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Should I take the plunge?

  • Member
  • Practice Licence
  • 17 posts
  • # 104229

Hello all

I wonder if you could help me, I'm considering my options.  I've been studying AAT (nearly finished level 4) and decided towards the end of last year was the right time to 'give up' work to look for my first job in finance.  I was working in catering, term-time only, which made it impossible to take time off for interviews.  However it seems part-time jobs for people with little practical experience are few and far between.  Or maybe it's my nerves getting the better of me at interviews.  I do tend to lack confidence in myself, getting tongue-tied, and I guess recruiters pick up on this and think I won't be up to the job.  I know I just need to be shown what to do and once I get a few weeks under my belt I'd be fine.  I guess I need to work on this.

Anyway, since being at home I've realised my kids need me around so I've been thinking maybe I should get a practice licence and start up by myself working from home instead.  I've been treasurer for a local community group for a couple of years now while studying, my ideal job was to work in a practice anyway so why not?  I'm just concerned my initial lack of confidence is going to scupper any chance of me gaining clients.  Has anyone else had similar issues?

A driving instructor friend said although he looks after his own finances and has an accountant (he hadn't even heard of the term 'bookkeeper' before!) he would invite me to one of his network meetings where I could do a presentation - I've never done a presentation of any kind before and wouldn't know where to begin!  Has anyone here gained clients this way?

I thought I'd ask my self-employed friends (childminder/driving instructor/property landlord) if they would let me have a look at what they do and see if I could improve their systems, for free while I'm finding my feet (once I'm licensed of course).  What do you think?

I know I've asked a few questions here but any comments would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Christina

  • Accredited Training Provider
  • 413 posts
  • # 104230

Hi Christina,

Go for it. With your qualifications to date you should be able to joing ICB as a Full Member. Many of our students and ICB Members on here love the flexibility that working from home can provide. I wish you every success Laughing 

 

Kind regards

  • Affiliate PM.Dip
  • 39 posts
  • # 104234

Hello,

 

I am in a very similar situation term time job etc seems to be the way it goes when we have kids, As a matter of interest how long has it taken you to get to level 4 as I have only just started studying. I am hopeful that it wont take me too long to get there are I have done Treasurer and Financial Admin jobs over the years so have basic knowledge just need that confidence boost to actually sit the exams ! Totally stressed over the first one last week then passed with 98% so reckon I can do it lolz

 

I wish you good luck with your venture sounds like you have some possible openings so go for it :)  

  • 31 posts
  • # 104235

Hi there, I am currently studying Manual 3 and working part time in a finance department after always working in catering since I left school ( 18 years ago !!). Once I had passed my level 2 exams I was able to volunteer my time for 4 hours on a Friday in a design company ( owned by a member of the family ) and I saw the job I am currently in advertised. I really didnt think I would get called for an interview but one telephone interview and 2 face to face to face interviews I have now been there for 8 months. 

Yes I was lucky that there was a company that I could volunteer in but I got the interview and my honesty at not having alot of practical experience ( I had only been in the design company for 4 weeks, so 16 hours of practical training ) and my attitude won me the job. The job is part time so it fits with my 2 kids at school and I do feel extremeely lucky to be in this position.

If you want to go straight to your own clients then great, I just wanted some practical experience and training first, probably from working in catering I got the habit that the more you do, the more you learn and the more you are surrounded by people with experience you will learn more. Eventually I think I would like to work for myself but the company I am in is growing so who knows!

The most important thing is to believe in yourself and what you have learned.

 

Jo

  • Member
  • Practice Licence
  • 17 posts
  • # 104237

Thanks Brian, I think I've pretty much decided that I've not got much to lose really. I've already spent £,000's getting this far, what's another £500 or so to get set up?  And certified status will be another string to my bow, so to speak, whether I decide to go it alone or manage to get a job (or both!)

Jo, I think you're right - attitude and a belief in my abilities will get me there.  I learned so much from catering - staying calm under pressure, planning and prioritising work, problem solving, this list goes on.

