Within the accountancy practice world, the number of jobs out there for part-qualified and newly-qualified accountants is only going up. The majority of our clients understand the value in hiring candidates starting out in their career, a few exams in, or making that step from trainee to chartered accountant. This can be quite a daunting move for trainees to make and, for some, it can mean paying clawbacks (although not if you’re doing the Level 7 apprenticeship!). For others it can symbolise the start of a long and hopefully rewarding career as a qualified accountant.
This interview series is designed to give you an insight into the reasons behind why people move during their studies or why they are keen to move once gaining their ACA / ACCA / CTA qualifications. (For advice on which qualifications might be best for you, check out Georgina’s blog “I want to become an Accountant but what qualifications should I choose?”)
If you didn't get the chance to read our first interview, check it out here.
About the interviewee: This interviewee is studying the ACA with a boutique independent firm in Brighton. With just 12 months practice experience, she knows what it’s like for the impression at an interview and the reality of the role to be quite different things!
What first interested you in a career in accountancy?
I chose to work in accounting because I liked the scope of work that accountancy had to offer and the balance between office work and client facing work.
With so many options out there (AAT, ATT, ACA, ACCA, CTA), how did you decide which accountancy qualification you wanted to study?
I didn’t really have a choice as to what qualification I would study, my employer chose for me, but I’m very happy that I am studying the ACA.
Were you fussy with the type of accountancy firm you wanted to work for? E.g. Big 4, top 10, small independent boutique.
I never had a preference, this early on in my career I feel being able to get the experience and complete the qualification is far more important. In the long run, it really doesn’t matter where you do it.
How do you find juggling studying the ACA with your day to day audit and accounts work?
If I’m totally honest, I have very rarely found the time to study during weekdays, it’s tricky after a long day at work. All my study is done on weekends or days which have been booked off. This reinforces the need to find a firm that really will support you and not ask for 14 hour days whilst you’re a trainee.
Why did you decide to change accountancy firms during your ACA studies?
I decided to change firms during my studies so that I could benefit from a better balance between working, studying and my personal life. Studying the ACA is a big commitment and reducing my travel time was just one way that I make life easier for myself!
Were there any penalties for changing jobs part qualified and, if so, was the move worth it?
I didn’t have to pay any clawbacks because I was studying on an apprenticeship scheme - as far as I know, money can’t be claimed back if you’re on such a scheme.
What benefits would you say you gained from changing firms half way through?
Changing firms has developed my accountancy network, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and as this is the first real time I’ve ever changed jobs - it’s definitely been a useful experience and process to go through. I also have more time to study in the evenings and less of a commute to work - this has a big impact on my work-life balance.
What one piece of advice would you give to people looking to embark on a career in accountancy?
Research which course you want to do and the different study options which are available as there is a pathway and a firm to suit everyone. Remember that the most important priority is to pass your exams, pick a firm that will ensure that gets done!
If you’re Part Qualified and looking for advice on what to do if you'd like to make a move, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Alice Hardy is a Principal Consultant in the Accountancy Division at Harvey John.
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