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Help with making a decision

DeanDean Experienced MentorDevonRegistered Posts: 646
I've posted this on another forum (AS) but haven't had much response - I wonder if you guys might like to give me your thoughts...
Hi

I’m a little stuck at present and hope to feed off your thoughts…

The background;
I’m self-employed - holding AAT & ATT (very soon to be ATT anyway!)

Future;
I wish to continue my study and I’m finding myself in a fortunate position. I have the opportunity of studying either the ACA or the CTA;

An accountant I sub-contract to has (finally!) said yes to employing me and putting me through the ICAEW exams and potentially attaining the ACA. We just have to sort out the financial side of things. There en lies my problem!

As much as I would love to study the ACA I will be funding the tuition myself, employed on a salary - therefore subject to heavier National Insurance and not a receiving my pay ‘gross’ so to speak. I will also have to cease practising for my current clients’. (The same scenario will apply if I were to follow the CTA route).

I guess my question is; if you were in this position what would you do? Be happy enough with the AAT & ATT and progress with experience and be financially better off; or, further the education and take a financial hit now!

My ‘end’ goal is to be self-employed running my own practice (much like I am currently going (I just have a few gremlins!)). I may also be able to take over from the accountant I am sub-contracting to.

If it makes a difference to your opinion– I’m 25 years OLD!

Regards

Dean

p.s. As you can tell I’m a bit up in air, although I feel a little better for writing my thoughts down – I should really start a blog!

Comments

  • deanshepherddeanshepherd Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,809
    Interesting options..

    I guess it depends on the size you have built your current practice to and what you intend to do with the client list.

    I would suggest trying to make arrangements with your soon-to-be employer whereby he purchases your existing clients as part of the deal. This would ease the financial hit of returning to full-time employment.

    As for ACA vs CTA, there is no doubt that ACA will give you more flexibility in terms of future employment opportunities. However, if you would be looking to return to self-employment in the near future then that is not really going to be an option for you.

    ACA is going to take you 3 years to attain and then I believe you need at least 3 years post-qualification before you can obtain a practising certificate (I am open to correction here). So you are looking at 6 years before you can restart on your own.

    CTA you can do whilst remaining self-employed and is probably the option I would choose. It really depends on what your future plans are.

    If you want to get out of self-employment for a while, go for ACA. If you want to get back in asap, go for CTA.
  • DeanDean Experienced Mentor DevonRegistered Posts: 646
    I would suggest trying to make arrangements with your soon-to-be employer whereby he purchases your existing clients as part of the deal. This would ease the financial hit of returning to full-time employment.

    I am hoping to do this. Although, my current client fee may increase and I guess the 'block of fees' would be paid for in stages on a retention basis presumably.
    As for ACA vs CTA, there is no doubt that ACA will give you more flexibility in terms of future employment opportunities. However, if you would be looking to return to self-employment in the near future then that is not really going to be an option for you.

    Another thing I have thought about.

    I've always aspired to the ICAEW, ever since starting my career. Now i'm being given the chance, I'm thinking I can always do CTA at a later date - I may never get this (ACA) opportunity again.
    ACA is going to take you 3 years to attain and then I believe you need at least 3 years post-qualification before you can obtain a practising certificate (I am open to correction here). So you are looking at 6 years before you can restart on your own.

    Yeah, I think that is correct. Not sure if i'll make the 3 years PQE. Time would tell.
    CTA you can do whilst remaining self-employed and is probably the option I would choose. It really depends on what your future plans are.

    True. As it is another step up again from ATT (huge by all accounts), I wouldn't want the study/client pressure I have currently been dealing with!
    If you want to get out of self-employment for a while, go for ACA. If you want to get back in asap, go for CTA.

    I will always be a 'self-employed' now. Now, running into my 3rd year - I know I can survive. I just have a few gremlins that I want to formalise with a chartered qualification.

    Dean, many thanks for taking the time to reply. You and Steve have both been helpful with your thoughts.

