• Name: Mark Stanford
  • Job Title: Trainee Chartered Accountant
  • Location: London
  • Degree: Japanese Studies
  • Areas of Specialism: Audit and Assurance

Joining the firm

When I joined Saffery I had no experience whatsoever, it was just from speaking to friends and family that I figured the ACA would be the right training for me. From researching the job I realised that although it is a profession with a lot of numbers, a lot of the skill lies in judgement and in dealing with clients.

A career in accountancy

I decided to move into a career in accountancy for the stability. The good thing about the ACA is that you have a structure; you know that if you pass all your exams after three years, you will learn a massive amount, qualify and earn a higher salary.

At Saffery you get exposure to a lot of clients and a variety of different technical issues. It’s not simply a case of bean-counting and number-crunching, you need to be prepared to work on your soft skills, as well as mastering complicated spreadsheets.


The exams have definitely been my biggest challenge. I sat three professional exams earlier this year and the amount of material you have to cover is overwhelming. For the month leading up to exams you tend to just put your social life on hold – although it feels pretty good when you get through it all.

Life at Saffery

I think the best thing about Saffery is the people; there is support from partners and managers, right down to the other trainees. Once you get over your initial inhibitions about asking silly questions, you realise that most people are willing to help you, so it’s a very healthy learning environment. We’re large enough that probably nobody knows everybody, but not so small that it gets claustrophobic.

The kind of clients you work with is flexible. Early on I expressed an interest in charities and theatre clients, and although it’s too early to narrow my focus completely, I have found that more and more I am working on clients that really matter to me.

There is very little pressure on us to do audit work when we are at college, which is quite different to some other firms. That means you have time to concentrate on your studies and your stress levels are no higher than absolutely necessary. The firm monitors your development, but supports rather than pressurizes.

There is no doubt that Saffery is a great place to work and the experience you can gain here is invaluable.

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