Working in an Essex-based accountancy practice, whether this is a role in Audit, Accounts, Corporate Finance or Outsourcing, can offer many benefits. While large London firms are often top of the list for finance professionals considering a career move, there are many ways in which working more locally for a regional accountancy firm can offer the same, if not better, benefits as a large firm in the city.
Type of Work & Responsibility:
With big-city firms, you will often find that your clients are scattered across the UK or even internationally. So, if you are looking for travel and overnight stays with your role you would be well-suited to working in the city. However, if this is not at the top of your list, working in a local practice means you will work with local clients. Firms in the Top 10 have offices in Essex, so you still get the chance to work with big clients on important and market-leading work, just more locally.
Working Hours & Work-Life Balance:
Accountancy firms based in Essex tend to have two types of core hours, either 9-5 or 8-4, and the hours are very flexible. Rather than being based in the city where your hours can be based on client pressures, you will often find that working just outside of the city of London means not working as late and fewer client pressures that affect your day-to-day working hours.
Working close to home means you cut the London commute! You will save the time spent travelling to and from the city, which in turn allows for a better work-life balance as you have more time to spend on your personal life outside of work.
A good work-life balance comes with the flexibility of working for a local practice, as opposed to a corporate city firm that might not be able to offer the same degree of flexible or agile working. Working in a regional practice might be well-suited to people with other commitments such as part-time carers or return-to-work parents. Local accountancy firms can offer flexible working arrangements, with perhaps 3 or 4 days in the office alongside agile working from home, or a working pattern that suits your personal situation.
Salary & Benefits:
Finance roles based in Essex accountancy firms offer similar salaries to those in the city, and when working locally you also save the monthly cost of the commute into London. Firms based outside of the city sometimes offer a car allowance, and you can also save money driving to work where there is often free parking on-site.
When it comes to benefits, packages are largely dependent on the sector and business. In general, local practices offer excellent benefits which match those offered in London-based firms, including good study support and registered trainers who can train you within your practice, high pensions, medical care, holiday allowance and more often than not, the same benefits you would receive working in a corporate city firm.
Progression & Ease of Finding a New Opportunity:
Regional accountancy firms still offer plenty of opportunities to progress and develop, all the way up to Partner if that is your end goal. Working in a London-based Big 4 office you can face a long path to Partner, whereas a smaller local practice can almost offer a fast-track route to Partnership.
A role in a regional firm can be positive in several different ways when it comes to new opportunities. Not only can they offer excellent progression routes if you stay with that one firm, but they can also be a good stepping stone into a larger city firm or Big 4 office in London. Or, working locally in Essex might be a good option for you if you have already worked in the city and you are looking for a firm that offers more flexibility, less of a commute, and better suits your lifestyle.
With smaller Essex practices, you will also find that they are not quite as strict on exam guidelines - as long as you work hard and this is reflected in your day-to-day results, they don’t tend to focus solely on exam grades. They will give you study support and training in a supportive environment which will set you up well for your career going forward.