How to start a career as a Chartered Accountant

Are you considering a career as a Chartered Accountant but unsure where to start? Our Audit Associate Director Brian Thomson was a panellist on a recent ICAS webinar discussing the benefits, challenges and opportunities of pursuing a career as a Chartered Accountant. We sat down with Brian to go over the top questions asked by budding graduate trainees.

You can also watch the full webinar (duration: 1 hour and 4 minutes). Alternatively, learn more about the benefits of Chartered Accountancy training with Consilium Chartered Accountants.

Why did you choose a career as a Chartered Accountant?

For me, it was something I was always used to being around. My Mum and Grandpa were Chartered Accountants and when I was younger, I spent a lot of time in my Mum’s office. I liked that studying Accountancy at university offered a stepping stone to something and then the CA qualification offered a stepping stone to something after that as well.

Over the past few years, working in Audit has become more of a specialism which has offered opportunities to develop my career and keep learning. A career as a Chartered Accountant also gives you the chance to work with and get to know lots of different people and their businesses. Every day is different, and I enjoy that variety.

What is Consilium’s recruitment process like? What are you looking for in candidates?

Like most firms, we advertise our CA opportunities on the Become a CA website as well as through our website and digital channels. We ask our applicants to submit a CV and cover letter explaining what interests them in a career as a Chartered Accountant and our firm.

For those who we want to take forward to interview we undertake a two-stage interview process, both with two members of the Consilium team. We believe that the two-stage thing is important from an applicant’s perspective; there are normally questions that people think of after the first stage and this gives them the chance to ask these.

Two stages also make it easier to communicate what is unique about our approach and culture. Ensuring candidates will be a good fit within our team is a win-win for both sides.

We use competency-based questions as well as making sure we get to know the applicants, their experiences to date, and what they want out of their training contract. We are a firm that makes quick decisions, so we let students know either way promptly after interviews.

How does Consilium support students through the CA qualification?

As an Authorised Training Office, and with the team we have in place, we have significant experience in supporting our students through the CA qualification. Unlike a lot of firms, we do not take the exemptions offered as we believe this offers a better stepping stone for second-year exams.

We are fortunate to have a former ICAS lecturer, Duncan McKellar, as a Senior Manager within the firm and the feedback from him is that the students who take this route tend to be better prepared for the significant jump in volume heading into these exams.

All students are allocated a line manager who acts as their Counselling Member for ICAS, and they work closely with the students to ensure that logbooks are progressing, and they have regular catch-ups with all of their students to ensure that there are no issues arising.

We allow all our students time off to study in addition to their annual holiday entitlement. It is an important investment in our students, and we want them to get through the exams as efficiently as possible and make a successful start to a career as a Chartered Accountant.

What are the other advantages of a career as a Chartered Accountant?

Without the CA qualification, I would have missed out on a host of experiences. I’ve worked with different businesses, entrepreneurs, charities and social enterprises in a very varied and interesting career.

Along the way, I have met some fascinating people and businesses, many of whom have become good friends. A career as a Chartered Accountant opens up a whole host of opportunities. People I trained with now work around the world in Australia, the US, and Ireland, working for tour companies as CFOs, in the field of Data Analytics, for big banks, and of course many working in Accounting and Audit firms. One even launched her own food company!

What advice do you have for those considering a career as a Chartered Accountant with Consilium?

I think for any student looking to start their career as a Chartered Accountant, the location and firm they choose is key. This is a huge commitment they are about to undertake so they need to make sure that they pick somewhere that fits in with their values and will give them the support they need.

Not everyone is a match for every firm. Whilst it’s important for the firm to hire candidates that they believe will fit, it’s equally as important for the candidate to feel that they will be happy there.

We believe that the culture at Consilium is very well suited to students; we offer a supportive environment for training and a great place to work, but at the same time, everyone is an individual so pick where feels right for you. The interview process is the time to find this out, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Launch your career as a Chartered Accountant with Consilium

Graduate trainees at Consilium Chartered Accountants are more than just a small cog in a big machine. You will work with successful businesses from day one of your training and gain hands-on, exam-relevant accountancy experience. As you study to become a Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) you will work with like-minded individuals and enjoy support from team members at all levels within the business.

Find out more about our Graduate training programme, the benefits of training with Consilium and how to apply.

Follow Consilium Chartered Accountants on LinkedIn, X / Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for updates and the latest recruitment opportunities.

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