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My ACA experience: Alice

I work in public sector audit so during final audits I would be involved in testing material areas of public sector accounts. Whether that be an NHS, local government or central government body.

Alice Taylor

Alice Taylor Financial Audit Trainee

ICAEW route: AAT-ACA Fast Track

Industry: Audit and assurance

Location: Cardiff

Alice's story...

Why did you choose to continue your studies after AAT?

I thoroughly enjoyed studying AAT Levels 2-4 as part of my three year Financial Audit Apprenticeship programme at Audit Wales. Studying AAT allowed me to understand the fundamentals of financial and management accounting. However, I wanted to expand my knowledge further and work towards qualifying as a Chartered Accountant so I started my ACA journey.

How did AAT prepare you for the ACA qualification?

Studying Levels 2-4 over the 3 years allowed me to slowly build on my accounting knowledge. This made sure I was able to have enough time to grasp the basics of double entry, management and financial accounts preparation. We also covered other topics like ethics and tax which come up in a lot of ACA modules. AAT has put in good stead for ACA as in my ACA learning/exams I can draw on knowledge from AAT and ACA combined, which will hopefully give me more well-rounded knowledge.  Also, one massive positive to note is that studying AAT provides you with exemptions from some ACA exams. For me I had exemptions from 4/6 of the Certificate Level Exams so only had to sit Law and Assurance. 

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications?

After I completed AAT and my apprenticeship I was lucky enough to be offered a place on Audit Wales graduate scheme. ACA is the qualification chosen by my employer. However, this is the accounting qualification I would have chosen myself. As it is a highly reputable qualification and covers key areas you will need when out on audit/working in practice. 

What do you do day-to-day in your role?

I work in public sector audit so during final audits I would be involved in testing material areas of public sector accounts. Whether that be an NHS, local government  or central government body. There is always lots to do in final audit and so each year I often find I am able to work on a new area of the accounts that I haven’t worked on before. Some of the account areas I have been involved in are PPE, receivable, payable, payroll etc. This helps consolidate my learning in both AAT and ACA.I am also fortunate to work at am amazing organisation which supports our learning and development. Colleagues are more than happy to offer support if I have any questions around my accounting qualification.

What do you love the most about what you do? 

I love that in Audit Wales we are able to make a difference to public sector and ensure value for money. Our audits are vital in ensuring public money is spent efficiently and accounted for correctly.  In a broader sense, I love that accountancy is constantly changing and evolving with new disclosures needed for e.g climate change and new technologies being created e.g automated invoicing etc.  This means ACA learners/ accountants are always constantly challenged and there is always more to learn. 


What’s something that’s surprised you in your accountancy journey?

I would say I was surprised how different each different set of accounts are across the various sectors. I can really see the important of having experts on local knowledge as some accounts are quite complicated.


What is one piece of advice you’d give to AAT trainees and AAT-qualified who are considering their next steps and may not be sure whether to progress?

You need to think about career progression and where you want to be career wise in the next 5 years. AAT allows you to become an Accounting Technician which is fantastic and allows you to get jobs like Assistant Accountant, Accounts Payable/Receivable Assistants etc. But if you are looking to get a more senior role e.g Accountant, Finance Manager etc then most job adverts ask for you to be Chartered Accountant registered with a Professional Accounting Body. So studying ACA would be the right option for you.