Advice needed: Career change into accounting

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  • #3304204
    Earl
    Participant

    I’m in my late 30’s and wanted to do a career change into accounting and recently graduated with my master’s in accounting (I’m CPA eligible). For the last 13 years I’ve worked for a large well-known insurance company (located in a very large metropolitan city) in various non accounting roles (customer service, operations and currently operational risk management). I have been searching for an accounting/audit role for the last year with no luck (I originally figured my operational risk background could help me transition to an internal audit role).

    Recently I started getting interviews, but for P/E Fund accountants, management company accountants and staff accountant at places like nursing homes that will be a massive (50%) pay cut from my current salary. While I knew from the start I was going to have to take a pay cut, but based on my experience in the working world people lie to you on interviews and don’t want to take a huge pay cut only to find out later the job is just data entry and I won’t learn any actual skills.
    Ideally, I wanted to xfer to an accounting/audit role in my current company, but they won’t do that because I have no experience. When I talk to people I know the second I tell them it’s a huge paycut they say don’t pursue it, but they are ignoring the fact that this is a career change and I have no experience.

    My questions are:

    · If I start out in private equity Fund account or Management Fund accounting or even a place like a nursing home/hospital will I be stuck in the field or since Im doing financial statements it is somewhat transferable?

    · What “red flags” should I look for in the interview or job description that indicates its really just a data entry job disguised as an accounting role?

    · Would it be a good idea to take these types of jobs just to get “Accountant” on my resume so I’m in the field?

    · Realistically how long will it take and how hard will it be salary wise to move from an entry level fund accountant job making 50k to a job making 100k ? (e.g., would it be easy to jump to another company offering a higher salary)

    · At the type of jobs I mentioned will I be able to learn accounting skills that will help me move to an accounting role with a large financial company (e.g., Bank of America, JPMorgan etc.)?

    · Given my background would it be smarter (in terms of salary) to take the Certified Internal Auditor exam and look for an internal auditor job ?

    While I know beggers cant be choosey (late 30’s with no experience), but I’m just scared of getting hit with double whammy of massive pay cut and a job where I wont learn anything that can help me get back to my current salary level

    Any advice would be appreciated

    #3304276
    Mike J
    Participant

    It seems like you need to make a choice. Stay at the current job/career path that you don't like but pays well or pursue a passion and sacrifice a little in the interim.

    You aren't going to start out as CFO. Take the experience if that's what you want to do. Since it seems like you already made the decision but want people to sign off on it, screw perception of others and go for it.

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    They don't trust JUST ANYBODY to count beans
    #3304291
    calvinus
    Participant

    I'm not sure you necessarily need to quit your job or change careers to pursue your CPA. Even an insurance company needs CPA's and accountants. Given the job market I would consider leaving a good paying job only as a resort.

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    Oh I left it all with Jesus long ago
    #3304300
    Earl
    Participant

    The problem is my current job is nothing related to accounting. I have tried to xfer into an accounting/audit job at my current company, but they don't want me because I don't have the experience. I even tried to apply downward in my company, but they wont allow that, because that involves a demotion/pay decrease etc.

    #3304303
    Earl
    Participant

    Yes you are right. I am just nervous, because like any decision it can backfire and end up being a bad decision. Not sure if this is true, but I have read(online) that fund accountant jobs in private equity are considered “low” and gets you pigeon holed into that field of accounting with little room for movement/growth. I kind of question that, because even though its for private equity you are still doing financial statements and accounting for transactions and I don't understand why that couldn't be transferable to a private accounting job or controller for a different company in a different industry.

    #3304360
    calvinus
    Participant

    Again, I would prioritize getting a CPA above all else. From what you described, it sounds like the lack of a CPA is holding you back in both your current job and in your job search. A CPA will help you not only get your foot in the door but move up the ladder faster.

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    Oh I left it all with Jesus long ago
    #3304369
    Clion
    Participant

    I suggest looking for some type of General Ledger staff accounting position. May be something more entry level at another insurance company. I think your risk background will be a plus, and getting some experience under your belt will be a big help. If it is a big enough company with room for growth, as you get comfortable you can show you are ready to take on more, and hopefully be compensated for it. Some industries the accounting can be specific and your can pigeonhole yourself, but with more entry level work the tasks will be more transferable.

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