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Award-winning student Tom Ainge tells us his journey from music student to trainee accountant at Spencer Gardner Dickins

Tom Ainge began his journey to securing ICAEW’s ACA qualification with no prior experience in accountancy. At university, he studied music but decided to change career direction and joined Spencer Gardner Dickins (SGD) in Coventry in late 2017, the same time that the Level 7 Apprenticeship was launched.


SGD became an ICAEW Authorised Training Employer (ATE) in 2017 and Tom was their first ACA trainee via apprenticeship funding. Tom has now passed all his Certificate Level exams achieving an award after scoring 98% in Tax Compliance, and is currently part way through the Professional Level.

Tom commented about studying for his ACA qualification, “One of things I like about the ACA is how broad it is; it covers accounts, tax, audit and even parts of law, economics and management theory. During my one and a half years at SGD, I’ve worked on accounts and audit, as well personal and corporate tax jobs. The breadth of subjects I’m covering in my studies ties in really quite nicely with what I’m working on in the office. I’ve learnt a lot so far, though I’m sure there’s much more still to come!”.

Debra Knighton is Tom’s QPRT (qualified person responsible for training), she adds, “The level 7 apprenticeship offered with the ACA is suiting Tom well. He has taken the route that encompasses the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification which fits with his chosen direction and we feel the qualification is giving him a great all round education. We are extremely proud of his examination achievements”.