    Regards

    Dean
  • shaxxashaxxa Feels At Home Registered Posts: 82
    Hi Dean
    Gosh what a dilemna!
    Here are my thoughts for what they're worth.
    Would you be content with 'just' AAT & ATT? It's already a great accomplishment.
    You would still be your own boss and reap the rewards.
    However, you have to look at the whole picture. For me, it suits me to be self employed and my personal situation.
    After ATT, there is the CTA route if you wish to remain self employed but would this be enough even after achieving CTA status?
    The chance to follow your dreams to having your own practice can be achieved through both routes.
    At the end of the day is it the monetary problem you have or should you be asking yourself 'should I be satisfying my dreams & ambitions over financial gain'?
    At the age of 25 you have many career years ahead of you and you have to visualise the future in both situations.
    And yes, your age does have a bearing on my opinion.
    At my age (44) I am more than content with AAT & hopefully ATT status with the advantages of running my own business from home, but if I were 25 again (ha ha, wishful thinking :lol:) I would certainly have a different aspect of the whole situation.
    Good luck, I'm envious in a funny sort of way :001_tt2:

    Sharon
  • PoodlePoodle Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 711
    Dean

    I am 48 years old. Way back I had a career in Banking, where I gained institute of banking qualifications, I then went self employed with my husband for a while (partner to a builder, bookkeeper, accountant, you know the type), while I had the kids.

    I got bored when he decided to stop trading and went back into employment in industry where I was offered to study for and gained the AAT in 1998. I progressed to a really high managerial level at that position before I had the opportunity to retire early.

    I started my own practice 3 years ago having become bored again and having people chase me for work. I started ACCA at the same time and finished level two. I did this to bring my CPD up to date (don't tell them:001_rolleyes:) before calling it a day on that. I intend to start ATT next year.

    I have a son who is 23 and if you were he and at such a “young age" I would tell him either way to grab the opportunity to gain the 'chartered' status.

    If you decide to go it alone again at some point then you will be in a far stronger position and as Dean S said you may negotiate your client list now with your potential employer so you won’t actually lose sight of them!!

    All the best in whatever you decide, and don’t forget us here at the AAT forum and remember, 30 something to go it alone again, is nothing!

    Poodle
  • DeanDean Experienced Mentor DevonRegistered Posts: 646
    shaxxa wrote: »
    Hi Dean
    Here are my thoughts for what they're worth.

    Any perspective is a welcome one!
    Would you be content with 'just' AAT & ATT? It's already a great accomplishment.

    I am delighted with both of these and you're right it is a great accomplishment on its own. I guess, deep down and although I feel 'old' I am actually young enough to achieve the 'top' rung of the ladder.
    After ATT, there is the CTA route if you wish to remain self employed but would this be enough even after achieving CTA status?

    I don't think I want to take on a chartered qualification and remain self-employed. Whether it be CTA or ACA, attaining chartered status would be enough. As Dean mentioned above, I could probably complete the CTA is a shorter period of time. As the ACA is so difficult to get into, I'm more for it than CTA at present. With the ATT I can do CTA, as, when and if I want to at any time in the future.
    At the end of the day is it the monetary problem you have or should you be asking yourself 'should I be satisfying my dreams & ambitions over financial gain'?At the age of 25 you have many career years ahead of you and you have to visualise the future in both situations.

    I think this is the point. Essentially, I am driven more by ambition than money. With obtaining the AAT & ATT I certainly have nothing else to 'prove' so to speak. After each bit of success I've always strived for that bit more.
    And yes, your age does have a bearing on my opinion.

    I thought it might. Perhaps I shouldn't have put that? I didn't want the "your only a wipper snapper, just get on with it" thoughts - never mind.
    At my age (44) I am more than content with AAT & hopefully ATT status with the advantages of running my own business from home, but if I were 25 again (ha ha, wishful thinking :lol:) I would certainly have a different aspect of the whole situation.

    You're as old as you feel. In which case, I feel about 125! :001_tongue:
    Good luck, I'm envious in a funny sort of way :001_tt2:

    Thank you Sharon :001_smile:


    It's odd really, I make decisions that affect other people’s lives everyday, yet I’m finding it difficult to make one for myself. Though, I'm coming to a conclusion and I think my study will continue either way.

    Regards

    Dean
  • DeanDean Experienced Mentor DevonRegistered Posts: 646
    Poodle wrote: »
    I got bored...
    ...bored again...

