1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
As an assistant in the ABA department I produce draft sets of accounts for different businesses, I also work on some 'accounts for audit' jobs where I would work with others and do a select part of the whole accounts production (e.g. working on the subsidiaries of a large group). On the smaller ABA jobs I produce the accounts from client records, create workings and lead schedules to support my figures in the accounts and depending on the client produce tax comps. I submit my work and the accounts for review, make any changes requested by my manager, then the accounts get sent for a final review by a director before they get sent to the client. I also have to go on training courses, complete computer based training and frequently have to ask questions while I am still learning on each and every job.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt loads since I started at RSM. When I started I knew nothing about accounting and now after being here 7 months I can produce a draft set of accounts almost independently and have developed a strong basic knowledge of accounting. I've now comfortably passed three level 3 AAT exams and have moved onto level 4 with my first exam next week. I Feel this has given me the technical knowledge which I have implemented into my work such as completing a VAT turnover reconciliation. MY confidence in the workplace has grown, as this is my first ever job I found it quite daunting to begin with but now I feel my ability and knowledge has developed I am confident in completing a job independently and with others.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoy lots of aspects of work, being able to complete a task independently and get a piece of work complete is very rewarding knowing that 7 months ago I didn't know anything about accounting at all. I enjoy working with my colleagues and being able to learn from all the experience my co workers have. There are some aspects of my job I don't particularly enjoy, I feel that working for 7.5 hours a day staring at a screen isn't always healthy and there should be a mix of work or more breaks. I've noticed I've made stupid mistakes from staring at a screen too long which a 5 or 10 minute break from a computer could easily prevent. I also think there should be a new starters programme in place for the first 3 months of work. Where someone with experience can take you through a variation of jobs step by step, while you can make notes so that when you come do a job for yourself you don't have to ask questions every 5 minutes. I don't think there's enough freedom of hours given to workers, a rigid working hours structure of 9 - 5.30 where you need to get permission to leave early and have to take your lunch between certain times makes it feel like a school system. As long as you complete your weekly hours and get all you work done you should be allowed to structure your own work.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
For the most part my programme has been structured well. I have had issues where my courses at Kaplan weren't booked properly but that was Kaplan's (my training provider) fault rather than RSM. I am given lots of support by my co workers if I need it and get sent on lots of courses to improve my knowledge. I do feel as a new starter a current employee should be given an adequate amount of time to train you and ensure you have a basic understanding of how to use the software, how to do a job and answer any questions a new starter has. When the person your training has work to do you feel like you're annoying having to take them away from there work every 10 minutes to answer a question.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
AT work RSM will send you on lots of courses to try improve your knowledge of accounting. Everyone is always welcome to answer questions if you have any but like I've previously said I think there should be more direct support at work to help you in your day to day work. there is always a review meeting/call after every job to go over issues which is helpful. There are two appraisal meetings a year to go review your progress and wellbeing and as a new starter you get a 6 week and 3 month review on top of that. However I think there should be more general meetings with managers to have catch up on how you are doing and how work is going. Furthermore, RSM don't often acknowledge how your studies are going, no one asks how you got on in an exam if you pass but if you fail then you have to have a formal meeting and get one resit. There should be more support from RSM in studies and study days given to employees as I have found I'm using more than a quarter of my holiday to revise as I don't have the time in the evenings getting home at 6.30.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
Kaplan offer lots of support via tutor check ins, catch ups, online resources, tutor chat rooms, and good quality study material. Though Kaplan aren't very organised they do provide lots of support which is optional so you don't get spammed if you feel confident on a subject and can work independently.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I feel that my studies are really relevant to my work and really do help me perform better. There is a lot of extra detail which isn't always relevant to my job at all but it does provide a basic knowledge which is useful at work. Some of the courses are straying off into accounting areas which aren't relevant to my specific job title however I feel that a rounded knowledge is important so I'm not limited to just my job description in the future.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
I'm aware of sporting teams and hear of networking events going on. however living so far away from work and having strict finishing times means I can't attend to many of these social activities or events. There are lots of annual events RSM host such as the Christmas party, end of year party and NCAS ball which are good to attend and I find really fun. I do think RSM offer lots of extra curricular activities and they should be advertised more so everyone is aware of them.
9a. Would you recommend RSM to a friend?
I wouldn't tell someone not to work at RSM but I wouldn't openly recommend it. RSM offer a great path to become a qualified accountant, have a range of clients of all sizes and offer lots of opportunities to progress your career however I feel like work life for a school leaver is quite tough. It feels like you are still treated like a student with what hours you have to work, when you can take your lunch, having to get permission to leave early etc. From what I've heard though that ranges from office to office and manager to manager so this isn't a blanket view of RSM it's just from what I've seen. There are also lots of assistants and supervisor above me so progression seems limited. I would recommend RSM to a qualified accountant as they wouldn't face the issues I am faced with but as for a school leaver similar to me, unless there heart was set on accountancy, I wouldn't.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to RSM?
I would say think where you want to be in five years, be certain that this is the career path you want to take and if it is then give your all to it. Though I have some work life issues, RSM will offer you so much opportunity if you are willing to put in the work. It's a great platform to start a career in finance and you will learn so much. It is a massive commitment knowing you'll have to work for 5 years at least until your qualified but once you are then you can go anywhere with it.
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