I've looked at this journey as investing in myself for my and my family's future, so I won't have to be working endless hours in minimum wage jobs for the rest of my life when I know I'm capable of so much more.  Now it's coming to crunch time when I've almost qualified and I'm having difficulty finding the right job, and when I think I've found it I flunk at the interview, it's frustrating.  In my last interview I clammed up and completely forgot to mention ANYTHING about my treasurer role - the most relevant work I do!  OK, working on the self-believe and positive attitude.  Thank you so much for taking the time to answer.

Mandy, it's taken me 2 1/2 years to get this far with AAT.  I was able to do level 2 in 6 months on a 'fast track' course because I had a basic understanding of double-entry bookkeeping already.  Level 3 took just over one year, and I started level 4 last April.  I have one more exam (Thursday - eek!) and the ICAS (Internal Controls and Accounting Systems) project module to do.  I did levels 2 and 3 at the local college and level 4 at the local Kaplan centre.  Are you studying online or at a college?  With online/home study you can complete it as quickly as you can learn it.  I might be wrong but I think one member did the whole qualification in less than a year!  A few of our class are on graduate programmes or apprenticeships, one has been working in quite a high level role for years but wants the paper qualification to go with it, most are working in some capacity in finance, and then there's me, quietly been passing exams but not doing much with it lol.

AAT have lots of practice assessments on their website and I always complete those before going to the actual exam so I know what to expect.  I remember being extremely nervous for my first exam at level 2 as I hadn't taken any since I was at school (I'm 45 this year).  Now I've taken so many over the last 2 1/2 years I'm used to it.  I will still be glad when Thursday is over though.  I'm sure you'll get on fine, Mandy, as you've have the background.

I think I just need to do it and stop looking at the ifs and buts.  If I'd done this in October when I first started thinking about it I'd be registered by now :/

  • Member PM.Dip
  • Practice Licence
  • 118 posts
  • # 104240

Hi Xina,

Just wanted to say well done for getting this far in your AAT exams. Going into practice is a big step, but a great one for many people. Nervousness never goes away, I still have it now after 3.5 years. The more you do things, the easier they get. And try not to be too annoyed with yourself when you forget things or things don't go quite to plan. We're all human, and need to learn new things. Don't forget what you've already achieved in your studies and what you've learned from your previous jobs. Knowledge is important, but common-sense and a desire to learn from mistakes and do good work are more valuable than you think.

Just a thought if you do decide to go for it, there's a buddy system for people new to practice. Perhaps you can find someone to help guide you there? It's an informal, voluntary arrangement.

http://www.bookkeepers.org.uk/Forum/?type=&cid=0&tid=88519&lp=102424&page=1&sort=

The ICB also offer a lot of information about what you need to be in practice and of course you can always phone them to check things. They've always been really helpful to me.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on!

Liz

  • Affiliate PM.Dip
  • 39 posts
  • # 104245

Wow its amazing how many of us seem to be in a similar situation. It has inspired me reading your comments, we all seem to suffer with doubts think its just that great juggling act of life kids work and knowing we are capable of more than a minimum wage job :) I am doing home study via ADL which seems to be going pretty well as I can move quickly through the bits that I already know and the tutor is there on email to help if needed. As you say having a basic understanding is a definate advantage. I know level 3 will be more demanding but knowing you did it in a year is good. Thanks for taking the time to reply and good luck with your exam sure you will do fine Smile 

  • Member
  • Practice Licence
  • 17 posts
  • # 104270

Hi Liz, thanks for the tips and the link, I shall certainly take a look, it sounds like a great idea.

There do seem to be quite a few people in our situation, Mandy.  I had very little prior knowledge apart from a Pitman level 1 bookkeeping course I did at school lol.  You've definitely got an advantage.  I've found level 4 to be quite a big step up from 3 and I was really daunted by it at first but I soon got into it and have passed all my units (so far) first time so I'm sure you'll be ok too.

Well things have moved on a little and I may have my first client already!  Speaking to a friend this evening - sounding him out - he told me to hurry up and do it because he needs my help.  Looks like my application will be going in tomorrow Smile Thank you all, I shall be sticking around.

