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Max Whiteley

What inspires me is making a real difference to peoples lives, whether that is helping them improve their financial position or change their quality of life.


Max Whiteley

Max Whiteley Head of Accounts, Accounts & Legal

ICAEW route: AAT-ACA Fast Track

Industry: Business

Location: Liverpool

Max's story...

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

My Journey started straight from school aged 16 years old, full of enthusiasm, I started an accountancy apprenticeship with MBL (Business & Tax Advisers) Ltd in Altrincham where I completed my AAT qualification. After working as a member of their accounts team for six years I moved to UHY Hacker Young in Manchester as a senior member of their Cloud accounting team. In the summer of 2021, I moved to Accounts & Legal to take on the role of Head of Accounting in their new Liverpool office. My day to day role involves manages a team of amazing accountants and advising my clients as an outsourced finance director.

Why did you choose the ACA over other accounting qualifications?

I was initially guided by my first employer, with the recommendation that ICAEW’s history and strong reputation amongst the industry meant that ACA was, in their opinion the most prestigious accounting qualification and the reason I went on the ACA path over other alternatives.

Who or what inspired you to become a chartered accountant?

My grandparents emigrated from Ireland when they were around 16 to the UK, they carved a good life for themselves through manual labour and good old fashioned hard graft. My Mum and Dad followed suit with manual jobs, working weekends and providing me and my two siblings with an amazing life.  So when it came us, the family always joked about us having to be accountants or solicitors and to earn money with our brains rather than our hands. This came into fruition with my sister becoming a solicitor and both me and my brother chartered accountants! My inspiration to continue to be an accountant couldn’t be any different, what inspires me now is making a real difference to peoples lives, whether that is helping them improve their financial position or change their quality of life.

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?

I’m passionate about changing the accountancy industry and the lives of owner managed businesses across the UK. Being a specialist in all things Cloud accounting and business advisory, I help provide finance services that can help owners spend more time ON their businesses rather than IN their businesses, using real time information and the latest tech. Working on technical audits for billion pound corporations is great, but for me making a real difference to a business owners life is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Whether that’s helping them create more wealth for their family or helping them achieve the lifestyle they have always dreamed of.

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

I often use the analogy that a clients trip to see a stereotypical accountant is like trip to the dentist. It usually happens once a year unless your reacting to something bad happening, It’s expensive, you don’t understand half the jargon they come out with and it like a nasty tax bill it usually ends in a painful manner. I challenge this completely.

Alongside my colleagues, we see our clients at least once every three months, we speak in plain English, we are proactive rather than reactive, and we complete tax planning throughout the year so there are no nasty surprises. Going one step further it is not just about the historical numbers, with the use of tech and real time data, we have the ability to plan and forecast for businesses to give them the best chance of success.

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

During my time at UHY I had the privilege of working under Stuart Hurst, a thought leader in the cloud accounting space, he opened my eyes to the world of tech and automation and the belief that accountancy wasn’t just a form filling tick box exercise, but a service that can make a real difference to peoples lives, especially owner managed businesses who more often than not have no finance team in house or financial education themselves.

It was then I became an expert in Cloud accounting platforms such as Xero, my job for the last 7 years has been to help companies keep track of their finances on the go, using the latest time saving tools and accounting methods.

What do you love the most about what you do?

Being part of my clients journey and helping them achieve more than they ever dreamed possible. I have worked with a start-up client who now has a turnover of more that £10million in three years, I have helped a client free up there weekend previously spent bookkeeping so they can spend more time with their children.

What ever the desired outcome, I love to be able to plan with my clients further than the numbers and keep them accountable for striving towards their initial goal.

At ICAEW, we encourage applicants from all backgrounds. What skills do you bring to your career due to your degree/or other studies and why did chartered accountancy appeal to you?

I had completed my AAT qualification whilst working at a local firm of accountants in Altrincham call MBL. Having gained practical experience, and learnt from some amazing accountants and tax advisors over the four years it took me to complete the qualification, I felt that I had an advantage over most of the graduates who were enrolling into the course with me, as I had not only learnt the books but also had chance to put it into practice.