Careers in accountancy and financial management

This sector guide will provide you with information on what a career in accountancy and financial management looks like, what organisations and roles you could work in, and how to get there. You will also find information about job sites, useful resources, industry events, and advice on how to network with alumni in the sector.

What is a career in accountancy and financial management?

Accountancy and financial management are integral to the business world, and involve the recording, reporting and analysis of financial transactions. The sector includes audit and advisory work, taxation, business consulting, and management accounting. Technological innovation, the rise of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, climate change, and issues concerning social responsibility, accountability and justice are impacting the sector, creating new opportunities and challenges for those in financial management. 

You will usually work towards chartered status or qualification from one of the sector’s professional bodies. In the UK, there are six accountancy bodies, covering different locations and types of practice. The Financial Reporting Council provides a useful oversight of the accountancy profession, with links to each one. 

Where can I work, what can I do, and how can I get there?

Where can I work?

  • Public practice (sometimes called private practice) – typical employers include professional services firms and there is a demand for graduates to fill positions in audit and accounting. Relevant qualifications depend on your area of specialism, for example the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) offer the ACA qualification for accounting, and the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT), and Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) provide training for tax consultancy. The ICAEW, ATT and CIOT websites provide further details. 
  • Industry and commerce – all businesses require financial and accounting expertise, and you will find many related graduate roles in management, retail, and FMCG. Such roles can lead to the Chartered Global Management Accountant qualification, awarded by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). CIMA members work in 150,000 organisations worldwide. The CIMA website provides further details. 
  • Public sector – includes the Civil Service, local government and charities, and commonly involves working towards the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) professional qualification. The CIPFA qualifications webpages provide more information. There are also tax related roles within the public sector, for example HM Revenue & Customs administer taxation systems in the UK and offer the Tax Professional Graduate Programme
  • Overseas – tax legislation differences provide challenges to working abroad if you are not familiar with the country’s taxation system. However, accounting practices internationally often adhere to common rules; the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and CIMA each have members in around 170 countries worldwide. Communities like Chartered Accountants Worldwide can provide insight. Some professional bodies have recognition agreements with counterparts around the world, but often further assessments may be needed to gain the required qualification standard.  

What can I do?

There are many different roles in the sector. We’ve outlined those that are often of interest to LSE students with links to further information. If you can, try to talk to someone who’s doing the job you’re interested in, so you can get a real flavour of what it’s like. In the next section, under ‘resources’, you can find more information on job sites, job search resources, and how to network with alumni in the sector. 
Accountancy and audit 

  • Chartered accountant – manages the finances of customers, from individuals to large multinational corporations. Keeps financial records and makes recommendations for strategy and business needs. Also increasingly deals with the identification and analysis of financial information related to non-financial topics like environmental footprint, societal impact etc. Chartered status is gained after a period of relevant work experience and completion of a chartered accountancy qualification (eg, ACA). The Prospects chartered accountant job profile provides further details.
  • Management accountant – analyses, researches and reports on financial aspects of a company to support senior managers' decision making. Advises on financial spending and distribution, and future financial planning. Typically based in industry across a range of sectors. Check out the Prospects chartered management accountant job profile
  • Auditor – provides an independent review of a company's finances, assessing their past performance and their future income generation, to see if they are 'fair and true' and to give confidence to board members and shareholders. May also conduct an audit of a company's other business areas, including CSR, environmental costs and risks, health and safety, etc. For more information, access the Target Jobs auditor job description.
  • Forensic accountant – liaises with the solicitor of a client, looks at and prepares papers related to financial and contract matters and presents them to court. Answers any questions or scrutiny about the work presented. These positions tend to be taken by experienced accountants. The Prospects forensic accountant job profile is a useful resource. 


Roles in tax are often a mixture of law, administration, and accountancy, drawing on a range of intellectual, presentational, and personal skills.

  • Tax adviser – works with companies and individuals to create the best tax strategies for them. The diverse nature of taxation means that tax advisers rapidly develop areas of specialist knowledge, including corporate, personal, international, inheritance tax, VAT, National Insurance, and trusts and estates. The Prospects tax adviser job profile provides further details.
  • Tax accountant – maintains financial records, produces reports and makes recommendations. A similar role to that of a chartered or management accountant, but specialising in tax.

You may also find some of the roles in our Careers in financial services and Careers in consultancy pages interesting. 

How can I get there?

A common route in is through a graduate scheme, usually open for applications from September to December in your final year of study – but the smaller the firm, the later the deadline. Graduate programmes typically involve working towards professional membership. Smaller firms may look to recruit entry-level positions on an ad-hoc basis.

Jobs in tax or accounting require training towards professional accreditation worldwide, so graduate and trainee programmes that allow you to obtain this are common entry points in the UK.

Evidence of experience is important when applying for graduate positions. Many firms run summer vacation internship programmes with application deadlines usually falling in February and March, sometimes sooner. Don’t neglect the smaller or niche firms which may give you greater responsibility more quickly. You may have to apply on a speculative basis with a CV and covering letter.

Initial graduate and trainee positions can progress into finance and consulting roles, or the financial foundations gained can provide a means for transition into ‘non-finance’ roles, for example, in project management, operations, and strategy.

If you’ve worked for a number of years in a related position, it is likely that experienced hire roles would be more suitable than graduate schemes. For career changers, relevant experience is important. If you don't have that experience, it may be possible to develop your skills in a voluntary capacity, eg, with a charity.

Where can I find out more about working in this sector?

Interested in finding out more about a career in accountancy and financial management?

Here are some helpful links, including the ways LSE Careers can help support you on your journey.  



LSE Careers resources:

External resources:

  • Best Accounting Software – get an explanation of common accounting terms and what they mean.
  • Vault – go to “guides” and select the one for Accounting to get an overview of the accounting profession and changing trends in the industry.
  • Inside Careers guide on AccountancyCareers.
  • TargetJobs – for further advice, information, and graduate profiles.
  • Accountancy Age – keep up to date with accounting news.
  • ACCA – professional bodies’ sites are great sources of information and research on the future of the profession.
  • AccountingToday – features industry news, career articles, podcasts, blogs, and “best company” lists.

Top tips on how to network with an alum in the sector:

  • Get involved in groups like LSESU's Accounting Society to network and demonstrate commitment on your CV.
  • Use LinkedIn to search for and connect with LSE alumni and to join industry groups (eg, Big Four Accounting Consulting; Accounting / Finance / Professionals). 
  • Search CareerHub for LSE Careers alumni panels and events. 
  • Consider student memberships for professional bodies. Professional bodies such as ICAEW and CIMA provide social networking resources and networking opportunities for members (eg, IMA has its own online social network – myIMA). Follow them on social media and LinkedIn to receive updates about events and networking opportunities.

Jobs and opportunities

Here are some links and resources to help you in your search for jobs in accounting and financial management:


If you would like to discuss your career plans and ideas, you can book a confidential one-to-one careers appointment with one of our careers consultants via CareerHub appointment bookings.

These appointments are for any stage of your career planning, so don’t feel like you need to have everything worked out before booking an appointment.