- Describe your sector in a nutshell.
We can divide who accountants work for into three sectors:
“The profession” – working for accounting/audit firms
Accountancy/audit firms in Gibraltar range from small local practices to firms belonging to one of the “Big 4” international networks.
These are the four largest international networks, which together employ approximately 1.5m people around the world. These four networks all have a firm, or office in Gibraltar, and are amongst the largest accountancy firms locally. These firms can offer mobility between locations, for example, the opportunity to work for the UK firm, or further afield.
Their systems and “way of doing things” are generally a lot more globally integrated than other firms.
These networks also employ many employees around the world. Possibly fewer countries are represented around the world than the Big 4, but they will still be present in most countries with a medium/large economy. The size of these practices varies locally.
Probably fewer opportunities to move between locations (depending on the firm).
Tend to be less integrated globally in terms of systems, with more independence locally.
More locally-focused – either not part of a network, or part of a smaller/looser network of firms. Likely to have smaller, more local clients and often more accounts preparation work than audit work.
The question of whether a large or small firm/network is best for you – and indeed the individual firm – is very much a personal choice.
The services that these firms provide include:
Audit services – this is the predominant business for most of the Big 4 and mid-tier firms. This is an increasingly specialised area for accountants, with more and more use of IT tools. Auditors review the financial statements of a business or other organisation and express an opinion as to whether the account show a “true and fair view” of its activities and of its assets and liabilities for the year in question. Much of this work comprises of reviewing the systems and controls in place, as well as the numbers themselves. Audits help to build trust in businesses and in their financial statements. This is important for investors in such companies, their customers, their employees and for the economy in general.
Accounts preparation – putting together accounts for a company or other organisation (i.e., the client). This can often be from a reasonably final set of numbers that have been processed during the year by the client itself. Or it can be the processing of transactions throughout the year. Smaller firms may have more of the latter.
Tax services – tax specialists assist their clients by helping to ensure that they comply with their tax obligations. They also advise them so that they are well informed about the tax implications of how they structure and carry out their business.
Consultancy services – this can include advice on acquisitions of other businesses, data protection, valuations of business, management advice, IT systems, financial controls, regulatory matters and controls against money laundering.
“Industry” – working for companies
Most accountants start off their career by obtaining their initial experience and qualifications in the profession, working for an accountancy firm. Many such accountants may remain in their firm, or move to another accounting/audit firm, taking on more responsibility and progressing through the ranks within the profession.
The initial experience in industry also puts accountants in a great position to be able to work for another type of business. So many often leave the profession to work in “industry”, where there is a great demand for qualified and experienced accountants.
“Industry” covers a huge range of businesses in Gibraltar – or indeed internationally. Gibraltar has many opportunities in areas such as banking, insurance, funds/investment management, gaming, as well as more locally-focused business – all of whom need good accountants.
Government also needs accountants!
- What are the different career opportunities/jobs available in your sector?
Professionally qualified accountant – Chartered or Certified Accountant
Accounting firms offer a variety of positions – both for people who wish to start a career in accountancy – as well as for people who are already well established in their career.
Graduate and apprenticeship programmes will give you the chance to work with some of the brightest minds on emerging practices and technologies. Benefitting from structured development, including funded professional qualifications or accreditations, gaining learning for a lifetime. Through a broad range of employee networks, volunteering, and community initiatives, you’re encouraged to build relationships and make an impact outside of your day-job too.
Within the profession, there is a clear path for progression for committed accountants, the ultimate objective for some being Partner in their firm.
As mentioned above, many accountants start off in the profession and then move to industry to work as an accountant. Again, there are opportunities for further progression in industry, for example, working towards becoming Financial Director, or Chief Financial Officer. An accountancy qualification and experience is also highly useful for a move into a management role. Many Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers or their equivalent around the world are accountants who did exactly that.
It’s also worth emphasising the global nature of both accountancy and auditing skills. Although there can be local differences between countries, International Financial Reporting Standards are used throughout the world, and particularly by the largest businesses. Similarly, auditing standards are largely set on an international basis (International Standards on Auditing).
Many of Gibraltar’s accountants are from other parts of the world, given the huge demand for accountants in Gibraltar. By the same token, this means an accountant starting off their career in Gibraltar can have great opportunities to work overseas should they wish to do so
There is no getting away from the fact that professional accounting exams are challenging.
An alternative is to consider the technician level qualification offered by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). AAT offers different levels of qualification, taking on average between six to 18 months to complete.
It’s fair to say that an AAT qualification does not have the same professional status as that of a Chartered or Certified Accountant. It would not enable an accountant to sign off an audit report and generally, a Chartered or Certified Accountant would command a significantly higher salary than an AAT-qualified accountant.
