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I work on the Regional Practice team and specialise in recruiting audit, accounts and advisory professionals across Greater London, Surrey and Berkshire from Semi Senior to Partner level. I recruit on behalf of a loyal and varied client base which ranges from small local accountancy practices to leading Top 10 firms and enjoy assisting business of all sizes.
I joined Pro-Finance through their AC program and have received outstanding training and development. As well as working alongside my regions team, I manage my own portfolio of clients, maintaining good relationships and being able to provide market insights as I keep up to date.
Outside of work I enjoy socialising with my friends, watching movies, visiting the theatre and going on holidays.
My bucket list consists mainly of travelling the world. I want to see as many sights as possible whilst I am still young, aiming to visit at least three countries per year.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly influenced the economy with much of the UK working from home and jobs, as we know them, rapidly adapting to this change. However, regional accountancy practices have been using methods of agile and flexible working for years, with lots of opportunity to work from home. Whilst working entirely remotely is somewhat in untested territory, accountancy practices have adapted swiftly and efficiently enabling the transition to be as smooth as possible. Agile working in Regional Accountancy Practices With most of the country currently working from home, agile working has been thrust into the forefront of employment. Employers and employees alike are still adjusting to the transition, with methods of communication, adapting to the virtual space, and self-discipline being key. Regional firms have long been offering flexible working policies with most already offering the opportunity to work from home – even across audit. This makes them well-suited to people with other commitments, such as return to work parents who need to accommodate for term times and the school run. Much of my client portfolio across Berkshire and Surrey offer flexible working arrangements, with perhaps 3 or 4 days in the office alongside working from home and remote working. Whilst the current situation surrounding lockdown and social distancing is not the norm, accountancy practices across the UK have shown “resilience, flexibility and above all the need to protect their staff while delivering the necessary services to ensure their clients survive” (Accountancy Daily, 23 Mar 2020). Recruitment Continues I work closely with accountancy practices across Surrey and Berkshire, many of which have had agile working policies in place for years, and for many of these firms, recruitment has not been put on hold. Currently, I am closely working with Top 15, Mid-Tier and smaller accountancy practices on urgent roles across accounts and audit. Some of the roles I am currently recruiting for: Audit and Accounts Manager – Slough Audit Team Leader – Leatherhead Outsourcing Senior Manager – Reading Accounts Assistant Manager/ Manager – Reading Audit Senior – Oxford Whilst times may seem uncertain, accountancy practices continue to recruit and stand strong in the face of isolation and social distancing. Now is the perfect time to update your CV and get a head start within the market. If you have decided that you would like a stronger work-life balance, whether this be by cutting down your commute, working from home or having flexible working hours, working regionally would be the ideal choice. If you would be interested in a confidential chat surrounding the opportunities Pro-Finance are currently recruiting for, please do get in contact with Jordanne Napier on 0207 269 6353 or email@example.com.
Richard Baker is an Audit Partner at national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm, Crowe. Richard joined the firm as a Trainee at the Walsall office in 1997, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 2001. Richard is now a Partner based in the Thames Valley office, managing a portfolio of clients including SMEs, international businesses and listed companies across a variety of sectors and on local, national and international levels. Richard speaks with Jordanne Napier, Consultant at Pro-Finance, about working at Crowe UK, the first thing he notices in an interview, and offers advice for people looking to progress their career in audit. Tell us about yourself, how your career started and what you do at Crowe. I found that I enjoyed accounting at sixth-form college and, after accepting that I wouldn’t become a pilot or astronaut, I joined a small firm in the West Midlands as a Trainee Auditor. I studied for the AAT qualification and learnt how to prepare accounts from records of varying quality. I then joined Crowe’s Walsall office (now in Oldbury), which was experiencing significant growth. 22 years or so later, I find myself based in Reading at Crowe’s Thames Valley office, at which I head up the Audit team. How do Crowe differentiate themselves in the market? At Crowe, we pride ourselves on helping our clients make smart decisions that create lasting value. We do this by offering clients a range of tailored services which are delivered by our multi-disciplinary teams. Our deep sector knowledge and experience means we ensure clients are provided with the right expertise to meet their needs. Close working relationships really are at the heart of our effective service deliveries. How big is your team and what advice would you give anyone applying to be part of the team? We have a substantial team made up of talented individuals who possess an extensive range of experience, knowledge and expertise. This enables us to provide clients with a wide service offering and the right person for the job. In a candidate, we look for someone who is willing to learn and work collaboratively with colleagues as part of a team. They must always be prepared to do the right thing. How would your team describe you? You should probably ask them! I would probably say helpful and conscientious. What advice would you give to your younger self? I would say to relax more and take time to recharge. When you interview someone for your organisation, what is the first thing you notice about