SMP creating clear careers path and developing the finance leaders of tomorrow

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PJCO is an award-winning SMP based in Brighton, UK, providing general accountancy, cloud apps advisory, business development and specialist tax services to the small owner-manager business community. The firm was founded by Peter Jarman, FCCA. PJCO puts a strong focus on training and development of ACCA-qualified accountants and its vision is to ‘systematise and grow’. PJCO recruits between two and four graduates a year. Graduate recruits have so far had 100% success in exams.

PJCO sets clear expectations of future attainment and recruits with a strong focus on attitude and personality. The recruitment process at PJCO is informal and conversation-based, which helps assess soft skills, and previous customer-facing experience is a welcome bonus.

‘If you want the responsibility to deal with small business owners from day one, and are looking for the opportunity to progress your career quite quickly by having total responsibility for looking after those clients, then we might be the right place for you’, says Peter.

The firm now employs a school leaver who started at 16 and is also considering looking at A-level students who don’t want to go to university.

‘Because we could recruit from such a rich pool of graduates, we hadn’t looked at school leavers before, but we realised that could change if [fewer] graduates [sic] go to university’, Jarman says. ‘Some 16-year-olds might already know their career path and have an absolute desire to get into the work environment; that’s a plus’.

Within a year, PJCO recruits are training and mentoring the next intake of trainees, and after two and a half years, they should be running their own portfolio of small business clients or, alternatively, choosing to focus on a particular specialism.

The firm has launched a separate work stream that focuses on digitisation and cloud applications and that concentrates on getting clients to run their business processes and systems more effectively, making the best use of digital information. But an understanding of the fundamentals of finance is still vital, because that is what business owners are looking for: numeracy is no longer the key aptitude for accountants; rather, it is being financially literate and supplementing that with technical skills.

‘Trainees are encouraged to document their experiences on YouTube to help other graduates with their career choices’.

There is a clear career path and opportunity for staff not only to develop with the business but to have their efforts in expanding the business recognised. So far, one portfolio manager has gone on to become a partner.

While the vast majority of recruits have stayed on, others have sought different experiences and gone to larger accountancy practices or into industry.

‘Our career commitment to our staff is that they will leave us in a better position than when they joined us’. (Peter Jarman, PJCO, UK).


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