Christina



Edited at 11 Feb 2015 09:53 PM GMT

  • 3 posts
  • # 107551

Hi Xina,

 

I am in a very similiar position having nearly completed AAT Level 4, aged 47 and not having much luck in getting responses to my CV. Just thinking about going self employed and just wondered how things have gone for you since your last update?

Regards

 

Andrew

  • Member
  • Practice Licence
  • 17 posts
  • # 108584

Hi Andrew

Progress has been slow.  I put in my application to ICB and paid the fee but I've heard nothing back yet.

I passed the exam I took in February though, and I've started on my ISYS plan.  I intend to get that in before chasing the ICB up.

I've had a couple of job interviews since February and I'm hoping to have another next week.  The friend who wanted me to do his bookkeeping probably won't come to anything now because I don't agree with what his accountant has apparently advised him.

So I'm kind of in limbo at the moment and not sure what to do for the best.  Sorry I can't be more encouraging.

Christina

PS  One thing that really helped me with my CV was an AAT branch meeting where a local recruitment consultant was invited to do a presentation.  If your branch do anything like that I would urge you to go along.

  • 3 posts
  • # 108590

Xina said:

Hi Andrew

Progress has been slow.  I put in my application to ICB and paid the fee but I've heard nothing back yet.

I passed the exam I took in February though, and I've started on my ISYS plan.  I intend to get that in before chasing the ICB up.

I've had a couple of job interviews since February and I'm hoping to have another next week.  The friend who wanted me to do his bookkeeping probably won't come to anything now because I don't agree with what his accountant has apparently advised him.

So I'm kind of in limbo at the moment and not sure what to do for the best.  Sorry I can't be more encouraging.

Christina

PS  One thing that really helped me with my CV was an AAT branch meeting where a local recruitment consultant was invited to do a presentation.  If your branch do anything like that I would urge you to go along.


Thank you very much for your update and thoughts.

When you do your Internal Controls report it is a challenge but it does feel so good once you get towards the end and and the tutor starts using phrases like "really good work" rather than "fair". You will learn so much about how to make MS Word work in your favour, I've been doing IT Support for 15 years and I learnt so much on how to use Word, rather than just get a PC going for a user.

Just a thought - is it worth just touching base with ICB registration Dept, even if they say it is a waiting game until circa 'date'? It just ensures that if something is back in your court, then you can progress it.

Good luck with the report.

 

Andrew

  • Member
  • Practice Licence
  • 17 posts
  • # 108744

Well, a bit of progress to report...  I became an Associate Member today Cool, practice licence application pack is on its way to me and I've just had a very positive chat with my window cleaner Smile

 

And my ISYS plan has been approved so I can get on and write it now.

 

@Andrew, have you had any more thoughts about what to do?

 

Christina

  • 3 posts
  • # 108746

Xina said:

Well, a bit of progress to report...  I became an Associate Member today Cool, practice licence application pack is on its way to me and I've just had a very positive chat with my window cleaner Smile

 

And my ISYS plan has been approved so I can get on and write it now.

 

@Andrew, have you had any more thoughts about what to do?

 

Christina


 Congratulations on your Associate status! Also good news on your ISYS plan being accepted. I am now due my final interview on that on Tuesday afternoon - 15 minutes of telephone interview / review of project and then that should be in the bag. 

 

I am currently revising Business Tax and I may well take that exam very soon as things are starting to slot into place mentally. Then I have to set to and re-learn "Financial Performance" as that is the paper that broke my 100% 1st time pass record.  :(  I am expecting the result of Personal Tax in circa 2 weeks, so will just have to see about that result.

I am keeping a low profile with recruiters at the moment as they stated they could not get me a position as I had training days booked intermittently. Once I know I have passed my exam / the results are just a formality, I will have another blast sending my CV to Harrogate employers, as I think I would prefer to be in an office with more knowledgeable people to start with. Then if there is no positive response consider applying.

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