It’s nice to see that PricewaterhouseCoopers, a large firm of accountants, have removed A Level grades as a minimum requirement of their recruitment process. This will enable them to recruit good accountants from non-traditional backgrounds, based upon merit rather than what school they went to. While I went to a private school myself, I think universities and employers should be free to look at their experience of recruitment and make adjustments for a wide variety of backgrounds. However, this should not be dictated to them by politicians who want to introduce rigid systems which would merely swing the pendulum across to the opposite silly extreme.
Accountancy in general is a meritocratic profession. For example, our largest local firm of accountants here in Carlisle, Armstrong Watson, will allow trainees to commence after A Levels studying and working for the Member of the Association of Accounting Technicians qualification. After that, the trainee can go on to train for the Chartered Accountant qualification, which is a professional qualification.
There is no need to go to university with this training scheme, and thus no reason to end up with student loan repayments. If you do go to university and finish with a good degree in a numerate subject, then direct entry to the Chartered Accountant training scheme is possible.
Some Chartered Accountants or Chartered Certified Accountants subsequently qualify as Chartered Tax Advisers. It is also possible to study for Member of the Association of Taxation Technicians first of all, and then to study for Chartered Tax Adviser. There’s plenty of choice.
A lot of hard work is required to gain any of these qualifications, but no one is screened out from the beginning just because they didn’t go to the right sort of school. It is possible to get a professional qualification in accountancy, the equivalent of a doctor or solicitor, without going to university at all, but you can do a degree if you want to. An alternative to consider is getting a professional qualification first, and then doing a Master of Business Administration degree at a later date.
Generally any profession worthy of the name should recruit from a variety of backgrounds and inclinations, or it becomes a case of people like us only recruiting people like us, groupthink and lack of adaptability. Let us therefore compliment PricewaterhouseCoopers and Armstrong Watson for what they are doing.
David Porthouse & Co is a firm of accountants based in Carlisle in North West England. We have a keen interest in new technology with the aim of speeding up accounts production and making accountancy more affordable for our clients.