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NEW Five Fantastic Reasons to Study at Reed Business School

We’re very proud of our home in the Cotswolds and how perfect it is for nurturing success in trainee accountants. So, this week we’d like to share more about what you can expect from your study time at the manor, and why it’s so much more than a business school.

Best in class

We pride ourselves on our discursive classroom environments, which make learning complex theories and applications both pleasurable and productive. Our carefully selected and experienced tutors are not only subject matter experts, they are also fantastic teachers who will take the time to explain course content thoroughly, and make the learning process enjoyable.

We purposefully limit the sizes of our classes to allow all students time to raise questions and make sure their needs are met in a supportive, high-achieving environment.

And while our building may be old, we’ve fitted it with all the modern conveniences necessary to make it work as a 21st Century learning centre.

A home from home

In addition to the formal lessons, our manor home has several informal study areas for those who want to continue their work into the evening – either privately in rooms, or collaboratively in our lounge. We aim to make the experience of learning with us a relaxing one, enabling you to focus on what you need from your studies.

On top of that is a tennis court, private swimming pool, gardens and miles of Cotswold countryside to explore at your leisure.

Many learners choose to stay overnight with us during their studies, so you can get a good night’s sleep in our charming on-site cottages, a nourishing breakfast, and be ready to start your new day of learning in the right headspace.

Food, glorious food

Speaking of breakfast – all your meals are taken care of by our in-house catering team, led by award-winning chef, Craig. If you choose to stay full-board, we’ll cover three meals a day, while day delegates will get lunch included.

Our meals are very fondly regarded by all our students, and we think it makes your experience here more fulfilling. With good food inside you that you don’t need to worry about cooking (or cleaning up!), you can focus on your studies.

Friendly networking

Our classrooms our fantastic places to meet new people in a similar position to you – who may become friends, business associates, study buddies, accountability partners, or even friendly competition when it gets to exams. There’s always a sense of comradery amongst classmates who are able to understand and support each other throughout their journey to qualification.

Many of our students keep in touch with each other outside of their time with us, and go on to have long-lasting relationships.

The personal touch

We treat all our students as individuals, and recommend pathways that suit your individual goals and priorities. Our tutors also know that some people learn in different ways and at varying paces, while some find specific parts of the course more challenging than others. That’s why there’s always two-way dynamic communication in our classrooms, with 1-2-1 tutor time and personalised feedback on practice papers available.

A formula for success

We believe all the above is a recipe for success, and the exam results of our students consistently prove this. In the last three years alone Kalina Forbes was awarded 100% and the Little prize in her ICAEW Professional paper Business Planning: Taxation; Nick Bancroft scored the third highest mark in the region for his CIMA case study – Operational level; William Fowler placed in the top 10 in ICAEW’s 2020 Annual Order of merit, where Lily Gammon also won the Arthur Swinson prize, and Oliver Soames won the Northcott prize. Read more about all their stories here.

Want to start your journey with us? Get in touch to find out more about joining the family.

Can you transfer into accountancy?

Pathways into accountancy are more diverse than ever, so we’ve collated a series of articles following those who have joined the profession from slightly less traditional backgrounds. Here we’re sharing the first story, of Simon Fairweather, a former doctor, now retraining to be an accountant with PKF Francis Clark.

Growing up

As a child, Simon wanted to be a vet when he grew up. But upon discovering an allergy to cats, he changed course slightly to medicine. Coming from a family of doctors this seemed like an accessible and sensible transfer to make best use of his skills and interests.

“I really enjoyed medical school, and found the process incredibly rewarding.”

However, as much as he enjoyed life on the front line as an A&E specialist, the long shifts, weekends, and emotional strain of the job slowly began to take their toll.

Further education

While working in hospital, Simon showed an aptitude for ongoing learning by completing an Advanced Paediatric Life Support course, and subsequently the Generic Instructor Course. He continued to work hard, but was getting to the stage where he needed to make a change.

“I’d been in practice for a few years, and noticed it was having a bit of an effect on me – something like burnout, that sounded similar to what some former colleagues had suffered from. I always knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t want that for rest of my life.”

Simon’s next step was to go back to university, where he undertook a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology. This helped him understand more about adult learning and gave him confidence in analysing and presenting complex data in a comprehensible manner.

Research, research, research

Knowing that whatever new pathway he chose would probably be his lifetime profession, Simon took a lot of time to research different options – thinking carefully about what he enjoyed, what he was good at, and what his future life might look like. He also spoke with several friends and family members in different careers to work out what would be the best fit for him.

