Regardless of whether you are just starting your career in public accounting or you already have some work experience, at some point you will find that you have preferences about the type of work you enjoy doing. In public accounting, the first such decision many people make relates to choosing audit versus tax. But what about specific industries within each of those departments? Is it worth fine-tuning even further and pursuing a career that’s geared toward one specific industry?
As a senior accountant in Kreischer Miller’s Investment Industry Group, I made the decision to fully dedicate myself to the investment industry four years ago, upon joining the firm. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. Hopefully they can be helpful to you as you make decisions about what’s best for your career.
How do you decide which niche to pursue? Is it worth starting out more generally and taking time to figure out what you want to do before jumping right into something? Or should you make this decision from the onset of your career?
The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer. One approach isn’t more beneficial than the other. However, I would recommend trying to make the decision as early in your career as possible. This will allow you to dedicate more time to learning your industry and serving as a valuable asset to your firm and industry group. The route that led me to the investment industry was through working in general audit and having a wide variety of clients. One of those clients was in the investment industry, and working with them made me realize that I did, in fact, want to pursue a more focused career. After three years of general audit, I accepted a position with Kreischer Miller’s Investment Industry Group.
What can having a specialty do for you in terms of career growth?
In my experience, most people view having a specialty in one of two ways: you’ll either restrict yourself or set yourself apart. I personally feel that having a specialty allows you to build knowledge that many others in your firm do not have. I see this as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
Will an industry specialization be limiting?
Another benefit of having a more narrow industry focus is that the specialized knowledge you acquire enables you to better serve your clients in that industry. However, it is important to note that having a specialization does not limit you from working with clients and co-workers outside of your niche, as many companies have complex characteristics that may span multiple specialties and require different individuals for various audit and tax areas.
What other factors are there to consider?
I was interested in the investment industry in part because the work involves more than just an audit. For example, we perform financial statement audits, due diligence (review of internal controls, policies, etc.), and investment performance related work. So while I had the ability to choose a specialty, I wasn’t limited to a set type of work; it still offers a wide variety. In addition, the clients in my group have given me the opportunity to travel the world, which is a nice perk. Having a sense of who your clients are, or could be, can also help guide your decision as to whether you pursue a specialty.
While there are obviously many ways to evaluate whether you want to pursue a specialty, the number one factor should remain selecting something you enjoy.
Eric Levandowski is a manager in Kreischer Miller’s Investment Industry Group. Eric joined Kreischer Miller in 2014 after working at a firm in Baltimore for several years. He enjoys the Philly sports scene and spending time with family and friends. Contact Eric at Email.
Also check out: