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Practice Trained 1st time movers - An Insight

Looking for your first role out of practice? Salaries, sectors, jobs, we tell all!
June 24, 2020

We have released our annual look at the first time mover market in the West Midlands!

Qualified candidates from practice remain some of the most in demand accountants across the midlands. With supply limited, we have conducted a 2nd survey into the West Midlands market, to give you an idea of what it takes to attract the best talent in the local area.


80% are ACA/CA qualified, with 20% ACCA Qualified. The majority of the top 10 will be ACA, whilst smaller firms often opt for ACCA. Top 10 have also been known to put school leavers on ACCA courses.

Over 65% of practice qualified candidates move within 18 months of their qualifying date. Often candidates have completed 3 years of audit across a large geographical area and then relish the chance to get stuck into one business in one location!


The top 10 firms supply 69% of the local talent base when it comes to first time movers, with smaller firms making up the rest. The hiring plans of the Top 10 firms 3 years ago, often have an impact on the talent pool available today. This will be particularly interesting to see over the next 3 years, given the current economic situation.

Over half of the candidates surveyed had experience in PLC / larger firm audit. Often, candidates from the big 4 will specialise in PLC audit, whilst those from smaller firms will blend both accounts prep and auditing experience. Despite its scarcity, candidates with Transaction Services experience are often well received by the market and do have skills that are in demand.

The next step for a practice based accountant is often moving into one of the regions larger firms, with a listed company being a natural fit. We found that 57% of all candidates moved into a business with at least £100m turnover. 24% of candidates did choose practice and the reasons are a) the top 10 have been more successful at tempting their audit leavers into other functions of the business and b) those sitting at a smaller firm often choose a larger firm for their next step to get that top 10 experience on their CV.

Newly qualified candidates in smaller firms earn salaries ranging £25k - £35k, seniors in top 10 often earnt between £38k - £42k and this rises to £44k - £45k for big 4 Assistant Managers. These figures do increase each year and a candidate may be paid over and above this is they have a certain skillset or specialism such as Financial Services. Managers are often paid £50k+.

The big question! The quick answer is that the average salary gained by a first time mover is £45,000, but there are many variables.

Travel: Expect to pay/get paid more if you are In Birmingham city centre (no parking, bad traffic) or Solihull/Warwick (more competition and expensive housing!) than you would in Worcester, Telford or Wolverhampton (highly residential areas with not many competing jobs).

Role: More interesting roles (analysis/business partnering) often can pay a little less than a more specialist role (Internal Audit/Treasury) that may have to pay more to make the role attractive. The same goes for industry, the more exciting the industry the more attractive the role!

Flexibility: Willing to offer flexi time or working from home days? These are still a huge draw for many candidates and will mean not only can you make a role more attractive with something other than cash, but you can potentially draw on a geographically wider talent pool.



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