Tag Archives: ACA

Being an in-charge at Grant Thornton

“The price of greatness is responsibility” – Winston Churchill

Having now been at Grant Thornton for over a year and a half, one of my objectives this year was to in-charge a small audit before Christmas. So a few weeks ago I had my first in-charge job – objective…Tick!

So OK, being an in-charge is not quite on Winston Churchill’s levels of ‘responsibility’… Read this post

Exams – The Double Edged Sword

Whether its ACA, ACCA, AAT, ATT, CTA, FIA or CIPFA, a big part of your life as a Grant Thornton trainee is studying and taking exams (and it seems, learning acronyms). How you study for your qualification will vary; it may be via day release or a block of time away from work at college or out at our training centre in Bradenham (where Kaplan college come to us to teach the tax qualifications, rather than the other way around).  What is common throughout, however, is the effort required.

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#WWYAB – Seizing Opportunities

One of the most important things for me of working at a large firm such as Grant Thornton is the opportunities that are presented to you. From my induction at Talent 12, I remember our CEO, Scott Barnes, telling us that we are all responsible for shaping our own future. I feel the way each of us can best do this is to work extremely hard along the way and continue to look to challenge ourselves.

My advice for all trainees is…

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Settling into London Life…

Hi, I’m Sapna and I have lived in London for over three years now, but working in the financial services industry in London is very different to the university life I once had here. It has been just over two months since I started working in the London Finsbury Square office as an associate in the financial services tax team. The first couple of months seem to have gone so quickly from full working days to social events in the evenings, and now the joys of revision for my ACA exams. Read this post

Nick’s Diary – May 2013

The nature of the life of a trainee is that, for a couple of months a year, we leave the office and head over to college for study and revision for exams. As mentioned in my last blog, April was a month spent in front of books as I completed my final CTA stage. For May, it’s the ACA trainees turn to be out of the office as they prepare for June and July exams.

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The Evolving ACA

I wrote a blog on 19 September 2012 which explained the ACA as I have experienced it. I ended the blog by briefly mentioning that the ACA qualification is constantly evolving and adapting to the changing needs of businesses and the needs of its members. I have written this blog specifically for those applying to do the ACA qualification post July 2013 as there have been a few changes announced to the course structure.

As before there are still three stages to the qualification, however the names given to the first two stages have changed from Professional Stage Knowledge and Professional Stage Application to Certificate Level and Professional Level respectively.

On the Certificate level the only noticeable change is that the accounting paper style of questions is more similar to that found in the second stage. This is just one of many changes, which have been made to the exam structure so that the move from one stage to another is smoother and free from sudden changes in style and difficulty.

The changes found in the professional stage are much more significant. The qualification appears to be evolving to include more tax, this is partly so that the qualification continues to appeal to tax trainees like myself and not just auditors, management accounts or business analysts etc. That said, they have not added an extra exam, instead they have merged Financial Accounting and Reporting into one longer exam and have split the old tax exam into once Tax Compliance paper and a Business Tax Planning paper.

This change appears to be part of a wider movement which could see the ACA and Chartered Institute of Taxation (CTA – what many see as the gold standard of tax qualifications) creating a qualification which once passed allows students to apply for membership of both the ICAEW (ACA) and CIOT (CTA). Reasons behind this joint programme are that it would reduce the cost of studying for both, reduce the time spent out of the office and removes any study overlap. In addition, employers can still remain confident that their students have gained all the relevant skills. As and when more details are released I will update you.

Finally there have also been some changes to the advanced stage. The two technical integration papers have been refined so that they allow students to become well practised in the skills necessary to pass the case study.

As such two major trends appear clear. One there is definitely a push for the ACA to continue to be an all rounded business qualification as such there is a clear move to include more taxation into the syllabus. Secondly, changes have been made to make the movement from one stage to the next smoother, so allowing the student to gradually develop and learn the necessary skills to become qualified.

Nick’s Diary – August 2012

August has played host to both ends of the enjoyment spectrum for me. As I ran hot off the heels of a Bradenham visit in July, I found myself with two weeks to get my CTA knowledge firing on all cylinders for another link exam. This time, the internal exam was for Awareness which is arguably the “easiest” of the four CTA exams I have to sit. For me, it involves having a broad understanding of corporation tax, inheritance tax and VAT as well as the ability to fire out 36 questions in three hours ? no mean feat!

From the moment I applied for my role, I had always accepted that CTA was the ultimate goal and that it was sure to be a momentous challenge. Now that I’m in the thick of it, it feels more challenging than it ever has previously and it’s clear to see why it’s such a highly regarded qualification. The training and support is superb, and I couldn’t pass the exams without them, but the personal sacrifice is something that has continued to surprise me ? the saving grace is I have that support, and a network of around 20 other trainees who are going through the same experience as me.

August also plays host to results day for ACA finalists and the Southampton office had a 100% pass rate to those sitting their final ‘case study’ exam. This then is a vital part of my development, as it is possible to be reminded regularly by my peers that the hard work will pay off. To those who have recently qualified as chartered accountants, congratulations!

Aside from the exams and studying, I’ve enjoyed gearing up with the Spilling the Beans team for the launch of the next round of applications where we’ve focused our attention on our location blog special blogs ? I hope they’ve helped you in your career choices. Other than being interesting, this is a welcome distraction and helps me to reaffirm why I chose this role back in 2009. Though this blog may give a more gritty insight into the challenge that is faced by completing these tough professional qualifications, take it from me, as a man surrounded by books, it’s worth the leap and it’s worth the effort. I only need to look at my peers to realise that.

I’m writing this blog on 3 September, which is launch day for our 2013-14 applications. I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate what I say at every careers fair, apply early, know what you’re applying for and be yourself. I wish everyone luck in their applications and encourage you to use the Spilling the Beans website and team where possible. No question is too modest and we’re always here to help, all you have to do is ask!

For the record, I passed the link exam and there are another two in September before I head off for five weeks of study leave, so it’s heads down as always and another reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel.