• Name: Ashley Openshaw
  • Job Title: Trainee Chartered Accountant
  • Location: London
  • University: Birmingham
  • Degree: MSci Mathematics
  • Areas of Specialism: Audit and Assurance

Career Path

I started studying Mathematics at the University of Birmingham in 2017 and graduated 4 years later. I immediately started looking for jobs and was split between data science and accounting. As I was interviewing for various roles I found that I enjoyed the accounting interviews more and that they resonated with my interests. There was clear career progression and a level 7 qualification (equivalent to a Masters degree) in an industry with lots of opportunities and variety. My interview at Barnes Roffe solidified my decision into becoming an accountant. Simon (one of our partners) tailored the questions to my experiences which allowed me to think about the practical aspects of accounting while also showing how friendly the firm is. We also joked about football which humanised him since it can be quite daunting to be interviewed by a figure of authority. I have since spent 2 years at Barnes Roffe while studying the ACA qualification and constantly learning and gaining experience.

My Qualifications

While studying Mathematics at university, I chose some finance modules to give myself more options once I graduated. Although these did not qualify for any ACA exemptions, which some university courses do, they were directly applicable to some of the ACA professional exams. I have currently completed 12 out of the 15 ACA exams. My final three exams will be in November 2023 at which point I will be exam qualified. This is a huge stepping stone since it is proof that you have significantly developed as an accountant and gives others confidence in your abilities.

My Current Role

As a semi-senior auditor I have a mix of roles. Normally I will be assisting the audit senior on jobs by performing tests and completing audit schedules across the whole audit file. This keeps it interesting since you gain experience in all the different areas rather than focus on a sole section. I have also started to lead audits as the audit senior. This involves delegating work to the audit juniors, ensuring the audit progresses as expected, and developing solutions to issues discovered during the audit. A key part of being a senior is to help the audit juniors, especially since Barnes Roffe is a training firm. We were all juniors once so we can remember struggling with certain areas or not having the accounting knowledge to get to a solution. Fortunately, everyone is very happy to help whether that be to impart our knowledge when they are unaware or to give them our tips and tricks to make their lives easier.

Future Plans

My short-term plans are to focus on my next set of exams so that I will be exam-qualified by the end of the year. Exams are tough but if you take them seriously, work hard, and remember you have peers experiencing them with you who can help then passing them is very achievable. I have already started considering how I can show my worth at the firm and how my progression will look. Barnes Roffe has a clear career path to becoming a manager and eventually partner. The 6 monthly appraisals help with progressions and the managers and partners that conduct them are happy to help guide you and ensure that you are making the most of opportunities.


The best advice I can give is to remember that you are not alone. Everyone at the firm will have been in your position and is happy to help. It can be hard to start a new job and a new qualification, especially if that involves moving city where you don’t know anyone (like I did!) but Barnes Roffe make it easy to transition to this new stage of life. For exams, there will be other graduates that you can lean on for support and for the social side, Barnes Roffe host many activities throughout the year with the most notable ones being the Christmas Social and the Summer Ball. We are also quite fond of going to the pub after work on a Friday where you can get to know people better outside of the work environment!

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