“Having always had an aptitude for numeracy, my enjoyment for data analysis and applied meaning, and being able to extract the ‘So what?’ amongst vast data sets was something I wanted to be central to my new career. Having researched and spoken to friends who are further down the line in their accountancy career, I believed this pathway would afford me the opportunity to effect real change on a large scale that would match my ambitions and values as a person.”

Simon also had half an eye moving overseas, so wanted something transferable that could enable him to work ‘down under’ should he choose to.

Finding the right firm

Many people new to or outside of the profession might not fully grasp the differences between firms – from their values, sizes and working practices. Simon wanted to find a firm that had similar values to his own, so once again undertook a lengthy research process, and came across PKF Francis Clark.

“I’d recommend really researching firms you’d like to apply to, to make sure they fit with your ethos, and that their values meet yours to make sure you’re happy in the workplace and that it’s sustainable for you. I’d heard that PKF Francis Clark was very supportive and nurturing, taking on a lot of people who had moved from other careers, so I knew that would be a good environment for me to learn and progress in.”

Starting again from the bottom

Simon admits it’s always going to be tough starting again at the bottom, especially having to learn a whole lot of new things.

“I’m a year in, and it’s been a huge leap of learning so far, but I’m really enjoying it. In my role I’m focusing on Tax, and I like applying what I’ve learnt to solve problems, but I’m just very keen to learn as much as possible.”

He’s also been supported by his wife and family with the emotional and financial burden of starting again.

“We’ve had to make some sacrifices, but my wife completely understood that I needed to make this change, so was very happy to support me in this journey.”

Advice to others

Simon believes that there’s no one rule or path for people who want to make career changes.

“It completely depends where you are in your life – your interests, your passions, your financial situation.”

However, he does believe that research and giving yourself time are key.

The main thing for me was talking to people already doing the job I wanted to do, to find out what life would be like in the short term, as well as life after that. I didn’t want any surprises.”

Would you like to find out more?

Click here Courses – Reed Business School for Reed course information

And here Chartered Accountants & Business Advisers | PKF Francis Clark (pkf-francisclark.co.uk for more information on PKF Francis Clark .

Mental Health Awareness – how can we help you?

May is the time for the National initiative Mental Health Awareness Week. How can we help you at Reed Business School? Here are some pointers to consider …

  • Firstly do you know we have a Mental Health First Aider? Louise Harrison sits in the main reception office and is there to listen and chat informally in our quiet designated Wellbeing Room, if you need her, no matter what your worry or concern – please just reach out.
  • Have you recently looked at our Wellbeing Team? There are a whole host of articles there for you to have a look through, with handy tips and hints. If you ae not sure how to access this please just ask any member of staff.
  • Here is a great article from The Mental Health Foundation for the theme for 2022 Loneliness https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/15-loneliness-tips-for-young-people.pdf

What do you know about apprenticeships? How do they work?

A new era for apprenticeships

Gone are the days where apprenticeships were for purely manual trades, and the only route into accountancy was via a university degree. The accountancy profession has been undergoing something of an overhaul in order to attract new talent into it, and undertaking an accountancy apprenticeship is now proving more popular than ever. But what is an accountancy apprenticeship, and how does it work?

How does an accountancy apprenticeship work?

Like most modern apprenticeships, in accountancy the apprentice will spend 80% of their time on the job earning a wage, and 20% studying. That 20% will be split between formal classroom education working towards technical qualifications, as well as e-learning, webinars and other activities.

Apprenticeships will generally last around three years, depending on the level undertaken, how quickly the apprentice completes their exams, and whether any exemptions might be applied for prior qualifications (ie AAT). Apprentices can achieve either a Level 4 or Level 7 qualification depending on their starting point.

New beginnings

Eve Pilley, Associate Client Manager at Richardsons Chartered Accountants, is coming towards the end of her Level 7 apprenticeship with Reed Business School, and started her Level 4 AAT apprenticeship after her A-Levels.

“I didn’t think going away to university was something I wanted to do, so I looked for opportunities closer to home. I got talking to Richardsons at a careers fair, and it just seemed like the right fit to start working straight away, while learning on the job. The apprenticeship pathway really works for me.”

Technical knowledge, Skills and Behaviours

The traditional view of the accountant might be someone who is excellent at spreadsheets, but lacking in some interpersonal skills. The apprenticeship, however, aims to build well-rounded accountants through not just a thorough grounding in technical knowledge, but in all the other skills and behaviours necessary to succeed in business.

