Accountancy recruitment - Graduates relate their own stories
Raef - Trainee to Partner – Yet Another Advantage Of Training With A Medium Sized Firm
When I started my training at Brebners I had no idea I would still be here 20 years later, as a senior partner in the firm.
My initial reasons when applying for accountancy jobs were that I wanted to gain as wide an experience as possible, not only in the work that I carried out (audit, accounts preparation, tax) but also in the variety of clients I would be dealing with on a regular basis. It was clear to me at the time that a medium sized practice was far better able to offer this variety than a larger firm, whilst at the same time having high standards of training and professionalism yet still retaining a supporting environment in which to learn and accumulate experience.
My role within the firm has changed dramatically since that first day. From training through the audit department I began to work directly as the right hand man to a senior partner, effectively managing the work carried out on all of those clients. This gave me exposure to client meetings and to be at the sharp end of the business decision making and tax planning process. This route enabled me to further develop my skill set to the extent that partnership was offered to me. We at Brebners still feel that this mentoring approach is an effective way of developing those trainees with partnership potential.
My initial thoughts when choosing Brebners remain to this day. We continue to offer great training and experience, and as training partner (amongst other roles), I know that the training we offer gives our trainees excellent skill sets, whether they stay in practice or move into other sectors. Indeed many of those have been in touch post Brebners to comment on how well our training has equipped them in the financial world.
Raef Gregory Partner, Brebners
Joe - My Journey from Student to Partner
My wish was to work somewhere large enough to offer variety, opportunities, and excellent training and development provisions, yet small enough to feel actively involved from an early stage of my career, which then led me to select a medium sized firm.
My experience since has definitely backed up this decision. I have worked with a very wide variety of clients ranging from a Formula 1 race team to City stockbrokers and fund managers. I also spent five months on secondment to another firm in Melbourne, gaining international experience but most importantly enjoying the Australian lifestyle!
In addition, the firm have shown the great opportunities which exist for career advancement. My role over the years has changed enormously: audit junior; audit senior; manager; and now partner. This all adds to the variety even when working on the same client.
Yes, accountancy is hard work. Yes, you’ll need to be committed to get through the study. But it’s an excellent career, the rewards are good, and I’ve even had some fun and made some great friends along the way!
Joe Kinton Partner, Shipleys LLP
Anna Crawford - My Road to ACA
After leaving university, I chose to study ACA because as a qualification it is really well-regarded by employers – and because I wanted a challenge!
I decided to train with a medium sized firm to get good exposure to various types of clients, to get to know people well at the firm and because of the training on offer. I also wanted to have more responsibility sooner and didn’t want to get lost in one of the big firms.
It’s been great! So far, I’ve most enjoyed being out on audit at clients premises, performing different audit tests. I love the fact that no two days are the same!
I have really enjoyed the mixture of study at college, training courses at SWATUK and work both out at clients and in the office. I’ve also made some really good friends with others at my firm and at SWATUK.
My advice to anyone considering this career is – Go for it! But be prepared for hard work in the office, at college and at home. ACA calls for a lot of juggling skills with regards to work/study/social life but it’s worth it!
Anna works for Buzzacott LLP - a top 30 firm of Chartered Accountants.
Arnaz Dumasia - My road to ACA
I decided to study the ACA qualification due to its worldwide recognition and endless career expansion opportunities. After completing my degree in Economics, I was looking for more challenges and a professional qualification seemed to be the ideal choice.
What attracted me to the ACA qualification was that, in addition to the theoretical knowledge I would be gaining, I would also be gaining practical knowledge and experience. I was greatly attracted to the fact that I could work whilst studying, hence enabling me to put into practice all the knowledge I would gain from my studies, as well as earn money!
Whilst deciding upon which size firm to train with, I asked myself numerous questions including; what type of employer would I like to work for? What type of employee would I want to be? What opportunities would be available to me?
Whilst pondering these questions, I found myself answering them almost instantly. I wanted to work for an employer that had a wide variety of clients, so that I could attain a range of knowledge and experience from each assignment. I didn’t want to be just another face in a team; instead, I wanted to feel like an active member, and be able to express my opinions. In addition I was looking for an employer with a strong commitment to student training and learning development, who would encourage me to broaden my horizons and also be able to offer me responsibility from earlier on.
