My month of June 2015 so far

The first week I was set to work onsite at a client in Surrey, however this was rescheduled (which can happen last minute in audit) and so I was in the office working on an accounts prep for a small property company. Accounts preps are rarely straightforward as you have to get an understanding of the client by looking at their prior year accounts and develop an expectation of how their accounts should form this year.

I was set to work on this fairly autonomously, but with some help from a few friendly seniors I was able to produce the bulk of the work by the end of the week. That Friday we also had a leaving lunch and evening drinks for the Assistant Manager, Dino Campanaro, who had been at Shipleys for 7 years since he was a trainee.  It was sad to see him leave and we wish him all the best in his future career.

The following week I was back at Kaplan to finish my Financial Accounting and Reporting tuition – one of the 3 exams I will be sitting in September. We were given a mock exam, which seems scary several months before the exam but was just to test our progress so far. We begin the ‘revision phase’ in August and so until then it’s a matter of solidifying my understanding of the course. I will begin tuition for Tax Compliance and Audit & Assurance next week.

This week, the client side of things in the office has been slow so I have used the time to update my training log ready for my 6 monthly review next month. This involves keeping a log of how many hours worth of audit and accounts work I have achieved so far, as sufficient  practical experience is part of the requirement to become ACA qualified.  There are also ‘skill ladders’ in areas ranging from team work to technical competency that need to be achieved at the end of the 3 year training course. Part of the 6 monthly review is to ensure the firm allocates your work to areas to help you stay on track to achieve these.

Today is the assessment day for the August intake at Shipleys. Myself and some fellow trainees and seniors will be spending lunch answering questions to the candidates and showing them around the office to give them a feel for what it would be like to join us. Jane has given an insight into the day below, and whilst it’s a challenging and nervous day, it is also an exciting chance to potentially enter into a fantastic career with us.

 

Terinder Bhangal

I'm part of the most recent graduate intake working as a Junior in the Audit Department, having graduated last year in Economics from the University of Leicester. My work is split roughly into two-thirds of Audit work and a third training to become ACA qualified.

Excited about our ACA Graduate Assessment Day tomorrow!

We are ready for the big day tomorrow!  There’s always lots to do in preparation for graduate assessment days; select candidates to attend, prepare the paperwork, organise who is doing what and most importantly… arrange breakfast and lunch.

The assessment starts as soon as our candidates walk in the door.  We involve our Receptionists in the process by asking their thoughts on how the candidates introduced themselves and how well they interacted with each other.

The day starts with a presentation about Shipleys and discussing the ACA qualification, so it’s a good opportunity for candidates to ask questions.  We then split the candidates into two groups to work on the case study.

When we observe the candidates we are looking for their ability to facilitate discussion, generate sensible ideas, their communication skills, problem-solving approach, ability to work well in a team, their commercial awareness, ability to cope under pressure and their presentation skills.

After the group task, the candidates have lunch with some of our audit team, ranging from new trainees through to audit seniors.  They can ask the team as many silly questions as they like without worrying that it will form part of our decision.

The audit team do a tour around our office, with the most popular room being our basement which holds a pool table, table tennis, table football, sofas, huge TV and tuck shop.  We are a sociable bunch!

Whilst the candidates are busy with the audit team, the team of observers discuss the candidates’ performance in order to select who will go through to the afternoon interviews.  Once our decision is made, we then have the difficult task of letting the candidates know whether or not they have been successful.

We then spend the afternoon interviewing and aim to make a final decision by the end of the day.  It’s a tiring day, but so incredibly worth it when you can give someone the opportunity to start their career with an excellent firm such as Shipleys (I know – I am biased!).

My biggest bit of advice when you have been rejected, is to always ask for feedback on your performance.  The only way you can improve is to ask and work out how you can make those improvements.

Jane

Jane managed the internal HR function for Shipleys LLP.

ACAs – what it’s like under our wings

Well, as someone who has been with the firm for 12 years, I’ve seen many graduates arrive and successfully complete their ACA qualification with the firm. Some of them have gone onto become principals of the firm, some into industry, some into other practices… the list goes on. What I do know, is that Shipleys produces excellent chartered accountants (ok, I am biased, but it is true!).

I must admit that I get a bit teary when I hear that one of our trainees has passed their final exams, because there’s nothing better than knowing someone has worked really hard to achieve where they wanted to be, whilst also growing as a person.

It all starts at our graduate assessment day (which I will write about on a separate post… there may be some insider information given!), where the group will be on their best behaviour, albeit slightly nervous.

The first day usually involves more nerves, briefcase in hand, smart suit with a white shirt and stripy tie, or a smart dress and jacket. The tie and jackets come off relatively quickly when they realise that we are pretty relaxed about what people wear in the office.

The audit department are super at looking after their new trainees. It’s the thing that all new employees say to me after their first week – that they can’t believe how friendly everyone is at Shipleys and it is true. There’s a good social scene here and that starts on the first day with welcome drinks in the afternoon.

As the qualification progresses, you can see an increase in confidence. I guess this is down to a combination of passing exams and taking on more responsibility in the office. We also have mentors in place, which means that all trainees have a manager to talk to if they need help with their studies, work or long-term career planning.

Upon qualification, in celebration the partners pay for a very nice lunch for the trainee (who is no longer a trainee of course!) and their mentor. Although we’ve seen hundreds of trainees qualify, we still treat each qualification as if it is our first.

Jane

Jane managed the internal HR function for Shipleys LLP.