1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I was provided with a varied portfolio of clients (including personal, trust and estates) from the beginning of my career. This enabled me to learn 'on the job' and apply my learning to practical situations. On a daily basis I will interact with managers, clients, the partners and HMRC. The communication between different levels of staff within the organisation is very good, so it is easy to talk to someone if i have any issues.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Teamwork, organisation, professional behaviour are a few of the things that I have learnt since starting my career with Smith and Williamson. By having my own list of clients it is vital that I can keep on top of work that is coming into the office and prioritising those areas that need to be attended to sooner. I have therefore developed this skill. It is also important as an accountant to ask professionally at all time, which is something I have learnt since joining.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoy the program a lot. It is a very full on experience and is not easy in any stretch of the imagination, but it is also very rewarding and has given me the oportunity to learn about a huge amount to things in such a short space of time. I have been able to learn a huge amount about other departments, through my studies which then will give me a broader understanding of the industry.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I felt the induction process was good; although it would have been nice for there to be some more communication before my start date because I was rather 'thrown into the deep end'. Training by Smith & Williamson has been excellent and I have got a lot out of the soft skill training that they provide us with (I have attended three of these in my first year). The support meetings are also very useful as they provide a time to reflect.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The support has been extremely good. There are designated members of staff within the company that are there to answer any questions that you may have, and my appraiser is very approachable and easy to talk with if I have any problems. There are regular progress meetings for trainees, so if I was to have any issues these can be easily addressed. These regular meetings also mean that the company has a good idea of how I am doing.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
Overall the support has been fairly good. For each module that I undertake the point of contact has been specific to that subject. This does mean that some staff members are a lot more responsive than others. My Skills and Development coach is very good, and by having one particular member of FI to email it means that there is always some one there to assist with any queries that I may have during the program.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
Extremely well. The level of teaching is of a very high standard which means that I can easily approach a piece of work in my job that I have learnt about in college and be able to complete it to a high standard. The qualification also focuses a lot on the ethics of being an accountant which is clearly very important in my role and by learning about it in depth, I know that I am complying.
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.)
There are some opportunities out there but from what I have heard from other colleagues there is a lot more chances for this sort of thing if you work in the main London office. Being in the Guildford office the social events are a lot more casual and since I have joined there have only really been two formal events. However, there are opportunities to attend networking events if you want to, you just need to be proactive.
9a. Would you recommend Smith & Williamson to a friend?
They are a very supportive company and everyone that works in my department are very approachable and friendly. They prioritize your studies and therefore are very understanding if you need to take some holiday for revision time. I have been provided with many chances to develop professionally since I have joined and I not even been there for a year. It is a hard course but the qualifications that you will have at the end of it are worth it.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Smith & Williamson?
Work hard, be yourself and learn from any mistakes that you make. The job is definitely not easy but the company are extremely supportive and their main goal is to help to have the career path most suited to you. Therefore as long as you put in the amount of effort that is expected of you, you will be well placed and respected within the team. S&W is a big company but everyone is very friendly.