Nevertheless, AAT is a well-respected qualification in its own right, is particularly useful for more accounting-focused work (as opposed to audit work) and AAT holders are also in high demand as accountants.
- What’s interesting/fun about your sector/industry? Why should a young person want to work there?
We’re an ambitious, values-led global profession, full of fantastic people. We want to make a lasting impact on the world – transforming businesses, developing trust and confidence in markets, and building stronger, fairer communities. We do work that matters.
You will have an opportunity to join a team of dynamic individuals and have the opportunity to learn about business and grow personally through the training provided, coaching experiences and exposure to many different businesses. As a young professional you will gain an insight into how companies work and what makes them successful, speaking first hand with senior executives.
Our profession wants people from every walk of life to join and build a career with us. To be part of our community and to build long-lasting relationships. We know that diversity of experience, background and perspective makes us all stronger.
We believe there should be no limit to where your talent, achievement and hard work can take you. Be recognised for the impact you make, the leadership you show and the success you create with others.
- What skills/qualities do you look for in someone wanting to join your sector?
During the recruitment process, potential employers want to understand if your strengths are aligned with those required for success. By looking at your strengths, this will help you and us to know whether you would enjoy working here and have the potential to thrive. Here are some example of key attributes for a successful accountant:
- Career Motivation
- Drive Quality
- Demonstrate Integrity
- Critical Thinker
- Resilient Performer
- Leverage Technology
- Communicate Effectively
- Foster Innovation
- Credible Connector
- Show Curiosity
- Purposeful Collaborator
- What is demand looking like in your sector? How do you think this will change in the future?
No-one in the profession (including those with 35+ years’ experience) is likely to recall any significant period of time when there has not been a strong demand for accountants. There is a shortage of accountants in Gibraltar – and also globally.
Whilst the way accountants do their work will no doubt continue to adapt over time as technology evolves, we do not see that there will be any let up in demand.
- What is the approximate salary range can people earn?
Employers in the sector are highly competitive in terms of what they offer in terms of salary, other benefits – as well as providing comprehensive training and employee satisfaction.
Salaries generally increase significantly once qualified – and continue to do so as more responsibility and experience is gained.
For Graduates and Apprentices, many firms typically offer the following additional benefits:
- Financial support towards gaining professional qualifications and/or accreditations, if relevant to your role
- Study leave, if studying for a professional qualification/accreditation
- What career pathways are available for a young person wanting to join your sector? (University and non-uni routes)
To train as a qualified accountant in Gibraltar, you need to:
- obtain a training contract with an accredited employer
- register as a trainee with either the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (“ACCA”) or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (“ICAEW”)
- complete a minimum of three years of working experience as a trainee
- pass the professional exams set by ACCA or ICAEW.
There are a number of ways of doing this, for example:
- The more traditional route is to obtain a University degree first (the “graduate” route). A degree that includes Accountancy, Finance and similar subjects can give you exemptions from some of the professional exams. It also gives you some deeper understanding of some of the concepts – as would a degree that includes, for example, economics, or law. However, it’s not necessary to study any of those; many graduates study completely unrelated subjects before taking up accountancy as a profession.
- A University degree is however not required. Many firms offer positions for those who have completed secondary school level qualifications (often referred to as “Apprentice” or “School Leaver” Programmes).
- Many trainees choose to study for and sit their professional exams during their three years’ work experience. This is the more traditional route. The advantage is that you can be qualified in three years. The drawback is that professional exams are a challenge, particularly when working.
- An alternative is to dedicate a year to studying and passing the professional exams – for example, there are courses for this available in the UK – then start your three years’ work experience once exam-qualified.
- Although most trainees spend their three years’ work experience in the profession, some companies in industry are accredited by ACCA as employers for this.
Another possibility is to train as an accountant in the United Kingdom – the same options as described above are available.
If qualifying in the UK, as well as ACCA and ICAEW, there is also the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (“ICAS”), Chartered Accountants Ireland (“ICA”), the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (“CIMA”) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (“CIPFA”).
Many Gibraltar-based accountants have gained their qualification in the UK then returned to Gibraltar as a qualified accountant.
- Any advice you would give to a young person wanting to join your sector?
Tip 1: Firms recruit on a rolling basis, and some routes fill faster than others, so we’d encourage you to apply as early as possible.
Tip 2: Give sufficient time and attention in your online application form.
Tip 3: Be yourself during the application process.
Tip 4: Get in touch! The Student Recruitment team are on hand should you need to speak to us.
Tip 5: We recommend that you spend time learning about each of the strengths and consider how they align to your own strengths before deciding which firm is likely to be right for you.
Tip 6: Research! Ensure you thoroughly research our business and the programme you are applying for.