My Chartered Accountancy Journey
Vicky Andrew, president of the LSCA walks us through her career as a chartered accountant, from deciding to study the ACA to starting and running a successful practice.
When I was at school, the only thing I knew about chartered accountancy was that accountancy involves numbers. Only once I became established in the profession did I realise accountancy is as much about people as numbers.
Whilst at university, I realised that a degree is not a passport to a career; you need some additional training (and preferably a qualification) after graduating. Therefore, after completing my degree in law, I spent a year studying for the solicitors’ exams. Whilst at law school, I realised I was enjoying the ancillary courses in accounts and tax far more than the core content. My future father-in-law was a chartered accountant, and my future husband planned to enter the profession, too, so I started exploring accountancy as an option. It seemed to me that chartered accountancy had several attractions:
- Quality of education, training, and experience,
- A globally recognised qualification, giving potential for mobility,
- High standards and expectations of professional conduct, leading to respect from others,
- A variety of career possibilities,
- Reasonable financial rewards
I started my training at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC) in 1985, spending 2 years in the audit department. I also spent time on FMCG, advertising and public sector audits, and on secondment to the firm’s own finance department. After two years, I transferred at my own request to the firm’s personal tax department, where I expected to spend the rest of my career.
Around this time, I started to think about staring my own practice and family. Starting and running my own small practice was attractive, it would give me the flexibility needed to combine motherhood and a career (in the days when the larger firms offered no such thing!) That meant getting experience with small businesses, so I left C&L and spent a few years with small firms before launching my own practice in 1994, when my son was a year old.
Whilst building up my client list, I sub-contracted for other accountants, until I had a successful, stand-alone practice giving me a fulfilling and enjoyable 22-year career. During my career I developed deep personal connections and people skills and began to realize people are a fundamental part of accountancy.
I was also able to attend my son’s sports days, rugby matches and school plays – even when these were during the day. Sometimes this meant having to complete a set of accounts at midnight, but it was worth it!
When I was in my fifties, I began to see the attraction of volunteering in the profession (having already volunteered outside it) in order to give something back. Initially I did this at a local level in South-East London, whilst continuing to run my practice. Just over four years ago, I merged the practice with a larger one in Bromley, and started working as an independent consultant/adviser, writer, and speaker advising micro-businesses and smaller accountancy practices. This coincided with taking a more active role within LSCA; and getting elected to Council in 2019.
I have reviewed my reasons for going into the profession and they all worked out, (apart from the global mobility). I have no regrets about choosing chartered accountancy as a career and would recommend accountancy to any young person on the threshold of their working life, or to anyone contemplating a career change.
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