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I joined Pro on the Associate Consultant programme in July 2018, and shortly after I made the transition to the Finance team. I specialise in recruiting accountancy professionals across London & Buckinghamshire at all levels, from Trainee to Partner. I work with a vast client base, from members of the Big 4 to specialist boutique firms.
I have come from an insurance broking background which has allowed me to make the smooth transition into recruitment and life at Pro. My interpersonal skills and my ability to understand and meet the need of clients has resulted in my time at Pro being successful so far (hopefully it will continue).
In my spare time, I spend most of the time playing football, cricket and golf (unfortunately I’m not any good at any of them). Also, I'm a huge West Ham fan - I go to most home and away games, and love spending time with friends and family.
My best holiday would definitely be Australia - I’d highly recommend Rottnesst Island to anyone who is visiting Perth, it was an unbelievable experience.
COVID-19 has seen offices completely change their day-to-day operations and people working remotely in their homes during lockdown. While this is a uncertain time for all, when it comes to preparing for interviewing there is a silver lining - extra time! While you would usually be caught up in your usual fast-paced and busy life, you now have more time to spend on interview prep. Below, we have put together the best ways to use your time wisely and prepare as effectively as possible for your upcoming virtual interviews! 1. Research on the firm It is key to ensure you have conducted thorough research of the company ahead of the interview. It is also good to be aware of any recent changes that have happened within the firm you are applying to, or indeed the market, such as new Partners, new divisions, or significant changes in the market the company operates within. You can do this by following the company on social media and LinkedIn, and looking up recent news articles on the both the firm and the wider market. Being aware of the company's ethics and morals is also key. If you have done your research and know that the firm’s key message is believing in teamwork, you can then relate this back in the interview and show examples of how you have demonstrated teamwork in the past. 2. Research who you are meeting Ensure you are aware of who you are meeting and their career history. You can do this by looking at their LinkedIn profile, or employee profile on the company website. In your interview, take the time to get to know them as a person too. If you secure the interview through an agency then your recruiter should be able to tell you what the hiring managers are like in greater detail. use this knowledge to your advantage! Not only this, but when you ask questions at the end make them as personable as possible. For example, ask the interviewer questions relating to their career - why they made certain career moves, or why they have stayed at this firm for so long. This will show your interest in the interviewer as well as the firm. 3. Competency-based questions A competency-based question is one which asks for behavioural descriptions in a given scenario, for instance, “tell me about a time when you showed ‘x’…”, or “tell me what you would do if ‘y’…”. Competency-based questions are key to any interview, so it's best to ensure you have examples prepared ahead of any interview - this could include times you were dealing with a difficult client etc. The go-to structure to handle competency-based questions effectively is the STAR format. This consists of a specific Situation you were in, a Task you were faced with, the behavioural Actions ‘you’ (not ‘we’) took, and the Results you achieved. 4. Technical knowledge prep When preparing for your interview, make sure you are prepared fully on your specific technical knowledge and experience within your specialised market. For example, within the audit and accounting marketing, be fully prepared to answer questions regarding the UK and international reporting standards such as FRS 102 and IFRS. Audit quality is also key at the minute, so you should prepare answers on your methodology on how you would audit a client, and use examples as much as possible! This is applicable to all markets - whether you work in the accounting market, creative or digital spaces, or in human resources - no matter the space you work within, brush up on your technical knowledge and refresh yourself on the relevant technical terms and training you've undertaken. 5. Mock interviews Although you might be working from home and interviewing remotely, this shouldn't stop you getting expert advice from your recruiter! Ask your recruiter to run through a mock interview process with you - will will help significantly. Ultimately, your recruiter will have the most knowledge about the interview process you will be going forward into, as well as information about who you will be meeting and the kind of questions you will be asked. This can be conducted over the phone or even better, by video call, so don't hesitate in asking to set up a mock interview with your recruiter to ensure you are as prepared as possible! These are just a few of the ways in which you can improve your methods of interview preparation. During the nationwide lockdown use your extra time wisely, conduct thorough research, brush up on your technical skills, prepare examples to answer competency-based questions, and arrange mock interview scenarios to ensure you are fully prepared for the interview that will land you your dream role and your next challenge. For more information on the best ways to prepare for your interview, contact Aaron Scott on 020 7269 6340 or email@example.com.
