The right track beck­ons

The ACCA route to ac­coun­tancy train­ing is an op­tion that many have found flex­i­ble and ori­en­tated to busi­ness, says An­thony Har­ring­ton

The Herald Business - - Commercial Brief -

‘MY DE­SIRE RIGHT FROM A-LEV­ELS WAS TO BE­COME A DI­REC­TOR OF A FTSE 100 COM­PANY’

ASK any ac­coun­tant what i t was that prompted them to opt for an ac­coun­tancy qual­i­fi­ca­tion and they are far and away more likely to tell you that they were at­tracted by the idea of a ca­reer in busi­ness, rather than that they had al­ways dreamed of be­com­ing an au­di­tor.

For any­one con­tem­plat­ing how they can go from be­ing a stu­dent to hav­ing a mean­ing­ful role in a suc­cess­ful com­pany, the ACCA qual­i­fi­ca­tion pro­vided by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Char­tered Cer­ti­fied Ac­coun­tants, is hugely at­trac­tive.

The al­ter­na­tive route to be­com­ing an ac­coun­tant, namely qual­i­fy­ing with the I nsti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants o f Eng­land and Wales (ICAEW) or the Scot­tish ICA (ICAS), is of­ten per­ceived as the ideal route for some­one who sees a ca­reer with a big four ac­coun­tancy firm as their life’s am­bi­tion. Of course, there are a large num­ber of fi­nance di­rec­tors of FTSE 250 com­pa­nies who started off their ca­reer go­ing the ICA route and who qual­i­fied with an ac­coun­tancy prac­tice be­fore mov­ing to in­dus­try. Both the ICA route and the ACCA qual­i­fi­ca­tion pro­vide an ex­cel­lent tech­ni­cal ground­ing in ac­coun­tancy skills and this skill set is of real value to com­pa­nies in all sec­tors.

How­ever, the ACCA course, in the eyes of those who have been through it, is viewed as a lot more flex­i­ble and a great deal more busi­ness ori­en­tated than the ICA route. The fact that the qual­i­fi­ca­tion is a global one, and that the ACCA has 154,000 mem­bers in some 170 coun­tries is also viewed as a con­sid­er­able ben­e­fit since it pro­vides a great deal of cross-bor­der mo­bil­ity to any­one look­ing to build a ca­reer in a multi­na­tional com­pany.

This was cer­tainly how Damian Wyatt, fi­nan­cial con­troller at Bibby Off­shore, viewed things when he left school.

“My de­sire, right from when I was study­ing economics for Alevels, was to be­come a di­rec­tor of a FTSE 100 com­pany,” he ex­plains. “When I looked at the qual­i­fi­ca­tions that di­rec­tors tended to have, ac­coun­tancy fig­ured very promi­nently, so it was clear to me that to get from where I was, as a school leaver, to be­ing a di­rec­tor of a ma­jor com­pany, an ac­coun­tancy qual­i­fi­ca­tion was go­ing to be es­sen­tial.”

His next step was to choose be­tween the ICA qual­i­fi­ca­tion and that of­fered by the ACCA.

The huge ad­van­tage of the ACCA route at that time was that you could start qual­i­fy­ing im­me­di­ately upon leav­ing school, with­out hav­ing to go to univer­sity in the first in­stance.

“It seemed to me to make a lot more sense to start train­ing im­me­di­ately as an ac­coun­tant rather than do­ing three years at univer­sity first,” Wyatt says.

“I started study­ing with the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ac­count­ing Tech­ni­cians (AAT), do­ing book­keep­ing and pay­roll with a small firm in Southport called Lith­gow Nel­son.

“How­ever, af­ter a few years I was very fo­cused on pro­vid­ing pay­roll ser­vices, which was a bit too

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