Accountancy Age Awards of Excellence 2000 – Training to win.

What with juggling the demands of work and study, most trainee accountants may quite justifiably feel they have enough on their plate without thinking about entering for awards.

They may also view such glories as the exclusive privilege of brainy types who get unfeasibly high marks in their exams.

But the Accountancy Age Trainee Accountant of the Year Award is designed to look beyond examination results and consider other skills such as communication, teamwork and leadership ability.

The realities of today’s business world mean that these talents, although less easily measured, are the ones that will take people the furthest and mark out the leaders of the future. The same counts for the public sector.

Our panel of independent judges is looking for someone who shows a level of involvement and interest in their work over and above that which could normally be expected at this early stage of their career.

Entries are invited from part-qualified members of any of the five major accountancy institutes: ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA, the English ICA and Scots ICA. Entrants can be at any stage in the qualification process, but must have taken their most recent exam within the last year.

Because this is an award that reflects performance in the workplace rather than just in the exam hall, entries must include a reference from a line manager at work.

Most experienced accountants will agree that the route to qualification is something of an assault course.

Many trainees are in their first ‘proper’ job and have not only been thrust headfirst into a completely new environment, but also have to juggle the demands their employer places on them while studying for their exams.

Helen Beverly, training projects manager at ACCA, agrees, but warns that being able to cope with the often conflicting demands of work, study and a healthy private life is something that employers now take for granted.

The same is likely to count for our judges.

She argues that for trainees who really want to shine out from the ranks, the key to success is the ability to get on with people.

‘What really sets trainees apart are people and communication skills and the ability to get on with people from all walks of life.’

She adds: ‘The message is that it is not just about exams. It is about being able to add value to your employer, which is a mix between business and personal skills.’

Beverly warns those who sacrifice their personal life in favour of work are likely to lose those skills. And she argues pressure on trainees has increased because of the trend towards what personnel experts describe as ‘managing your own career’.

She says that whereas 10 years ago the employer tended to run things for their staff, there is now a lot of onus on the trainee to choose and run their own training methods.

‘Now you have to take charge of your own career from day one rather than waiting until you are qualified,’ she adds.

The winner of this award will be someone who not only successfully deals with all this, but manages to shine, and this can only be done if they have a genuine interest in the work and the wider environment in which they operate.

Beverly says: ‘The thing is to be organised and try and keep everything in perspective. You need a genuine interest in business and the wider world of work to be able to contribute to your employer.’

James Armstrong, secretary of the English ICA’s student council, argues that trainees who work in practice are ideally placed to demonstrate leadership and communication skills because of their close contact with clients.

‘Particularly in audit, it is the trainees who have the most client contact. The impression they make will be key to keeping that client happy.’

He says the ideal trainee would take a wider interest in the business he or she is auditing and look for ways to add value.

This award was first launched last year, and won by a CIMA student, Ben Stagg, of Manchester-based internal audit company UNIAC, whose main customers are universities across the North of England.

Stagg’s entry was supported by an enthusiastic reference from his director at UNIAC, Sean Ryan, who praised him for his rapport with clients.

So if you work with a trainee who you thinks stands out from the crowd, then print off an entry form from If you are a trainee and think you can get your line manager to write glowing things about you, then do the same.

A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSORS: ACCOUNTANCYAGE.COM is the leading website for accountancy professionals, providing news for the financial world as it breaks. It also provides daily e-mail news bulletins focusing on your sector, and offers a wide range of useful business and careers information at your fingertips. This includes a comprehensive web directory, careers advice and access to Jobworld, which contains thousands of vacancies in the finance sector.


Entry is free

Closing date for entries: 28 July 2000

Ceremony: 1 November 2000

Venue: Natural History Museum, London

Accountancy Age is happy to have won the backing of all five major accountancy bodies again this year along with a host of other key players in the accountancy profession.

As well as the presentations, the evening will provide an excellent opportunity to meet leaders of the accountancy world. You can reserve your seat at the profession’s top event of 2000 by dialling 020 7316 9539 or e-mailing:

– For an entry form visit: Awards website

Related reading