After progressing from being a student with little idea what to do to being a partner in a leading accountancy firm, Roberto Lobue provides advice for graduates thinking about going into accountancy.
Why did you choose a career in chartered accountancy?
I went into university not really sure about what I wanted to do as a career. I ended up studying Management Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London simply because of the flexibility that the course offered. I was able to do modules on Marketing, HR, IT as well as accountancy and financial management and I figured that as well as gaining a broad range of skills, at some stage I would have this amazing epiphany and find the career I was destined for.
The reality wasn’t that straight forward and I remember going into my final year still panicking and unclear about the future. I found I had a natural aptitude and got my best marks in the accountancy and finance modules so I started researching the chartered accountancy qualification and the more I read the more I liked.
I also knew I wanted to work in the business world in some capacity and facts such as that over 50% of UK FTSE 100 companies have an ICAEW Chartered Accountant as chairman, CEO or CFO helped seal my choice.
Once I made that choice, I then had to decide on the size of firm I wanted to join as this has an impact on the type of training and experience you will receive. I wanted somewhere large enough to provide me with variety and career opportunities but small enough so that I would receive the necessary personal attention during my training.
I was lucky enough to get job offers from several firms which met this criteria and I joined Menzies because I liked the feel of the firm and the support and development opportunities they provide to graduates. I have been there ever since!
What is a typical day like for you?
I am a Partner at Menzies now which means that I have a portfolio of varied clients that I am responsible for and my days involve looking after them and making sure they get the best possible service. I head up Menzies French desk which means that I get a lot of enquiries from businesses and individuals living in France who are looking to set up in the UK which is both challenging and fun.
Along with clients, I have various firm and office responsibilities so as well as helping clients with their businesses, I spend time focusing on how we can obtain new clients, develop our own staff and improve our business.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It sounds corny but I like helping people and the thing that I enjoy most about my job is that it gives me an opportunity to do that on a regular basis.
I spend a lot of my time getting questions and queries from my clients and to be able to make strategic plans and find solutions which help them grow and develop their business is incredibly rewarding.
It’s a similar situation with staff. Menzies is a great firm to work for and I was fortunate enough to receive a lot of help and guidance as I progressed so it’s really enjoyable to be on the other side of that and see bright, hard-working people coming through the ranks and being able to advise them and help them achieve their career aspirations.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into accountancy?
Go into it with your eyes open and find out as much as you can to make sure it’s for you. The exams are tough. They require a lot of hard work and dedication but the rewards are worth it.
Secondly, ignore the clichés. Some people think that if you are good at maths, you will be good at accountancy and that all we do is spend all day staring at our calculators but the reality is nothing like that.
With rapid improvements in technology, the most important thing is actually to have good inter-personal skills and be able to really understand your client’s business so you can identify and explain the advice that is most suitable to them.
Finally, find a firm that is friendly and provides you with the environment that you are looking for. You spend so much of your week at work, it’s important that you find somewhere where you are happy and enjoying what you do.