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  • Name: Lisa Chen
  • Job Title: Trainee Accountant
  • Location: London
  • University: Bath
  • Degree: MMATH Mathematics
  • Areas of Specialism: Business Advisory

I believed that becoming a chartered accountant would offer constant development. I was not wrong!
I chose to study Accounting and Finance at university, not knowing what career I would like to pursue. The more knowledge I gained, the more determined I became to pursue a career in accountancy via the ACA. I felt that this career path would create a good foundation to advance my knowledge.
I always enjoyed learning something new every day and my career at Alliotts chartered accountants and pursuing the ACA route is even better than I could have imagined.
Alliotts chartered accountants and business advisers is a medium-sized partnership. It specialises in providing advice and business support to growing businesses and the people who run them. Some of our services include: audit and accountancy, UK and international tax advice, corporate finance, outsourced book keeping and management accounts and payroll services. They are located in three key business locations, central London, Harrow and Guildford.

Joining the firm

I joined the firm as a trainee accountant at the Guildford office. The work never gets boring and each day is different. I provide services to a very diverse group of clients in different business sectors. I have performed basic bookkeeping for celebrities and attended an audit of famous brands.
Working in a medium-sized firm allows for more opportunities to be an important part of the team and work with other trainees and managers as well as partners. Also, as I progress within the ACA route, my effort is recognised, the work I perform becomes more complex, and I receive more responsibilities.

My career goals

When I was applying for jobs, I came across this question: “What would you like to be in five or ten years time?” My answer was: to become a partner. I believe that, by choosing a smaller firm, the opportunity to climb the career ladder is greater than working for one of the ‘Big Four’ and being one of the 300 other trainees.

Looking at the work/life balance

Balancing work and study can be very challenging. It can be very stressful when the professional exams are round the corner and you have to go to work. I try to study in the evening and sometimes during my lunch break, but it can be hard to keep the motivation up. However, when the exam results are out and I have passed, it is a euphoric feeling. Also, being able to apply the theoretical knowledge gained in the practice is very satisfying, particularly when you can stop bothering your manager and other colleagues every minute and complete the job yourself.

Developing your softer skills

Becoming a successful chartered accountant through the ACA does not only consist of studying towards professional exams and working. It also includes the development of soft skills. The main concern that I had when joining a smaller firm was whether I would receive structured training and support.
Having SWAT UK organise courses as well as provide additional training was a very important factor for choosing Alliotts. I can focus on performing tasks to the best of my ability and not worry about finding course providers.
The development of softer skills is crucial, and becomes more important when the level of responsibility given increases and dealing with clients is a day to day task. Fortunately, the courses organised by SWAT UK provide all round support throughout each stage and every aspect of your professional development.

A little advice

My advice would be that, when deciding whether to follow an ACA route, make sure you do extensive research on what type of firm you would like to join, what type of exposure you want to gain and what type of clients you would like to work with. I also recommend attending employment events and talking to firms’ representatives. When you do get invited to an interview, meeting someone you already know is a great ice breaker.

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