a person and what does it tell you? Their greeting - is it warm, friendly and professional? That tells me the first impression they will give to our clients. What challenges, personally or professionally, do you think the next generation of finance professionals face? Adapting to rapid technological developments. Change has been significant over my career, making remote working possible, but I feel we are on the cusp of something even more significant. How do you think the role of Director/Partner has changed over the years? Some of my clients think I spend a lot of time on the golf course – if they saw me play I doubt they would continue to think that! I think the role has become more technical over time, with increased regulation, but the fundamentals are still there – you need to be able to build internal and external relationships. Clear communication is also more important than ever. Any final words of advice for people looking to progress their career? Focus on where you want to get to, but be patient at the same time - you will probably be working for 50 years! Thanks for your time, and as a little treat for all of our readers - do you have any guilty pleasures you can share with us? I have a really variable taste in music, which some may find surprising! I listen to virtually anything, from classical to rap. For more information on this article, please contact Jordanne Napier on 020 7269 6353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working in Audit and Accounts in a Reading-based accountancy practice can offer many benefits. While large London firms are often top of the list for finance professionals considering a career move, there are many ways in which working more locally for a regional accountancy firm can offer the same, if not better, benefits as a large firm in the city. Type of Work & Responsibility: With big-city firms, you will often find that your clients are scattered across the UK or even internationally. So, if you are looking for travel and overnight stays with your role you would be well-suited to working in the city. However, if this is not at the top of your list, working in audit in a local practice means you will work with local clients. Firms in the Top 10, Top 20, Top 50 and Big 4 have offices in Reading, so you still get the chance to work with big clients on important and market-leading work, just more locally. Working Hours & Work-Life Balance: Accountancy firms based in Reading tend to have two types of core hours, either 9-5 or 8-4, and the hours are very flexible. Rather than being based in the city where your hours can be based on client pressures, you will often find that working outside of the city of London means not working as late and fewer client pressures that affect your day-to-day working hours. Working close to home means you cut the London commute! You will save the time spent travelling to and from the city, which in turn allows for a better work-life balance as you have more time to spend on your personal life outside of work. The average cost of a monthly travelcard is around 58% lower in Reading compared to London, meaning that you will not only save lots of time on your commute, but also money. A good work-life balance comes with the flexibility of working for a local practice, as opposed to a corporate city firm that might not be able to offer the same degree of flexible or agile working. Working in a regional practice might be well-suited to people with other commitments such as part-time carers or return-to-work parents. A role in a local firm can be perfect when it comes to arranging your work schedule around responsibilities like school runs, with many practices offering on-site parking to make it easier for parents. Local accountancy firms can offer flexible working arrangements, with perhaps 3 or 4 days in the office alongside agile working from home, or a working pattern that suits your personal situation. Salary & Benefits: On top of saving the monthly cost of the commute into London, audit and finance roles based in Reading accountancy firms offer similar salaries to those in the city and bonuses often match those offered in London firms. As well as this, rent in Reading is typically 30-40% lower compared to London, and buying property can be over 50% cheaper than London, meaning your money can go further. When it comes to benefits, packages are largely dependent on the sector and business. Reading-based accountancy firms typically offer excellent policies regarding Time Off in Lieu (TOIL) which is not quite as common in city firms. In general, local practices offer excellent benefits which match those offered in London-based firms, including good study support and registered trainers who can train you within your practice, high pensions, medical care, holiday allowance and more often than not, the same benefits you would receive working in a corporate city firm. Progression & Ease of Finding a New Opportunity: Regional accountancy firms still offer plenty of opportunities to progress and develop, all the way up to Partner if that is your end goal. Working in a London-based Big 4 office you can face a long path to Partner, whereas a smaller local practice can almost offer a fast-track route to Partnership. A role in a regional firm can be positive in several different ways when it comes to new opportunities. Not only can they offer excellent progression routes if you stay with that one firm, but they can also be a good stepping stone into a larger city firm or Big 4 office in London. Or, working locally in Reading might be a good option for you if you have already worked in the city and you are looking for a firm that offers more flexibility, less of a commute, and better suits your lifestyle. Here at Pro-Finance, we work closely with many Big 4, Top 10, Top 20, and boutique accountancy firms based in Reading who are looking for auditors of all levels to join their successful and close-knit teams. As impartial consultants with a wealth of experience, we are well positioned to advise on your next move, so should you wish to discuss how best to structure your next career step, please do get in touch. For more information on this article, or to speak to Jordanne Napier about a move into a finance audit role in Reading, contact her on 020 7269 6353 or email@example.com.