it, sometimes working in a smaller practice can lead to a more visible and prominent role early on in their career.

“With so many of ACCA’s UK SMP member firms serving the thousands of SME clients the length and breadth of the country, there is an opportunity here for graduates to not only shape their own careers, but also to shape the development of growing small businesses. Our own research shows that finance professionals play a pivotal role in the growth and development of small businesses. SMEs need qualified finance professionals more than ever, for accessing advice on finance, exports, business planning, pension provision and employment issues. Therefore graduates who work with SMEs can gain a plethora of skills in these areas.

“Sometimes, graduates might not even consider looking at small practices as the place to begin their career, but it can be an essential part of their development. Graduates who secure a job in a smaller practice are likely to have a much more hands on role with more responsibility. They will also be able to see how the practice operates more clearly, as well as really get to grips with what makes a growing business succeed.”

Statistics from BDRC SME Finance Monitor, which were analysed by ACCA, show that in the UK, 17.4% of SMEs with regular management reporting, a formal written business plan and financially trained staff, grew more than 30%. Just 7.5 % of SMEs without this financial expertise and support grew 30%. ACCA believes that the role of an accountant in business is becoming more strategic in nature, and in turn vital to a business’ future.

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