Private Practice Accountant Careers

How to become private practice accountant

What does a private practice accountant do?

Private practice accountants inspect, assess and advise on the financial state of affairs of companies, partnerships and individuals. They may work for large or small accountancy/accounting practices, or freelance.

In general, accountants manage and monitor financial systems and budgets, and provide business financial advice to clients. Day-to-day accountancy/accounting activities vary according to the size and type of company, but will normally include:

  • preparing financial statements, business plans and budget reports
  • producing annual and monthly accounts
  • auditing financial systems regularly and investigating irregularities
  • managing expenditure, credit, payroll and investments
  • tax planning and compliance
  • advising on financial and business issues to non- financial members of staff or to clients
  • financial planning and forecasting.

A key role for private practice accountants is carrying out audits, which are independent assessments of a company’s financial systems and budgets. Accountants examine the company accounts and collect evidence to prepare and then present their recommendations for improvement, outlining the risks and consequences of current financial practices.

Private practice accountants are usually associated with dealing with audits, tax and accounts on behalf of fee-paying clients, whereas management accountants are associated with strategic management and financial decision-making within a company, although there can be some overlap.


What's the working environment like for a private practice accountant?

Accountants normally work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They may need to work extra hours at busy times. Flexible working is common. Part-time work and job sharing may also be available.

The work is office based, often at clients’ premises when conducting audits. In some instances, travel and time away from home may be required. Dress code is usually formal.


What does it take to become a private practice accountant?

To be an accountant you should have:

  •  analytical skills
  •  a logical approach 
  •  accuracy and a high attention to detail
  •  organisational and time-management skills
  • good communication skills as you may need to explain complex financial information.

Degrees aren't always needed to become a private practice accountant but you will be expected to have good GCSE's and A Levels particularly in maths and English. There is the possibility of getting this job through an apprenticeship. 

It is also recommended to become qualified with one of the following professional bodies:

  • ACCA - Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • ICAEW - Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • AIA - Association of International Accountants
  • CIMA - Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

Private practice accountant career opportunities

Job opportunities are good, and there is scope to move into industry and commerce or the public sector. Check out the following career guide for more details:

 It is common to move between firms of different sizes to gain promotion and experience.

Accountants working for private firms may become partners of the firm and so increase their income and reputation.

UK accountancy qualifications are recognised across the world and there are opportunities to work abroad.


Further information

If you would like to learn more about becoming a private practice accountant that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
2 Central Quay
89 Hydepark Street
G3 8DT
Tel: 0141 582 2000

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
Tel: 020 7920 8100

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
Tel: 0131 347 0161

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
Tel: 028 9032 1600

Association of International Accountants (AIA)
South Bank Building
Team Valley
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE11 0JS
Tel: 0191 482 4409

Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB)

Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC)
51 Gresham Street
Tel: 020 7216 7366


Facts and Stats:

  • have good mathematical skills
  • be able to plan and present information
  • have an understanding of business, economics and finance
  • enjoy analysing data and solving problems
  • be able to create a good rapport with clients
  • have good negotiating skills and be able to act on your own judgement
  • have an interest in legal matters
  • have an understanding of information technology
  • be discreet, tactful and assertive.
  • Peter the Great taxed people for growing beards
  • The word ''dollar'' has its origins in the Roman Empire
  • Credit was first used in Assyria, Babylon and Egypt over 3,000 years ago, but the first credit card did not appear until 1951, when Diners Club launched the first ''plastic money''

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