Agency workers barred from gaining MAAT

E Storey
E Storey Registered Posts: 32 ? ? ?
I do most of my work on contract through agencies.

As a policy most companies will not give a reference for agency workers (virtually all of my line managers would have been expressley ordered NOT to give a reference for any temps). AAT had accepted this and approved nearly a years worth of experience with references from my employer instead.

Now some admin assistant has decided this is not OK, despite it being explained to them multiple times before, and being instreucted specifially to use my agency as the reference - Does this mean people working for agencies are effectively barred from achieving MAAT status?

Comments

  • coojee
    coojee Registered Posts: 794
    I don't know the answer to your specific question, sorry. I used to temp a lot and have used the person I worked for as a referee several times. No one ever had a problem with me asking them. They were only job references though not the same as your situation. I guess it depends who you're temping with though. I did a lot of work with District Audit and can't imagine them ever giving me a reference (not least because I fell out with them when a CIPFA qualified accountant couldn't understand why I refused to audit a cash flow statement with a balancing figure on it - she couldn't understand what was wrong with a balancing figure on a cash flow statement). I also worked for lots of small firms of accountants and they were more than happy to give me a reference, in fact would have given me full time work if they hadn't had to pay so much in agency fees as a "finders fee". So maybe it's the size of the company that makes a difference.
  • E Storey
    E Storey Registered Posts: 32 ? ? ?
    I tend to work with big finance institutions. Its normal for them not to give references for temps, even their own employee references are referred to HR.

    Membership services did then suggest my tutor, which as a distance learner is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

    They also seem to be saying that if you are self employed you need approval from an accountant who works with you?!?
  • PGM
    PGM Registered Posts: 1,954
    Could you get a reference from one of the people you've worked with, if you can't from a line mamager?
  • E Storey
    E Storey Registered Posts: 32 ? ? ?
    No - if they're not my line manager they have to be a chartered accountant...
  • coojee
    coojee Registered Posts: 794
    E Storey wrote: »
    I tend to work with big finance institutions. Its normal for them not to give references for temps, even their own employee references are referred to HR.

    Membership services did then suggest my tutor, which as a distance learner is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

    They also seem to be saying that if you are self employed you need approval from an accountant who works with you?!?

    Why is a reference from your tutor no good because you're a distance learner? Do you not have a named tutor who's supported you throughout your studies? I know that distance learning centres do provide references for their students to the AAT.
  • Monsoon
    Monsoon FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071 ? ? ?
    E Storey wrote: »

    They also seem to be saying that if you are self employed you need approval from an accountant who works with you?!?
    Yes that's right.
    If you're not a full member and you're self employed you will either:

    1) Have previous experience which makes you competent to practice, and therefore you should have someone you can ask to sign it off; or
    2) Have little experience and therefore have a mentor or an accountant you pay to check your work/ advise on things you aren't sure of, who can sign it off for you.

    If you have no experience and no relationship with an accountant to support your lack of experience, then it's not fair to offer services to the public.

    This is why self employed persons have to have a professional reference to sign off their work.
  • E Storey
    E Storey Registered Posts: 32 ? ? ?
    so -

    If you are a temp and the client has a policy of not signing off your work - tough!

    If you are self employed, despite having a decade of experience, you have to basically employ a chartered accountant to work next to you on a daily basis for a year to meet the approval requirements?!?

    both these requirements would be impossible in practice to meet.

    and no - i don't have a named tutor. - how could a distance learnign tutor possibly have day-to-day knowledge of my work? Anyone who claims they do is clearly playing lip service to the requirements, which of course, is what you have to do to get this requirement. In fact, The requirement basically means the diploma route, which was supposed to be designed for people like me, does not lead to MAAT.
    JGlass
  • Monsoon
    Monsoon FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071 ? ? ?
    E Storey wrote: »
    If you are self employed, despite having a decade of experience, you have to basically employ a chartered accountant to work next to you on a daily basis for a year to meet the approval requirements?!?

    I can't comment on the distance learning, but I would have though that if you have a decade of experience, you may have someone with whom you've built a relationship that you can ask. They may not have a direct experience of your self employed work, but may have enough experience of your work in general to approve you.

    They don't have to be chartered. I qualified MAAT based solely on self employed work and the accountant who signed me off was also a MAAT.

    While it's not in keeping with the spirit of things, and while I don't condone it (before anyone jumps on me), I am sure there are some accountants out there who will sign off someone's membership application for a few beers or a good bottle of wine...
  • SandyHood
    SandyHood Registered, Moderator Posts: 2,034
    Please ask your learning provider to contact AAT directly regarding your membership application.
    The association has no wish to impede your application in this way.

    I don't know enough to challenge the point made by the admin assistant but your thread demonstrates a case that I think your provider ought to take up on you behalf.
    Sandy
    [email protected]
    www.sandyhood.com
  • sdv
    sdv Registered Posts: 585
    Monsoon wrote: »
    ..................I am sure there are some accountants out there who will sign off someone's membership application for a few beers or a good bottle of wine...

