Dear Future Accountant,
At age seven I wanted to be a fireman and then when I got older I thought I wanted to follow the medical path like my brother, however, I soon realised that my skills in science weren’t necessarily the strongest. I had always had a keen interest in maths, and whilst my beloved late father never forced me, he did gently point me in the direction of accountancy.
During school, I did my GCSE’s and A-Levels in maths, English, and economics and after my A-Levels, I took the degree route into accounting. When I was younger, I thought that university was absolutely vital, and whilst that’s the route I took, there are many ways to get into accounting and I feel that if you are going into the university route, don’t use university as a steppingstone, just do it for educational purposes.
If you decide you want to go into the profession my advice would be to gain work experience so you can get a feel for the industry, and speak to people in the profession to get their advice. My first experience in the world of accountancy was with a partner firm in the city that I trained with, and I loved every minute of it.
The biggest misconception about my job is that you must be good with numbers. Whilst maths is a key part and it’s great to be comfortable with numbers, as you progress through the profession, you do less of the accounts stuff and more on the advisory part. The advisory part is more challenging but more rewarding. In hindsight, I also believe it would have been wise to spend some time focusing on developing my people skills because ultimately, people buy people!
The best part of the job is that we are constantly helping people. There are so many ways you can make a real impact on other people's lives when you are an accountant. You can help people achieve their goals both personally and professionally. You can help people rebalance their lives and balance out work and play. You can also help them in the more traditional way, whereby their business is in trouble and you get it recovered and back on its feet.
Another decision budding Accountants will need to make is, do I work in practice, or in the industry? I haven’t always worked in practice. When I was 24/25, I worked in industry for 5 years and ended up as a financial director for a company. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much about Commerce which I can bring to the table in my job today, but unlike industry, working in a practice is more diverse which means no two days are the same.
No matter what route you choose to go down or what career path you take, the main advice I can give is that throughout your journey, have a never-ending and dying thirst for knowledge. Don’t think that you know everything, I'm still learning and I've been doing this for a very, very long time.