Embedding the apprentice within a team of accountants to get real-life experience is a key factor in this, and apprentices will be tasked with demonstrating evidence across a number of areas, such as team work, presenting, and problem solving, before they can be signed off as qualified.

The final stage of qualification is an end-point assessment, which consists of a case study exam and a project report which showcases personal examples of how apprentices have demonstrated the relevant skills and behaviours.

Back to school?

Reed Business school has a very successful history in training accountants, with methods that we know work. For the technical knowledge and exams, apprentices will tend to visit the school for classroom learning in blocks. Each module will consist of an initial learning phase, followed by a revision and exam preparation phase a few weeks later. Apprentices can choose to sit one exam every three months, or two every six months.

Coaching for success

Apprenticeships aren’t left on their own throughout their journey. Each employer will have their own internal support systems, but Reed Business School also provides a qualified and experienced coach to guide apprentices through their qualification.

A coach will meet with apprentices approximately every three months, to check in regarding any worries and concerns, and to provide guidance with regards to the skills and behaviours elements of the apprenticeship, as well as support for the end-point assessment.

Coaches work one-to-one with apprentices to support their individual needs, and ensure they have all the relevant resources to complete every aspect of their learning.

Rob Weaver, one of Reed Business School’s coaches, says “Your coach is there for you. We want you to succeed, and you’ll get as much out of the programme as you’re prepared to put into it.”

“The role of the coaching sessions is to help develop the apprentice to improve their performance to get the results they and the employer identify (or want) and ultimately to help them be the best accountant they can be”.

Want to find out more about undertaking an accountancy apprenticeship? We’re happy to answer all your questions! Please click here How to reach us – Reed Business School to get in touch, or for more information on apprenticeships please click here Apprenticeships – Reed Business School.

Nurturing student success: Zoe Clark

We caught up with Zoe Clark, a newly qualified accountant at Alder, Demain & Akers, who recently achieved a Bronze prize in her strategic level ACCA exams, having studied at Reed Business School.

Early steps

Zoe didn’t have the most conventional of beginnings to her accountancy career, initially training as a vet for five years at the Royal Veterinary College London. After practicing as a vet for a few years, she felt the need for a career change, and joined an organisation that managed student accommodation, in their finance department.

Deciding to properly take the plunge in her new profession, Zoe self-studied for her AAT qualification while working full-time. In her job she’d manage the regular financial processes, using what she’d learned from her course, but it wasn’t long before Zoe wanted to take the next step up.

“I’d become very good at running all the monthly processes and standard elements of the job, but there wasn’t much room for progression, so I looked for a new opportunity where I could learn and grow more.”

Zoe came across local accountancy practice Alder, Demain & Akers in 2016 , where she secured a job, and continued with the next phase of her studies. Opting to begin her ACCA course with Reed Business School rather than continuing her laborious and comparatively slow self-study AAT qualification, Zoe’s journey to professional accountancy qualification began its next chapter.

Time to succeed

Zoe flourished at Reed Business school, and admits that she really enjoyed her spells with us for each module she undertook.

“The level of study is really well-paced and the tutors were all excellent. I really liked the building, which is completely different to all the other colleges I know of, and the small class sizes mean you get to know people and develop a network to share the experience together.”

Rather than completing one module at a time, Zoe generally opted to take four exams a year: two each in June and December. She would normally start studying in March for the June exams and then again in September for the December exams, giving herself a cycle of three months of very intensive study, followed by a three-month break.

“I’d be at the school for perhaps 15-20 days every six months, which I found to be a good balance, even though the run-up to exams would be quite stressful!”

Personal study strategy

As with all of our successful students, Zoe invested in a lot of self-study, but admits she wasn’t always the most motivated:

“I’d do up to an hour of study each evening and quite a bit at weekends, but I would always reward myself with breaks for small achievements in order to keep me going!”

Zoe appreciated the structure of the revision courses at Reed Business School, managing her time between each session to ensure she had prepared the relevant topics and so make best use of each session with the tutors.

“Reading through your own notes is good, but it’s more beneficial to apply your knowledge in question-based scenarios, so I’d do as many as I could. The feedback from the tutors on these was invaluable.”

However, when it came to her own exam preparation and revision, Zoe’s strategy was to batten down the hatches and go all out for 3-4 weeks in advance of each exam to retain as much information as possible.

