Rules About Changing Jobs During Your Training Contract

Updated: 5th February 2024

If you’re currently in an accountancy training contract, you may be thinking about the next move in your career. It’s therefore important to know the rules, rights and restrictions that you have while employed in an ACA contract so that you can make these choices confidently.

Changing employers
Some may not realise that it’s possible to change employers during your accountancy training contract. While it is encouraged to remain at one company for the duration of the course where possible, you may realistically be better off in a different organisation–and it’s not worth staying if you believe that better opportunities are available for you. However, if you do decide to leave your contract,there are certain processes and regulations you need to follow.

First of all, it's important to make sure that your online training file is up to date and that all entries have been confirmed by your previous employer before they cancel the training agreement. This ensures that you will not lose any time you've put in or practical work that you've completed up to this point.

You’ll also need to ensure that your previous employer has given feedback on all of the training work you've completed with thembecause your new employer can’t sign off or give feedback on any work you did before you joined them. Also remember that your new employer may ask you to complete additional practical work or training that you had already undertaken at your previous organisation.

As per the general agreement of the ACA contract, the agreement at any new employer would still need to be for a minimum of three months and include at least 65 days of practical work experience. Your new employer will be able to support you with any forms and re-registrations that are required to the ICAEW, and you may also need to gather new evidence of development and ethical behaviour–as any sign off from a previous place of work would not be valid at your new employment. This applies not only to ACA contracts but also ATII and ATT contracts and any others within the ICAEW offering.

Next steps
Finishing your training contract and becoming qualified with the ACA is a significant achievement, and when you do complete your training,you'll then be met with some crucial decisions about your future. It's important to be knowledgeable and confident in these decisions so that you can make the best choices for your career. There are no longer any restrictions tying you to one company or industry, so choose the path that most suits your skills and the ways you like to work. You’re likely to see an increase not only in your salarybut also in the types of responsibilities you're being given by your employer.

The first big decision you’ll face will be whether to stay or leave accountancy ‘practice’. Many will leave to go and work in industry (in-house), but for some staying in practice is the right decision for their development. By staying in practice, you are more likely to be exposed to a wider variety of both public and private sector services and companies, which could include accounting, auditing, tax, assurance, legal services, corporate finance and actuarial finance. If you had been working at a smaller firm, you may consider a move to a bigger firm, perhaps even one of the Big Four, which will give you exposure to a larger variety of clients, industries and the type of work you do. However, if you feel that you work best in smaller teams and in a more intimate working environment, you may be better off moving to a more bespoke firm. It’s very important to consider these types of questions when making decisions for your future.

Many others may feel that moving to industry and working in-house for one company is the right next step in their career. Doing so will give you the opportunity to delve deeper into the success of one business rather than spreading your efforts across many clients, and itmay also provide an opportunity to stand out more as you are driving the success of the business internally. However, there areof course downsides to this. It may be difficult to move from working with multiple clients on multiple accounts to working with just one business. You may also find it strange to be working in a smaller team or even a team of one, depending on the business you're moving to, especially ifyou've been introduced to working with larger teams on accounts during your training contract.

As with any decision,there’s always the option to change your mind at a later date, but taking more time earlier to considerand weigh up the possibilities of this next step in your career could benefit you in the long run. Choosing the right working environment and culture is hugely important to the quality of the work you're producing, as well as the satisfaction you're getting from your job. Be mindful of the steps you've taken thus far and what you've enjoyed and not enjoyed from this process. Your training contract has been an incredible opportunity to experience all facets of accountancy, tax or audit, so take this experience and apply it thoughtfully to where you want your career to go from here.

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