Make an ac­coun­tancy course add up to more

The ACCA route to train­ing can lead to var­ied op­por­tu­ni­ties around the world, dis­cov­ers Mag­gie Stan­field

The Herald Business - - Commercial Brief -

EV­ERY qual­i­fied ac­coun­tant un­der­stands tax and VAT, au­dited ac­counts and bal­ance sheets, how to com­mu­ni­cate with HMRC and how to get bills paid. But there is a great deal more to this job than get­ting the num­bers in or­der.

Broadly, there are two types of ac­coun­tant. First, Char­tered Ac­coun­tants (mem­bers of ICAS or ICAEW) are grad­u­ates who tra­di­tion­ally work in prac­tices where they pro­vide a range of clients with cor­rect mon­i­tor­ing and as­sur­ance ser­vices. Se­condly, there are mem­bers of ACCA (The As­so­ci­a­tion of Char­tered Cer­ti­fied Ac­coun­tants) who can be found in ac­count­ing prac­tices as well as cor­po­rate or­gan­i­sa­tions across ev­ery sec­tor, of­ten within a fi­nance or strate­gic man­age­ment team.

Both have all the es­sen­tial skills but the choice of path each in­di­vid­ual takes in or­der to be qual­i­fied de­pends upon a range of fac­tors. ACCA’s fo­cus tends to be wider and much more com­mer­cially ori­ented. One route is not nec­es­sar­ily su­pe­rior to the other; rather, it de­pends more upon what an in­di­vid­ual wants to do with his or her qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Be­cause ACCA is a truly global ac­coun­tancy qual­i­fi­ca­tion, its 154,000 mem­bers in 170 coun­tries have the free­dom to work any­where in the world. As a re­sult, many ap­pli­cants come from coun­tries as far afield as Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and Ukraine, Tai­wan or Aus­tralia. What th­ese en­trants share, though, is the de­sire for very busi­ness-ori­ented train­ing which has the po­ten­tial to pro­vide ca­reer op­tions around the world.

An­other rea­son for ACCA’s pop­u­lar­ity is that the train­ing does not de­mand a pri­mary de­gree for en­try. That, im­por­tantly, means that school leavers can work their way through the cur­ricu­lum along­side – for ex­am­ple – more ma­ture peo­ple who have de­cided to make a ca­reer change, or grad­u­ates. E-learn­ing and on­line tu­tor­ing make for a very flex­i­ble and at­trac­tive method of build­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions while em­ployed.

There is cross­over be­tween the two di­rec­tions. Un­der­stand­ably, not ev­ery trainee knows at the start of their ca­reer in ex­actly which di­rec­tion they want to go – and the pro­fes­sion is flex­i­ble enough to recog­nise this. The op­por­tu­nity to make a shift of ca­reer path via ACCA is one that those seek­ing to work in a more com­mer­cially driven en­vi­ron­ment can choose to take.

Al­lan Dowie is chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer at Clyde Blow­ers. When he set out on his train­ing some 20 years ago, he had a fairly clear idea of the di­rec­tion he wanted to take: “When I picked the ACCA route it was be­cause it gave me a var­ied choice of sub­jects and a bet­ter bal­ance over­all. I could see that there would be more po­ten­tial roles for me in terms of my ca­reer go­ing for­ward and that the glob­ally recog­nised qual­i­fica- tions would of­fer me the op­por­tu­nity to move overseas and take on those global con­nec­tions.

“I’ve been very for­tu­nate in my ca­reer, tak­ing on global roles, par­tic­u­larly in the past few years at Clyde Blow­ers. I also worked with KPMG, so my ACCA qual­i­fi­ca­tions have not closed off that route.

“The range of sub­jects gave me a bet­ter, more rounded ground­ing than I might oth­er­wise have had. I be­came in­volved in more busi­ness ar­eas at an ear­lier stage than I might have done had I been con­cen­trat­ing on ac­coun­tancy prac­tice, tak­ing on more au­dit train­ing.”

Clearly, Dowie wanted to get in­side the wider con­text of how a busi­ness per­forms and de­liv­ers to its clients and its share­hold­ers. His job per­spec­tive is one that reaches out far be­yond the bot­tom line: “I wanted to get into busi­ness, to be able to take on a more gen­er­al­ist ap­proach in terms of how it all works; how the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments com­bine at the most ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient level.

“Fi­nance cuts into al­most ev­ery

Al­lan Dowie of Clyde Blow­ers has val­ued the global recog­ni­tion of an ACCA qual­i­fi­ca­tion

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