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Career advice in Finance & Accounting

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bl3ss
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Career advice in Finance & Accounting

Postby bl3ss » Thu, 20 Dec 2012 11:51 am

Hi,

I need some career advice. Currently my position is as Finance Manager in Singapore local company. I'm pursuing CPA Australia now and still left 3 more exams in next year.

I'm thinking how to boost my career because my salary is not so high :( currently and I stay in Singapore only for 2 years.

I'm thinking to take another title (MBA or CFA) to make my resume looks better but also not quite sure about it.

Appreciate for who can help me about this and thanks a lot for the reply


:)

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Postby nakatago » Thu, 20 Dec 2012 12:22 pm

Are you Singaporean/PR or a foreigner?

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Postby bl3ss » Thu, 20 Dec 2012 1:49 pm

I'm a foreigner here. I did apply PR since September but I haven't received the result. Just checked this morning and the status is still pending.

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Postby Cath C » Thu, 20 Dec 2012 2:36 pm

Are you doing CPA in Australia simply as a qualification, or do you want to try and get work in Australia? Pay is higher there, particularly if you work in a finance team in a corporate organisation (as opposed to being a CPA with an accounting firm).

I'm not sure about your full experience and education, but if you have the skills, you could also start up your own accounting practice if you have the right visa etc.

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Postby bl3ss » Thu, 20 Dec 2012 2:55 pm

Hi Cath,

I'm taking CPA because it's needed in accounting and I choosed CPA Australia because it's recognized in all the world (beside CPA USA).
I'm currently working in commercial line in Singapore.

It did crossed in my mind to move to Australia because I've heard that the salary is really good but everybody said that it's not easy to get job there.
Can we apply from SIngapore or we have to move directly to Australia? Need apply PR as well?

Anyway, thanks for your reply...I'm quite blur with Singapore

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Postby Cath C » Thu, 20 Dec 2012 3:12 pm

bl3ss wrote:Hi Cath,

It did crossed in my mind to move to Australia because I've heard that the salary is really good but everybody said that it's not easy to get job there.
Can we apply from SIngapore or we have to move directly to Australia? Need apply PR as well?


In Australia, it's true that salaries are high and that jobs are hard to get. (But remember, you only need 1 employer to say yes and then you have a job.) I used to see people take jobs they were way overqualified for and still be earning a fair bit more than they were at home. Of course, you have to take cost of living into account too.

No, you don't need PR, you need what's called a 457 visa (which is the equivalent of the EP in Singapore). Just like the EP, your employer applies for it.

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Re: Career advice in Finance & Accounting

Postby JR8 » Thu, 20 Dec 2012 7:09 pm

bl3ss wrote:I'm thinking to take another title (MBA or CFA) to make my resume looks better but also not quite sure about it.


There is a danger that you are considering this backwards.

How about thinking what role you would like to be in in say 10 years time. Then consider what qualifications will help you to get such a role. Not just degrees and diplomas, but what knowledge and experience. Look at job-ads and find real-life examples. Then, plan how to fill the gaps on your resume.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I used to work in a finance department and each year we'd have MBA interns. Sometimes as 'old' as mid-20s who'd spent their whole adult years collecting qualifications, but never working. Most of them had difficulty figuring out how the photocopier worked*. You see my point? :)


* At least one thought it beneath his status and dignity to be doing admin tasks at all. Lol...

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Re: Career advice in Finance & Accounting

Postby Cath C » Thu, 20 Dec 2012 7:30 pm

JR8 wrote:
bl3ss wrote:I'm thinking to take another title (MBA or CFA) to make my resume looks better but also not quite sure about it.


How about thinking what role you would like to be in in say 10 years time. Then consider what qualifications will help you to get such a role. Not just degrees and diplomas, but what knowledge and experience. Look at job-ads and find real-life examples. Then, plan how to fill the gaps on your resume.


This is absolutely spot on. It doesn't matter how many pieces of paper you have, it isn't a substitute for experience.

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Postby bl3ss » Thu, 20 Dec 2012 8:22 pm

Yeah....really thanks for the advise :)
You all really help me a lot.

