In October 2019 Alice Prout celebrated her first year with Randall & Payne after starting as a part-qualified accountant studying for her AAT level 4. We revisit her experience post-pandemic.
A year in…
After completing her A ‘levels Alice got a summer job doing an admin role for a small accountancy practice in Cheltenham and was planning to go to university in the September, but when an accounts trainee role came up she decided to stay at the firm and defer university for a year.
She didn’t end up taking the university place as she found she was enjoying learning on-the-job and realised that being an accountant doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a mathematical genius, but have an eye for detail and an element of problem solving, which she really enjoys.
With her desire to further her qualifications, Alice spotted a vacancy for a part-qualified accountant at Randall & Payne, who she had become aware of through the firm’s CSR presence on various digital platforms.
I was aware of Randall & Payne through reading the daily Punchline newsletter and I followed their achievements at the British Accountancy Awards. I got the impression that they were a caring firm based on their work in the community through numerous charity initiatives and sponsorship of the Gloucestershire Business Awards.”
Alice sailed through her first interview and recalls feeling a little nervous when she was called back for the second, but she was soon put at ease as she was encouraged to talk about herself and her interests and not her accounting knowledge at this stage.
Having achieved her AAT level 4 in August, Alice has now started her ACCA. A year into her role she has commented on how friendly and welcoming everyone is and how little things the firm does helps her feel part of the family. “At the monthly staff meeting, our Managing Partner, Tim Watkins, congratulates those in the team who have recently passed exams which is a simple thing but makes you feel valued”.
She explained that you get study time out of the office to prepare for exams and there is one exam a quarter which is manageable in terms of the work and study balance.
At Randall & Payne I am surrounded by other trainees at a similar level so we can share experiences whereas in my previous role I was the only one. I have a ‘study buddy’ for my ACCA which is a new initiative. It’s great to be able to ask advice from colleagues who have been through the same qualification and work at the same place.”
Of the role itself, Alice enjoys the variety it offers, giving her an insight into the diverse picture of businesses in Gloucestershire which keeps her role fresh and interesting.
Alice explains that the main change since her first year with the firm has been the support throughout Covid-19, with study being delivered over Zoom rather than attending face-to-face sessions in Bristol. The tutors have been at the end of the phone should they need any help while they are working from home.
Even now that face-to-face lessons have returned, we have the option of doing the course over Zoom which is a massive benefit as it saves travel time every day, which can be used for revision instead!”
Alice has been working towards her PER (Practical Experience Requirements – a requirement of the ACCA qualification). This involves having nine performance objectives signed off by her line manager and has enabled her to take on more responsibility through helping more junior members of staff, engaging with clients more and reporting key changes to reporting standards back to the team.