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.
This month has been a really great one. It’s been hot, there have been barbeques, birthdays, bank holidays (although sadly the last one of the year until Christmas Day – scary!). The month began with me receiving my final AAT result and I am now over the moon to tell you that I am AAT qualified leaving me ready to take my next big step into the world of ACCA. Read this post
The recent release of this year’s A Level results caught my attention when I heard that a record 401,000 applicants had been accepted for undergraduate courses within 24 hours of receiving their results, that’s 9% higher than last year.
When fees were trebled to £9,000 in 2012 many expected that more students would opt instead for higher level apprenticeships, which provide workplace experience and a professional qualification. I was surprised then to discover that recent findings by the AAT showed that 81% of parents are unaware that a higher apprenticeship is an university-level qualification. Read this post
As an Accelerate trainee, I am set to endure 5 years of training and exams, with the exams only getting harder, meaning that the preparation only gets tougher. With this in mind I have really relished having a whole month exam and revision free, while I await my final AAT exam result with the hope that by the end of the summer I will be AAT qualified and ready to step full of energy and enthusiasm into the next stage of my journey at Grant Thornton – studying to become a chartered accountant with the ACCA. Read this post
First thing’s first, I got my Personal Tax results and passed! With this big weight off my mind I headed off for a week in Ibiza to relax and not be tempted to look at my emails.
On my return to the office for the first time in a month, I got stuck into some audit planning work. An audit consists of planning, fieldwork and concluding stages. When you begin life as an audit trainee at Grant Thornton you are thrown straight into the middle part, the fieldwork.
Many of you may have already become familiar with Nick’s Diary over the last few months. I have pleasure in starting my own monthly diary entries so you can get an insight into the daily workings of an Accelerate Trainee.
I, along with many other trainees at Grant Thornton, have been tweeting for a good few months now, with my particular aim being to try and give you a taste of what life is like as an Audit Accelerate trainee.
Many people are aware of the Graduate schemes offered by many firms, and universities put a lot of energy into ensuring their students know what is out there for them. However with university fees rising there is a lot more interest in the other options available. One such option that I chose to take was to join Grant Thornton straight from college as an audit trainee. Through this diary I aim to give you more of an insight into life as an Accelerate trainee.
In the past month we have entered the ‘busy’ season which Phil wrote a blog about last week. I have certainly felt the squeeze moving from one client to the next with no time in-between. This has included carrying out the various admin tasks that build up when you are out at a client’s site, such as filling out job review forms, assessing how we have performed on jobs, and even the simple things like booking holiday! Having said that it has been an exciting time. I have worked across Suffolk and Essex over the past month from technology clients to haulage firms, and carried out my first solo audit. Although this was a daunting task, it was a good one to dive into. I had worked on the audit last year as an assistant, so I was familiar with the surroundings and as I got stuck in I found the week flew past!
Alongside the busy audit schedule, I had the dreaded task of completing my ICAS project. This is a project completed at Level 4 AAT, assessing the internal controls of a company and making recommendations to reduce the risk of fraudulent activity occurring within their company. I find that I am more of an exam person, so the prospect of doing a project had been looming over me since Christmas. This month therefore I decided to bust it out, which involved a couple of Saturdays of hard graft, after which all had been submitted and just yesterday I received confirmation of a pass!
My favourite part of the last month though was travelling up to London for my first Spilling the Beans team day where I got the chance to meet the team and have a fun day of sharing ideas, planning our paths for the next six months and eating doughnuts! We also had our Quarterly Business update in the office which involved colleagues coming down from London to present to us about how the firm is moving forward and interestingly to encourage us in the use of social media.
So now I look ahead to another busy month, broken up by college where I will be studying for my Business Tax exam (thankfully without the worry of the ICAS project looming over me) and hopefully with a promise of some sun ? I remember when we used to have a thing called seasons, I quite liked those…
For those of you who follow my account on Twitter (and if you don’t here is a shameless plug, @GT_Phil) you may have seen my delight in receiving my final AAT exam result a couple of weeks back. So in keeping with Nick’s recent blog theme on exam tips, I thought this might be a good opportunity to reflect on my time as an AAT student and hopefully give those of you applying for our Accelerate programme some useful insight for your interviews.
AAT differs slightly in course structure to other professional qualifications in that you tend to have a day in college each week, rather than attending for blocks of weeks at a time. I find this keeps things varied, helps to break up the working week and consolidate on new concepts learnt in the office or out at a client. This can be particularly important when first getting to grips with audit or tax; many things are unfamiliar and you will find yourself heading back to work with increasing confidence.
You can find out about the AAT in more detail on their website (AATs website) but briefly the qualification encompasses two levels across a two year training contract. Accelerate trainees start on level 3, which gives a solid grounding in bookkeeping, basic management accounting, VAT and professional ethics. Coming straight from school the leap into working life can be a large and rather daunting one, but I feel that the level and rigour of study was more than manageable in the context of adapting to the professional environment.
By the time I moved onto level 4 I was more than settled into my role in Audit and the topics we started to cover at college both built on the level 3 grounding and helped me to see the links between various aspects of the work I was doing more clearly. I found during those first few months there can often be a feeling of working through a process but not always being able to understand why you are doing it. This is absolutely fine when you have just started but as your responsibility and experience grows it is important to marry the two together, which level 4 helps you to do. More often than not you will think of a question at work one day, go into college the next and have it answered. In addition, the exams and work experience you take at this level can give you a head start for further qualifications. I’m hoping to start my ACA in January and will have 5.5 exemptions to carry over plus 9 months of professional time, perfect!
One of the other benefits to the AAT qualification is that it is a really good chance to meet trainee accountants working outside of practice, at Kaplan Leeds this ranges from the local council to the local abattoir (hope never to have to stocktake that one!). The type of work you do as trainee can vary significantly depending on your industry so it is good to listen to the experience of others, particularly as they may end up being a client of yours somewhere down the line.
I’d like to end by directing you towards the new Accelerate section of the recruitment website where you can read the thoughts of some of our school leavers across the country. Most are also on Twitter so you can follow and quiz them on what they are up to.
Good luck with your applications and as always the forums are open here for your questions.AA