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My ACA Experience: Travis

Travis believes that chartered accountants have a unique skillset that makes them well placed to lead and/or significantly influence businesses for the greater good.

Travis Benn

Travis Benn Audit Director, Accounting for Energy Ltd

ICAEW route: Graduate

Industry: Advisory, Business

Location: London

Travis' story...

Tell us about your career journey and what you do day-to-day in your role.

I began my career with Grant Thornton, where I worked as an auditor. I really enjoyed travelling across the UK, visiting different clients every week and learning about their different businesses. I then moved to a smaller boutique firm that catered to SME and owner-managed businesses before eventually joining EY.

Whilst at EY, I got the opportunity to work with large FTSE 100 companies, advise a major UK retailer that went into administration and help to improve EY’s relationship with the Department for International Development. I then worked for the UK’s leading independent renewable energy generator and assisted them in preparing to become listed on the London Stock Exchange. Whilst working there, I spotted a gap in the market and decided to co-found (with my wife) a start-up business, Accounting for Energy, that specialised on the renewable energy market. I currently oversee the company’s royalty audits, which involves interacting with energy companies and my clients on a daily basis to ensure that they getting the best returns from their renewable energy projects.           

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications?

I felt that the ACA was the most prestigious accountancy qualification that would give me the most credibility and open the most doors for my future career. I also thought that larger accountancy firms and businesses preferred ACA qualified students (as this was seen as more academically rigorous), therefore I believed that the ACA would give me a head start.   

Who or what inspired you to become a chartered accountant?

I first though of becoming an accountant whilst applying for university. I considered many careers, including International Development (which I believed could improve people’s lives and living conditions) but I also wanted a well-recognised qualification that would equip me with the skills to make a tangible impact. I believe chartered accountants can make a tremendous contribution to any organisation, in any industry. Therefore, it can open rather than limit your potential, especially if you do not yet know which industry you will eventually prefer to work in.  

Our accountants are more than you’d imagine. They challenge the traditional accountancy routes and career paths. They have an innovative approach and skill to their work. How does your career path, attitude and skillset support this?

I think the world has changed since our parent’s generation; whereby young people are seeking greater fulfilment (rather than safety) in their career choice. My ACA training gave me exposure to a wide variety of people and businesses in a structured learning and working environment. I gained knowledge and new skills from this training and I become more open minded to new opportunities due to the wide variety of work I undertook, which I am still benefitting from today.

Do you think there is such a thing as a stereotypical accountant? If so, how do you challenge this stereotype?

Yes, we all know people who may be more traditional than others, due to their unique skills and interests. However, this is a very broad profession that requires individuals with different strengths and interests in order to meet the needs of every organisation and industry. I have simply allowed my own strengths and passion to guide my own journey towards the types of work that is more suited to me.

Diversity and equality are fundamental values in chartered accountancy. Could you speak about how you have supported these values and what they mean to you?

In the context of my current work in the renewable energy industry, this means creating a mutually beneficial marketplace in which everyone can expect a fair return, by promoting greater transparency, accountability and a level playing field - particularly where certain groups are under-represented in the decision-making process. 

How do you think Chartered Accountants can make an impact to sustainability and the world? What can students do to ensure they obtain a sustainable mind-set?

Chartered Accountants are well respected in their organisations (and wider society), therefore, we can use our influence to draw attention (and credibility) to the importance of sustainability. 

Chartered Accountants also have a privileged insight into every organisation. Therefore, we can take the lead in showing the link between, and measuring the sustainability of, our activities and its impact on the world, particularly where this is not immediately obvious.  

Students can research and learn about the current sustainability challenges affecting the world, find out what is presently being done to address these, and find out which issues they are most passionate about.

What do you love the most about what you do? 

As a co-founder of a start-up business, I love the freedom (and responsibility) of deciding what work I should do and which location I should work from every day. Also, I love the feeling of receiving positive feedback from clients and knowing that we have provided great value and have exceeded their expectations.   

At ICAEW, we encourage applicants from all degree backgrounds. What skills do you bring to your career due to your degree in economics and why did chartered accountancy appeal to you after graduating?

Economics is often described as “the study of mankind in the ordinary business of life” and accounting is known to be “the language of business”. Therefore, I think studying economics give me a greater interest in the wider economy and understanding of how businesses can achieve change. Further, chartered accountants have a unique skillset and are well placed to lead and/or significantly influence these businesses for the greater good. 

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