The search for my answers all led me towards choosing a medium sized firm, as it has an array of clients from retail stores, to hotels, to schools as well as charities, meaning that I would have variety in my work as well as gaining more experience in accounting within different industries.
Rather than working for larger firms or one of the Big 4 and feeling like I was over looked and lost in a crowd, I felt a medium sized firm offered me security, and the feeling that I was an important part of the team. It would also be able to offer me more responsibilities and the chance to climb the career ladder faster.
The most challenging aspect of my training is studying whilst working, and motivating myself to study after a long day at work. However, the euphoric feeling when all your knowledge falls into place, and you are able to apply all that you have learnt and the rewards from passing each exam, definitely make all the hard work worth it!
The most enjoyable part of my training has been the variety of clients I have worked for. Each day or week brings about new challenges and a new environment. The constant change and variety of work I am able to do definitely keep things interesting.
The main bit of advice I would give to someone just starting is “Do your homework”. Do extensive research of the type of company you want to work for, what the company can offer you and what you can offer the company.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because that is the only way to learn, and most of the time people are only too happy to help.
Arnaz Dumasia works for Alliotts Chartered Accountants.
Dane Phillips - Training as an ACA
Embarking on a training contract is not something to be taken lightly. The hours spent learning, revising, reviewing and attempting to apply the technical aspects and procedures of this trade cannot be understated. The weekends and weeknights sacrificed in the run up to ‘exam season’ will appear particularly strenuous.
Whether it is preparing for a progress test, or reviewing a prior year audit file, learning the accountancy trade will test your commitment, concentration, focus and understanding continuously throughout your training contract – upon qualification, you will then be told that the “real learning” is just beginning!
It is not all doom and gloom. As I come to the end of my training contract, I look back at the past three years and reflect upon the demanding process and consider whether it was all worthwhile.
I derive a real sense of satisfaction from being able to understand a business, its processes, risk areas and value drivers within minutes of being onsite. My role as an auditor has taken me to a number of different clients including alcohol manufacturers, frozen meat distributions, derivative brokers and social networking agents. No two clients are alike and every job presents new challenges to my continuing education and broadening business awareness.
The processing techniques I have accumulated, the contacts I have made and the varied challenges I have worked through, have provided me with many essential business lessons that you cannot learn in the classroom.
The responsibility and associated learning curve I faced from an early point in my career were what most attracted me to the mid-tier accountancy firm, a package I don’t see offered by the much larger entities.
Furthermore, I believe that the knowledge and practical skills I have developed as a trainee accountant will undoubtedly aid my future career prospects, whatever they may be.
Tanya McKnight's Story (Shipleys LLP)
After graduating, I spent a year working with student Christian Union groups through an organisation called UCCF. Towards the end of this year, I began considering longer-term careers, and Chartered Accountancy seemed to be perfect, allowing me to obtain a recognised life-long professional qualification which is easily transferable to other contexts and within other countries. So I applied to SWATUK and was offered a job with Shipleys LLP.
Training with a medium-sized firm has definitely been a wise decision providing a greater depth of experience through a wider range of clients. I've definitely benefited from working with clients on all levels, from audits on large manufacturing/retail companies to accounts preparation on sole trader businesses, and slightly less typical audit work on unit trusts, film and production companies, and solicitors.
Having studied for a degree in maths, I figured accountancy was probably a fairly suitable career path, but actually most people enter the profession from very different backgrounds. A substantial amount of the ACA is centred around accounting and auditing standards, and general commercial knowledge, therefore, exams often follow a more written format.
The ACA is a demanding course. Although the course work and exams are probably on a par with most university courses, the struggle comes from balancing a full-time job and the required study. There are other aspects to consider as well, such as the steep learning curve, learning to interact with clients and completion of work-based learning questions. Medium-sized firms, however, have a good number of students, so it's always easy to gain from the experience and understanding of others at similar levels of training. Most of the people within the firm have been through the ACA programme and remember what it's like, so they're always happy to take time to explain the work they're giving you.