Highly successful AAT Tutor and Freelance Bookkeeper Lisa Leonard talks us through how to get ahead in your accountancy career by building reputation, using new software and more.
How to get ahead in your career in accounting
I can’t say that when I first started out in my career that I had a clear idea of where I wanted it to go, or what I wanted to do.
The start of my career in accountancy began when I landed my first office job as an accounts clerk, and quickly found it was something I enjoyed. When I qualified as an Accounting Technician, although I naturally enjoyed the figure work I found that I also enjoyed working with people and progressed into a role where I was training people.
This shaped my career onwards to training and implementing finance software, which I did for a number of years working my way up to management level. As the AAT qualification has always been the fundamental platform on which to build my career, I decided to challenge myself to something different. This also allowed me to use my knowledge and experience to become an AAT tutor.
When it came time to settle down and have a family, it was clear I needed something a bit more flexible. Now, I work as a freelance bookkeeper and tutor. As you progress through your studies - and indeed in your role in accountancy - look for your attributes and what you enjoy. That will lead you to find your ideal role.
When they start their course, many of my students tell me that they are studying so that they too can become a self-employed bookkeeper or accountant.
It is the ideal career that will fit around family life and also earn a decent income. A lot of students are also looking to start their career in accounting or already have a finance position working in an accounts department.
The massive step has been made! You have chosen to study a well-recognised and commended qualification, which will give you the knowledge and skills you require to become successful whichever path it may take you.
But what are the other things you could be doing to improve your chances of success, gain that promotion or build a reputation as a bookkeeper in your own right?
In an ever-evolving industry, it is important to stay ahead here are some areas to focus on alongside your studies that I think will help to boost your career success.
Actively seeking solutions with software
We are now in the age of technology. In the past, the accounting software system would sit in isolation and only accessed by accounting professionals to input the daily transactions.
Software revolutionised the age of accounting, saving not only space for storing huge ledger books but also efficiency. Cloud-based software, such as Xero and QuickBooks, offer clients the option of having their software available to them via apps on their tablets and phones.
This offers a visibility they never had before, and the ability to check the status of their accounts at a glance and even raise invoices on the go!
But what does it mean for the bookkeepers and accounts staff? Will they become redundant?
Quite the opposite, and it is time to grab this opportunity with both hands. Yes, the technology available means that some of the once manual tasks are now taken care of. However, it is still important to have the fundamental knowledge of bookkeeping and the debits and credits, as you will be needed to guide those not familiar in the right direction.
It is your time to shine! You can find yourself assisting a business in the accounting process and seeking solutions that benefit their work flow; from the point of making a sale right through to reporting the profit of the business.
This could entail several systems, as most traders will have a front of house sales system that will integrate into their accounting software package.
It is a fact that cash is used less, so there are now more payment systems including PayPal, iZettle, Go Cardless (to name a few). These also integrate with the accounting software. Managing the work flow is the key role of the accounting professional, and this can certainly be enhanced by using the right systems and software.
So, get researching! If you can attend networking events talking with other accounting professionals, this is one of the best ways to finding out about the latest or most liked finance systems.