Adrien Pelan, Accounts Technician in the Business Services Team, spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about her career. 

1. Give a brief outline of your career to date.

I began my career in accounting with Baker Tilly Mooney Moore, initially as part of the Higher Level Apprenticeship Scheme studying at Belfast Met. After starting with the firm in October 2017, I completed my Accounting Technician exams and finished studying in June 2019 becoming a member of Accounting Technicians Ireland. I was then offered a permanent contract as an Accounting Technician in the Business Services Department, and I have stayed with Baker Tilly Mooney Moore ever since.

2. What was your favourite subject in school?

Unsurprisingly, my favourite subject at school was Maths, which I studied alongside Business Studies and English Literature at A-Level.

3. Did you go on to further/higher education? What did you study and where?

After finishing my A-Levels, I completed a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Business at Belfast Met, which was where I found out about the Higher Level Apprenticeship scheme and applied for the training position at Baker Tilly Mooney Moore.

4. Is this what you always wanted to do?

In some ways, yes. I always planned to work in finance and enjoyed studying Maths at school. Applying for the HLA scheme made sense as I had completed various finance modules in my HND. While at Baker Tilly Mooney Moore, I have always been encouraged to progress and succeed within my department.

5. Were there any essential qualifications or experience needed?

The HLA scheme requires you to have a minimum GCSE Grade B in both English and Maths and a minimum of 96 UCAS points through A Levels or equivalent. During the interview process with Baker Tilly Mooney Moore, I completed a competency test. With an apprenticeship, the programme is all about training on the job so while there are no requirements for previous experience, it is important that you can balance work and study.

6. Are there alternative routes into the job?

Yes, you could enter as a graduate in accounting or other disciplines, with law, business and finance being the common backgrounds. Or you can take the vocational route and study for a Higher National Diploma.

7. What are the main personal skills your job requires?

Good time management and the ability to work under pressure, as we work to deadlines in terms of filing accounts and returns on behalf of clients. Excellent communication skills are important as we are always speaking with clients, and accuracy is vital as there is a lot of technical work involved. Being able to work in a team is a key aspect of the job as you are constantly in communication with different departments ensuring that our clients get the best possible service.

8. What does a typical day entail?

I prepare monthly and quarterly bookkeeping reports for various clients to ensure their systems are up to date. This supports the submission of their VAT Returns and preparation of management and year end accounts. I supervise a team of three bookkeepers, two of which are studying for their ATI exams, so part of my job is reviewing their work. Another part of the job that I enjoy is training clients to use accounting software such as Sage and Xero.

In my spare time, I am a self-taught crochet enthusiast making stuffed animals and handbags, which is a good way to relax after a working day. My family and I have also taken up cycling at the weekends.

9. What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?

The best is communicating with clients, forming relationships with them, learning about their business and supporting them with their accounts. The job is the most challenging when we’re up against a filing deadline, which happens at the end of every quarter, as we can have anything up to 50 VAT returns to file.

10. Why is what you do important?

Bookkeeping is integral to the daily running of a business and is vital to planning ahead as it allows business owners to see who they owe and what’s owed. Our work completing VAT returns on behalf of clients allows them to focus on their business and customers, while we handle an important aspect of their financial obligations.

11. What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

Personally, I would recommend that anyone with an interest in accounting seriously considers following the vocational route and looking into courses like the Higher Level Apprenticeship. Not only do you have the opportunity to gain work experience while you are studying, but you avoid four years of debt, which is a huge bonus. Earning money and no debt was a no brainer for me.

12. And finally, what is the key to any successful job search?

It’s about knowing your core skills, where you want to go and what you might want from a job. In accounting you can go down the industry route and work in-house for one specific company, or the practice route where you work as a consultant to many businesses. Practice was the attractive route for me as I enjoy working with a variety of clients and helping them to build their business, it really allows you to feel like you are a part of many teams!

To find out more about our bookkeeping services get in touch with Adrien by email or Tel: 028 9032 3466

This article first appeared in the Belfast Telegraph on 19th May 2023.