When considering a career in accounting, individuals often face the decision of whether to pursue public practice accounting in chartered accountant firms or commercial accounting within organisations. Both paths offer unique opportunities and considerations that can impact your day-to-day work-life and career goals.

Public Practice vs Commercial Accounting- Positives: 

Working for chartered accountant firms in public practice accounting offers several advantages. Public practice accountants gain exposure to a diverse range of clients and industries, allowing them to develop a broad skill set and problem-solving abilities. The challenges posed by complex financial engagements provide opportunities for professional growth and development. The collaborative nature of the work fosters teamwork skills and builds a strong professional network. Public practice accountants derive satisfaction from helping clients navigate intricate financial matters and achieve their business goals.

Chartered accountant firms place significant emphasis on professional development. They offer comprehensive training programs, mentorship, and study support for aspiring CAs. Public practice accountants have exposure to various clients and industries, which enhances their skills, knowledge, and professional network. Many firms may also provide additional benefits, such as bonuses and performance-based rewards, to recognize outstanding contributions.

Commercial Accounting- Positives: 

Commercial accountants develop in-depth knowledge of the specific industry they work in and play a crucial role in shaping the financial strategies and decision-making processes of their organization. They can develop a deep understanding of their industry and the operations of their specific company, allowing them to make valuable contributions to financial strategies and decision-making processes. Commercial accounting can provide stability, predictable work schedules, and a better work-life balance.

Public Practice CPA Accounting – Negatives: 

The workload in public practice accounting can be demanding, especially during peak periods such as tax seasons and year-end audits. Longer working hours may be required to meet client deadlines and manage multiple engagements simultaneously.

Commercial Accounting – Negatives: 

The career progression within a single organization may be more limited compared to public practice accounting, particularly in smaller companies with fewer hierarchical levels. Commercial accountants may face challenges in staying updated with industry-specific accounting regulations and standards.

Public Practice vs Commercial Accounting – Salary Differences: 

In New Zealand, there are noticeable salary differences between public practice accounting and commercial accounting. Typically, commercial accountants receive more competitive starting salaries, particularly at the entry-level. However, public practice accountants have the potential for higher salary growth as they gain experience, and expertise, and attain professional qualifications such as becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA) or (CPA). With the right progression and achievement of milestones, public practice accounting can be very financially rewarding.

Public Practice vs Commercial Accounting- International Impacts: 

Internationally, the dynamics of public practice accounting and commercial accounting may vary across different countries. While the general principles remain consistent, there may be some variations in terms of salary differences, benefit structures, and career opportunities.

In some countries, public practice accounting in chartered accountant firms is highly regarded and offers lucrative salaries, particularly for experienced professionals and those with prestigious certifications like the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Accountant (CA) designations. These firms often work with multinational clients, providing exposure to international financial regulations and complex cross-border transactions. Public practice accountants who gain international experience can expand their horizons and open doors to exciting opportunities around the globe.

Commercial accounting roles also vary in different countries. In some regions, commercial accountants may be in high demand in industries such as finance, technology, or manufacturing. These roles offer competitive salaries, attractive benefits, and the chance to work for well-established multinational corporations. Commercial accountants with international experience may find opportunities to work across different jurisdictions, collaborate with global teams, and contribute to the financial management of international operations.

Working for chartered accountant firms internationally provides accountants with the advantage of a globally recognized professional qualification. The skills acquired in public practice accounting can be transferable across borders, allowing professionals to pursue diverse career paths in different countries. Furthermore, exposure to international clients and industries equips accountants with a global mindset and enhances their ability to navigate the complexities of international financial reporting standards and taxation regulations.

Public Practice vs Commercial Accounting- So Why Work for Chartered Accountant Firms:

Exposure and Experience: Chartered accountant firms offer exposure to diverse clients and industries, allowing accountants to develop a well-rounded skill set and gain valuable experience.

Professional Development: Chartered accountant firms invest in professional development by providing structured training programs, mentorship, and study support for professional qualifications such as becoming a Chartered Accountant (CA).

Career Growth Opportunities: Chartered accountant firms provide clear career progression paths, offering accountants the chance to advance through the ranks and take on more challenging and rewarding roles.

Professional Network and Reputation: Working in a chartered accountant firm enables individuals to build a strong professional network and leverage the firm’s reputation to enhance their own career prospects.

Challenging Work Environment: Public practice accounting in chartered accountant firms offers intellectually stimulating

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Jaz Locke | 03 260 5103 | jlocke@tylerwren.co.nz