Trainee apprenticeship scheme
For over 20 years Friend & Grant have had a training scheme and over this period many of our trainees have gone on to become qualified accountants. In fact 4 of our current management team qualified within the firm. It is a scheme we are incredibly proud of as we continue to take on more and more trainees. You can find out about our team by clicking here.
We have historically engaged graduates under a graduate scheme where the individual goes straight to the ICAEW examinations however currently we have no plans to take on any trainees under this scheme.
Our preference has been for some time and will be for 2021 to take on trainees under our apprenticeship scheme.
The apprenticeship scheme we have involves individuals taking 3 years for the AAT qualification (Association of accounting technicians). Starting with NVQ level 2 the final qualification is NVQ level 4 and enables the individual to use the letters MAAT behind their name. This is a great qualification which in its own right will enable the individual a secure position in either a practice or industry environment.
If you are however successful in the AAT qualification this will enable you to move on to either the ICAEW examinations (a further 3 years to become a chartered accountant) or the ATT examinations to specialise in tax with the potential to take further examinations to become a Chartered Tax Advisor (CTA). In fact it is possible to do a combined CTA/chartered accountant qualification– this is a route one of our students is currently taking.
Our preference for the apprenticeship scheme is simple. It provides the individual with an additional 3 years practical experience and enables us the time to properly train our team members to an extremely high level.
For a school leaver joining us at 18 years old they can become a chartered accountant at age 24. In fact we have a number of trainees who have achieved the feat.
So what is training like?
The probability is that you will be trained on a day release basis by our provider, First Intuition, based in Maidstone. There is a possibility depending on the timing of when you join our scheme to quicken the process up slightly by taking your AAT courses remotely- ie working in the evenings. Remote learning is only used in rare occasions. It however must be stressed that whilst AAT NVQ level 2 is relatively easy by the time you come to doing AAT NVQ level 4 or the Chartered examinations you will not only be required to work full time but to study in the evenings as well.
The time for studying should not be underestimated. The final ICAEW qualification is viewed as being NVQ level 7 – ie the equivalent of a masters degree. You will therefore be working at degree level when you start your ICAEW studies and doing this whilst keeping a full time job. We will however continue to provide study leave to attend training and revision courses at First Intuition.
The ICAEW qualification is an option. Many trainees stop at AAT as this is in its own right a great qualification and with 3 years relevant experience you will be well set to work in a finance role in either industry or in practice.
What is the money like?
During training salary levels are OK. The key is getting experience and the qualifications.
The salary in the first year as an apprentice will be £12,000 per annum. All training costs will be met by the firm. There is a pension scheme.
You will however be joining an environment full of young people keen to build exciting careers.
Typically a newly qualified Chartered Accountant will currently be earning £35K. This will rise significantly once you start to develop experience and to take on more responsibility.
What is it like to work at Friend & Grant?
The last year or so has been difficult due to Covid 19 but our offices are open and most of our students ,as at the date of writing, are back in an office environment. It is essential to be working in an office environment as this is how we can best train our people.
There is no doubt that the work environment can be challenging. You will have deadlines to meet. You will be working as part of a tight knit team where you will get continual feedback. As an apprentice you will be expected to do an element of administrative duties which could involve ad hoc reception duties, some IT support, making the tea etc…. Be prepared to muck in and to do whatever is expected of you.
In normal times we do have a great social side to the business with the annual Christmas party and regular events through out the year. In the past we have done curling, ten pin bowling, archery, crown green bowling, rounders, a day trip to London, comedy nights, quiz nights plus much more and we will be looking to reintroduce this as soon as we get back to normal!
What kind of work will I be doing?
As an apprentice you will join either our tax team or business support team. Our tax team specialises in small business- sole traders and partnerships- and personal tax cases- high earners and property investors etc… You will quickly get to learn book-keeping using cloud software such as Xero and to prepare small accounts and prepare personal tax returns plus numerous other tax related tasks. The work is incredibly varied as the size of jobs will mean that you will be working on numerous cases every day. There will be a lot of client interaction so you will be on the phone a lot.
If you join our business support team you are likely to find yourself working on larger cases. This will be mainly limited company accounts work . You will be trained to use a number of cloud software packages and you may be involved in book-keeping and audit work. Again the work will be varied as you will be learning about numerous different industries and you will have a high level of client interaction as you will need to contact clients re accounts queries. As you progress you will need to assist clients with cloud software queries and training and to learn more about corporation tax.
Both departments are challenging in their own right and there will be times when you could be seconded to work in the other department. We have on occasion moved trainees from one department to another long term.
What type of person are we looking for?
We expect you to be academically strong with a minimum level 7 in GCSE Mathematics and level 6 in GCSE English.
You will also be expected to talk to clients from the outset so we are looking for confident people who have good communication skills.
You will also be working in a tight knit team so we will expect you to be a good team player and to be sociable and easy going.
You must also be someone who is driven. Be under no illusions that whilst the AAT qualification is relatively straight forward if you move on to do the Chartered examinations the final qualification is as stated earlier the equivalent of a masters degree.
We won’t rush you. A great Chartered Accountant has experience. Dealing with 40 to 50 year old business owners is not easy particularly if you are qualified at 21 or 22 years old. We believe that like a fine wine you will need time to mature hence our program takes around 6 years to qualify- 3 years AAT and 3 years ICAEW (chartered Accountant). It also gives you time to chart the right course for you. For those joining our tax team the ATT and CTA examinations may be the best course for you. For some AAT is their level and they will see no need to progress to do the ICAEW examinations.
Above all we want people to join us for the long term. We want people who will gel with our existing team and who will add value to our expanding company.
How do I apply?
It is important that you are highly numerate and with good communication skills. On day one a driving license will be important but not essential. However failure to get a driving license is likely to inhibit your future development and career prospects.
We are looking for individuals with a minimum of 5 GCSEs with an A or A* (level 7 to 9) in Mathematics and a least a B (level 6) in English. To apply please go to our job section or simply send a covering email and your CV to Jan Friend.
Please note that if your grade is lower than the above you are highly unlikely to get through to the next stage.
Stage 2 will be a zoom or in person meeting with Jan Friend and at least one other manager in the practice.
The final stage will be a second interview which will be in the office to meet departmental managers.
Only at this point will an offer potentially be made.
To find out more about what our trainees think about an apprenticeship with Friend & Grant please visit https://youtu.be/dp0044_aZ6s