We have the pleasure of welcoming guest blogger Beth-Anne Bruce to talk about her journey in Accountancy. Interested in exploring the career path? Find out Beth’s top tips for students, what skills are currently sought after in the industry from graduates, and how her career journey looked like, to become an ACCA Chartered Accountant.
A little about me
Hi! My name is Beth-Anne, and I’m a qualified ACCA Chartered Accountant at The Accountancy Partnership. Outside my work, my hobbies include taking woodland walks with my partner and nephew at the weekends (as Boris has confined us to our homes for the time being), and cross-stitching.
Once we are safely allowed out, I love to eat out, so I will be hitting all the bars and restaurants I can, whilst seeing friends and family I haven’t really seen much of over the last year.
My journey to accounting
I have worked in the accounting sector for nearly 6 years, starting as an apprentice and working up to Accounts Senior at my current practice. I have studied the AAT in full and I’ve also been ACCA qualified for just over a year now, with all studying completed alongside working full time. I was always good with numbers and knew I wanted to either teach Maths or become an accountant. Failing my Maths degree was a kick in the teeth, but after taking a longer than planned break, I started studying for the AAT qualification in 2013.
I applied to most local practices in my area as a volunteer at first, before I was (finally!) offered an apprenticeship instead. To me this was a win, as not only was I now working in the sector I wanted to, but I was also getting paid to do it. I realised very quickly this was what I was meant to do. Within 3 months I was on a full wage, and getting praise from the directors, giving me work they didn’t think I would be undertaking in such a short time.
I am now in my second practice, fully qualified with no immediate plans to continue my studies at this time. Part of my role here is to train other new employees and get them to be independent accountants within the practice.
Interested to learn about the world of Accounting? Then head over to our KEATS Sector Guides!
What energises me? It’s all about the connections
The main thing that gets me excited about my work is the people that I work with. The knowledge between everyone in the workplace is vast, and if there is something you aren’t sure of, guaranteed someone else will be. You make friends for life in workplaces too, and you can all geek out over maths together!
Another thing would be the clients in general. You know these individuals in a professional capacity, but when you make a genuine connection with someone you have helped and advised, the gratitude you can receive is amazing and makes you feel wonderful and realise you’re in the right place.
You don’t always need a Uni degree for an Accounting career
I don’t have a degree in accounting, but the AAT and ACCA qualifications have prepared me with knowledge and an understanding that I can pass on to others in a peer and training format. That being said, a lot of my experience has been gained on the job, from coming across certain situations and learning to deal and advise as appropriate. Training at the same time as studying particularly helped for tax topics, as I deal with tax daily, so felt this gave me an advantage in my work.
In-demand & emerging skillsets in the industry today
In terms of the skills relevant for this industry, understanding numbers and having a passion for Maths I would say is particularly sought after, and you will not be disappointed I promise! The maths understanding really helps in terms of tax, working out what’s best for the client in terms of tax efficiencies, and working out tax liabilities etc.
The use of cloud accounting and general computer software, such as Excel is a must. Everything is online these days, so if you don’t have the relevant computer skills, it will take much longer to grasp this, and the accounting processes required daily.
Another thing that students may want to think about is specialising in a specific tax area, such as VAT for example. With Brexit, all the changes made to VAT once we left the EU have been a struggle for general UK accountants including myself. Someone who is a specialist in UK VAT, with an emphasis on Brexit, would be snapped up so quickly I imagine at this time!
My advice for students
As I said above, if you have a passion for numbers, analysis, problem-solving (yes, and Maths!) this career path will not disappoint.
My days are always different as well, so get out of your head that accountancy is boring! The sheer variety of clients I see and speak with on a weekly/monthly basis is unreal, from construction companies to consultancy businesses, to chip shops and manufacturing firms. And each type of company will require a certain knowledge base, so I can be advising on capital gains tax in one email, and then on dividends versus salary in the next. It never gets boring!
I would say that accountancy goes hand in hand with learning and CPD, as tax rates and thresholds change annually, there are always more standards being added, and so you will always need to be in a position to update your knowledge in these areas quickly. Brexit has been the biggest most recent change, and some parts of this have drastically changed what I myself am used to. So, adapting to the changing world is a biggie in this industry.
If you’d like to explore more case studies about careers in Accountancy, our KEATS event recordings are a great place to start! And to help you build those industry relevant skills, why not read about developing your employability, with the help of our online resources.
Written by Beth-Anne Bruce, The Accountancy Partnership
Edited by Laura Patari