If someone asked you to describe your view of an accountant in a few words, what words would you choose? Dusty? Boring? Dull? Perhaps you’ll have an image in your head of a grey-haired person in their 50s, clutching the latest edition of the UK tax tables?
This traditional image of an accountant is changing…..fast, thanks to a new breed of accountancy firms that are unashamedly different to the stereotype. The Wow Company is one of these firms at the forefront of a revolution that is changing the accountancy profession.
Founded in 2004, Wow doesn’t have the baggage associated with a firm that has been around for many years. All clients use cloud-based accounting software, which is at the centre of a pro-active service, delivered remotely. Instead of type-writers & stacks of paper, you’ll find Skype headsets and dual-screen laptops. Instead of having a stuffy meeting with someone in a suit & tie, you’ll find a team of enthusiastic accountants, really enjoying the work they do……. and not a suit or tie in sight!
So, if this new way of working sounds like it might be for you, there are several routes that can be taken to get into accountancy:
Wow Accountant, Tom Warner, explains what’s involved with each one:
There are many accountancy-based degrees out there and these usually demand around three years of your time (alongside 300 UCAS points and approximately £25,000-£30,000 of your money). Once you have received your degree you can begin looking for the next step. This will usually involve getting a chartered training contract with an approved accountancy practice. This contract will usually last two to three years and, at the end of it, you will have a worldwide-recognised chartered accountancy qualification, e.g. ACA (Association of Chartered Accountants), ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants), the costs of which (around £20,000) are paid for by the accountancy firm that you are training with.
Self study alongside normal day job
This route often appeals to people who have a full time job in another area and are interested in accountancy. It usually involves attending either evening classes or ‘remote access’ online software to complete training towards a qualification such as AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) or ATT (Association of Taxation Technicians). The costs of these courses (over the two to three year study) will usually be in the region of £2,000 to £3,000. Once you have this qualification under your belt you can look for training contracts with approved accountancy practices (as above).
School or college leaver apprenticeships
This route is almost identical to the one above except that, rather than having to pay for the initial training yourself, it will be paid for by an approved training provider, usually an accountancy practice operating in conjunction with an apprenticeship programme. You can then progress onto the higher level chartered qualifications shortly afterwards.
The Wow Company blends people who have taken all of these routes and gives them the opportunity to develop their talent. Everyone has their own Personal Development Plan, including being given time off to study for their exams. And, unlike in traditional firms when you have to wait for someone to leave (or die!) to get promoted, there are no rules about how quickly you can progress your career at Wow. Everyone is given the same opportunity & support to progress, and the company has a policy of promoting talent from within.
One piece of advice I would give anyone wanting to become an accountant is to make use of work experience. By doing a week’s work experience in an accountancy practice it will give you an insight into the work you might be expected to do and the responsibilities you would have. It’s valuable experience and looks great on your CV.