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My ACA experience: Julian

After seeking advice from others in the profession, I decided to pursue the ACA qualification due to its prestige and also the future career security, flexibility and recognition it would afford me.

Julian Ford

Julian Ford Tax Associate, ForrestBrown


Industry: Tax

Location: Bristol, United Kingdom

Julian's story...

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

I previously worked as an electronic engineer but decided to shift towards accounting and tax because of the breadth of opportunities available within this field. I made the move from the big smoke to the vibrant city of Bristol in 2018 and never looked back. I now work for a fast-growing tax consultancy which specialises in Research & Development (R&D) tax credits.

My role is varied, but my mission is always the same: to help innovative businesses grow by harnessing the benefits of R&D tax credits. Day-to-day, I do whatever it takes to deliver great client service; whether that’s meeting with clients, spending time in their organisations, or crunching numbers.

I really enjoy the difference my work can make to an emerging business’s growth, knowing I am contributing to innovation in the UK.

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications? How did completing CFAB help you develop as a professional?

After seeking advice from others in the profession, I decided to pursue the ACA qualification due to its prestige and also the future career security, flexibility and recognition it would afford me.

I chose to study CFAB during my spare time whilst studying a Masters degree in Accounting and Finance; this helped boost my career and differentiated me from other candidates whilst applying for ACA training contracts by demonstrating my commitment to further study.

What do you enjoy about working at ForrestBrown?

We work hard here, but we maintain a work-life balance. The culture is fast-paced, challenging, and supportive with plenty of opportunity to progress my career. Whether I’m cycling for charity or taking the team rock-climbing, I’m a keen advocate for the ‘Workout Wednesday’ initiative.

We all enjoy our morning breakfast and team lunches. Having worked in London for years, I was tired of the commute and high rent and was keen to continue my ICAEW training back in Bristol where I studied my undergraduate degree. Due to the fast-growing nature of the company, it’s more likely I will to be able to make the transition to more senior roles. 

Why did you decide to become an ICAEW Chartered Accountant?

I have always enjoyed problem-solving, this meant that the field of accountancy was appealing. Accounting is a skills-based profession which means I can apply technical knowledge to solve problems and help companies grow.

Becoming a Chartered Accountant is a great qualification to have due to the high levels of job security and career flexibility it brings. The financial services sector is also one of the largest in the UK and brings a huge variety of career opportunities.

Accountants are always in high demand as we have a grasp of financial concepts and business strategy that is useful to a broad range of companies.  

What advice do you have for students who are looking for the right employer?

Apply for a variety of positions; but be sure to tailor your application. If there is an option to call the Recruitment team, talk to them and show you are interested.

Don’t just write down likely question answers before an interview, rehearse reading them out loud repeatedly. Don’t worry, you’ll get a job with patience and persistence.

At ICAEW, we encourage applicants from all degree backgrounds. What skills do you bring to your career due to your degree in electrical and electronic engineering?

Problem-solving, time management and working collaboratively with others who may have a different skillset are all skills I have continued to develop at university and beyond.

Having a background in Electrical and Electronic Engineering really helps when it comes to preparing R&D claims for clients working in the sector.

A better understanding of the client’s R&D helps with writing reports and ensures that we maximise a claim’s value by finding all the pockets of R&D. 

Julian Ford

Find your route

There are a number of different routes to becoming an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. You can start your journey straight from school, while you're at university or after you have graduated. Find out which route is right for you.

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