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calling all accountants or anyone who works in accounting and finance!

(11 Posts)
mummyofeb Sat 13-May-06 14:37:15

26 year old graduate and mum to ds 15 months.
Hated teaching so wanting to train in accountancy. Can't get a training contract, probably because of lack of relevant experience and lack of accountancy related academic background.

So thinking of doing AAT level 3 to start with to increase chances of being employed in the accountancy sector as I'm struggling to get past the application stage even for junior positions.

Good choice? Bad choice? Really need to use brain cells again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DominiConnor Mon 15-May-06 15:40:55

26 yo graduate in what ?

AccountantAnonymous Mon 15-May-06 15:49:30

Yep, these days there are graduates and there are graduates. Working studying accountancy to qualified accountant level is as hard as or possibly harder than getting a degree.

What is your degree in and where did you obtain your degree. These are things I look at when studying C.V.s to short list.

What did you hate about teaching ?

Accountancy involves working and training simultaneously and the pressure can be tremendous.

I have interviewed (and recommended for employment) people who have put themselves through AAT with a view to them studying ACCA or whatever when they get a job in accountancy itself.

mummyofeb Mon 15-May-06 21:41:46

AA,
I did a degree in mathematics at the University of Warwick. Yes, sounds impressive but not when I add that I didn't get a 2:1 although I do have AAB at A level and good GCSEs.

I did not like teaching because I don't enjoy the disciplining bit and being around stroppy hormonal teenagers. So it's not the teaching that's the problem, after 3 years and one promotion, I think I've added what I can to teaching maths and have no intention with being head of department or head of year (more behaviour issues to deal with!)

Yes, I have read lots of literature on training to be a chartered accountant and I am fully aware that it is demanding and that it will be even more so with ds not being in school.

So, AA what types of qs would you ask at an interview for someone wanting to train as aca? What type of candidates would stand out? Any other advice you can give me?

DominiConnor Tue 16-May-06 09:23:47

As it happens we like Warwick, is on our list...
Don't suppose you did any programming ?

PiccadillyCircus Tue 16-May-06 09:31:42

I am an accountant who used to be a teacher. I only taught for about a year before realising that it was taking over my whole life and that I couldn't do it any more.

I did a Chemistry degree, and also had good A Levels. When I applied to be an accountant, I was 25, and applied to a lot of firms, big 5 (as it was then), medium sized and small. I got interviews at the majority of them and would have got second interviews at most of them although I liked the first place and accepted the position there.

I'm not sure what it was that made places like me - I did get a 2:1 which probably helped. From what I remember, the UCAS points you get are very important, even more so than degree as they are supposed to show what your success at ACA will be better than a degree.

I didn't have any accountanc experience, or accountancy background.

What size of firms are you applying to?

I will say that I am glad I trained before having children (although I was pregnant during some of my exams). It is HARD work.

foxinsocks Tue 16-May-06 09:39:56

yes, I must say I ended up starting my training contract while doing my last year of accountancy and my good gawd it was hard work (like 7 days a week hard work) - however, you will probably get given some study time if you get a contract.

Have you sent your CV far and wide (i.e. not only the big 4)?

AccountantAnonymous Tue 16-May-06 11:10:05

Unfortunately as practically every C.V. is from a graduate these days, I would be hesitant about anything below a 2:1, unless other things on the C.V. made up for it. I would however consider a 2:2 in maths from a university such as Warwick on a par with a 2:1 in a less accademic subject from a less well known/newer university. If interviewing however I might well ask why you got a 2:2 and not a 2:1. I sometimes had to explain this at interview when I was applying for a training contracts, way back in the 80's because I personally have a desmond (2:2) in an applied science degree.
I know it's hypocritical of me to judge like this but the amount of 2:1 graduates out there today has to be seen to be believed when we invite applications for a job in a provincial city. If you were my age or less than 5 years younger and applying for a job I'd consider an interview at 2:2 level.

Having been harsh on this point however, I can think of two very successful people employed in the last 4/5 years with no degree at all. One had dropped out of a pure science degree at a very good university within the first year because she fell pregnant and one had gone straight to work at the age of 18 but both had gone for AAT training and are now getting to the end of ACCA training. The O Level/GCSE & A Levels and work experience histories of both showed that they were very bright and hard working. Because we are a small firm we can be flexible about interviewing graduates and non-graduates side by side and tailoring the interview/salary and training package accordingly when we feel we have a suitable right person in our sights. (I once worked for a much larger organisation that trained me in reading between the lines and picking over C.V.s other than by selecting at 2:1 and higher only).

I would say consider small/medium sized firms and may be even ask to speak to someone at each form for an informal chat.

What I would ask would depend entirely on the C.V. and applicant, I personally think that sticking to exactly the same list of questions for all interviewees does not leave you with a good enough understanding of some compared to others, merely there ability to answer an interview type question and I need to know whether the person can really do what their C.V. states they can and whether the'd fit in and get on well with staff/clients. Interpersonal skills can be sorely lacking in some accountants.

Because it is a pressured job at times and adding in exams (particularly if you really want to go for the added value gold standard 'ACA') I'd want to know how you were going to manage this in addition to being mum to a toddler. We have asked some very politically incorrect questions at times but we would defend ourselves in that we are trying to let candidates know what they are letting themselves in for. Before anyone jumps on me for this, we almost always end up employing women (we are desperate for a good successful male candidate, next time we look to recruit, to redress the balance) and we are extremely flexible about parental needs but we need to be sure that the candidates are being realistic about what they can achieve without home or work life suffering unduly.

mummyofeb Tue 16-May-06 12:01:26

AA,
I totally get what you are saying when you warn me how tough it will be especially with a toddler. I might even accept the fact that there is no way that I can do an ACA training contract when DS is not in school. This is why I'll accept work at a slightly junior level, hence AAT before going for the full monty.

Also, I live in the North East. It seems as is not many people here have degrees and having done some research on the practices here. Many of them don't have degrees and some are not even qualified!!!!!

I've spoken to various employers and friends who are accountants themselves. Some advised me against AAT as I have a degree, yet others have suggested if I started AAT off my own back then at least it shows that I am determined to get into accountancy. As I'm not employed at present, is AAT something that one can do whilst not at work. At least in the early stages? I do intend to get work soon.

AccountantAnonymous Tue 16-May-06 12:28:01

Totally agree with your thoughts behind starting AAT, it would make you more employable as you'd have some accountancy/bookkeeping basics under your belt.

One of our non-graduate employees started AAT whilst not working (and was single mum to a primary school aged daughter) but I think she got some sort of assistance with it as training to enhance her employability. This is some years ago now though. She also worked part-time later in an undemanding completely unrelated job and just kept studying and applying for accountancy jobs with training support. She completed the AAT whilst working part-time with us which suited us just fine at the time , went on to ATT (tax exams) and is now almost through ACCA but works full-time plus the little bits of unpaid overtime that are par for the course in accountancy practices.

She is a star performer at the moment and I'm so glad I had the training and confidence/curiosity to pick out her non-graduate C.V. and shortlist her for interview. We give pay rises based on work performance and not by graduate/other status (although it helps to keep passing exams0 and I'm told she is very happy with the way things have worked out too.

Don't give up. If you you registered as unemployed or jobseeking are there any training opportunities open to people such as yourself, most local colleges offer AAT courses, some in the evenings and I think you can do it as correspondence course (distance learning) too. It may just take longer than being at college regularly.

mummyofeb Tue 16-May-06 20:25:45

Many thanks for everyone who commented. They have been very encouraging and very helpful.

I'll make a list of qs now for the AAT interview next week.

Thanks again everyone!

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