You're a qualified accountant deciding which career route to take - are practice or industry the only options? If neither of these options seem quite right for you, you might want to consider working for a corporate services provider. These high-profile companies are a perfect option for someone who wants the commercial aspect of an industry role alongside the variety of working in practice. So, why work for a corporate services provider? 1) Bridge the gap into industry If you want to work in a commerce and industry role, experience at a corporate services provider can offer the perfect opportunity to bridge the gap. Industry roles, as a general rule, only take on finance professionals with strong mid-tier, Top 10, or Big 4 experience. This is mainly due to the fact that working within a firm of this size, you often gain experience with large international clients which is highly-sought after by commercial companies. On the other hand, global providers are happy to hire people with experience from smaller independent or boutique firms. This means that if you don't have experience working at a mid or top-tier firm, working for a corporate services provider can give you the experience you need to take that next step into an in-house role. 2) Industry culture with the variety of practice work Working for a corporate services provider, you get the best of both worlds! You get the opportunity to think innovatively in a commerical business, with a culture similar to what you would find in an industry role. However, some people find that working in industry doesn't suit them, as it can lack variation with no client interactions. If you join a global provider you get the variety of work that comes with a wide portfolio of clients but with the coveted industry culture. 3) Bridge the gap to the Big 4/Top 10 Just like a role at a global provider can bridge the gap into a commerical company, it can also act as a step up into a top-tier firm. It can be notoriously difficult to secure a role at a top-tier firm, particularly one of the Big 4, so sometimes it's a good idea to look down other routes you could follow in order to reach your end goal. Should your long-term career goal be to work for one of the Big 4 or a Top 10 firm, the variety of work and portfolio of clients you will work with at a corporate services provider will expand your experience and skillset and give you that leg-up into a top-tier accounting firm. 4) Salary/Benefits The salary you will receive working at a corporate services provider will tend to be higher than the salary you would typically receive at an accountancy firm. You will receive a significantly higher salary for the same level role, but you will gain more experience and receive better training. These companies also offer excellent benefits across the board, typically including an excellent bonus scheme, private medical insurance, discounted gym membership, technology hire purchase scheme, travel discounts, interest free season ticket loans and a pension scheme. 5) Excellent training and development Corporate services providers tend to have excellent training programmes in place, particularly for juniors or those relatively new to the industry. The training you receive will be on par with the programmes offered at the Big 4, meaning you will be able to get the most out of the early years in your career and develop your personal skills and technical ability to the best standard. Not only will this improve your career short-term and see you progress at a fast pace, but having excellent training behind you will be invaluable when it comes to looking for a new job. 6) Work-life balance The typical working hours at these companies are 9am-5:30pm, which are standard hours for the city of London in general. When you compare this to the working hours of some practice roles which are heavily client-focused meaning hours can be unpredictable, a role in a corporate services provider can offer you the client exposure without the long hours. Many of these companies also offer flexible and agile working arrangements, including the option to work from home. This all contributes towards a healthy work-life balance, with regular working hours allowing you to spend more time on your personal life outside of work, or an agile working pattern that suits your lifestyle and personal commitments. 7) Clients Working in industry typically means you have no client interaction as you fully immerse yourself in one business, which suits some people as it allows you to get closer to the business and look at one commercial company in its entirety. On the other hand, working for an accounting firm will see you specialising in one practice area and working with a wide range of clients. If you join a corporate services provider, you will find yourself somewhere inbetween the two. You will have the opportunity to work with a wide range of high-profile clients across various sectors, including FTSE 500 and AIM listed companies with turnovers of up to 400 million, while also working in a commercial role. 8) Technical knowledge Due to the wide portfolio of clients you will work with and the range of sectors you will work across, your work will inevitably be complex. This, in turn, means that your technical knowledge will grow in complexity, and you will expand your specialised skillset. 