“I know it’s not a technique that works for everyone, but for me, I found it the best way to make sure I could be prepared for the exam. Thankfully I could rely on my other half to look after the domestic chores at those times!”

Adapting to online learning

The last few months of Zoe’s studying was through our online service, which she admits, while not the same, was still a really valuable and useful platform.

“Of course I was sad not to be able to go to the school, I was a bit apprehensive about online learning at first, but I found all the staff incredibly helpful, and the tutors were always available to provide help when needed.”

Excelling in exams

Zoe’s ACCA Bronze Award is based on her average performance in her final four strategic-level exams, which put her among the very best performers in each sitting. And perhaps what’s most surprising is that it was these papers she found most challenging.

“They are much more about time management and exam technique, with a lot more writing involved than all the other papers. I preferred the more structured papers with definite answers where you could tell straight away whether you had an answer that was correct or not.”

Zoe found SBL case-study paper the most grueling, as it was all written, with less clarity about the marks you were going to get. But she highlights the help of her tutor and being able to take a mock exam as vital components of her success.

“Exam practice is key. The tutors will tell you what’s more important and what’s less important when it comes to getting marks – especially how to write answers in the right way – but you have to practice it yourself. Our tutor gave lots of feedback, and really quickly after our mock, which was fantastic, but mostly they were reassuring, which is what you need to stay calm and level-headed going into the exam.”

Zoe’s advice for others

“I’d definitely say: take it at your own pace.”

As your professional study is going to take up to three, four or even five years of your life, you have to be able to manage your work, life and study balance, and only you know what that looks like for yourself.

Zoe found that taking breaks between papers was important for her to keep that sense of balance, but others may prefer a more consistent path.

The future

Now Zoe has qualified, she’s enjoying a very well-earned break from studying, and isn’t looking too far into the future.

“I don’t have a specific goal yet. I’m happy where I am, and enjoying taking on a bit more responsibility at my firm with some more complex work.”

Zoe values the variety of work she comes across in her practice, which was also beneficial for her studying, but won’t be rushing to specialise in any one area just yet.

Zoe, congratulations on your well-deserved exam success, and keep in touch!

Sustainability and accountancy – how you can help shape a greener, fairer future

Accountants might not be the most obvious choice of people to lead a green revolution, but we all have a role to play, and you might have more influence than you think.

Sustainable skills

Finance professionals have skills in numeracy, measuring and analysing performance, assessment of risk and presenting business case propositions to add economic value. These give you the capabilities and opportunities to deliver the changes in corporate and personal behaviours, if you use your influence well.

Accountants generally hold positions of trust and power, and should be making more of that by demonstrating that financial and environmental returns are not mutually exclusive. You should also be prepared to have tough conversations about what ‘value’ means and work with colleagues from other disciplines to develop metrics that work across everything, while not compromising on financial reporting. Accountants need to become system thinkers and see the whole big picture by analysing non-financial information.

The green business case

Incentives could encourage senior management to pursue non-financial goals as well as financial goals, reflecting the long-term consequences of an organisation’s actions. Employees may need encouragement to promote their own ideas and aspirations for promoting sustainability, but these could be written into employees’ annual objectives, and used to cross collaborate across business areas.

Supply chain management is also key: can you identify multiple value streams within your organisation and supply chain, eg, less packaging saves resources, reduces transport and minimises your customer’s waste?

Regardless of which industry/sector or place we are operating in, each and every one of us has a responsibility for carbon reduction and saving our planet. This can be done in various ways:

  • Transitioning the use of existing fossil fuels infrastructure / re-purposing the built environment
  • Circular economy (eg, re-use of oil in plastic to make road surfaces)
  • Green electricity

Personal vs corporate values

There’s a school of thought that says how we behave in our corporate lives should align with our personal behaviours, those behaviours we hope our friends, our family, and children recognise in each of us. This notion seems to be becoming more prevalent as professionals tend to seek out organisations with similar belief systems to their own to work in, rather than taking a job anywhere.

As chartered accountants we have access and influence in organisations greater than almost every other role. We can have legitimate, detailed conversations about what all areas of our organisation are doing and we can challenge.

Influence doesn’t only need to be in the areas of corporate policy. We should also consider how we seek to track performance which in turn links to how people across the organisation are incentivised. Financial management digs deeply into the underlying performance of our organisations; the same skills and disciplines can be used to track delivery against other critical corporate objectives. Given the frequently demonstrated link between shareholder value and delivery of both financial performance and demonstrable sustainability metrics, it is easy to rationalise why short term and longer-term incentive schemes should also be aligned to the delivery of stretch targets based upon the sustainable development goals.

