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My ACA experience: Aqeel

Coming from a Law degree, Aqeel was inspired to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant from his experience with tax strategies.

Aqeel Khan

Aqeel Khan Assistant Accountant, BHP

ICAEW route: Graduate

Industry: Audit and assurance

Location: Chesterfield

Aqeel's story...

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

I commenced my training contract with BHP in January 2020 and started studying for my ACA qualification soon thereafter. My work at BHP helped me understand how business operations and the importance of internal controls in an organisation.

My day-to-day role is of an audit assistant working as part of the charities and academies team in the Chesterfield office. I am responsible for the successful completion of audits, accounts preparation and occasionally management accounts. I also provide support to new trainees who need guidance to further develop themselves. Training at BHP has provided me with an opportunity to gain extensive experience and kickstart my career.

Why do you think it’s so important that workplaces support and celebrate diversity? Has ICAEW played a role in this?

It is important that workplaces support and celebrate diversity because it brings different point of views to an organisation, providing innovative solutions and radical progression. It builds stronger relationships between team members and provides learning opportunities that are beneficial to the organisation as a whole. 

In my opinion, ICAEW has had a major role in supporting and celebrating diversity because it encourages individuals of different backgrounds to study for the qualification and provides support to all despite their race or religion thereby creating a professional community reflective of the society we live in.

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications?

I chose to do ACA because it is a globally recognised qualification which focuses equally on technical understanding and practical experience. The qualification also bolsters transferable skills that can be used to work in any industry and ICAEW provides excellent support to its students throughout their training. ACA exams are difficult and BHP has continued to provide support and guidance throughout my training and practical work experience. 

Who or what inspired you to become a chartered accountant?

My inspiration to become a chartered accountant came from my prior studies wherein I developed an interest and understanding of different tax strategies and how to structure an acquisition in a tax efficient manner. This helped me understand the work of a chartered accountant with a keen interest in audit. 

I chose to become an auditor because I am able to add value to the client organisation by advising them on their internal controls, processes and how to operate more profitably. Furthermore, I am able to build relationships with various individuals and understand the industry in which the clients operate; enhancing my technical competence and value as a chartered accountant. 

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?

The ACA qualification certainly challenges the traditional accountancy routes and career paths. Before commencing ACA, I was a Law graduate with prior experience at law firms and little accountancy experience. However, this qualification has equipped me with the fundamental skills and qualities necessary to become a successful accountant.

I have been able to bring analytical skills from my past experiences in law to my accountancy profession which demonstrates my unique approach and skillset. ICAEW accountants come from a range of different backgrounds (not necessarily finance) making them very unique and adding to their value worldwide.

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

The image of a stereotypical accountant amounts an individual - often male - although brilliant at maths, is boring with a poor work-life balance. This is false. An accountant’s role is not often limited to daily number crunching. As an accountant I regularly meet and interact with new people from a wide range of industries. I also get enough time to spend with my family and pursue my interests in fitness.

The industry may have been male dominated 10-20 years ago but the modern accounting industry is diverse and inclusive with ICAEW actively doing its part to support this.

Accountants are indeed good at maths however, we are not required to solve complex mathematical equations! As someone who last did maths in my GCSEs, I was provided with plenty of support from BHP and have been to pass that on to new trainees.

Why did you decide to go down the route you did?

Previously having done a Law degree I realised that it was not for me. Going down the ACA route provided me with an opportunity to realign my career goals with my aspirations all while working full-time. I am provided with full study support at work and time off work for study and revision, with ICAEW helpline also provide excellent guidance when required.

What do you love the most about what you do?;

What I love the most about my job is the unpredictable nature of the work that I do as an auditor. Auditing has provided me with an understanding of various industries and opportunities to learn and grow from that experience. The team that I work with has also been a tremendous help throughout my journey and I love passing down the knowledge I’ve gained from senior members of staff to new trainees. Meeting new people as part of my work is bonus providing a unique opportunity to gain the soft skills invaluable to an auditor.

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

The skills that I bring to my career as an auditor from law includes analytical and communication skills as well as a keen awareness of the laws and regulations. When working for the law clinic at my university, I was required to analyse large chunks of information efficiently. As an auditor, I am still required to analyse a lot of information albeit in a different form. I now apply those skills to analyse data for material misstatements and assess its reasonableness. My legal knowledge also helps when looking at the laws and regulations sections of an audit file. Preparing a case for the client involved filling in sensitive paperwork and meeting the client to describe their legal position to them clearly and effectively. This skill of communication can be translated directly to an audit role when discussing data with the client and staff members in the firm.