How to be successful in a practice

marcus600 Registered Posts: 1 New contributor 🐸
Hi all

Having spent a couple of years in a management accounting background whilst studying for my AAT, at the end of last year I managed to get a job in a smallish chartered accounting practice (20 staff - 15 or so accountants).

I was really excited beforehand about the opportunity to produce a whole set of accounts, rather than contributing to just a small part of the big picture, as I did in my mgt accounting role. Sure enough, I spend my days producing annual accounts (and a few monthlies) for a range of sole traders and small companies, plus their tax returns.

However, I've now been in practice for over 6 months or so and can't believe what a struggle it's been and how different it is to working in an accounts department for a company.

I just wondered whether anyone else has performed a similar switch or even just found their early months in practice difficult? The differences I've found it most difficult to grasp are: a) having to produce a set of accounts based on often patchy information from a person I've never met before and b) having to charge out every 6 minutes of my time even in the early months when I was still learning the systems/tricks of the trade, etc. I'm really struggling to see how I can do things quicker yet still be accurate and follow accounting standards, etc.

I've always been relatively successful in study and in work, so whilst I didn't expect to be a whizz in practice in a week, I thought things would have clicked by I'd be interested to hear of any suggestions for being a success when working in practice.



  • DaveP
    DaveP Registered Posts: 79 Regular contributor ⭐
    It takes time..

    Compiling accounts from incomplete records is an art form!

    Many accountants find their niche working with bigger companies only, many with smaller companies only. So vast are the differences that changeover is never easy but stick with it and you'll get there.

    Timesheets are the bane of every accountants life. Find those obscure codes (admin, computer server failure, misc..) and find out who the biggest paying clients are with the least amount of write-offs and use them as a dump code!! ;)
  • Peter W
    Peter W Registered Posts: 22 New contributor 🐸
    It might be a problem with the firm that you are working for. If they are not giving you proper training, or telling you enough about each job, or their files are difficult to follow, then that would make things a lot more difficult.

    Why not try discussing the situation with other people at the firm who have joined as trainees. If there are 15 accountants there, there are sure to be people at the same level as you. You don't need to be direct about your concerns, you could just ask them about a job they are working on, and see where the conversation goes.
  • cpoultney
    cpoultney Registered Posts: 4 New contributor 🐸
    hi = I am just wondering if you are enjoying the switch now
    I am thinking of doing the same but am a real coward when it
    comes to things like this
  • vix
    vix Registered Posts: 12 New contributor 🐸
    I switched to practice after years of mgt accounting, and I really hated it.

    I think it's a Marmite occupation, you either love it or you hate it.

    I'm now back in mgt!

    The things I hated were:

    Timesheets - every employer knows that you don't work the full time you are at work, yet in practice you are expected to account for every minute of your time? This leads to the second point:

    Office atmosphere - I don't work very well in silence, sometime's it's nice to have a conversation or make a general remark without everyone looking at you accusingly. Also, might just have been the practice I worked for, which was large, but people placed a lot of emphasis on their 'rank' and thought they were more important than you if their charge out rate was higher.

    Work - as you say, producing accounts from incomplete records was dubious, and I also hated the fact that I was doing something different every day, OK variety is nice but I like a bit of stability.

    Client attitude - I am used to having a good rappor with customers but when ringing clients for information, 90% were very hostile as though we were prying for information.

    Pay - they seemed to think they were doing me a favour by employing me, and so could pay peanuts.

    Just a few points from my experiences for anyone considering it.
  • Debz
    Debz Registered Posts: 17 New contributor 🐸
    Its nice to see others in the same!

    Have to say that your message made me laugh. Some of the things you've written are very true.

    I'm certainly no time waster and it is very laborious accounting for each minute of your time especially when the management don't even use the information posted for any other jobs than the accounts!!!

    What about the time for Vat, Payroll, P35 returns's, Clients - when they come in for a chat and you have to show that your taking an interest in their conversation with you otherewise they too would be complaining!

    C'est la vie !
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