The moment I decided PKF Francis Clark was for me, was when I was looking through their website and started reading about the ACA training program they offer. They boasted a range of clients of varying sizes meaning exposure to different areas, offered a supportive pathway studying at Reed Business School, and seemed the perfect size of not so small the clients are repetitive – but not so big that you get lost in the flow.

I applied to other firms as well but always felt like just a number, doing online assessments, and not actually talking to anyone. Francis Clark was the only firm who did their assessment day in person! I really liked this about them, and the assessment day seemed like a two-way street – ensuring the firm is right for you as much as you are right for them. The whole day everyone was really welcoming and whilst there were tasks to do and an interview, it didn’t feel like a high-pressure situation.

The first day of any new job can be very daunting, but everyone in my office and team were lovely, and put me at ease from the get-go. My team became my friends very quickly and going to work has never felt like a chore because of the people.

I was worried before I started about the settling in period, as I have had jobs in the past where I’ve been made to feel like of a burden of lots of questions and a drag on resources. My time at Francis Clark has been the total opposite of this – even now I’m 2 years in and my manager is always telling me to ask questions when I need! This is a big factor in why I believe the FC culture is different, everyone wants you to succeed, and anyone is more than happy to sit and go over any questions without hesitation. As with any new job, the work to start with can be overwhelming, but it didn’t take me long to settle into the rhythm of it, and now I can look back and see how far I’ve come.

There are office and team level social events, which when I first started were a fantastic way of bonding with people outside work and building relationships with people in the office that I otherwise wouldn’t speak to. Now I’m 2 years in, and we’re starting them again more regularly after Covid, so it’s been so nice catching up with people face to face rather than online. It’s lovely to have a good social side to the office, as I think it helps bond you closer as a team, and the work then reflects this.

Going to Reed really helps you focus on learning, as you have days of lessons with a tutor going through the material and doing practise questions, and then you can review your learning in the evening, and the tutors are still available to ask questions to or for extra help if needed. Having a week every month or so to go to Reed and just focus has been particularly helpful for me, as there are no outside distractions and stresses of home-work life.

When you start at Reed you go with your cohort of ACA students from across the different offices, and it’s nice to have the support of people going through the same thing as you. It makes going through Reed less stressful even when the work is hard or you have exams, as you get to see your friends.

They also organise other activities, so you get some fun and relaxation in there as well. There’s a pool for summer, loads of walks, we had a bowls night at the local social club and of course there’s the pub! One of my favourite Reed visits was one October, when a group of us went to the local fire academy for the bonfire night fireworks display.

To anyone looking at ACA training with FC, I would say go for it! The training is hard work, but so worth it, and Francis Clark really make it a pleasure.

I’m now 2 years into my ACA training contract, with my final 3 exams left to sit. I’m so glad I chose Francis Clark, owing to their training and how much they value me as a person. I’m really looking forward to my final ACA year before continuing my journey as a qualified ACA accountant.

By Jasmine Roberts.

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