New to AAT - need advice please!

clees Registered Posts: 33
Hi everyone.

I have recently started an apprenticeship with my local council (AAT level 2 certificates in accounting)
I've been placed in the purchasing team but am not enjoying it, it was great at the start but after 2 months I have pretty much learnt everything and know its not an accounting role that will help me in my studies!

I've asked my manager and department manager several times but just seem to be getting fobbed off with 'we will look into it'.
I have a meeting with the director of finance for the council I work for in a few weeks should I ask them, or will it make me look a bit pushy/ungrateful?

I will be starting college soon and just wondered if any body had any advice?
What sort of department should I ask to move into to? I was thinking maybe banking, or accounts payable/ accounts received?
Should I progress up to level 4?
What sort of career opportunities will I have after level 2 if my employer doesn’t extend my contract past this year (which they cannot guarantee), so I can study level 3?

Sorry I have hundreds of questions and nobody to ask.

I would be massively greatful for any advice



  • stevef
    stevef Registered Posts: 258 ? ? ?
    I would suggest that you try to get the fact you are an AAT student into a general networking conversation with the Director, along with an expression of interest in working in Finance. I would then leave it to the Director to work out what that means.

    The kind of Departments you have in the Finance Directorate very much depends on the type (and size) of Authority you work for (eg County Council, District, Borough or Welsh Unitary). The larger Councils will have Management accounting teams servicing different Directorates plus a Capital, a Treasury Management and Central Accounting/Technical Team (and perhaps a Pension Investment team). They would all give good experience but you would need to work in more than one to get a broad experience. Another area worth considering is Internal Audit.

    The danger of working in Debtors, Creditor payments or Banking (or payroll, benefits and Council Tax) is that they are very specialised and seen by many to be outside mainstream accountancy, they are transactional/admin departments.

    I would suggest a Directorate accounting team or audit initially, and then Central Accounting/Technical later.

    Good luck
  • clees
    clees Registered Posts: 33
    Hi Steve,
    The director knows what I’m studying as that’s why she would like to meet me, it’s the first time they’ve had an apprentice in a finance role, they normally take uni grads, so it will just be a how are you getting on sort of meeting.
    So maybe it would be the perfect time to ask to move teams? Or maybe ask where she thinks I would be best placed to help me through the qualification, as it wasn’t her decision as to what team I was placed.

    it’s a large city council, there’s so many different teams within the strategic finance department and then there’s the corporate finance department as well.

    i was thinking of asking to move to banking but now you’ve mentioned that I think I’ll change my mind.

    A few people I’ve spoken to have suggested schools finance or auditing.
    I think I’ll ask around a little more as to where I would be best placed to help with my studies before I really start pushing to be moved.

    do you think a role in accounts payable or accounts received would be beneficial?

    my inital idea was to spend 3-4 month in 3-4 difrent service eariers within finance, but it seems like my manager just wants to keep me in his team. (his numbers are a bit thin atm with several people leaving)
  • stevef
    stevef Registered Posts: 258 ? ? ?
    If they agree to move you around working in the debtors or creditor teams is always good experience. But if you want to persue a career in public sector finance you do not want to get trapped in those teams. These departments are seen as "Administrative" departments, the more succesful finance staff have spent by far the most of their careers in the "Professional" departments ie the strategic finance teams, corporate finance and audit. I spent huge chunks of my career in exchequer (accounts payable, receivable and payroll) and Council Tax which did slow me down a bit. But fortunately balanced this with spells in audit. My career vastly improved by moving into the education/leisure services strategic finance team, then Technical Accounting, Treasury Management and Pension Investment. I now work in a Fire and Rescue authority combing all those experiences in heading up the Finance Department. The tricks are: to gain as much experience in different areas as you can (some Finance departments rotate staff), but if you do get trapped try to ensure its in one of the professional departments and; try to keep your experience level and qualifications aligned (being over or under qualified for your experience level is not always helpful to your career).
  • clees
    clees Registered Posts: 33
    Thanks for the advice!