    I seriously doubt this!

    In my experience, whilst accountants are very good on giving advise on taking calculated risks to thier clients, they are very cagey when it comes to risk taking them selves.

    forget about a few beers or a good bottle of wine, they won't do it even for a good profit, for a fear of being caught out, loss of reputation and credibility among the accountant's circle.

    If you know someone, he/she could be recommended to OP for a bottle of a good vintage!
  • coojee
    coojee Registered Posts: 794
    E Storey wrote: »
    and no - i don't have a named tutor. - how could a distance learnign tutor possibly have day-to-day knowledge of my work? Anyone who claims they do is clearly playing lip service to the requirements, which of course, is what you have to do to get this requirement. In fact, The requirement basically means the diploma route, which was supposed to be designed for people like me, does not lead to MAAT.

    They wouldn't be providing a reference on your work. They would be providing a reference on you, eg how reliable you are - did you return work when you were supposed to, your communications - were you polite, can you string a sentence together; that kind of thing.
  • Monsoon
    Monsoon FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071 ? ? ?
    sdv wrote: »
    I seriously doubt this!

    In my experience, whilst accountants are very good on giving advise on taking calculated risks to thier clients, they are very cagey when it comes to risk taking them selves.

    forget about a few beers or a good bottle of wine, they won't do it even for a good profit, for a fear of being caught out, loss of reputation and credibility among the accountant's circle.

    If you know someone, he/she could be recommended to OP for a bottle of a good vintage!
    While I do agree with you, there's always one!!

    And no I don't know one. :o
  • E Storey
    E Storey Registered Posts: 32 ? ? ?
    Well I do feel that the AAT is doing a box ticking exercises that DOES encourage people to get an accountant they barely know to sign off work, rather than good, valid referees.

    AAT is not really asking for that, if I worked with an accountant 2 years ago that's not counted toward my work experience here, even if they did give a decent, honest knowledgeable reference.

    Just getting a random accountant to sign it off is does not meet the requirement that they have daily knowledge of your work!

    If you got all your self employed experience signed off by an accountant that clearly did not work for you, who exactly was supervising you on a daily basis during that period?

    I know the only answer is to pay lip service to this requirement. But if that is the case why does the AAT even bother? It might as well just say - OK to get in you have to (pay for) a referee.

    Now I have not passed the ethics exam yet, but I can tell you what chapter that kind of behaviour is covered in!
  • PGM
    PGM Registered Posts: 1,954
    Monsoon wrote: »
    While it's not in keeping with the spirit of things, and while I don't condone it (before anyone jumps on me), I am sure there are some accountants out there who will sign off someone's membership application for a few beers or a good bottle of wine...

    AAT systems or any systems will never fit every situation. So maybe it is a case of finding a local MAAT and going over your work done and thanking them with a bottle of wine as mentioned by Monsoon.

    Surely you have to find a way that works and still fits with the spirit of the rule.
  • E Storey
    E Storey Registered Posts: 32 ? ? ?
    Therin lies the problem.

    I can clearly find experience that lies in with the spirit of the rule.

    But AAT admin assistants are not interested in the spirit of the rule they are interested in the letter of the rule, even, it seems, if that is explicitly contrary to the sprit in which it was intended.
  • SandyHood
    SandyHood Registered, Moderator Posts: 2,034
    If you are genuinely looking for someone to help you. email me either today or tomorrow, as I may be able to help.
    Sandy
    [email protected]
    www.sandyhood.com
  • anniem
    anniem Registered Posts: 1,326
    Does the agency you work through have an accountant 'in house' who is qualified and could verify your work for you? There must be someone there who oversees the accounts department responsible for you being paid and for invoicing the companies who've employed you, and can validate what you've been doing!
    FMAAT - AAT Licensed Member in Practice - Pewsey, Wiltshire
  • anniem
    anniem Registered Posts: 1,326
    SandyHood wrote: »
    If you are genuinely looking for someone to help you. email me either today or tomorrow, as I may be able to help.

    That's a very kind offer Sandy! True to form .....
    FMAAT - AAT Licensed Member in Practice - Pewsey, Wiltshire
  • Monsoon
    Monsoon FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071 ? ? ?
    PGM wrote: »
    AAT systems or any systems will never fit every situation. So maybe it is a case of finding a local MAAT and going over your work done and thanking them with a bottle of wine as mentioned by Monsoon.

    Surely you have to find a way that works and still fits with the spirit of the rule.

    Thanks PGM.

    Your comment got me thinking (warning: tangent alert). What comeback is there on the professional referee if the new MAAT proves incompetent/dishonest/otherwise undesirable? Probably none. More to the point, a perfectly genuine arrangement where the referee does know the applicant and has worked with them for a few years might not actually know that the applicant was, say, a serial fraudster who's never been caught - how could they? A referee can't be expected to know everything. Ultimately it is only just a box-ticking exercise.

    The AAT can't go through everyone's application with a fine tooth comb, they have to rely on exam results, a declaration of experience which may or may not be provable (the self employed experience has to be signed off by a referee to say it's been done - I'm sure this is open to exploitation) and a personal reference to say they are a suitable person.