The insight that we can offer to management across the organisation influences important decisions. We should not, therefore, sit passively responding to the activity of our colleagues when our personal values have been compromised. We should engage, have those tough discussions, and seek to ensure that our organisations are doing the right things for the longer term by aligning with the sustainable development goals.

What can accountants do?

In short, you can be the catalyst for change in your organisation. Use your insight, analysis and critical thinking to paint a richer picture of your organisation, and make alternative options viable with meaningful information beyond profit. SMEs in particular may consider that sustainability is not relevant to the future of their business and maybe be a tougher audience, but easier to develop an action plan for.

There is a strong and consistent demand for us to use our measurement skills to demonstrate nonfinancial value, and not only through numerical data but qualitative attributes that non-financial information captures. Yet we must have humility, that the collective intelligence of humanity does not fully understand the complex value chains within the biosphere. We need to be prudent that measuring biodiversity in financial or other metrics will be an incomplete record of its value; and we cannot simply offset a biodiversity loss (liability) by creating an unconnected asset elsewhere.

The drivers for change.

The essence of what we can do to deliver change is based on an understanding of the drivers for corporate and personal behaviours. From a business perspective these are to create value. Consider:

  • Will the business model need to change?
  • Will operating practices need to change?
  • Will relationships across supply chains, communities and employees, contractors need to be more co-operative and equitable?
  • What new risks will arise?
  • Is sufficient finance available to fund the changes, internally and from external sources?

How do we each want to see the world for the next generations? Your role is to be business-smart and regulation aware. However, it can be much more. We can, and should be meaningful influencers, with government bodies and other institutions, to shape the policies and strategies to set the right framework for actions for change. So, what are you waiting for?

Adapting to change: How to better handle change at work

Today’s world of work is evolving rapidly, with new technology and disruptions continuously shifting job responsibilities, processes and expectations. No wonder employers now look for people who, regardless of their role, continuously develop and nurture their ability to be able to deal with workplace changes positively.

But adjusting to change is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone. In fact, not everyone accepts change in a positive way. We are creatures of habit and so many of us find that change can trigger a range of emotional reactions, from mild discomfort or nerves through to intense panic or fear.

If you struggle when facing workplace change, the good news is that shifting your mindset and adapting in a constructive way is a skill that, like any other, can be learnt.

What is adaptability to change?

Firstly though, what does it mean to be adaptable to change? In short, this refers to the ability to quickly and successfully embrace change and adopt effectively in response. It’s about handling change in the workplace in a way that leads to continued success for your organisation and your career, rather than fearing and resisting it.

Crucially, the ability to adapt well to change is important for your long-term career success since it is now a skillset that employers look for as a core capability in their workforce.

If you find that the prospect of change causes you some fear and anxiety, it’s therefore important to learn how to embrace change – and in so doing, develop an important, transferable skillset. Here are ten top tips on how to improve your adaptability skills and embrace change at work:

  1. Challenge your interpretation of the facts

During any time of change, you will likely face unfamiliar challenges which may make you feel apprehensive or anxious. Instead of dwelling on these, challenge your interpretation of events by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is your interpretation of the change you are facing rational, objective and based purely on the facts?
  • Can you challenge your interpretation with an opposing argument?
  • If so, what’s the alternative perspective of this situation?

The way you interpret facts and information relating to the change you are facing, and the meaning you give them, is what will determine your approach to change, the course you take and ultimately how successful you will be in adopting the change. By objectively examining a challenging situation and doing your best to remove your negative and potentially unfounded assumptions, you’ll have a more positive emotional reaction and, subsequently, will be able to determine the practical steps you need to take to arrive at a productive outcome.

  1. Ask questions

When receiving news of an impending change, your immediate reaction will most likely be emotional and you may experience feelings of shock and worry. This is completely normal. Much of the anxiety you feel will be rooted in the unknown, and the “what if’s”, and the only way to alleviate the ambiguity is to get the information you need. Don’t wait for people to provide it to you, ask! Your manager may not know that you want or need the information. The sooner you have all the facts, the sooner you will be able to process them and interpret what they mean for you.

