Questions to ask after you finish your FAE exams

Sinead O'Dwyer 05.12.2017

If you were one of those who sucessfully passed the FAE exams you'll be breathing a sigh of relief and turning your thoughts to, 'What now?'

Having had the last two to three years consumed by lectures, study and exams, it will be the first time in a long time that you will have given serious consideration to your future as a chartered accountant.

Typically, at this stage, people are inundated with advice from a variety of sources such as your current manager, a senior you were friends with a couple of years ago, that uncle who runs his own practice. All credible options to seek advice from.
However, before you race off and try to get all the answers, it might be worth taking a step back and considering some of these questions.

Questions to ask after your FAE exams

What are my priorities/ what motivates me?


What is my aim?

Where do I want to be in ten years’ time?

  • CFO of a large multinational?
  • Partner in practice?
  • FC of a medium-sized business?
  • Financial accountant in an SSC?


All very different paths with very different routes.

What type of business do I want to work for?

Multinational or an indigenous; small versus large; manufacturing or services; pharmaceutical, FMCG, SSC or a group or something else entirely?

What am I willing to do to get there?

  • ​Relocate?
  • Work long hours?
  • Commute?
  • Travel?
  • Take on additional study?


What type of environment do I want to work in? 

  • Pressurised? Aggressive? Competitive?
  • Relaxed or casual?
  • Tight deadlines or a more flexible project environment?


Now is the time for internal dialog; now is the time for questions that only you can answer. No two people will have the same answers to the above questions. Not to sound corny but, at this critical juncture in your career, you are embarking on a journey of sorts.

Before trying to figure out if you should turn right or left at this juncture, now is the time to give some serious thought as to your ultimate destination. The map you will use, the road you will take, any shortcuts you should consider, how fast you will travel and indeed the vehicle you will take can all be decided slightly further down the road. Right now is the time, while there is time, to consider the destination – a right or left turn early on in any journey can have enormous consequences on where you end up.

Make sense? Seems logical?
Most would agree. However, there is an alternative school of thought – how do I know I am on the right road unless I drive down it a little? If it does not feel right then I can always back track and take a different route.
Now might not be the time to over think things? Perhaps I should experiment a little out of articles– try a GL accountant role on contract and see if it grabs me? Perhaps go to Sydney and try some temporary work?  Perhaps try a difference practice? See how it goes and when I have tried a few paths, then, in a couple of years, I will have a much better idea of where I ultimately what to be. Make sense? Seems logical? Some would also agree!
Different people figure things out in different ways – there are no right or wrong answers. Some people are very definitive; some more fluid.
Which are you? Can you answer any or all of the above questions?
For now don’t worry about what your peer group are doing. Start asking yourself a few questions and wait a little while before you go looking to others for answers.
And talk to us. We work with accountants in all levels, across different sectors in all company sizes. Give me, or my colleagues a call or send us an email and we can give you one-to-one career advice.
Sinead O'Dwyer's picture
Manager | Accounting & Finance | Permanent, Contract & Interim


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