6 months on

At the end of June I was back in college completing a block of Audit & Assurance (AA) tuition and beginning Tax Compliance (TC).  It’s interesting to see how far AA & TC build on our first 3 exams: Accounting, Assurance and Principles of Taxation. I have also had a lot of mock exams in-between which is good practice to push myself into learning exam technique which is just as important as the content.

Back in the office I was given my first solo client visit to attend a stock-take of a steel yard in Devon. I was slightly nervous going to a clients by myself so far away, but they were very friendly and was a good confidence boost for when I have more senior roles in the future.

On the audit-side of work I was assigned to a letting management company matching expenses to invoices and payslips, and noting any discrepancies – which requires an eye for detail.   With audit there are times where you have to wait for client information, so I juggled between several accounts preps rolling forward data from last year and tagging completed financial statements.

I also had my first 6-monthly appraisal meeting with Peter Ellis and my mentor Mark Richardson. It’s a good opportunity to discuss what I think has gone well over the period and well as creating goals to improve myself over the training contract and suggest types of clients that I would like to gain more experience of.

On the social side we have had a fair few things to celebrate! The beginning of July marked Graham Baxter’s 43rd anniversary at Shipleys – yes prospective applicants, you read that right! Graham will be retiring at the end of the month which will involve past and present colleagues celebrating at our office.  We also had drinks to congratulate Alice and Jess for passing their exams, and to say a farewell to Alex and Jade who have left this month after several years working with us.

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.

 

My Month of May 2015

Having finished my Principles of Taxation exam on the 1st of May, the rest of the month has been a lot more easy going!

I booked the first week off as annual leave to relax a bit from the first block of exams.

On the second week, I began the first week of tuition for my 3 written exams which will take place in September. Lizzi had finished hers only a month ago so was able to give me some advice (as well as the more senior trainees) on how to tackle the studying.

Outside of college I have been working on accounts preparation in the office, recording transactions from one ‘book of prime entry’ and matching them to another. This work is not too difficult, but it’s important to keep an eye on the masses of figures and not get confused by the exchange rates.

This final week I have mainly been ‘free for work’ – where I’m not assigned to a specific client so will help managers with their workload. This involves anything from updating client codes to even buying cakes for a Principal’s birthday. It’s a great time to catch up on studying or any outstanding admin when you haven’t got any set work to do.

We also had our end of the month social, a ‘Pointless’ inspired quiz hosted by Lizzi and our Training Manager, Peter Ellis. Prizes were up for grabs and it was a great way to catch up with colleagues I hadn’t seen for a while. Most importantly my team won!

Outside of work I had the joy of flat hunting in London – an inevitable process for non-Londoners which is definitely a struggle! With a bit of research, patience and asking friends, family and colleagues for advice I fortunately found a place. So if the prospect of moving to London seems a bit overwhelming, we would be more than happy to give you advice when you join us :)

What to expect as a new graduate at Shipleys

As my first blog post – and being part of the newest graduate intake at Shipleys – I’d like to focus on what I’ve achieved so far to give you an idea of what you could expect when starting here.

Being my first graduate job, and moving to London, it was an exciting but nervous prospect! However my nerves were put at ease straight away, as I was invited to the Christmas party a few weeks before starting and it was a great way to meet the team in a relaxed way. Our induction day was much the same, with the whole office joining us for lunch and drinks. I could not think of a better way of starting a graduate job!

Of course, the work kicks in and the beginning of the following week we started college for our first two exams. Tuition and exams are the biggest challenge for starters in Accountancy as it is definitely tougher than most of University. This might sound scary but my advice is to practice as much as possible any time you are free in the run up to the exams, and once they’re over it is a rewarding experience to know the hard work has paid off. Kaplan – the tuition providers – are very helpful, giving superb notes and advice on how to focus your revision.  I have now passed my first 3 exams and will begin tuition for the next 3 shortly.

Accountancy work for Shipleys itself constitutes for about two-thirds of my experience so far. Roughly 80% is Audit work both at the office and on site at clients. I have already done 2 ‘away jobs’ staying outside of London. As a Junior, the work itself has not been too tough yet. I run a lot of tests of the clients’ accounts from sales to their profits and losses. It can be quite daunting approaching a Financial Director, but you get the experience of understating how Accountancy varies between industries from Film to Funds, and applying your learning to everyday life.  The other 20% of work relates to preparing accounts for clients within the office. It’s a great way to cement your understating of how accounts work so when you audit one, you may understand why the clients have prepared them in such a way and avoid asking obvious questions.

It’s not all work and no play when your induction period is over! Friday and end of the month drinks are a great way to relax and chat to everyone and there are events dotted around such as the recent Curry Night social. Having the office a 2 minute walk from Leicester Square means it’s always easy to try a new bar or restaurant once the days over.  Also having this view walking  to work every day makes it even better!

View on way to work