    I think this is my 'problem', though I wouldn't use the word bored. I quite like being outside my comfort zone and when I am comfortable with what I am doing I am always thinking "what next", "where is my next challenge".

    I am now starting to feel comfortable in what I am doing. The problem I have is I work so closely with someone that has been a sole practitioner for a long time, has an abundance of experience and is a qualified chartered accountant, coupled with him studying the CTA but never physically sitting the exams. It was the ATII back then apparently :001_tongue:
    I have a son who is 23 and if you were he and at such a “young age" I would tell him either way to grab the opportunity to gain the 'chartered' status.

    Yeah. I seem to be hearing that quite a bit at the moment. It also doesn't help that my partner is about to start her second year of post graduation work experience as an F2 (SHO) doctor! I guess it's a thing in us 'males' that we must be the bread winner! :laugh: One thing for sure, I've kept her for the last 3 years, she can return the favour. :tongue_smilie:
    If you decide to go it alone again at some point then you will be in a far stronger position and as Dean S said you may negotiate your client list now with your potential employer so you won’t actually lose sight of them!!

    That is also very true. Where I am potentially going to become an employee, I hope to one day take over the practice entirely, for that reason I would like to keep that 'word' above the door (chartered).
    All the best in whatever you decide, and don’t forget us here at the AAT forum

    I won't ever forget my roots!
    30 something to go it alone again, is nothing!

    When I read that back it does sound quite young. I'm just fully aware of the slog to get there!

    Regards

    Dean
  • shaxxashaxxa Feels At Home Registered Posts: 82
    Dean
    Having read your recent comments with reference to the thoughts and opinions of others on this thread, all I can say now is

    GO FOR IT!

    Oh and Good Luck!

    Regards
    Sharon :001_tt2:
  • DeanDean Experienced Mentor DevonRegistered Posts: 646
    :biggrin:
  • red_devilred_devil Feels At Home Registered Posts: 52
    Does this mean that there will only be one 'Dean' on the forum answering every single thread?! I always thought you were one and the same person anyway!!

    Best of luck mate in whatever you decide to do. :thumbup1:
  • edkavedkav Feels At Home Registered Posts: 37
    I say go for it too Dean!!! Like Poodle said - 30 something to go alone is nothing!! I think its a great opportunity - go for it!!! :thumbup1:
  • deanshepherddeanshepherd Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,809
    red_devil wrote: »
    Does this mean that there will only be one 'Dean' on the forum answering every single thread?!

    Welcome back Red_Devil!!


    :001_rolleyes:
  • peugeotpeugeot Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 624
    Hi Dean,

    you know my thoughts on this "problem". The only thing I will add is that if I hadn't done ACCA after AAT I would have lived to have regretted it. Granted there were times when I thought 'stuff this, I can't be bothered' but I'm so glad I saw it through and if you want to do ACA/CTA then you should do it and reap the rewards!

    Best wishes
    Steve
  • claudialoweclaudialowe Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 275
    Hi Dean

    Just my short and sweet tuppence worth - go for it -

    Sharon - are you seriously envious? - I thought that you had more than enough on your plate????

    Claudia
  • Hiljay5Hiljay5 New Member Registered Posts: 7
    I say definitely go for ACA in the first instance, then maybe add CTA afterwards if you find you want to concentrate on the tax side. I think you'll kick yourself later on if you don't take a chartered option, and as you have the opportunity of employment now, just do it!

    I certainly wish I'd started sooner - I'm heading for the big 5-0 later this year having spent the last 6 years studying - 3 years AAT qualification, 3 years CIMA (taking last 2 managerial level exams in May so hope to be part-qualified by the summer!) Running a house, and children, and working, makes studying VERY difficult, so my advice to you is to get on with it, and enjoy!

    Regards, Hilary
  • DeanDean Experienced Mentor DevonRegistered Posts: 646
    Many thanks for everyones comments. :001_smile:

    Regards

    Dean
  • shaxxashaxxa Feels At Home Registered Posts: 82
    Sharon - are you seriously envious? - I thought that you had more than enough on your plate????

    No not really :lol:
    Can just about cope with ATT :crying:
    BUT if I were 21 again, that would be a different matter
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