Why did you choose a job in this sector?
I was always interested in becoming an accountant from an early age at school. That, or a professional sportsman, which I soon realised wasn’t going to happen!
I was continually drawn to numbers and had an analytical way of thinking. Every other profession I looked at led me back to accountancy. Even in my school year book in Year 11, I said I wanted to be an accountant.
What was the application process like?
It was a bit daunting at first to know I had to get through telephone and face to face interviews with online assessments thrown in also.
However, everyone was wonderful and welcoming and it was clear that Hillier Hopkins were interested in me as a person, rather than trying to fill a number quota. Some of the questions were certainly tough and probing, but if you are prepared and just be yourself, you won’t get thrown off.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Picking the right employer that suits you is crucial. Your training contract goes quickly if you work for a firm you feel comfortable with and have the same values as. I liked the mid-tier size of Hillier Hopkins and the way that I was given responsibilities early on. They had confidence in me which in turn gave me confidence.
Make sure you plan and put in the hours of study for the exams. If you have put in enough work and listened to the tutors, you will get through.
Communication with the people you work with is a key element to the job role and gives great satisfaction. You will have to discuss issues with clients; relay information to Managers and Partners and supervise junior students. Be confident. There is always someone around to help you if you should falter. Listen and learn as much as you can about different client sectors.
What skills are useful?
Apart from an affinity for numbers, an ability to spot anomalies and check details saves time in the long run. It helps to have reasonable IT skills, or at least be able to pick up new systems quickly. Hillier Hopkins is very people-focused and so adapting your communication style to meet different client needs, whilst still being you, is an asset.
What are your main duties?
The benefit of working for a mid-tier firm is that I am not kept on site with one client for months on end. Audits last on average 1-2 weeks, which has given me a broader range of experience across general and specialised client sectors. Clients can vary from small to large companies and operate in a number of different industries such as; charities, golf clubs, solicitors, service organisations, manufacturers, construction and many more.
The role has definitely changed over the course of the three year programme; starting with basic audit testing and accounts work in different sections of the file. This then progressed to being able to carry out more independent work and going out to clients on my own. I have developed interpersonal skills through liaising with clients and my managers, to ensure deadlines are met. Towards the end of my contract I was confident in leading small teams of 2-3 on site and reviewing the work of juniors, giving detailed feedback. I was able to complete a wide range of low to high risk audit testing and fully complete an audit file ready for a manager to review.