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
‘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