Career change accountant

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Ellen Roberts, ATX and silver medal winner from September 2019, originally planned for a career in psychiatry. Now nearly an ACCA member, she shares her career change story with us.

‘I never considered accountancy as a career when I was at school – my plan was to go to university and then to become a psychiatrist, and so I studied for a degree in psychology with criminology. After graduating, I actually started working temporarily in insurance but, having always had a keen interest in mathematics and problem solving, I started to look into accountancy as a possible career path. I knew that it was a respected profession, and that accountants were regarded as trusted advisers. I was also attracted by the flexibility of the profession, being so unsure of my own career plans at that time, and could see that, by studying with ACCA, I could choose between several career paths.

‘Having decided to switch career, I admit that I found it hard to get my first job with an accountancy firm due to my lack of experience. Eventually I was taken on by my current employer, Saul Fairholm Ltd, a firm of chartered accountants with offices across the east of England, and I’ve been working here for almost three years.

‘I am now an accounts senior and in my role I prepare accounts for limited companies, partnerships and sole traders, prepare VAT returns, and also complete personal and corporation tax returns.

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‘Changing career path is not an easy choice and can, in all honesty, feel like a backwards step. I haven’t regretted my decision however. I am now in a career that I love, and one that offers the ideal balance of stability and progression. There is always demand for trained accountants and, as a result, it’s a career with great prospects. My ultimate career ambition is to become a manager or director in an accountancy firm with my own client base.

‘I also feel that my earlier workplace experience has benefited my new career path, especially my communication skills. For example, throughout my degree I worked part-time as a waitress, which helped develop my ability to interact with others, and my job in insurance also taught me how to talk to people who were undergoing a stressful situation such as a car accident.

‘My advice for other ACCA students who have changed career – or who are thinking of doing so – is to focus on the end goal of becoming an ACCA member. You will have a qualification that is recognised by businesses, and that brings great career opportunities especially given its international reputation, which means you can work anywhere in the world if you want to.’

This article was first published in Student Accountant in May 2020

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