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 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 managed the internal HR function for Shipleys LLP.

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 :)

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.

My experience so far

I graduated from university in July last year and had a lovely month of relaxing at home before the big move to London and starting my full time graduate job. I’ve been at Shipleys for just under 10 months now, and in those 10 months I’ve already achieved so much. I was thrown into tuition for my first certificate level exams right from the start, and by November had already sat 3 of the 15 exams necessary to become chartered. Now, I have sat a further 3 exams at the professional stage (they were stressful but extremely rewarding) and I am studying for my next 2 certificate level exams already! The exams, although tough, allow you to progress technically within the workplace and take on new challenges with each job.

But it’s not all work and no play; one of the reasons I chose a job in accountancy, and Shipleys in particular, was for the appealing work-life balance. It’s true that whilst studying for exams your life can be a bit overwhelming (in the fact it’s non-stop) but during the rest of the year the work hours are good and Shipleys organise various social events for their employees. I joined the social committee at Shipleys after about 6 months of working for them and this year we have one big event planned for each month – these include a Shipleys sports day in the Summer and a treasure hunt around London in the Autumn.  As Terinder mentioned, it’s not only big events that get everyone out of the office but also trips to our local pub “The Comedy” on a Friday after work.

As someone who made the move to London so soon, and from a small town in the North-West of England, one of my main worries was being in this huge city and struggling to make friends. Shipleys successfully fought off this worry; with so many fellow trainees and friendly, approachable managers and partners, I have made some great friends at work. Studying with Kaplan has also allowed me to get to know people of a similar age who are experiencing the same things at work and with exams as me.

All in all, my first 10 months in London have been incredibly enjoyable and I look forward to the next few years, if not more, at Shipleys. I’ll post on here again after my next few exams, fingers crossed!

Lizzi Gear

I work in the Audit team and started as a trainee in August 2014. I studied Mathematics at the University of Sheffield. I work on the audit and accounts of a variety of Shipleys' clients.

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

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.