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My ACA experience: Arnab

I have opportunities to liaise with a variety of people including colleagues in the UK and overseas as well as clients, ranging from Finance Managers to senior finance leaders such as Finance Directors and CFOs.

Arnab Datta

Arnab Datta Manager, Assurance - Ernst & Young LLP

ICAEW route: Graduate

Industry: Financial Decisions and Analysis

Location: London

Arnab's story...

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

I started my career at a Big 4 firm and completed the ACA training scheme, as well as gained post qualification experience in Audit and Forensic Accounting. I am currently a Manager in Assurance at EY in London, specialising in the audits of technology and media companies. My role includes planning and coordination of audits, reviewing the team’s work and assisting clients with complex accounting areas. I have opportunities to liaise with a variety of people including colleagues in the UK and overseas as well as clients, ranging from Finance Managers to senior finance leaders such as Finance Directors and CFOs.

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications?

I chose the ACA since I believe that it is the premier accountancy qualification and it is well recognised within the industry. Also, the qualification is available to study in different countries, demonstrating that it has a global reach. I thought that this qualification would provide a path for a variety of career opportunities in the future. 

Who or what inspired you to become a chartered accountant?

Becoming a chartered accountant provides an opportunity to have a significant positive impact in the finance industry. Staying in practice means that you gain a deep knowledge of a particular sector and also there is the option of moving into industry where you can make a real difference to the operations of a company. Also, I discovered that chartered accountants are able to certify documents such as passports, so that was an added bonus.

ICAEW qualified 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?

Although I followed the traditional route of going to university and joining a graduate ACA training scheme, I have provided coaching to a number of people who undertaken the school leaver route, as well as graduates who have studied a range of subjects. I think that having different types of experience widens your skillset and gives you a broader outlook, so diversity within a team has a positive impact within companies. 

Also, it is important to be innovative and continue to develop your skills during your career. For example, I have spent time researching and working with data analytics tools, which includes performing correlation analysis and investigating unusual journals and provides greater insights to clients. I have also had the opportunity to learn more about Artificial Intelligence and organise an interesting event about AI at EY, which was co-hosted by ICAEW Younger Members London.

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

Accountancy is a career that brings with it a certain stereotype. However, being focused on analysing figures and working on spreadsheets does not cover the variety of work that chartered accountants are involved in. For example, accountancy professionals can specialise in areas such as Audit, Tax, Transactions, Restructuring and Forensic investigations. The breadth of opportunities makes it a truly rewarding long term career. 

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?

EY is a firm that embraces diversity and equality and I have had various opportunities to support these important values. For example, I have been involved in mentoring students from different backgrounds and delivering workshops to improve their skills. Also, I have appeared in a video, which explained the opportunities and challenges for colleagues from a BAME background. Together all of these initiatives have brought diversity and inclusion to the forefront of people’s minds. I believe that the more frequently this topic is discussed, the more progress will be made in the profession as a whole. There are also senior leaders who promote diversity and equality and it is great to see role models spreading the message at both EY and different organisations in the accountancy industry. 

How has being a diversity champion supported you?

Being a diversity champion has given me a platform to provide advice to others but also gain a valuable insight into other people’s careers. Being involved in careers events has helped to develop my networking and presentation skills. It is important to widen access to the accountancy profession and having ambassadors to support this is key in terms of promoting the message of diversity and inclusion.

Also, learning about other people’s backgrounds quickly taught me that there is no typical chartered accountant. We are all shaped by our previous experience and we can make a real difference by utilising that experience in a positive way to help others. 

What do you love the most about what you do? 

What I enjoy most about my career is the variety of work. I have had the opportunity to travel to different countries and network with a range of people within my firm and with clients. Also, I have been involved in interesting projects, which have enabled me to apply the knowledge gained during the ACA training scheme in a practical context. 

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?

A career in chartered accountancy appealed to me since it is an interesting and varied career and would give me the opportunity to build upon my previous skills. My degree in Economics and Economic History at the LSE helped me to develop my numerical and analytical skills. However, I also wrote a dissertation, which gave me the freedom to complete independent research. This mixture of skills has helped me as I have progressed through my career, as there are more opportunities to write reports and give presentations to both colleagues and clients. 

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