Articles are coming to an end, what are my options?

The last time that you made such a decision was at the end of matric.  That decision has led to 7/8 years of consequences – so there is a real sense that this decision is an important one because it too could have long-term consequences!

An important (but yet not that important) decision

This is a good time to consider the general direction of your life

  • What is it that you want to be remembered for?
  • What is it that gets you excited?
  • What do other people think are my special talents/qualities?

I think that sometimes we don’t take our lives seriously enough.  We should place high value on having vision for our lives.  That doesn’t just need to be about making a million by age X (although having financial goals is important), it can include being a good friend, loving parent or amazing marriage partner.

Having that broader perspective really helped me when I had to make my decision.  It made me realise that I could actually make a mistake on the career front and yet still have most of my other goals totally on track.  And how bad could my career move be anyways?  I choose to join UCT as a lecturer and not accept the offer from my firm to stay on.  I told them that it wasn’t an easy decision but I gave them my reasons for doing so.  That meant that I left my firm at the end of articles “through the front door” and for that reason I believe that if I ever change my mind, I could go back and chat to them about rejoining.

My point is that although this is an important decision that may have long-term consequences, it should also be seen as only a small part of the vision for your life and you can always change your mind if things aren’t as you expected!

Some dynamics to be aware of

Be aware of the group dynamics around this decision

  • You want to give an impressive answer. People want to know what you are up and you want to tell them something!  If you’ve managed to complete the CA journey, chances are that you are a leader of sorts and are used to “having it all together”.  You need to relax and get used to saying “I don’t know yet”.  Try it, it will eventually feel good to not have it all worked out!
  • People feel like they need to convince others that what they are doing is the right option (but the correct option for them isn’t necessarily right for you). Take the time to hear what other people are saying but don’t let that stress you out.  They will sound convincing, they may make a lot of sense – someone who has clear direction is attractive – but don’t make the leap in logic that says it’ll be the same for you.
  • There will be pressure from the firm because they want to start planning for next year. Be honest and hold off your commitment to stay on if you are unsure.  It’s great for them if you commit early but don’t let that force you into a rushed decision.

Some tips when reaching the end of articles

Try and get a secondment for the last 3 months of your articles overseas.  The firm will pay for all your flights and you can book your return flight for a few months after you finish work – thereby getting a bit of a holiday in.

Broad considerations

  • SA v Overseas

Probably the big consideration that you need to settle first.  IFRS means that you are in demand globally.  I think SA is the place to be though – I base this on the fact that you can get catapulted into great opportunities straight out of articles where overseas there are many more layers of management above you.  If you do go – come back!

  • Auditing v World of Finance v Entrepreneur v Academic v Government

Go and speak to a recruitment agency and hear about all the options available to you.  Here is where you really see the benefits of being a CA – there is just so much choice!  I don’t have enough space to go through all the different job description but speak to a recruitment agency and ask them for the jobs that are looking for CA’s.

  • Stay on or Go

Even if you don’t want to be an auditor, a few years as a manager can provide excellent experience as far as managing other people goes.  You may also get job offers from your clients if you impress them enough.

Other considerations

Consider further study options – CIMA, CFA, MBA, M.Phil – ask your firm/prospective employer if they will support you with these.  Lifelong learning people, lifelong learning!

Who pays for your SAICA registration fees?  Ask your firm/prospective employer if they will stump up the cash for your registration (+- R11 000)


Paul Maughan

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