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Dear Future Accountant - Barry Soraff's Story

Monday 22 November 2021

Written by Barry Soraff

Dear Future Accountant - Barry Soraff's Story

Dear Future Accountant,

There’s so much to learn from people in this business, from clients to colleagues…

I would say that my journey into accounting was much bumpier than just leaving school and joining my dad in the workplace. I went to the University of Warwick to study history and politics. At my young, naïve age, I thought I knew it all but after a long couple of weeks of partying and having fun at uni, I had this realisation that this had to go on for three years which I didn't think was right for me so, I went to speak to my dad, had a heart to heart with him, and explained that I didn’t know if I was on the right journey.

During our heart to heart, he asked what I wanted to do and I told him the truth and said I wanted to be an airline pilot...(don't laugh!). My dad offered me the option of coming to work for him (my dad was an accountant) until I sorted a few things out and the next thing you know, I’m a qualified accountant!

Like I mentioned before, my dad was an accountant and I wanted to be an airline pilot but, I lost that argument. When I started with my dad I knew that being an accountant had something to do with numbers but that was about it. I joined the profession at 18, so I didn’t know much about the real world and this job gave me a huge culture shock. I guess that being an accountant is a mystical job in many aspects anyways, no one knows much about the job apart from the fact that they need an accountant if they run a business! Joining the profession my very first task was to make cups of tea for everyone, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t very good at it and I don’t think people enjoyed my tea very much, so I probably should've perfected that skill.

I qualified at 22 as a chartered accountant, it usually takes 3-5 years.  I started from the bottom and had to do all the exams necessary. Whilst I could have done a degree, degrees aren’t essential and University isn’t for everyone. You can get into this profession through evening classes and even work experience. Having a good grasp of numbers is great, however, you’ll only be good at the job if you are excited and passionate about it. If you enjoy seeing the behind the scenes of businesses and people’s lives, then this job could be for you. The reality is, you can teach anyone to be an accountant, but it’ll only work if you love doing it.

I guess the juicy bit everyone loves to know about being an accountant is that you can earn a decent living. Apart from the financial side, the biggest reward about my job is that every single day we are helping people. We as accountants are almost like counsellors because we are the first port of call for our client’s business and personal problems and helping others feels amazing.

I’ll never forget when I first got into the profession, I would go out and people would ask me what I do, I would always lie because one of two things always happens:

  1. They move away because they think I’m boring which is harsh
  2. They would gain interest because they want me to sort out a tax problem for them

So, guess what? I used to tell people I was an airline pilot (my way of living the dream), which did start to get messy when people started to get fascinated by it and asked lots of questions.

From when I first got into the profession, it’s has transformed more than you could possibly imagine. When I first joined there was this scary document that was circling called ‘The 2005 Research’. It was a 15-year forward look of what 2005 was going to be like. It told us that we, as accountants, would be obsolete and that computers would take our jobs and we would need to evolve or disappear.

2005 came along and we did evolve, the world moved so quickly, some jobs were a thing in 1991 that don’t even exist anymore. Technology has drastically changed the accountancy profession and lockdown has taken it to a whole other level. There are always new things with technology, it drives our business and helps us to drive our clients' businesses forward too. With all the changes, one thing is certain and that is that regardless of the change, business owners will always need an accountant and advisor to help them stay on top of their finances and achieve their goals.

Ultimately, accountancy firms are a people business and if you want to get into the profession then patience will be essential because you always must start at the bottom and work your way up. Teamwork is crucial, we are always working with people so prepare yourself to be able to talk to people openly and honestly.

Take care and good luck!

Barry Soraff

Partner

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