    If I don’t speak up and make it known that I want to move I will get trapped in purchasing team, as I was told I will be with this team for the duration of my contract (12month) when I first started.

    I think when the time comes I will request a move to either audit or schools finance and then look to change to the other when I feel I am comfortable in that role.
    And then hopefully when my contract expires next year I will be in good stead with enough experience to apply for permanent positions either within the council or ells where which will enable me to study level 3 whilst working.

    I’m not sure if I want to stay in public sector finances as the idea of studying CIPFA doesn’t overly appeal to me at the minute, but who knows things might change.
    After all, with all the extra benefits and flexible working hours, I don’t think I would get that out side of the public sector, even though I would probably get paid more.
  • stevef
    stevef Registered Posts: 258 ? ? ?
    CIPFA is not the only option. It is a highly regarded body and I do a lot with CIPFA and sit on one of their panels. But I am ACCA and AAT qualified, my deputy is also ACCA qualified and of the five trainees four are studing ACCA and one AAT. The Director of Resources is the only CIPFA member in the Service. So CIPFA is a good game, but not the only one.
  • clees
    clees Registered Posts: 33
    i was under the impression that to work within public sector finance you had to have a cipfa qualification.
    maybe thats just the requirments of the local authority im working with.
  • T.C.
    T.C. Registered, Tutor Posts: 1,448
    One step at a time. Don't plan too far ahead, just concentrate on your current studies. The future has a way of sorting itself out as you go.
  • reshu89
    reshu89 Registered Posts: 1
    edited January 2016
    Hi any one can suggest training provider for distance learning aat.
  • nayee
    nayee Registered Posts: 4
    Hi is anyone doing project on chic paints ltd can u message me pls [email protected]
    I just don't know where to start
  • deepgc
    deepgc Registered Posts: 6
    For what it's worth, I work as an accountant in practice, and have also worked in an industrial role (Arrive Travel Head Office). You will cover a much broader accounting spectrum in practice than an Industrial or Public role. That being said, the wages are usually lower.

    But as others have mentioned, concentrate on your studies, this will most likely be the stepping stone to lead you into a better position, whether it's with the same employer or someone else
  • stevef
    stevef Registered Posts: 258 ? ? ?
    Not sure how you get the impression that working in the public sector (or large industrial undertaking) gives a narrower accounting spectrum, different than practice, a different spectrum but just as broad.

    Public Sector organisations tend to be fairly large so the finance function tends to be split between various specialised teams so that you need to move around to see the full spectrum. Also the higher you climb in the organisation the more you see.

    To give you a flavour of the potential spectrum, I head up a Finance Department in a smaller than average public sector organisation in Wales. Examples of work carried out in my department are: purchase ledger, income ledger, general ledger, management accounting, cash management, treasury management, capital accounting, leasing, technical accounting, dealing with Auditors, preparing and publishing statutory annual accounts, internal policy and strategy meetings, systems development, representing the Authority at meetings with stakeholders, partners and Welsh Government, working with CIPFA and ACCA on reporting issues and sustainability, expressing opinions on accounting standards to CIPFA, attending Authority meetings, and on and on. I have a department of nine staff, so we all get involved in a wide variety of work.
  • deepgc
    deepgc Registered Posts: 6
    The reason why I said it's more broader in practice is that unless you've covered all departments in industry or public, it will be difficult to migrate over to practice. For every set of accounts you do in practice, you run an audit on most areas, from fixed assets to debtors to creditors. For someone starting out on AAT level 2, it would be highly doubtful to see the workings of so many departments, but in practice at AAT level 2 you would get so much more exposure to different accounting areas.
  • clees
    clees Registered Posts: 33
    To Be honest the managment team are pretty good at making sure im exposed to as much as possible, so after asking for several months they do now move me around and by the time i finish level 3/4 i would have had at least 6 months in all departments.
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