9) International opportunities If you are looking for a role that includes international travel, then working for a corporate services provider could be a great option for you. Most London-based global providers actually have their Headquarters in Amsterdam and depending on the company you join, you will typically find they have offices in a large number of countries, meaning secondments to international offices are very common. 10) Offices and facilities Last but not least, these companies always have amazing London offices! If you want to really experience the best city working life, these offices tend to be centrally located with state-of-the-art facilities and investments in technology. So, if amazing offices will swing it for you, it's just another reason why working for a corporate services provider could be the ideal move for you! For more information on this article, or to find out more about working for a corporate services provider, contact Aaron Scott on 020 7269 6340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mital Shah is a Director at UHY Hacker Young's London office, and has over 18 years of experience in audit, financial reporting, due diligence and Corporation Tax services. Mital has built his career in practice and joined UHY Hacker Young in January 2018, and has a wealth of experience in auditing companies, especially owner-managed businesses and listed companies, across a range of sectors including property development, technology, shipping, mining, financial services, oil & gas and the general corporate market. Mital speaks with Aaron Scott, Consultant at Pro-Finance about UHY, the benefits of sticking with the same firm, and offers advice for the next generation of finance professionals. You have had an impressive career with UHY, what do you think the benefits are for sticking with the same firm? When you are with the same firm, you get to know the heart and soul of it. You get to be a part of the important decisions for internal as well external processes. Your opinion is valued. If you do it right, you get invited to all the cool parties at the firm – by which I mean you have the opportunity to be involved in administrative projects and strategy sessions. I love being asked for my or the audit team's participation in these critical items. It gives me great job satisfaction that significantly outweighs the hours, the stress and the hard work. They are all part of my life, but the payoff is having an impact on this firm that I can "own". On day one, you never know what lies ahead of you. When did you realise that you wanted to be a Director within a Top 20 firm? Being a Director has always been an ambition of mine from when I entered the profession back in 2000. The fact that it is at UHY, is a choice I am proud to have made. How does UHY differentiate themselves in the market? We are ambitious people, united in our mission to be exceptional accountants and business advisers delivering a seamlessly integrated client service. Through our UHY network we harness global intelligence and combine this with local presence and knowledge to share technical and commercial insight. Our people have a deep understanding of a number of diverse sectors ranging from education to natural resources, from automotive to healthcare. It is this depth and breadth that gives us tangible and proven insight into the commercial landscapes in which our clients operate. It also allows us to apply our expertise to our clients, irrespective of their market and sector. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to progress within the team? Hard work always pays off. One phrase has always stuck with me throughout my life, it goes something like this: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’. I believe no matter what the situation, as long as you stay calm, collected and composed – it all works out in the end and the rewards are usually good! What advice would you give to your younger self? The sky is not the limit – you can go beyond! When you interview someone for your organisation, what is the first thing you notice about a person and what does it tell you? It would have to be how much they know about UHY to want to work at our firm. It tells me how well prepared the candidate is and the research they have done. Putting that in to perspective, it tells me that that candidate is a solution finder. What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation of finance professionals face? In my opinion, technology is the biggest challenge anyone entering our profession will face. With AI technology that is taking over Auditing, the new generation will have to learn basic skills in Auditing very quickly before machines can do this work. When you stepped from Management to Directorship, what challenges did you personally face? On a personal level, I don’t yet feel I have faced any challenges as I feel I have been ready for this role. There is one thing I do find challenging, but I believe I am quite good at, that is motivating the audit team – ensuring that the focus is maintained. Thanks for your time Mital. One final question for our readers, what do you like to do to unwind outside of work? This would have to be spending time with my wife and kids, be it watching Disney movies with my daughter, or playing Lego with my son, or watching movies with my wife. As a family we travel quite a lot and enjoy our Safaris to Kenya every year. For more information on this article or for help with your recruiting needs, contact Aaron Scott on 020 7269 6340 or email@example.com.
