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Accountants: Which type of Accountant should you recruit?

Posted by Brett Lewis on 10/01/2024


When businesses are looking to recruit staff, they have many decisions to make on candidates. They need to know whether their experience and skill set match the requirements of the role and judge whether they are the right personality fit. They will also consider candidates' longevity in previous jobs and whether they will actually commit long-term in this one.

When companies are looking to recruit for their accounts team, they will also want to consider whether to look for someone who is qualified (ACA, ACCA, or CIMA), Part Qualified, or Qualified by Experience. This would particularly apply to those who are involved in producing management accounts and statutory reporting rather than transactional staff. Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of hiring any of these three options.

Hiring a Qualified Accountant



  1. They will have gone through a stringent training and study program, and therefore will have strong theoretical knowledge of producing accounts.
  2. If you are the owner or the hiring manager of a business, you can rely on their financial expertise, leaving you to manage and grow the business. Having a Qualified Accountant to head up your finance function should reassure any external investors, banks, and financial institutions that the financial performance of your business is being reported correctly. It will also help you sign off your accounts after year-end.
  3. If you work for an accountancy practice and are recruiting a Qualified Accountant, it will increase your offering to your clients. You can put them out to work with some of your key clients, doing their final accounts and audits, etc. You can also charge them out at a higher rate.
  4. If you also employ Part Qualified Accountants, a Qualified Accountant above them can sign off their experience to help them become qualified too.



  1. Recruiting a Qualified Accountant can be expensive. The general consensus is that the number of quality qualified accountants on the market isn’t as high as it used to be. Therefore, qualified accountants can pick and choose and go for the "highest bidder". This has pushed their salary levels up. Also, companies tend to pay for their employees' ACA, ACCA, or CIMA membership fee while employed. This is another expense. While they add value to businesses, you will need to decide whether hiring a Qualified Accountant is necessary and worth the extra expense. Can the job be done by an experienced (but cheaper) accountant who isn’t qualified or who is currently studying to be qualified?
  2. With the higher salary levels for qualified accountants, they can get their head turned by other opportunities that pay more. If you do hire someone qualified, make sure you are paying them enough, there's room for growth, and the role will be challenging enough. If they are generally adding value to the business, you could offer them a generous bonus or even equity. This would make them less likely to go elsewhere.
  3. A Qualified Accountant might be less likely to "muck in" with more transactional work if that is a requirement of the role.

Hiring a Part Qualified studying Accountant



  1. Due to being within the learning stage of their career, a Part Qualified Accountant is often happier to pick up a wider variety of tasks as they want to gain as much exposure as possible. For example, they will be happy to cover transactional tasks such as processing invoices and bank reconciliations, as long as they are preparing management accounts as well.
  2. Hiring a Part Qualified Accountant is a cheaper option than a Qualified Accountant for obvious reasons. This isn’t always an advantage, but if it's not necessary to hire someone qualified, this is a worthwhile option, especially if the business is growing and you can offer progression to the candidate once they have actually qualified.
  3. Typically, a Part Qualified Accountant falls under a large number of different salary brackets, depending on their years of experience and how many exams they have remaining. For example, a Finalist with two exams remaining may be looking for a higher salary due to the likelihood of them qualifying over the following year. However, a candidate with five or more exams remaining is likely to be a cheaper option. This flexibility will help you as an employer because you can incentivize them with extra pay and responsibilities for passing certain exams.
  4. In order to make your role more appealing to a Part Qualified Accountant, offering study support is advisable and makes the role more attractive to quality candidates. While this would be an expense, it will ensure that those you hire learn new skills and feel supported in the workplace. If they feel supported, they are more motivated to do a good job for you and less likely to leave. This also means that by investing in their future, you can help to build a bond and increase longevity and their loyalty to the company.



  1. Although Part Qualified Accountants are cheaper and often motivated to succeed, as well as doing their day job, they will be spending evenings and weekends studying. These long hours of work and study might decrease their effectiveness at work.
  2. If you are offering study support, including exam costs, costs of materials, and time off for exams, you are showing commitment to the employer. However, despite this goodwill, they can still move on for another opportunity. In these circumstances, some businesses will have in their contracts of employment that employers have to pay back certain costs if they leave.
  3. Candidates may leave once they are qualified. Let’s face it, newly qualified accountants are highly sought after. The key here is to try and motivate them to stay by offering a higher salary and more challenging duties. In businesses where this isn’t possible, they often expect that person to leave and acknowledge they’ll have to recruit another Part Qualified Accountant who will offer you all the advantages mentioned above.

Hiring a Qualified By Experience (QBE) Accountant

By "qualified by experience," we mean candidates who have either not studied accountancy exams (ACA, ACCA, or CIMA) or have begun studies in the past but have stopped for various reasons. A QBE Accountant is highly sought after by businesses who don’t require anyone qualified. Unless there is a reason why someone should be qualified, this is often the best type of person to recruit.



  1. Companies will often recruit a QBE if they want the "finished article" and someone who can fit seamlessly into a job. These candidates will often justify their marketability by what they have done in the past, rather than what they want to do in the future. This should reassure employers that they are right for the role.
  2. QBE Accountants are more likely to want a stable job rather than too much progression as long as they’re being looked after and paid the going rate.
  3. Naturally, QBE Accountants are cheaper. They won’t want a sudden increase in pay once they have qualified and won’t require any additional costs such as study support, materials, and time off for exams. They also won’t be spending evenings and weekends studying so they will be more “fresh” when coming to work.



  1. There may be a reason why your business needs a qualified or part qualified Accountant. If you require someone strategic or someone that investors, banks, or finance institutions will be comfortable with, a QBE wouldn’t be suitable.
  2. As a QBE will often just be there to "do a job," they may not have the motivation of a qualified or part qualified accountant.

In conclusion, there are many different reasons for hiring a Qualified, Part Qualified, or Qualified By Experience Accountant. If you are unsure, want some friendly advice, or need to hire someone, I am here to help.

Please give me a call at Savant Recruitment. My number is 07946 496675, or email me at


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