  1. Recognise and rationalise the voice of caution

When confronted with a situation that’s unfamiliar, there’s often a voice of caution at the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow. During times of change, this area of the brain likes to take charge and urges us to resist and be cautious. By recognising that this is what is happening and reminding ourselves that all will be okay, we can stay open-minded and prepare to take on the change in careful, measured steps.

  1. Reframe change as an opportunity

Fear about change often comes from negative thoughts about what the future could hold. When you become fearful in this way, consciously look to turn your negative feelings into something positive.

The key to reframing your response to change as a positive one comes from understanding exactly where your worries are coming from, then challenging this.

Begin by exploring what it is about the change that you see as negative or that is causing you worry. For example, are you worried about a lack of support or an increased workload?

Now consider whether your interpretation of these aspects could be reframed in a positive light. For example, additional responsibilities and the opportunity to manage your workload more independently could help to advance your career.

The following questions may help:

  • Forget the way the change was worded when it was communicated to you. Instead, think about how you would word this challenge or change if you were to explain it to others. This may help you understand what it is about the change that’s troubling you.
  • What are the real implications and opportunities for you?
  • How will the change affect your life in a practical sense? For example, will you have to work longer hours or tackle some difficult decisions without as much guidance from your manager? Will you take on additional responsibilities that will help your career progress longer term? Will it give you the opportunity to build new skills?
  • In the past, when you handled change really well, what did you do and what actions, in particular, really worked?
  • The aim here is to try to keep things in perspective and aligned with what really matters to you and your career.
  1. Break down the information

Take some time to work out exactly what you will have to do differently day-to-day as a result of this change. Breaking down the big picture into smaller portions that you can then control makes change feel more manageable. Transitioning to a new way of working, for example, may seem daunting and unfamiliar, especially in a tight timeframe, but segmenting it into individual, practical steps like the following will make it seem less intimidating:

  • Consider the key tasks that you normally complete day-to-day and identify which will change and which will stay the same;
  • Highlight any new responsibilities you will have, what they entail and when key actions will be required;
  • Find out what the new priorities will be, what the expectations will be for you individually going forward and how this will be monitored;
  • Find out how you will need to work with your team going forward, such as more regular meetings or collaboration;
  • Think about how you will need to use systems differently or what new software you will need to become familiar with;
  • Identify any areas where you feel you may need more knowledge or skills to carry out your role successfully;
  • Make sure you are checking in regularly with your colleagues and manager to run through any decisions or processes you are unsure of.
  1. Dip your toe in the water

When working towards embracing change, the first step is always the hardest. Therefore, it’s crucial that you dip your toe in the water as soon as possible. Identify a simple task to start with before working your way up to more complex activities you may need to tackle as a result of this change. Achieving quick wins should help subdue some of the anxiety you are experiencing.

  1. Be patient with yourself, persevere and ask for help if needed

It takes time and perseverance to adapt to change and you may not see differences overnight. Remember also that asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness, so make sure you are talking to people who can help keep you on track. If you are struggling to adapt to a particular change you are facing, then ask to be directed to any relevant employee assistance programmes or training resources that could help you. Talk to your manager about signing up to Hays online learning – Hays Thrive, which provides a full library of training courses that could help.

  1. Broaden your comfort zone

Your comfort zone is the set of behaviours and actions that together create the drumbeat of your day-to-day life, reducing risk and stress and providing us with a sense of security. It is this comfort zone that is often threatened by change, so the challenge is to identify how to quickly establish a new routine, and thus a new drumbeat so that you can rebuild self-confidence and a sense of security.

Think about how to map out your day or week now as a result of the change. What are the key regular activities you will need to do? How long will they take? When will you do them?

  1. Celebrate daily wins

With time, what might once have seemed a significant change to a way of doing things will start to gradually integrate into your day-to-day and feel much more natural. This is an ongoing process, so if you encounter the odd setback, continue steadily nonetheless. Take each step one at a time, set yourself daily goals and then reflect on what went well.

During times of change, it is very easy to focus on what you couldn’t do or what went wrong, rather than what went well. Focusing on your wins every day, no matter how small, will help you to see that you are moving forward and working on embracing change.

  1. Remember it’s a lifelong skill

Finally, it is important to remember that change can occur at any time and you will likely experience many periods of change throughout your working life. Embracing change successfully is therefore an important skill that will serve you well throughout the whole of your personal and professional life.

So, in summary, knowing how to adapt to change at work is important for your career long-term. When facing change, don’t just sit there and let it happen to you. Remember, you may not always get to choose when change impacts you, but you can always choose how you respond!