    Just some thoughts, I've not had enough tea today to have an opinion on that random tangent yet!
  • SandyHood
    SandyHood Registered, Moderator Posts: 2,034
    I discussed the situation of agency workers applying for AAT membership when I visited the AAT offices yesterday.
    Although agency workers work for their agency and would expect an employment reference to be written by the agency, the evidence needed when applying for membership does not need to be as detailed.
    It would be possible to submit a letter that states that you worked for a particular firm, the role you had and the dates. This doesn't go into any more detail, but is signed by the appropriate manager.
    It can be tricky dealing with the word reference, in this case it is a confirmation of employment.

    I hope this helps.
    Sandy
    [email protected]
    www.sandyhood.com
  • SandyHood
    SandyHood Registered, Moderator Posts: 2,034
    I recognise that this thread has gone quiet, but I have sought clarification and hope this question and answer are of help to other agency workers.

    Question: I do most of my work on contract through agencies. As a policy most companies will not give a reference for agency workers. (Virtually all of the line managers I have worked for have been ordered NOT to give a reference for any temps).
    Does this mean people working for agencies are effectively barred from achieving MAAT status?



    The work experience requirement for full membership states that an applicant can submit any work experience they have gained since they registered as a student member of AAT. Paid or voluntary work, full time or part time work can be counted towards their work experience requirement.

    Applicants are required to submit 52 weeks full time work experience based on a 35 hour week. If they work less than 35 hours per week their work experience will be reduced accordingly. Also, if their financial/accounting duties account for less than 50% of their time the amount of work experience will be reduced by 50%.

    In order for their experience to qualify for the purpose of their application for full membership they must spend at least 33% of their time at work on financial or accounting duties as opposed to clerical or administrative duties.

    Acceptable duties which can be counted towards work experience are as follows:

    Purchase ledger
    Sales ledger
    Profit & loss account
    Balance sheets
    Variance
    Bank Reconciliations
    Payroll
    Monthly Reports (Accounts)
    Signing off annual accounts
    Petty cash
    Auditing
    Bookkeeping
    Accounts preparation
    Budgets & Cash flow
    Management accounting
    Tax & VAT
    Sage
    Journals
    Accrual
    Costing
    Credit Control
    Nominal Ledger postings
    Invoices
    Updating stock records
    Timesheets & clock cards
    Payment of suppliers

    The work experience needs to be verified by somebody who has first hand knowledge of the duties undertaken. If the individual is self employed the verifier should be a chartered or certified accountant, full or fellow member of the AAT or an AAT licensed member in practice. If they are in a temporary role the experience will need to be signed off by their line manager at the place of work, not a member of staff from the recruitment agency, as they don’t have first hand knowledge of their day to day duties. If you are undertaking self employed work you strongly recommend to have a mentor, for example a local AAT member in practice, who will be able to assist if necessary and also can sign off your work experience and professional recommendation. Attending your free local branch events is a good way for them to make connections. For more information on branch events please visit www.aat.org.uk/cpdevents

    I have had confirmation from Lucy McCollin the Membership Recruitment Coordinator at AAT that when an applicant is experiencing difficulty gaining the required 52 weeks full time work experience, AAT will endeavour to support the applicant and offer alternatives to the standard requirement as each application is assessed on an individual basis.


    Example case:

    One applicant who we provided additional support to had contacted the AAT after completing level three of the qualification because he was concerned that he would be unable to gain the required work experience for full membership. The only work he was currently undertaking was voluntary bookkeeping for an electrician which accounted for 2 hours per week.

    After discussing his individual circumstances it came to light that he was also spending 1.5 hours per week bookkeeping for a gardener and three hours per week dealing with the accounts of family members.

    When all of this was added up the applicant had accrued the 52 weeks of work experience required. However only half of this had been gained since he had registered as a student with the AAT. The work experience gained prior to his registration was accepted on a discretionary basis because the student was disabled and unable to work any additional hours due to his disability. Finally, as he was undertaking this work on a self employed basis and didn’t know a chartered or certified accountant we had to help him find a suitable person to verify his work experience and provide a professional recommendation. The applicant confirmed that he regularly liaised with his AAT tutor regarding his voluntary work and as she was also a full member of the AAT, it was agreed that she was the most suitable candidate to nominate.

    After a number of weeks and many discussions with the AAT the applicant was able to meet the work experience requirement and had 52 weeks verified work experience logged on his record. He went on to complete the AAT qualification and become a full member and also a member in practice.


    If a student is experiencing problems meeting this requirement the membership development team at AAT are happy to discuss their situation with them and do everything they can to help after taking their individual circumstances into account. Any student in this situation should contact the AAT so that they can fully discuss all of their options with them.

    I am very grateful to Lucy McCollin for her help putting this answer together and I hope it reassures everyone working as temps through agencies that AAT membership is definitely achievable.
    Sandy
    [email protected]
    www.sandyhood.com
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