Once you become a newly qualified accountant, you will inevitably come up against the decision of whether to build a career in practice or to move into an industry role. Both have their pros and cons, and your decision will ultimately come down to what type of person you are and what is important to you in your career. Making this decision can often feel daunting, but our specialist finance recruiters have put together key advice to help you make an informed decision! Type of Work Many newly qualified accountants are attracted to industry roles because the companies themselves often seem more interesting, or just because they’re not audit roles! But in reality, although moving from practice to industry gives you the opportunity to use your skills in a very different environment, roles in industry can lack variation and excitement. You will find yourself working on the same or similar things on a day-to-day basis and you will most likely lose the client-facing aspect of a role in practice. If you are looking to be involved in the business development side of the firm you work for, you are best to seek a role within practice as opposed to industry where business development focused roles tend to be limited. As well as this, with a finance practice role, you will find you have a varied workload and responsibilities with certain busy periods throughout the year. Depending on your firm and department, your work could be audit, tax-focused, or accounts-focused to name but a few, and you will have autonomy in your work. Every week will see you working with different clients across different types of work that can vary in size and topic. Salary & Benefits Newly qualified accountants are often drawn into industry with an attractive pay rise compared to starting salaries within practice. Salaries within industry for a new-qualified accountant are typically around the £45,000 mark, occasionally going up to around £55,000 in certain sectors like Financial Services. However, the initial pay gap between industry and practice has reduced considerably and the salary for a newly-qualified candidate within practice can actually be higher than in industry, with many firms now matching the money offered in order to retain the best talent. Not only this, if you were to stay in practice and become a future Director or Partner, the pay would more than equal itself out and you would be looking at earning more further down the line. When it comes to benefits, packages in industry are very variable depending on the sector and business, however, more often than not they do include a bonus and a wide variety of benefits. Benefits within practice are typically better for two reasons - they are better-established companies with defined risk & reward teams, and you will also receive benefits in line with longevity of service, compared to industry where it would be a new role. Working Hours Industry roles tend to be busy when it comes to month-end but, again, that is very dependent on the size of the business. Practice roles will have seasonally busy periods throughout the year, but it’s also important to note that accountancy firms are very bottom-heavy meaning there will always be juniors carrying out work that is perhaps more menial, which is often not the case within industry. Typically, working in an industry role offers the opportunity to have a better work-life balance, with regular working hours and no late nights in the office! However, improving work-life balance is something that a lot of firms are increasingly working towards for their employees. The Big 4, for example, are not known for having the best work-life balance but this is improving on a daily basis with more firms understanding the value a healthy work-life balance adds to employee happiness. Progression Prospects Progression will depend entirely on the organisation and its structure. It can be possible to progress quickly within industry depending on your personal performance, as these companies do not have a rigid structure. However, progression within these companies is often very competitive! Teams tend to be smaller and while this is good in terms of extra responsibility, these teams typically do not offer a set career path and it is more difficult to stand out. On the other hand, a finance role in practice tends to offer a clear career progression path. This is particularly true when you get towards higher levels and there are targets to hit to move up in the company. The path for progression is very clear and structured into people’s careers, all the way up to Partner with equity in the firm, and CPD training and development is often a primary focus. Ease of Finding a New Opportunity If you are looking to move from practice into industry you will find yourself in a highly competitive market, particularly if you have trained in a smaller practice as you will be competing against Big 4 ACA qualified candidates, as well as industry-trained CIMA/ACCA candidates who will have more relevant experience in industry-specific roles. Therefore, it is often worth moving into a Big 4 or Top 10 firm to gain the experience and skills needed to open up a range of options for your next career step - whether this be a move into an industry role, a role at a smaller practice or SME, or remaining and progressing within a larger firm. Once you have chosen a route in industry it can be difficult to move sector or change your role type. For example, if your first move from practice to industry is within a Financial Accountant role, you will rarely be able to move within the same company to a Management Accountant role. It can also be challenging to move back into practice if you change your mind later down the line, particularly after a period of time longer than 12-18 months, as advances in the profession and working towards the new reporting standards would require a significant catch-up. However, within practice there is room for movement between different aspects of the business, offering variation and the chance to decide what type of role is best for you. Ultimately, your decision will come down to what type of work suits you and what you want from your career as a finance professional. If you are looking for a role within a company whose brand and household name excites you, then a role in industry may suit you. However, if you are looking for a client-facing role that offers autonomy and variation in your day-to-day responsibilities with a clearly defined career path, you should pursue a finance role in practice. For more information on this article, or for advice on your next career move into a finance role in practice, contact Aaron on 020 7269 6340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I made the right decision and I can’t wait to see what the future holds…" Having completed an intensive four-week training program designed to introduce new colleagues to the 360 processes of recruitment, Aaron Scott was given the task of choosing his sector specialism and ultimately his new team. Here are the reasons why he decided to choose a career in finance recruitment. After four insightful weeks, my rigorous training had finished and I was now a fully fledged Associate Consultant. It was time to move into a team and while for some it may have been a difficult decision, it was a no-brainer for me. I had known for some time that I had wanted to join Pro-Finance. I immediately established a great relationship with the team and they really helped me settle in and find my feet. Whilst the Finance Team played a part in my decision, I believe the role itself was the most suited to me. I based this from my experience working with the team during my training, Finance was the industry I picked up the quickest and felt most confident about. I felt comfortable with talking to candidates and clients in the finance industry at such an early stage in my recruitment career. The team has such a diverse portfolio, recruiting Finance Analysts, Financial Controllers, Accounts Assistants through to Audit Seniors. I’m now specialising in placing Auditors and Accountants into a range of Accountancy practices, from the Big 4 to specialist boutiques. Currently, I'm working with a variety of candidates from Trainee level to Partners. All of this ultimately made my decision a lot easier (let’s just hope I made the right one!) Since joining the team, it’s been intense but on a completely different level. To be honest, I don’t think I would want it any other way. I’m glad I have one industry to focus all my attention on now instead of trying to split my time between Finance, Tax, Legal and HR. I’ve learned more about the world of Finance and Accountancy Practices as well as the client side of recruitment. I can’t wait to start forging my own successful client relationships in the future. The training I've had at Pro has been excellent. We’ve had continuous monthly training sessions with Jim Atkins at Enabling Change which has been very beneficial. He has taught me so much we’ve had sessions on headhunting, candidate obstacles along with how to sell solutions to clients and candidates. He is truly an excellent trainer and I wouldn’t have progressed so quickly without his training. Thanks Jim! I made the right decision and I can’t wait to see what the future holds… If you're looking to make a move into recruitment, I highly recommend you speak to Loren von Sternberg, who can offer a great insight into opportunities available at Pro-Group.
