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My ACA experience: Shabbir

After completing an internship at PwC during his degree, Shabbir joined the firm on a graduate ACA training scheme. He’s now qualified as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant and enjoying the challenge of a diverse portfolio of clients and getting involved in projects on how digital technologies are shaping the future of accountancy.

Shabbir Merali

Shabbir Merali Senior Associate Employer, PWC

ICAEW route: Graduate - degree with placement

Industry: Financial Decisions and Analysis

Location: UK, London

Shabbir's story

The ACA is a globally recognised, gold standard qualification which equips members with technical knowledge, training and experience. I believe the ACA is a solid foundation to build a career upon and I was particularly intrigued with the broad career paths that ICAEW Chartered Accountants have taken.

Having previously interned with PwC, I joined full time on the graduate scheme straight after leaving University College London. I chose to join the Banking and Capital Markets Assurance division, which is where I was based during my qualification.

As clichéd as it sounds, I don’t think I have a typical day as such. Working with multiple clients, on a variety of different projects ensures that you constantly face different challenges and work on new problems, and it is this variety that I enjoy the most about my role.

I have only recently completed my ACA, having finished my exams in November 2015. Since qualifying I have moved to the Financial Decisions and Analysis team, within the Deals division at PwC. 

We help clients make better decisions by combining commercial, technology, data and finance skills and I’ve been especially interested in how we can use data and analytics to derive unique insights; it’s a really exciting space to be involved in.

The two things I enjoy the most about my job are probably the variety and the people. 

There is an extraordinary diversity of work at PwC, and the chance to work on different projects, such as a recent initiative I was involved with that focused on Fintech. The potential for digital technologies to transform the future of financial services, has been hugely interesting.

On a day-to-day basis, it’s the people. Working alongside smart, motivated and fun colleagues makes the role much more interesting.

I’ve been fortunate to have won multiple awards during my qualification process and it’s always great to have the recognition and the opportunities that open up.

I think the highlight was winning the Peat Medal for the overall best performance across the final ACA exams.

The comprehensive exam syllabus gives you a firm grounding across multiple areas of businesses and the accounting behind it.

However, it’s the on-the-job training, during which you apply the technical knowledge obtained, where you really develop your understanding of how businesses operate and enhance your commercial acumen.

The hardest thing I’ve found in my career to date has been deciding what it is that I want to do. Especially after completing the ACA, you have so many options for the direction of your future career.

Evaluating your own strengths and thinking strategically to decide what it actually is that you’re passionate about, is quite a difficult challenge.

I’ve always been hugely interested in economics and politics and I’d potentially like to do something which would combine those interests with the skills I’ve developed during my ACA.

I haven’t got any concrete plans as such; I’m excited to see where my career path leads!

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