Becoming a Professional Accountant

I wasn’t drawn into the profession in any special way, but today I don’t regret having chosen it. Like many others, B.Com. seemed like the next logical step after choosing accounting at sixth form; after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, the next step would have been to continue studying for a masters degree in accounting. That was until I heard about the ACA course. A few friends of mine were considering registering for this course and I decided to look into it. What appealed to me was the fact that it is a very prestigious qualification (especially abroad) and that it was the first time the course was being taught in Malta – which made it seem even more attractive. I had a few meetings with Deloitte and BPP (now AIM) representatives where I was given the whole study plan, a specific timeline of the exams (15 modules in the course) along with details about the lectures. My mind was soon made up.

The course is structured in a way which eases students into the working life thanks to a 12-week work placement every year prior to joining full-time after two years. Deloitte offers its ACA students a slightly different work/study plan, where the student is not asked to work during any period in between any lectures and the related exam. We were given all the time we needed to study, making it easier to prepare for each exam session as a result of which there were always very high pass rates in each paper.

The main advantage of studying while working is that you start earning a full-time salary immediately. However there is suddenly less time to cope as c you did when you were a full-time student – which is tough to accept. People sometimes are in a rush to kickstart their careers and get qualified as quickly as possible, which may have an adverse effect on a young adult. My advice would be that despite the obvious advantages that come with being a young professional, there is no harm in taking your time if you feel you are not ready for a full time job.

Thanks to how the work placements were structured, when we eventually joined Deloitte full-time we weren’t overwhelmed but we were well equipped to juggle our working life with studying for the final exams – the last of which is the Case Study. This is an extremely challenging four-hour paper with complex business issues testing our ability to solve problems, identify ethical implications and provide effective solutions. The paper tests the knowledge, skills and experience gained from all the modules as well as from our work experience. One of my greatest achievements was passing this final paper. In my opinion, the Case Study is what sets ACA apart from similar courses. It trained me to look for patterns and linkages when analysing a company’s accounts, rather than just seeing isolated figures. This skill is invaluable to me in better understanding companies’ financial situation and in offering a better service to clients as an auditor

After sitting for the Case Study, my job in audit allowed me fantastic opportunities to go on secondment to different Deloitte offices overseas. I was sent to the Jersey (Channel Islands) office for two months in early 2016 and I am currently in the middle of a five month secondment to the Luxembourg office. These experiences have undoubtedly been the highlights of my career.

Anyone considering studying accounting, needs to must deliberate whether they can spend a large part of a professional career looking at computer screens and excel sheets. If so, then the tension that comes with studying is more bearable, Although the job can sometimes be stressful with tight deadlines and long hours, it guarantees learning something new every day. The feeling of successfully working towards a common goal with the rest of the team is quite special.

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