Accountancy training – five tips

Accounting is a profession that can be entered after secondary school, A-levels, or university, making it an accessible career for those that wish to put in the work. My journey started in 2015 as a career change, but was (delightfully) interrupted by the arrival of my daughter in 2017. In late 2021, I completed my AAT and am now a qualified MAAT. I chose to continue my studies and am about to sit my final certificate level exam for ICAEW ACA Level 7 Apprenticeship with BPP.

From my experience, getting to qualified status is no easy feat and requires commitment and dedication. In this article, I have compiled five steps for accountancy training mastery, so whether you are considering becoming an accountant, or have already started your training, hopefully you’ll be able to make use of these insights.

Find a great mentor!

Finding a great mentor may not be just one person, it could be a couple of team members covering different key areas of the firm who value your professional development. Having a mentor/s that you feel comfortable enough to approach with any topic or situation, and who can give much-needed advice, can be pivotal for career progression.

Question, question, question

Is there such a thing as too many questions as a trainee? Never! If there is something that you do not understand or requires further explanation, then it is best to ask away. Whether it is further advice on your training/studies, or asking for more information from a client, never guess or assume. If you don’t question everything, how will you gain further understanding and develop your knowledge and skills.

Get organised

When you first become a trainee, you may not initially have strict deadlines, but it is key to get into the practice of working to a set date for jobs allocated to you. It is a good idea to ask your line manager, “When do you need this back for review?” to prevent delays in completion. Get yourself used to deadlines and forward-planning from the off, as later in your career these will become crucial and a standard part of your working routine. The use of online planners and shared worklists are also essential tools to keep on top of work allocation.

Keep up to date with technology

Technology changes at such a rate that it is important to keep up to date with key software and any changes that may arise. Working in practice I have found that all clients use a variety of software and accounting systems. Although you may not need to know all of them inside out, it is useful to be aware of, and understand, the most popular software used within your firm. Software such as Xero, Dext and QuickBooks have online training resources for users to really get to grips with their features.

Be proactive with your training & development

Asking for feedback is key for understanding the outcome of any work produced. Constructive criticism may sometimes feel like you ‘could do more’ or ‘do better next time’, but it is surprising how often getting something wrong, or omitting information, ensures you get it right in the future. As well as actively asking for feedback, show your line manager/mentor that you are being proactive by spending a little extra time researching the company for which you are drafting.

When it comes to studying and training, remember that organisation is key. Try to keep a focused study plan/routine and stick to it as rigorously as possible! Understand how many hours are needed for each syllabus and structure this around your work/life schedule. Exam results show that ‘you get out what you put in’, so practice, practice, practice is key to success. Also remember to keep a healthy balance between work, life, and studying – like accounting itself, the balance is critical!