“Someone told me your chartered accounting designation is like a driver’s licence,” says Paul Ewart, Chartered Accountant (CA). “It gives you the opportunity to go places because you’ve got the skill base."

Ewart put this advice into practice when, after six years working in audit and assurance at Grant Thornton Australia, he decided an audit partnership wasn’t for him. Instead, in 2020, he accepted a position as an Analyst in CommBank’s Commercial Banking area.

He says his experience interpreting financial statements and interacting with clients is an advantage in his new role. “Understanding financials and corporate structure and how those things work together is a big help,” he says. “Plus, I’m comfortable picking up the phone or going to a client meeting and speaking to a client about their business.”

Enjoying a new perspective 

For Ewart, the big difference is one of perspective – from backward-looking audit to forward-looking risk management and strategic business planning. 

"With audit, you’re confirming that it’s all good, or you find there’s something wrong and you try to fix it. I found that sometimes clients didn’t see the value in backward-looking exercises, when they are focused on growing their business. “One of the things I enjoy about my current role is that it’s forward-looking", he adds. 

The client says: ‘I want to buy this’ or ‘I want to expand into this’ and my job is to go, ‘Well, how can we support that?’ It’s fun, and it’s challenging to move beyond compliance and help clients achieve business goals.

A more balanced workload

Ewart is one of 13 analysts in his section, with an ever-growing team of account managers, relationship executives and support staff. While each team member works quite independently, it’s a very social and supportive group. 

"CommBank wants to make a difference to our customers and their businesses,” he says. “We’re in a space where the resources, infrastructure and planning are there to support us. We want to improve and achieve results, and it’s cool being part of an organisation that wants to go places, and you’re in that area that’s trying to help them get there".

Ewart is also enjoying the change of pace of the work. “In a classic accounting role, for the first week of the month you’re busy with month-end, then for the rest of the month you’re quietly waiting for the next month-end. There’s better balance at the bank. Each day is different, each month is different, and you’re dealing with a mix of clients and a mix of industries.”

Licence to choose your career path 

Ewart remembers reading the analyst job ad and thinking he had only three of the six skills the bank was looking for. But he soon discovered his skills as a CA were very transferable. 

CommBank is very familiar with bringing accountants on board, so the training, support and structure are there,” he explains. 

Ewart also notes that while his career path in professional services was very much laid out, at CommBank it’s all on him to choose in what direction he wants to take his career. 

“My manager keeps asking me: ‘What are you going to do next and how are we going to get you there?’ 

“It’s a big organisation with so many places you can go. There are jobs that I found out about in the past few months that I didn’t even know existed 15 months ago,” he says. 

Business Banking at CommBank offers great opportunities for CAs who are looking for a different career path from audit. “CAs already have the skills they need to succeed at CommBank. I’m very happy I made the switch,” says Ewart. 

Are you ready for a career change that you can bank on? Discover a career in Business Banking with CommBank, the number one workplace in Australia: commbank.com.au/businessbankingcareers

This article was originally published in an issue of Acuity Magazine by Chartered Accountants ANZ.