This International Accounting Day, together with our Baker Tilly International colleagues around the world, we celebrate our profession and what’s changed in the industry. Following another busy year, our Business Services Partner Michael Branniff joins us for a look back on his career and how he made it to Partner level.
1. What made you pursue a career in Accounting?
My initial interest was in business generally. Understanding how companies work in different sectors and industries gives you an idea of the positive impact that business has on the wider economy and society. For me Accounting allowed me to become a key part of many teams to assist companies with their finances and to pursue their goals.
2. How did you get to Partner level?
I completed an Accounting degree at the University of Ulster in Jordanstown. Following my degree I was lucky to secure a training contract with Baker Tilly Mooney Moore in 2001. Having successfully completed my professional qualification, I progressed my career within the practice. I continued in general practice before moving into Business Services, where I was then promoted to Assistant Manager.
In Business Services, I worked with companies across a broad spectrum of sectors, managing and preparing monthly accounts. It gave me an understanding of the impact and potential impact an Accountant’s expertise could have on businesses.
Over time the department has grown, and I have taken on new and different types of work in various sectors dealing directly with owner managed businesses. Within the Business Services department I was then promoted to Manager followed by Director. I have recently been appointed as Partner in the Business Services team, and in this role I look forward to helping expand and grow the department going forward.
3. How have things changed in the Accounting industry?
One of the main changes in Business Services was digitalisation and supporting clients to move their accounts online. Businesses now need accurate information that is live at all times to allow for rolling forecasts and decision making. Financial planning sessions have become more frequent, especially in recent months due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding issues such as interest rates, utility costs and inflation levels which all have an immediate impact on all businesses.
All of this has altered the way in which we work with our clients. Developing new systems and training clients’ staff to ensure they have timely and relevant information on hand is part of our role. It comes in the context of a transformed working environment, with our own business and our clients’ way of doing things now altered by the pandemic and flexible working methods.
4. What advice would you give to someone starting out?
First and foremost, any accountant should make sure they understand the client’s business, what it does, how and why they do what they do, and what their goals are. Producing an accurate set of accounts is vital, but it’s also important to understand what those accounts mean for each commercial organisation. Don’t be afraid to spend time getting to know your client and observing how they operate.
Secondly, find an area of accounting that you like and enjoy. I would recommend gaining experience in various areas of accountancy when you start out. Whether it is audit, taxation or business services where you interest lies, pursue that area and get as much experience with as many different clients as you can.