Peter has progressed from graduate trainee to partner, all whilst working at the same firm. He discusses working for a leading single-office accountancy firm and shares some of the perks of being an accountant.
I have spent the first part of the 21st century developing as an accountant with Rees Pollock. It has been worth it.
My career so far has seen many highs and some lows which have provided me with both fun and learning opportunities to help me to get to where I am today.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am currently an audit manager at Rees Pollock, due to become a partner later this year. My responsibilities include:
- On the client-facing side most of my work relates to audits, but I am also involved with tax compliance and providing various ad hoc advice to clients on a variety of issues including financial reporting and financial services.
- Internally I am personally responsible for overseeing the development of staff and often give training to junior members of the firm.
In October I will become a partner, the latest of a number of people who have joined Rees Pollock as graduates and gone on to become partners.
Tell us about how you got started
I joined Rees Pollock just over ten years ago having recently graduated from university. I had been for interviews at a number of firms, but Rees Pollock seemed the best fit for me. It was a small firm (at the time the firm had just five partners and around 30 staff), but the high academic entry requirements and starting salary on offer made it clear that the job would be at least as challenging as those on offer at bigger firms.
The flexibility of a small firm and the opportunity to work with bright people appealed to me and it was apparent from the interview process (which was relaxed but probing and quite dissimilar to the interviews at other firms) that the firm’s approach to personal development is tailored to individual needs and not constricted by a set of standard procedures.
How have things progressed since then?
Since I joined the firm has grown somewhat – there are now eight partners and around 60 staff and the firm occupies plush new offices next to Blackfriars tube station – but the firm still has the same friendly atmosphere. As well as being an audit manager I am also a regular goal scorer for the firm’s 5-a-side football team and, at the time of writing, I hold the title of Rees Pollock 5,000m champion. While these are not directly related to my day-to-day work, they do give me bragging rights in the pub!
What does your job involve doing?
There is obviously a fair amount of hard work involved in my job. Client deadlines have to be met and this will sometimes involve a few late nights (April is usually a particularly busy time). Generally though, the work/life balance of the job is good and compares well to other city jobs.
A typical day for me will involve a lot of interaction, both with clients and colleagues. As the main point of contact for most of my clients, I will receive various queries by phone or email each day and these have to be dealt with in a timely manner. On any week I will usually have two or three teams of colleagues involved in client audits and it is my responsibility to liaise with them regularly to ensure things are going smoothly.
Why should anyone want to be an accountant?
For anyone interested in a career in business, an accountancy qualification is a useful thing to have. A three year training contract is a great way to get a broad business background and the advantage is you don’t need to specialise in a particular area until you are a fair way into your career. Nowadays I am mainly focused on acting for financial services businesses, but for the first few years of my career I was able to be involved with clients in a variety of different industries.
Obviously no normal person grows up wanting to be an accountant but once you have dispensed with your childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut or a premier league footballer you may well find that accountancy starts to make sense.
Accountancy is not for everyone, but if you have a good analytical brain and are interested in a career in the services sector then you probably have an accountant inside you waiting to get out.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Be prepared to work hard but also be excited. You are about to get into an industry that can provide you with a variety of work, the chance to meet people and – most importantly – a lot of fun. There is no need to map out your entire career from day one – the important thing to start with is to make sure you choose the right firm with which to train. I was lucky to find a firm where I was able to work with people I get on with and I was given the sort of tasks and responsibility that I found interesting.