Career Change Interest High Among Finance Professionals

finance professionals and the desire to enact a career change

A majority of those who are currently studying for, or actively pursuing, careers in finance and accounting remain open to the idea of a career change in which they undertake a more general business role.


In a survey of 18,646 people under the age of 36, 60% said they would like to pursue a business role outside of the finance profession in the future. Although only 15% were targeting this career change in their very next move, the finding – from the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) – showcases just how many people enter a profession without thinking that it must be one that lasts for the duration of their career. “There is no doubt that the ‘job for life’ is less prevalent within the modern world,” noted Helen Brand, chief executive of ACCA, in a press release.

The career change is, of course, a popular reason for pursuing an MBA and many of those who arrive at the qualification from a background in finance will be open to the idea of exploring new career horizons at the very least.

Among those responding to the QS Applicant Survey 2015, 94% said they would be interested in opportunities in industries outside of the one in which they currently work. Interestingly, among respondents with backgrounds in finance, this proportion dropped to 82% - making it the industry in which the greatest number of applicants were keen to stay put. Even so, this number still represents a clear majority.

Regardless of the industry in which a candidate currently works, one’s desire for a career change might well be influenced by the type of organization they currently work for. In the ACCA survey, for example, switching from finance to a more general business role was found to be less desirable for those currently attached to small or medium-sized firms.

Entrepreneurial life appeals to 81% in survey

The level of interest currently being directed towards entrepreneurship was another finding of the ACCA survey. A whopping 81% of the ACCA’s respondents expressed interest in starting their own business at some point in their careers. Again, the majority of these people are not seeking an entrepreneurial life right away – 12% of men were targeting their own business as their next move, marginally ahead of the 10% of women who responded likewise. However, in a separate question, 62% of those surveyed said they felt that more finance professionals in the future would want to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities rather than a traditional finance career.

These figures are much higher than the 31% of MBA applicants who said that a desire to start their own business was a key reason behind their intention to pursue the degree. But, then again, there is no timeline given to the ACCA survey’s question on entrepreneurship. In addition, 40% of its respondents are no older than 25 years of age and 10% no older than 20, when career ambitions may still be quite loosely defined.

The overriding interest in entrepreneurship among millennials, termed ‘generation next’ by the ACCA, is of interest in itself, however. While noting that the proportion of people under 30 who own a business in the US has actually fallen quite dramatically since the 1980s, the survey also points out that interest in entrepreneurial activity among those currently pursuing careers in finance varies quite widely in different parts of the world.


While the number of those looking to start their own business someday stretched to 82% among ACCA respondents in Malaysia and a startling 96% of those in Nigeria, it dropped to 68% among respondents in the UK and just 56% among those in China. These variations could conceivably be influenced by the opportunity respondents see to carve out their own niche in a particular country. Indeed, this same supposition can be applied to MBA graduates – among members of Stanford GSB’s class of 2015, for instance, more than a quarter of those who started their own businesses directly after finishing the program decided to do this outside the US.

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Written by Tim Dhoul

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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