I'm thinking to take another title is because my resume doesn't look interesting for employer in Singapore. I have 9 years working experience which 7 years of it was in developing country. My experience in Singapore is only 2 years. :roll:

If you asked about what is the role that I wanted within 10 years...I want to become a CFO :) (I hope and I wish)

I'm really no clue how to make the employer want to give me chance for an interview

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Postby Cath C » Fri, 21 Dec 2012 12:32 pm

I didn't realise that you had some local experience - that will help.

A MNC may be more willing to recognise your overseas experience. I'd recommend approaching some recruitment agencies first. Check jobs.db and jobstreet.com. See which recruiters are active in your market for finance roles. Aproach them directly with a phone call and then send your resume.

For your resume, check out some job ads that interest you and see what buzzwords they are using to search for experience. Use those words i your resume and cover letter so that you don't get filtered out if they do an automatic database search for a candidate.

If all else fails, be willing to take a step down and choose a company with good career prospects so you don't get stuck at that level.

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 21 Dec 2012 5:49 pm

Cath C wrote:I didn't realise that you had some local experience - that will help.

A MNC may be more willing to recognise your overseas experience. I'd recommend approaching some recruitment agencies first. Check jobs.db and jobstreet.com. See which recruiters are active in your market for finance roles. Aproach them directly with a phone call and then send your resume.

For your resume, check out some job ads that interest you and see what buzzwords they are using to search for experience. Use those words i your resume and cover letter so that you don't get filtered out if they do an automatic database search for a candidate.

If all else fails, be willing to take a step down and choose a company with good career prospects so you don't get stuck at that level.



This reminded me of a workshop I once went to re: how to fine tune a job-hunt.

The 'chair' handed us a few of us newspapers and asked to pick a job ad. He then set about calling each advertiser and speaking to the person who would be making the hiring-decision. He explained that he'd seen the ad and was interested in it, and 'can you just summarise what the key requirements are, so I know whether I should send you my resume'.

Then (he had a mic attached to his phone) often the person would explain a completely different set of qualities than appeared in the 'Corporate speak' advert. It really was amazing! Like having a brilliant magic trick done in front of you, over and over, and still each time you're left shaking your head, you just can't believe it...

So for each ad (where he got through), he had a) opened communications with the decision maker b) got the list of what skills really mattered which he could then play up in his CV.

You need balls to do it I expect... but I found it very revealing!

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Postby bl3ss » Fri, 21 Dec 2012 6:52 pm

Hi JR8,

It was really interesting. How could he ask to talk with the person who would make the decision? Though mostly the company will pass it to the HR.
Yes, it will need some balls to do it....I don't have that big...but I guess I have to start to try it.

Aside to Cath, how can I know about the buzzword that you mentioned?

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Postby Cath C » Fri, 21 Dec 2012 7:15 pm

bl3ss wrote:Hi JR8,

It was really interesting. How could he ask to talk with the person who would make the decision? Though mostly the company will pass it to the HR.
Yes, it will need some balls to do it....I don't have that big...but I guess I have to start to try it.

Aside to Cath, how can I know about the buzzword that you mentioned?


My background is HR and I would not have been offended if a candidate had asked to speak with the hiring manager, especially if they just wanted to get a feel for the more techincal aspects of the role. (Maybe if you get put through to HR, you could try asking a few very finance specific questions and then ask to speak to the hiring manager when HR can't give you answers).

With regard to the right words, they will be in the ad. Have a look at a few different ads and you will see common words they are using when they specify the skills and experience they want you to have. Just use the same language in your resume.

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Re: Career advice in Finance & Accounting

Postby Finfin » Thu, 06 Nov 2014 8:22 am

Hi, I need some professional advise regarding my next step in terms of taking up accounting certifications/course.

Background:
1) I am Singaporean
2) I have already pursued my MBA outside of Singapore
3) My undergrad is an engineering course
4) For some reason, I just happen to have gained 15-20 years experience on quantitative analysis, 3 years on operations/logistics and 15 or so years on financial analysis (full set of income statement, Cashflow and Balance sheet)

My next move: I am currently out of job. I have been applying for Finance Manager positions but only to be declined by headhunters because I do not have any accounting degree/certification, even though I have experience in doing the job scope (different industry). They said the employer requires some accounting degree/certification. But sometimes I do not understand this as the job scope does not require any SEC or SGX filing or signing.

