Case study

Trainee accountant — Matthew Lambert

In his role as an audit executive for DTE Business Advisers, business and marketing graduate Matthew is training to become a chartered accountant through the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

How did you get your job?

I was at a crossroads in my previous job. After some consideration and sitting down with my family, I decided to pursue a different career path. At first, it was very daunting. As a father of a young family, I was reluctant to risk my job security. However, I felt it was worth the risk for a better future.

I decided that I wanted to pursue an accountancy career. Over a period of six months, I regularly searched job sites and local accountancy firms for vacancies. I was thrilled when I found the online advert for the role at DTE Business Advisers. I quickly realised that their values fitted in with my own career aspirations and I applied immediately.

From then, DTE's recruitment team contacted me to arrange a psychometric test. Having come from a non-accountancy background, this was something I'd never encountered before.

The test involved solving puzzles and numerical equations to assess how your brain works as well as your ability to problem solve. After successful completion, I was invited to an interview hosted by two members of the senior management team. They ran through my CV and asked questions about my hobbies and interests.

What qualifications have you studied up to this point?

Immediately after college, I went on to study the BA Business and Marketing at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), in which I achieved a 2:1. I feel this has given me a great base to understand the business world and has certainly helped me within my current role.

I'm studying towards the recognised ICAEW Chartered Accountant qualification, the ACA.

What made you choose this career path and qualification route? How hard was it to change careers?

I've always had a passion for business and how the corporate world works, but after finishing my degree I was unsure as to which path to go down.

After working closely with the finance department at my previous job, I realised that a career in accountancy was right for me. The dilemma I had was whether to go into practice or stay in industry. I've always had a fascination with how businesses work, so I wanted to experience as many different industries as possible.

Therefore, I felt a career in practice was best for me. I'm perhaps one of the older new starters, but that's the beauty of this career - it's perfect for career changers. Accountancy is a career that's never too late to pursue, and the experience you've gained in unrelated roles will be helpful in this one.

The studying can be intense, but both DTE and ICAEW have given me the best tools and support I could ask for to help me through my exams.

Are these professional qualifications essential for the job you've been doing?

No. This role is perfect for people who fancy a change in their career. You'll find that most of the skills and experience you may have gained studying/working in another field are interchangeable.

How have you found the work-study balance?

Brilliant. I'm fortunate that DTE allow us time off to study, as well as providing on-the-job training. Of course, the qualification requires a lot of your own time for revision, but with good planning and support, it's achievable.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety. It's fascinating to work with clients from so many different industries. I'm constantly learning new things every day. Plus, dealing with a range of clients means I'm always on my toes handling different situations.

What are the challenges?

Becoming a chartered accountant requires a lot of knowledge and experience. When starting out, it seems like there's a mountain to climb, and it can be overwhelming. It's essential to use the support of your colleagues and ask plenty of questions. The progress I've made over the past year is amazing and I'm feeling a lot more confident.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My career ambitions are to work up the ladder and become a manager and eventually a senior manager. DTE is a perfect example of how you can achieve this. I work with so many colleagues who started out as juniors within the firm and are now working as partners. It's a long road and of course things can change - but right now, I'm in a good place to be able to have a long and successful accountancy career.

What advice would you give to others interested in pursuing a career in accounting?

  • Ask questions. When starting out in accountancy, you're not expected to know all the answers. The biggest part of your learning will be on the job, so it's important that you ask plenty of questions. You'll find that when you are then doing your study, you can relate the theory to actual work you've done. Remember, there's no such thing as a stupid question.
  • Don't be afraid. I remember when I took the plunge to pursue a career in accountancy, I had a young family that depended on me. I felt that I was risking the security of my previous job to pursue a career in something I'd no experience in. I'm very proud of myself for this, and I've never looked back. It's never too late to realise your potential and sometimes the best way is to just go for it.

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