JOB TITLE: I am an accounting associate currently working at a private equity investment firm while studying to become a charted accountant.
KAZIM'S STEPS TO SUCCESS:
I always enjoyed the numerical aspect of my academic studies from a young age Hence, I chose to study Mathematics, Further Mathematics, and Economics for my A-Levels. In sixth form, I had my plans set on going to university, and I received conditional offers to study Mathematics from Russell Group universities such as UCL, Bath and Warwick. However, in the summer, I decided I did not want to go to university but wanted to start working.
Therefore, I decided to take up a temporary role in Howden Insurance, working as an insurance technician supporting the client handlers. This career in insurance did not interest me; however, it gave me insight into the office working environment. I thrived in this environment and learned several soft skills such as stronger communication and organisational skills.
I decided to choose the apprenticeship route as opposed to studying at university. Although it was against the advice I was receiving. It felt suitable for me.
I decided to begin my full-time career in accounting. Buzzacott, a top 25 accounting firm at the time, offered me a role starting in November 2018 with the agreement to support my studies through AAT and subsequently ACCA. I specialised in working for clients in the financial services industry, specifically fund managers who had parent funds in the US. I prepared management accounts VAT returns, thoroughly reviewed the purchase ledger and ensured cash flow was always healthy. I felt like I was in a very niche area within accounting and decided to delve deeper into this industry.
After 2.5 years at Buzzacott, I decided to look for my next challenge, particularly in an industry role within the private equity space. I contacted CBPE Capital, a fund manager specialising in investing in UK mid-market size firms and work to scale them up and eventually sell. I started this role in mid-September, and I am learning a lot about different funds and FCA regulations and beginning my ACCA studies this November.
WHAT DO YOUR DAILY WORK ACTIVITIES CONSIST OF?
As I mentioned, I am working with a fund manager CBPE Capital LLP, and I am currently working as an assistant accountant. The financial controller and I in the team look after the finances of the LLP and other entities such as the fund companies connected with CBPE. My job entails working on the day to day finance function. I assist in recording and processing invoices, reconciling 8-10 banks, setting up sales invoices to our portfolio companies and preparing capital account statements for the investors. I analyse and recharge any costs paid for on behalf of different entities and companies and assist in different schedules to prepare monthly management accounts for the board.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT?
Career-wise, I feel like my proudest moment would be moving away from practice and joining CBPE. During my job search, I had received offers from BDO and Langham Hall, BDO is the 5th largest accounting firm, and they were offering a role within their Tech & General team. This sounded enticing, but I stuck to my niche and decided that despite CBPE being a slightly riskier move for my career because I may not learn as much as I would in BDO, it was a career that I felt would suit me and my career aspirations. Also, knowing how competitive the private equity industry is, makes it one of my most significant accomplishments in joining a very successful firm and integrating right away within the finance function. On a personal level, seeing my eldest brother getting married in December 2020 was also one of the proudest moments for my family and me collectively.
WHAT REGRET'S, DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR CAREER JOURNEY, AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME?
Compared to many accounting professionals, I am sure I have had a short career, and I am thankful for every opportunity I have received. I often get asked whether I regret not going to university and missing out on social life, and my answer is no. If I did go to university, I would not have met the colleagues I worked with in Howden, Buzzacott and CBPE, and I would not be semi senior level accountant at the age of 22. I have a very talented and experienced network around me that I am sure will help me grow into a very successful professional in the future.
WHAT ARE THE KEY LESSONS YOU HAVE LEARNT FROM YOUR JOURNEY?
The biggest lesson I have learnt is to give 100% in everything you do, socially and professionally. Your next opportunity may be around the corner; it may come from the person you are making coffee next to in the office kitchen or an excellent piece of work that a senior partner may come across to review.
In a finance role, if you do not give a 100% in a report you may be preparing or a meeting you are sitting with your clients could have a detriment on your career. In a professional environment, hard work does not go unnoticed, and you will be rewarded based on the level of work you put in. You will see many people coasting in their jobs, but to be at the very top, it is important to strive to be the best you can be.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING IN YOUR CURRENT STAGE, AND HOW ARE YOU MANAGING THEM?
This point in time is probably the hardest stage of my career since I have made the transition from practice into industry work very early in my career. I have not learnt all the accounting principles, but I need to go the extra mile to understand them since I do not have the luxury of having a variety of different clients like I did at Buzzacott. Furthermore, I am in charge of my own studies and I have to make sure to book everything on time, book the right courses, and ensure that I am not complacent in going to become chartered. Furthermore, I am learning about fund accounting, which I had no experience in prior. It is something completely new to me, so picking up the day-to-day processes at this company, learning about all the different funds and their regulations, and beginning my ACCA studies will be tough for me to balance over the coming years.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR ETHNIC BACKGROUND OR SOCIAL MOBILITY HAVE HINDERED YOUR OPPORTUNITIES?
I am a British Pakistani and was born a Muslim. I never felt like my social background has hindered my career. Fortunately, with the growing understanding between different faiths and backgrounds, I have not experienced any bias. My current firm has a range of different backgrounds. Learning about their cultures has been interesting, and being in a diverse environment where everyone is interested in your culture is always amazing.
WHAT IS THE ONE PART OF YOUR DAILY ROUTINE THAT WAS ESSENTIAL TO YOUR SUCCESS?
This may sound fairly straightforward, but every day, at the end of my working day, I would list out all the tasks that needed to be done on my side, so the following day my to-do list is ready for me to start the day with no delays.
I have always felt that I am most productive in the mornings. It did not make sense to spend the first half-hour collating my list of things to do. I was able to exert my focus on the important tasks that needed to be done, and this also made me feel organised and not worry that I am missing something or my manager is waiting on a piece of work that I may have forgotten.
I like to have a set routine during the week, catching the same train every morning, sleeping at the same time, and these general processes were really important for me.
DO YOU TAKE PART IN ANY EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES THAT HAVE HELPED YOU GAIN ESSENTIAL SKILLS THAT HAVE BEEN FOUND HELPFUL IN YOUR JOB?
Outside of work I take part in many sports and different excursions. Every Wednesday I play football, and five days within a week, I go to the gym. During the summer I play a lot of cricket with my friends and cousins.
This has helped me escape from work and let my mind relax and not focus on specific pressure tasks that I would at work. This has been important as when I am relaxing, my mind is still thinking about the next workday, so my escapism is sports, and this allows me to come to work the next day and have a fresh mind ready to complete any tasks without the stress of the previous day.
This may not be fun for everyone, but I still like to collect Match Attax to relive the fun my brothers and I used to have. It was a lot tougher back then as we had to do all of our chores in the house so our parents could buy us some!