The Practitioner: Trainee woes

HAVING TAKEN on a trainee five months ago I now hoped he would be a bit more competent and confident than he is.

It seems that the extended Christmas break has wiped out his memory completely. Everything he was taught since joining the firm in August has been forgotten, and all his enthusiasm has gone out of the window.

Our success rate with trainees has been excellent to date, but this latest one is proving to be somewhat of a challenge. A challenge that the firm doesn’t really have the time to tackle.

Is five months long enough to give someone to prove themselves?

He started off a little but shy, had a couple of great months, and now seems to have dropped to a lower standard than he started on. I wouldn’t mind so much if he was a school leaver who fell into the job by accident, but he is a graduate from a good university and an accountancy and finance graduate to boot!

Today I had to explain the same thing four times before he finally understood what I was asking him to do. It wasn’t even a technical thing. It was like he was still half asleep. In the end it would have been quicker to do it myself. In a small firm teamwork is vital and if one person isn’t pulling their weight it drags everyone down.

It’s been a stressful time for accountants all over the country, with everyone required to step up to the plate, so I’ve made the choice to lay off the trainee and recruit another senior.

We have done away with charging clients by the hour and adopted a fixed fee billing approach.

Clients like the certainty, and it helps us to win new clients by comparing ourselves to most other firms who charge by the hour.

With this new fee model in operation it does rather make trainees more costly than in traditional firms.

Am I being too harsh do you think? Should I give him more time? Let me know what you think.

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from within their own practice – having left a regional firm in the heart of England

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