The Chartered Accountant : Tobi Labeodan ACCA
Tobi is a Finance Analyst in Coventry, UK – responsible for new product developments – Product cost analysis, project accounting, budgeting, forecasting, variance analysis, decision support, process improvement.
He studied accounting at university, and realized early on that as an accountant, he would have to be chartered at some point. So, after researching global qualifications in his final year at university, decided on ACCA because it is popular international qualification and he had a goal of holding a global qualification.
I’m not sure he remembers this, but he explained discounted cash flow technique to me, when I was taking my CAT exams. To my mind, he’s one of those when you think of an accountant, you think calm, ethical, and professional.
Achieving ACCA was more of a personal goal, so it was a huge relief when I passed the last exam I sat in 2009. Working full time and studying at the same time is always going to be very challenging and not having to prepare and sit for any more exams felt very good. Achieving full membership (in 2011) was beneficial as some employers would consider you ahead of other candidates. Being able to obtain a practicing certificate after admission to full membership was like to passport – a passport to public practice and setting up your own firm, if you are keen on going down that line.
97% of my papers were based on the pre 2007 ACCA syllabus so I had conversions into the post 2007 syllabus. At the time, I found P5 (Performance Management) & P7 (Financial Management) very difficult. I found P5 to be difficult mainly due to timing when writing the exam. P7 was difficult due to the complexity of the subject; but I passed it on the first sitting. I however, failed P5 a couple of times and it was mainly because of timing when writing the exam. You needed to answer your questions right the first time! I always ended up spending 60% of my time on question 1, which was always the biggie!!!
Understandably, I was very discouraged after failing P5 a couple of times, so I took a year out from writing exams! At that time, I was converted to the post 2007 syllabus I then had the option of taking P1 (Professional Accountant). I enjoyed performance management and would not consider P1!!! Failing P5 a couple of times however, made me reconsider where I was with my goal and where I wanted to be. I decided to write P1 instead of writing P5 a 5th time, and that was my last exam.
It’s very important to discuss your goals and objectives with people around you. When you demonstrate your competence, reliability and drive, you open yourself up to opportunities for progression. Most employers will have a performance development program (PDP) and through this program, you will be the key driver of your PDP working in tandem with your line manager. Your manager will always have a goal for you, this may and may not align with yours. When it does align, your manager will be your advocate for receiving all the support you need. When it does not align, you will be your own advocate.
I didn’t suffer any financial difficulties, because I had financial support all through my studies. I also personally did not find the exams difficult; however, they can become difficult when your time is not properly planned when writing the exams. That’s always the case with any exam!
My advice to aspiring accountants is always to keep going. Regardless of diversions and distractions, stay focused on your goal and objective. Even if you’ve exceeded the time frame set for achieving that goal, there is always the opportunity of going back to the drawing board to rethink and refresh on strategies.
Now that I have the benefit of experience, I’d advice aspiring accountants to consider an internship position during holidays (during university education). An industrial training or placement would give you experience and exposure early on. Also, I wished I had an appreciation of all the fields of accounting back then. I didn’t pay much attention to it and that can be a huge factor in your career development. All employers require some form of specialist experience other than a general experience of accounting. Having specialist knowledge is also a key factor in becoming a self-employed accountant (having your own firm).
Being fully qualified has definitely increased my career prospects in industry. I’ve progressed to more senior roles as a result of being fully qualified. In my view, being fully qualified can mean you are flexible and can easily adapt to lateral moves and promotions within a company. I would encourage all passed finalists to progress to full membership with ACCA. With the benefit of hindsight, I would have focused on specialist fields early on and develop my goals and objective around those fields to become a subject matter expert, such that, if you are not making progress in one, you can progress in the other. As an example, I loved auditing and focused on getting jobs in that line, however, that didn’t go well as employers wanted practical experience before they considered you for a job! I’m in a different field now and I absolutely enjoy it.
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