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My ACA experience: Jas

After finishing school Jas wanted to get a taster of what a career as an accountant would be like so she look the AAT Level 3 apprenticeship before completing the ICAEW Level 7 apprenticeship on her way to completing the ACA qualification and the status of ICAEW Chartered Accountant.

Jas Rayat

Jas Rayat Trainee Business Adviser, BDO UK LLP

ICAEW route: AAT-ACA Fast Track

Industry: Advisory

Location: Birmingham, United Kingdom

Jas' story...

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

After finishing college I decided that I didn’t want to rush into doing a degree without knowing what the reality of working in accountancy was like. So at 18 I started working as an Accounts Assistant at an accountancy practice to complete the AAT Level 3 apprenticeship which gave me valuable real world experience in preparing financial statements for companies. I knew I wanted to become an accountant and I realised the apprenticeship route allowed me to build key on the job skills, gain valuable experience and earn a salary so I took the opportunity to pursue the ACA Level 7 apprenticeship instead of the university degree option. Looking back I’m so glad I chose the apprenticeship route as the wealth of experience it’s given me has put me in an advantageous position for my career ahead.

I started the ACA Level 7 apprenticeship at a small firm as an Audit Assistant where I worked within a team to provide audit services and fieldwork for a variety of SME’s from industries such as manufacturing, motor vehicle, and construction, as well as multi-academy trusts and other professional service firms. I also worked on preparing financial statements, statutory annual accounts, and corporation tax and personal tax returns. Even though I hadn’t completed my ACA qualification I still had freedom to pursue other opportunities, so I moved to BDO who supported the remainder of my qualification and training.

My current role at BDO as Trainee Business Adviser involves the preparation of management accounts and statutory annual accounts compliant with financial reporting standards for SME companies from a variety of industries. I work within a team to provide our clients and their companies with a range of accounting, advisory and compliance services to support their growth and business journey.

Why do you think it’s so important that workplaces support and celebrate diversity? Has ICAEW played a role in this?

Research has shown that workplace diversity brings many benefits to organizations, including improved creativity, innovation, problem-solving, and better decision-making. Moreover, creating an inclusive workplace is a matter of social responsibility and makes business sense. Diversity and inclusion are a key pillar of ICAEW's strategy which has been supported through the development of initiatives and resources, publishing guidance and articles, and delivering webinars and events to promote diversity in the accountancy profession.

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications?

The ACA qualification is one of the most prestigious and globally recognised accounting qualifications, it’s rigorous syllabus and professional development programme equips you with the skills, knowledge and confidence required to deliver work to high standards. ICAEW offer various benefits to students and lifelong benefits after qualifying to support their members which also appealed to me.

Who or what inspired you to become a chartered accountant?

I’ve always had an interest in knowing how the finances work within a company, I enjoy problem solving and working with numbers so becoming an accountant was a natural fit. Accountancy offers a broad range of opportunities to work in almost any industry as proper finance control in fundamental to the success of businesses and organisations, this allows for freedom and flexibility to explore what you enjoy doing most and caters to different interests and strengths.

Accountancy is a highly regulated profession that requires a rigorous training and certification process which adds a great sense of accomplishment, prestige, and recognition. Chartered Accountants play a critical role in helping businesses and organizations manage their finances effectively, which provides a rewarding opportunity to make a positive impact on society. All these factors and others inspired my interest in becoming a chartered accountant.

Our 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?

My career path, attitude, and skill set support this by being adaptable and open to new ideas. I am always seeking to expand my knowledge and skills in the field, and I have a strong focus on teamwork and collaboration, which allows me to effectively work with and support my colleagues in pushing the boundaries of traditional accountancy.

By adopting a mindset of lifelong learning, thinking strategically, developing strong technology skills, and collaborating with colleagues, I can deliver more value to my clients and drive growth in my own career. This approach allows me to stay ahead of the curve, bring fresh perspectives to traditional routes, and contribute to the profession's evolution.

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

I think there is a stereotype that accountants are very introverted and work in solitude just preparing numerical reports. But in reality there’s so much more that we do. We get involved in advisory aspects and support businesses on their journey to become bigger and better. I have a lot of client interaction where I can truly get to know them and their businesses, and I’m surrounded by sociable colleagues that work together to achieve shared goals in delivering high quality work for our clients.

Why did you decide to go down the route you did?

I knew that I wanted to go into accountancy and when I discovered that I would still need to spend 3 years studying the ACA qualification after spending 3 years doing a degree it made me consider other pathways to become a chartered accountant.

By going down the apprenticeship route I would gain valuable on the job experience, earn a salary and receive professional tuition to study the ACA qualification which would be fully funded by the government and my employer. Gaining real experience in accountancy whilst making progress towards the ACA qualification appealed to me more than the university route.

What do you love the most about what you do? 

I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing complex financial tasks using problem solving skills and building meaningful relationships with clients to truly get to know them and their business. It’s very rewarding working with the financial affairs of a business to support them on their journey and see them grow to new heights.

I enjoy new challenges brought on by the variety of work I get involved with because they provide the opportunity to develop and sharpen my skills and it’s exciting to work with different types of businesses from many industries and sectors. I enjoy working with my colleagues and our collective effort towards shared goals provides a great sense of achievement.

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