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My ACA experience: Ysabella

After studying her maths degree in the UK, Ysabella was the first ICAEW Chartered Accountant to undertake their ACA training in Gibraltar. She returned home to a training agreement with Deloitte after giving herself a head start on the ACA by completing the ICAEW CFAB in her own time while she was at university.

Ysabella Santos

Ysabella Santos Audit Assistant Manager, Deloitte Gibraltar


Industry: Audit and assurance

Location: Gibraltar

Ysabella's story...

I completed five A levels at home in Gibraltar and then moved to the UK to study Mathematics at the University of Nottingham. During this time I decided to study the ACA after university to become a chartered accountant. 

I chose the ACA because it is a prestigious and globally recognised qualification and its professional reputation attracted my interest.

As I got no exemptions from my course, the ACA suited me because I was able to complete the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business during university and that gave me a head start. 

I now work in the audit department in the Gibraltar branch of Deloitte . A typical day for me involves: 

  • performing audit fieldwork at our client’s premises; 
  • leading a team of two or three individuals; 
  • coaching the juniors; 
  • reporting to the audit manager or partner; and 
  • building client relationships. 

From this I have developed leadership and team-working skills, as well as presentation and communication skills. I am able to understand different businesses and I can add value to the audits by tailoring it to suit different client needs.

Working in the audit department means we are constantly exposed to new and complex scenarios with lots of different clients. My ACA training means that I have sufficient knowledge and experience to: challenge accounting methods and identify weaknesses from a financial and a strategic business perspective. I am also able to provide relevant advice and recommendations. 

I have had many high points so far in my career, including being promoted to Audit Assistant Manager and assigned to lead the audit of high profile local clients. 

My highest point has been becoming the first ICAEW Chartered Accountant to have trained in Gibraltar. I hope to inspire new accountants in Gibraltar and to help them achieve the ACA too.

Although being promoted to Audit Assistant Manager was a high point it was also a struggle to balance studying for the Advanced Level exams and the additional duties that came with the promotion. 

It was a tough challenge, but it has given me excellent organisational and time-management skills and has made my success greater in the end! 

Even the low points have been a learning curve and the most important one for me was when I failed an exam. It was the first time I had ever failed an exam and it made me change my way of thinking, both in exams and everyday life. 

I learned the power of positive thinking and the importance of controlling the way you approach challenging situations so you are able to achieve things you may think are impossible. 

One thing I love about my job is that I get to work within a department of highly intelligent people, who I have learned a great deal from. Everyone is constantly achieving great things and they are always supported, encouraged and celebrated. 

The work may be challenging, but it is extremely rewarding and pushes me to continue learning and developing as a professional.

My main objective now is to be in a managerial position within the next five years. I hope to be a successful woman, overcoming new challenges to develop professionally and making a difference in Gibraltar’s business world. 

I also hope to be an inspiration to new trainees, helping them to achieve their ACA by offering them advice, sharing my experiences, and provide them with any other form of support.


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