Well, what a start to my recruitment career it has been! I joined Pro-Group two weeks ago and I haven’t looked back since. The assessment day during our interview process gave me a real understanding of what to expect on a day to day basis here at Pro. Since I joined It’s been hectic, intense but most of all fun all similar to what I experienced during my assessment day, I believe I’ve made the right decision to make the move from insurance and I couldn’t be happier. Over the past the couple of weeks I’ve been in and out of training learning the whole 360 cycle of recruitment, how to write adverts, source candidates and plenty more. The training at Pro has been fantastic. For someone who is such a beginner and really opened my eyes to the world of recruitment. The training has been external and internal, we’ve had Jim Atkins from Enabling Change come into the office for two days and it was fantastic. It really helped me to understand how to move forward when speaking to candidates and clients. Also, we had Lisa Jones from Barclay Jones, who hosted a great session on advert writing with us and how to make the most of the advert. I would highly recommend both trainers to anyone who is starting out in recruitment. One of the main reasons for joining Pro was the culture has a real family-orientated atmosphere and the people are great! They do really value their staff and make you feel so welcomed into the Pro family as soon as you join, which is great. I’m so excited to continue to keep learning and move forward within the company, I’m still quite open in terms of which team I will go into, I’m sure over the coming weeks this will all fall into place. If you're looking to make a move into recruitment, I highly recommend you speak to Loren von Sternberg, who can offer a great insight into opportunities available at Pro-Group.
The psychometric test has made its mark on the recruitment process across a range of sectors up and down the UK. The most interesting increase has been at the professional level where there is a real labour shortage. It raises the question, are these tests enhancing the recruitment process or reducing chances of making a successful hire? Team fit is undoubtedly a crucial element in the recruitment process. Given how subjective this element is, it is widely recognised as a potential flaw in assessing prospective employees. A variety of external (and irrelevant) factors could have an influence on the process. The introduction of the psychometric test aims to provide a defined, clear and more importantly 'fair' assessment of team fit and personality. However, imagine that you have been searching for the ideal candidate for the last 6 months and suddenly that perfect CV lands on your desk, you meet them, you're hugely impressed and they appear the perfect fit… only for a psychometric test result to lead to the rejection of what you believe to be the perfect candidate. You could be creating an opportunity for your competitors to gain an advantage. Confidence in such tests has risen with the increased development of technology and E-recruitment. Out of the companies that used psychometric testing, 81% said that they expected to make more reliable and less risky decisions, compared to only 67% who said the same thing in 2010. The percentage of employers who believed that psychometric testing can predict future performance rose from under half (49%) in 2010 to 57% in recent years. The majority (94%) of organisations who used psychometric assessment did so during the hiring stage. The largest rise in the use of testing was in employee development activities, where 63% of companies now utilise them compared with only 43% in 2010. However, asking staff to take a test as they leave the firm has remained uncommon compared to the more personal exit interview. Psychometric tests undoubtedly have their benefits and their rise in popularity amongst a range of sectors clearly shows they have a place in the recruitment process. How are they effectively used though? Experience suggests a case by case basis. Having seen both sides where my clients have missed out on candidates by treating these results as gospel and others where it has significantly improved the hiring process. It should be an additional consideration to an interview process which is where it adds value, not the defining factor where it becomes a hindrance. For more information about this article, or to speak to Aaron about your recruiting needs or Finance jobs in London or Nationwide, contact him on 0207266340 or email@example.com