Vocational learning in accountancy

Hannah Murphy is one of the leading products of the Haines Watts’ approach to supporting staff in their careers, joining the firm as an 18-year-old AAT apprentice and now, just twelve years later, taking the role of Audit and Accounts manager for the Birmingham office.

There are certain sectors where people automatically assume you will need to venture to University in order to be successful.

Law and medicine are the two that immediately spring to mind and, when I was deciding on what career path I was going to take, I kind of convinced myself that accountancy would be the same.

I was always more suited to learning on the job, so the thought of more academia would have been a major barrier, but a few conversations later and I quickly realised that there was a different route I could take that was more vocational.

That was twelve years ago. A lot has happened since I put pen to paper on my first AAT Apprenticeship with Haines Watts, one of the UK’s leading independent accountants that specialise in owner-managed businesses.

From the minute I started here, I was encouraged to think big, and this has seen me move quickly move through the ranks, completing my apprenticeship and then my Chartered qualification at 23 before holding positions as an audit and accounts junior then audit and accounts senior.

I have been supported throughout with mentoring from senior figures at the firm, as well as specialist external training, with the latest example being an 18-month Managers’ Skills Programme that has increased collaboration across all our offices in the West Midlands.

Starting as an Apprentice has accelerated my career path, as I was able to apply theory to real life scenarios. There’s a lot you can learn from textbooks and tutors, but you can’t substitute learning how to manage different personalities and hitting the tightest of deadlines.

A development plan has been in place and any training I’ve asked for has been supported, as it will ultimately help our clients. Although we’re now one of the top 20 accountants in the UK, it still has a very personal feel about the business and this is great for teamworking, learning from more experienced colleagues and when challenging the status quo with new ideas.

Going forward

I’m now 30-years-old and responsible for a 12-strong team of auditors, who are looking after clients from ten different sectors and who have a combined £1billion annual turnover.

That variety is one of the favourite aspects of the job and is one of the attributes I’m currently using to attract new people to our team, with three new positions available as an Audit Senior, Audit Semi-Senior and Audit Accounts Senior.

No day is ever the same at Haines Watts and this really appeals to professionals, who may not get the same opportunity with the big four accountants.

There are lots of different career paths you can take and support for you is there all the way whether you join us an apprentice, as a graduate or as experienced accountant.

All you need to do is have the best interests of our owner-managed clients at heart and a passion to help them grow.

By Hannah Murphy

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