Degree: LLB Law 2:1 (London School of Economics)
Any additional information or qualifications: I am now part qualified having completed the professional stage of the ACA exams.
Job title: Associate/ Trainee Chartered Accountant – CRA International, London
Why did you choose chartered accountancy? I chose to embark on a career in chartered accountancy due to the broad range of skills that the role and the training help to develop and because it provides the ability to study for a professional qualification which, in itself, can open up a wide range of career opportunities. Having researched the different areas of accountancy, I found Forensic Accounting to be the most appealing. Forensic Accounting appeared to offer a different slant on the profession. It is one of the most rapidly growing and exciting areas in accountancy due to the broad variety of work which continually keeps you interested and motivated, in addition to the high level of involvement required from the outset.
Why did you choose the ACA? If pursuing a career in the accountancy field, there are many qualifications to choose from whether it be the ACA, ACCA, ICAS or CIMA. Since each type of qualification differs, it is important to think carefully about which qualification to undertake and to research the preferences of each individual firm. I chose the ACA largely because I was keen to have the security of training for a highly recognised and prestigious qualification. Not only is the ICAEW the largest professional accountancy body in Europe, but it is estimated that 80% of FTSE 100 companies have at least one ACA as a finance director or chief executive on the board. It is a difficult qualification to achieve but that is also why it is worth having.
How did you choose your training firm? In my view it is extremely important to think carefully at the beginning of your career as to exactly what you as an individual are looking for, and when considering which company to join, to ensure you choose a company that will suit you. It is quite easy to overlook such issues when focussed on finding your first graduate position. When choosing my training firm, I sought to find a firm that offered my preferred qualification, the ACA, and which worked exclusively in forensic accounting, therefore avoiding the many conflicts of interest that hamper the ability of larger firms to take on some work. Moreover, I felt that the atmosphere in a slightly smaller firm would suit me best as I wanted a wide exposure and the opportunity to develop more quickly than would have been possible within a larger firm.
What is the most difficult aspect of your training? The most difficult aspect of my training is undoubtedly the exams that I am carrying out as part of my ACA qualification, which, as a graduate trainee I am contracted to pass. I attend training courses at FTC Kaplan during office hours. The courses are spread over several weeks and the tutoring and support provided by the college is excellent and supported by on-the-job training. Although not extremely difficult, it can occasionally be difficult to balance work and study. Fortunately, my training firm, CRA International is supportive and work pressures rarely interfere with study. It really helps to work in a firm that places a heavy emphasis on the training and development of their trainees and this again highlights the importance of thinking carefully when deciding which employer to choose.
What would your words of advice be for anyone considering a career in chartered accountancy? My advice to anyone considering a career in the accountancy field is, firstly, not to be deterred if they lack an accountancy or finance related background. Having completed my degree in Law, I thought I would be at a disadvantage for that reason. However, many who embark on the ACA qualification are from a diverse range of academic backgrounds and this is in no way a drawback. In addition, I would advise all to carefully research their chosen area of accountancy, their preferred qualification and the firms to which they will be applying by attending as many career fairs as possible and through company websites, for example.
What are you looking to do once you’ve qualified? Since I am extremely content at CRA International, I hope to continue my career here once qualified. I cannot see myself branching into another area of accountancy as the area of forensics is so wide-ranging that it would be very difficult for me to become uninterested! Moreover, I know that there will be plenty of opportunities for me at CRA. Progression through CRA is based on merit and rewards provided for good quality work. Since the practice is a subsidiary of CRA International, opportunities are available worldwide as are secondments to public regulatory bodies in this country such as the SFO, FSA, and DTI.
What would you like to be doing in five years time? Ideally in five years time, I would like to be a Senior Associate at CRA managing my own projects concerning such complex issues as insider dealing, Plc valuations, high profile and high value divorces, major product liability claims, asset tracing, determination of quantum and more. Provided I am continually given the opportunity to learn and to work on interesting cases, I am sure I will be pleased.