A new look for our new era of accountancy training

At Reed Business School we never stop working – to make sure we give our students the best learning experience possible. The last year or so has seen us adapt quickly and develop ourselves to deliver online and blended tuition in keeping with the high standards we’ve been running for over 45 years. It’s been a challenge, but our continuously high exam results show we’ve been doing well so far.

We’ve successfully been utilising Teams and ProSuite to meet the demands of remote training and business operations, and we’ve also been working behind the scenes to deliver a clear and consistent brand and vision to support our new way of working. We don’t want to rest on our laurels and assume the work is now done!

So, over the coming weeks you’ll be seeing some changes – from the format and look of our documents, to the style and structure of our website, and even social media channels. We’re continuing to upgrade in all areas of the business to provide the best possible learning platform for you, and ensure we remain competitive.

Throughout all this work we’ve kept in mind our core values: being fair, open, and honest; taking ownership; and working together. It’s been a real team effort over the last 18 months, and now we’re proud to be able to introduce the new brand identity which encompasses everything we’ve worked on, and will continue to represent in the future. We hope you continue to join us on this journey.

Watch this space for more, and do let us know your thoughts!

Do the right thing

Business, like life, is full of ethical dilemmas. At a time when there seems to be a lot of focus on doing the right thing, how do you as a human balance the sometimes conflicting requirements of doing your job with your own values?

The world has no single, universally-accepted set of rules or principles for ethical behaviour. But while philosophers can philosophise, accountants have no such luxury. The profession has to debate ethics, reach conclusions and take actions in the knowledge that they will be scrutinised, analysed, discussed, questioned and sometimes even tried in a court of public opinion – where appearances matter more than substance.

We love teaching all aspects of financial training here at Reed Business School, but it’s the ethics classes that are often the most interesting.

In discussions about ethics, rules and laws are common reference points, yet many people in the profession believe ethics are about trying to do the right thing even when nobody is looking, especially when there isn’t a specific rule or law to help.

More laws = more ethical behaviour?

At the regional firm George Hay, legislation such as the Bribery Act and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Regulations have been built into the relevant guidelines, training and procedures, but the impact on ethics seems to have been limited.

“Before, if we suspected a client of some sort of wrongdoing, the dilemma was, ‘Does this go beyond our ethical guidelines, and do we want to disengage?’” says Toni Hunter, partner and George Hay’s AML reporting officer. “We always erred on the side of caution. Now we are duty bound to blow the whistle. If a client is being deliberately evasive, or there is simply any doubt, staff members know they must report this to me. Then I decide if this should be logged with the Serious Organised Crime Agency, and tell the employee involved to keep their eyes and ears open, without alerting the client to the fact that they are under suspicion.”

Accountants in industry also believe that they can be relied on to behave ethically without more rules and regulations. “I look back at my ACA training and it clearly showed the ethical approach required,” says Jonathan Coiley, finance director at Acorn Engineering Group, who qualified before ICAEW introduced the Structured Training in Ethics programme. “When an ethical issue lands on your doorstep there is adequate guidance open to you,” he says. As well as the Code of Ethics, ICAEW provides helplines and online support, though Coiley adds, “My ethical approach as an FD fundamentally rests on my nature to be honest, fair and correct in everything I do.”

Right from wrong

Rohan Hewavisenti, director of finance and business at the British Red Cross, is certain that, regardless of rules and regulations, there is a basic level at which people know what is wrong and what is right – even if they don’t always do the latter. “I recall being very disillusioned many years ago when some Lloyds names lost a lot of money and the government stepped in to give them a helping hand. This has since repeated itself with the banks,” says Hewavisenti. So, soon after qualifying as an ACA, he decided to “do something more rewarding” with his career, and moved into the third sector.

There are many different ways of reconciling your personal moral code with that of your chosen profession. But what society considers immoral or unethical changes. And it may sometimes be appropriate to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater one. Practices of questionable morality in one place, or culture, or religion, are judged acceptable or even desirable in others. For example, in China, it can be considered the done thing to make business decisions based on what’s best for your family. In the UK, that may be considered nepotism. There are grey areas – both inside and outside the profession.

This is especially true for tax avoidance and tax evasion. On the one hand, accountants can be seen as walking a very fine line of acceptability, but microeconomic behaviour can have macroeconomic consequences, as Prem Sikka, professor of accounting, points out. “There are lots of examples of things that were considered avoidance until they were challenged and then they became evasion,” he says, “but there is a limit to how many resources the state can spend addressing this.”

