Whether you aspire to work in a large corporation, or just to help grow the family business, the world of accounting offers an exciting and vibrant career path. The modern day accountant is an important strategist, consultant, and advisor.
We at Your Coffee Break sat down with Alistair Bambridge, of Bambridge Accountants to discuss what an average day in the office looks like, how he became an accountant, best and worst part of the job, and if he has any pearls of wisdom to share for those aspiring to become an accountant and starting their own business.
1. What does an average day look like?
A typical day involves meeting clients, speaking to them on the phone and via email, as well as reviewing the work from our technical staff and helping them develop.
2. What is your company called and how long has it been running?
Bambridge Accountants. I set the firm up in 2010: at first, it was just me and now we have grown to include 11 staff.
3. Tell us a bit about your company?
We are an award-winning practice in the heart of Covent Garden, specialising in the creative industries and US expat tax services.
4. When did you decide to be an accountant? Was it something you sort of fell into, or have you always wanted to become an accountant?
After I left university, I was looking for graduate schemes and it was a choice of law and accountancy – the numbers bit always came easier, so I thought that would be more suited to my skillset.
5. How long did it take you to become an accountant?
You have to do exams and have a time period to be a chartered accountant. The exams were completed in 2 and a half years, but the time requirement is 3 years so I needed to wait a bit.
6. What kinds of clients do you work for?
From 2010 to late 2014, we only had clients in the creative industries (actors, performers, film and theatre directors, artists, photographers, designers, dancers and architects). I wrote a book on US taxes for expats in October 2014 and since then, we have built up a base of a couple of hundred US expats.
7. What are the best and worst parts of the job?
The best bits are meeting clients that have a passion for what they do and creating something amazing; I like the enthusiasm that they have and that spurs on the people around them. The worst part is that there’s always more emails to deal with, but that’s not the worst thing in the world.
8. What do you need to be aware of if clients are not satisfied with your work?
We work closely with each client and will know quickly if there is an issue, so if there is a problem, then we can deal with that promptly and see if there is a better way to look after the client. Each client requires a different level of service and maybe needs information presented in a way that they are happy with. We have a regular client survey for all clients where they can give us positive and negative feedback. We take that very seriously and publish all the results. It then enables us to see if there are issues that clients care about that we are missing.
9. Any advice for anyone wishing to follow in your footsteps?
I would definitely recommend becoming a chartered accountant: it takes 3 years but gives you the knowledge you need and the support from a professional organisation. I’d also recommend considering additional qualifications depending on what you want to specialise in or the types of clients you want to work with. If you set up your own practice, it will be amazing: there will be lots of hard work, but you will get to decide how you shape your career and create something rewarding.
For more information on becoming a chartered accountant, visit the ICAEW site for specific requirements and industry regulations.