With over 30 years of experience and offices across London, Fusion Chartered Accountants are a new breed of modern accountants driving technological change through automation and advanced processes. Specialising in small businesses, they provide a full range of accounting, tax and business advisory services.
With one ACA trainee already qualified, two currently training and three more joining the firm soon, Fusion Chartered Accountants have built a strong team of confident business advisers and a pipeline of future leaders. This has enabled them to continuously provide excellent services, which go above and beyond traditional accounting, and which have helped them add to their growing list of clients.
One thing that Jahan Aslam, Managing Director and founder of Fusion Chartered Accountants based in London, realised quite early in his career was that the role of accountants had changed since he qualified. What used to be done on paper or Excel is now either automated or could easily be done with the use of technology. This is why the firm, when it was founded six years ago, set out to be a specialist in online accounting - integrating third-party apps and accounting software seamlessly, allowing them to focus on offering business advice and helping their clients grow.
Choosing the ACA
In order to keep up its high retention rates whilst acquiring new clients, the firm needed more staff with the necessary technical knowledge, but also with the soft skills that make a great business adviser. For Jahan, the best way to achieve this was by training within the firm, which is why, in 2016, they became authorised to train with ICAEW.
Jahan continued: "The Case Study paper exam was another reason why I chose the ACA. This part of the qualification is quite crucial in developing trainees with the advisory skills, which are very important for the work we do."
Recruiting best talent
When the firm became an ATE, it started with just one trainee, who has since qualified and is now a partner at Fusion Chartered Accountants. Their positive experience with ACA training led to them recruiting two more in 2018 and they are planning to take on three additional trainees in 2019. While the candidates have the option to choose which qualification they want to study, Jahan has noticed that those with top grades in A-levels or first-class degrees usually ask to do the ACA.
A choice of training routes
Training in the firm is open to both school leavers and graduates - the former start with the AAT qualification and then fast-track onto the ACA, while the latter start their ACA training straight away.
All trainees study the ACA qualification on the Level 7 Accountancy Professional Apprenticeship. One of the main reasons for choosing this training route was that, in addition to the qualification, the apprenticeship gives students a more structured training compared to the firm’s internal one. The firm places great value on skills development, so the mandatory 20% off-the-job training has been particularly useful as it fits into the organisation seamlessly. In addition to the apprenticeship training, Jahan also makes the most of the benefits and resources available to authorised training employers and ICAEW students. "Apart from the monthly employer emails, I have found Vital, the magazine students receive quarterly, a great source of information, as it helps to keep on top of the latest trends and news in the accounting world."
Integrating the ACA qualification into the firms goals
For Fusion Chartered Accountants, the main goal when it comes to training within the firm is to build an organisation of highly-qualified business advisers. They believe they can achieve that through structured training, which consists of internal promotions and the ACA qualification.
Their training model is made up of four months of secretarial work, six to eight months of tax and another one to one and a half years in accounts and bookkeeping before trainees then move onto advisory services. Jahan explained: "We want our trainees to become well-rounded professionals, so we try to match the experience they are gaining to the respective ACA modules. After two years with us, they will have completed the ACA Certificate Level exams and will have gained a solid understanding of basic accounting, bookkeeping, tax and company secretarial through their experience."
At the point where the trainees start studying the Advanced Level modules, they are promoted to Trainee Client Managers. By taking on a portfolio of small clients, and studying the relevant exams, they start developing their advisory skills as they come up against real client issues and are asked to provide solutions. At the last stage of their training, they are promoted to Client Managers and complete the Case Study.
Developing business advisers through the case study
For Jahan, the Case Study, and the way it fits into the firm’s objectives and values, has been one of the highlights of ACA training.
They become more confident, they build a mentality of “there’s no problem I can’t solve”. This means that they find a solution on their own before coming to me. He added: "The Case Study challenges you to take different aspects into consideration before providing advice and to think outside the box. It makes you think in a more practical way, like no other exam does."
Training future leaders
Having ACA trainees has had a huge impact on the firm and its interaction with clients, mainly thanks to the positive and proactive mind-set that the students have developed.
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