So where does this leave the profession? Trying to do the right thing and be seen doing the right thing in a world that is fraught with the dangers of moral relativism and pragmatism. It’s an area of accountancy that’s constantly evolving, and therefore always worth revisiting. So, if you’re able to get down the pub with some colleagues this summer, have a good old chinwag about ethics and see what solutions you can come up with!

A new dawn and an Accountancy Apprenticeship?

As freedom looms, and we start to make more choices about our futures, many of us are considering a change of lifestyle or career. For those looking to retrain while still being able to work towards a well-paid job, an accountancy internship might be the answer…

How apprenticeships work

On an apprenticeship, you’re employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification (ACCA, CIMA or ICAEW) – usually for one day a week either at a college or training centre like Reed Business School. By the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll have gained the skills and knowledge needed to either succeed in your chosen career or progress onto the next apprenticeship level.

You’ll also be constantly developing your transferable skills, such as business communication, teamwork and problem solving, as well as knowledge of IT programmes.

Length of accountancy apprenticeships

The length of your apprenticeship will depend on a number of factors, such as the level of the apprenticeship, employer requirements and your individual ability.

  • advanced apprenticeships(equivalent to Level 4) are usually studied over two years
  • higher and degree apprenticeships(equivalent to Level 7) take three-to-six years to complete.

Both will see you achieve a formal qualification from your chosen professional body, but it’s worth checking directly with your chosen employer before applying to check how long your course will last, as some won’t follow this structure.

Pay rates and working hours

For those aged 21 and over, you are entitled to minimum wage of at least £8.20 per hour while on your apprenticeship, though some employers will pay more. For more information on pay rates, see GOV.UK – Become an apprentice.

You’ll also be entitled to sick pay, any additional benefits your employer offers to its other employees, such as healthcare plans and childcare vouchers, and at least 20 days of paid holiday per year.

Working hours vary depending on your employer, but you won’t be able to work more than 40 hours per week or any fewer than 30. Typically, you’ll work between 35 and 37.5 hours per week. Most accountancy apprentices can expect to work something like 9am-5.30pm for four days a week, while you’re studying the other one day.

Age limit

One of the key selling points of accountancy apprenticeships is that there’s no upper age limit to begin. As long as you’re over 16 and have the right credentials, you’ll be eligible to apply for your chosen apprenticeship. So if you fancy a career change in your 30s, 40s or 50s, an apprenticeship could be for you!

If you start your apprenticeship after you turn 19, you may be entitled to additional government funding. Find out more about what’s on offer at Student Finance England – Advanced Learner Loan.

Entry requirements

As each type of apprenticeship offers a different-levelled qualification their entry requirements will vary. Generally speaking, they are as follows:

  • For an advanced apprenticeship, you’re likely to be asked for prior work experience and at least three GCSEs or equivalent – such as an intermediate apprenticeship qualification.
  • As higher apprenticeshipsare the equivalent of a foundation degree, HNC or first year of a Bachelors, you’ll usually need at least five good GCSEs, as well as some Level 3 qualifications in relevant subjects, to apply. Your Level 3 qualifications could be AS-levels, a BTEC National or a Level 3 NVQ.
  • Degree apprenticeshipswill have the tightest entry requirements. These may include three A-levels in a specified grade range or a higher apprenticeship qualification, on top of at least five 9-4 GCSE grades. It’s also likely you’ll be required to have prior work experience.

You can apply for apprenticeships at any time of year – whether you’re successful depends on if an employer has a vacancy. You’ll be able to check the specific entry requirements of your chosen apprenticeship once the position opens.

Our top tips

Apprenticeships are not as easy as they might seem. Not only are you studying, but you’re also working 80% of a full-time role. You will need to study at the evenings and weekends. However, it does mean you can study without incurring student debt, earn a salary and have the advantage of several years’ work experience that your peers graduating from a traditional degree won’t have.

Look carefully into the study method and make sure you choose a course that’s right for you. Some will offer the opportunity for weekly face to face classes whereas others will be almost entirely online, and a range in between. At Reed Business School we offer a blended learning approach that prioritises our small class in-person teaching – a formula which sees our students achieve results well above the national average.

Be careful about where you do your apprenticeship. Try to find testimonials or speak to other apprentices at the organisation. The quality of employer support can vary hugely.

Want to find out more? Get in touch to see whether an accountancy apprenticeship with Reed Business School might be right for you.