I thought having acquired my MBA was sufficient but apparently not. Now, I am in a dilemma whether to pursue CPA, CIMA or ACCA - all of which can take time (2-3 years) and not easy I assume.

Any comments/ advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Career advice in Finance & Accounting

Postby JR8 » Thu, 06 Nov 2014 12:52 pm

Finfin wrote:Hi, I need some professional advise regarding my next step in terms of taking up accounting certifications/course.
Background:
1) I am Singaporean
2) I have already pursued my MBA outside of Singapore
3) My undergrad is an engineering course
4) For some reason, I just happen to have gained 15-20 years experience on quantitative analysis, 3 years on operations/logistics and 15 or so years on financial analysis (full set of income statement, Cashflow and Balance sheet)

My next move: I am currently out of job. I have been applying for Finance Manager positions but only to be declined by headhunters because I do not have any accounting degree/certification, even though I have experience in doing the job scope (different industry). They said the employer requires some accounting degree/certification. But sometimes I do not understand this as the job scope does not require any SEC or SGX filing or signing.

I thought having acquired my MBA was sufficient but apparently not. Now, I am in a dilemma whether to pursue CPA, CIMA or ACCA - all of which can take time (2-3 years) and not easy I assume.

Any comments/ advice would be greatly appreciated.



Hi, and welcome to the forum.
Your situation reminds me rather of mine many years go.
I was 'the numbers guy' sitting on a banks trading floor. I had no accountancy quals, but was deemed to be 'qualified by experience'. This worked fine, as long as I stayed in the same company. But as I later found out, when I got layed off, no one else would hire me for a similar position as I didn't have the certifications. I remember one interview and the interviewer launched straight in to technical accounting questions and I couldn't answer them > out the door.

And so I went in to self-employment, which requires a major shift in outlook (no longer having the 'social status of working for a big PLC/Inc', no longer having a mandated structure to the day, etc)

I looked into doing an MBA, with a few of the London business schools, but they deemed me not to be a suitable candidate. Not only that I was a university drop-out, but that my motive was to get a gong as a means to promotion.

I agree with that. What would have made a lot more sense (back them) was if I'd done the accountancy course after quitting uni. After all, numbers is quite a natural field for me.

MBA's, in my experience were generally done by people well into their careers (maybe director level), to get them up one further notch to MD/SVP or equivalent. My impression, even back then, was that MBAs could be perceived as an all-solving career panacea, and it was the business schools themselves who debunked me of that mindset.

Anyway, later on during self-employment, I did pursue the AAT course (the primer for full-on CIMA/ACCA) by distance learning. That was to keep my mind busy, and in the belief that you can never have too many arrows in your quiver. I have to say it was quite a revelation. There after years 'doing numbers' here were the standards/reasons behind what I was previously doing. It came very naturally and easily, but yes it took time and some money. In the event, as the years have unfolded I have never needed to rely on my AAT qualification, but I'm still glad that I did it, not least the ... er, holistic overview it gives you of the books, and running a business.

So in parallel with my experience I suspect you might have something of an uphill struggle. I'm guessing you're early 40s? If you got an ACCA/CIMA etc who would be hiring you as say a Fin Man/Con with no Post-qual experience? Many roles require x years of 'PQE', Post-Qualification Experience. For a Fin Man that might be 5, for a Fin Con it might be 10. That was roughly it, back in my day.

What industry would you be pitching at, anything particular? For example banking is savage for weeding out people young. [Now years later I can opine that to still be employed by a global bank at the age of say 40+, you have to be great at your job, internally/politically very well connected, and an absolutely primo-c***, it is that savage).

My impression here in SG is that many HHs are simply box-tickers. You're not an accountant => your resume goes in the bin. They're not going to go to the employer and say 'but look, he has all this experience'... not these days when emerging economies are churning out young accountants by the million, willing to start-off working for relative peanuts.

That's just my 2c.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard


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