23rd May, 2023, Melanie Harriss
When Mike Rowles joined Stephenson Smart Accountants in 2005, he was nineteen and fresh from completing his A-levels. Disregarding an academic route to success, he decided a more hands on approach to development would suit him better. He applied for a trainee role at Stephenson Smart and was delighted to be accepted onto the firm’s trainee scheme.
“I’d always had an interest in maths and felt first-hand experience would benefit me more than going down the university route,” he says. “When I saw Stephenson Smart’s advert for a trainee accountant, I seized the opportunity and applied.”
With the support of Martyn Benstead, who was then a Manager at the King’s Lynn office, Mike completed his studies, whilst gaining valuable on-the-job experience. First passing his AAT qualifications in 2008 and completing further training to become a fully qualified ACCA accountant in 2012.
“Working with Martyn was a brilliant way to kickstart my career. It was rewarding walking away from that initial traineeship with three years of experience and a recognised qualification.” says Mike. “Martyn provided me with a perfect combination of guidance and freedom; I was able to take charge of my approach to the work, but I knew support was always there if I needed it. I felt confident that if I wanted more responsibility, I would be given the opportunity to progress - so I decided to further my skills with Stephenson Smart.”
After qualifying, Mike took on the role of Manager at the firm’s Fakenham office. Martyn was also now based there, in the role of partner. The duo continued to work together well to grow the team and support their many clients. This included them both becoming two of the first qualified ATOL reporting accountants in the country, so that they could best service their clients in that sector.
“I’ve come so far as both an accountant and an individual since starting at Stephenson Smart; looking back is an astounding experience,” says Mike. “The most rewarding thing for me has been building relationships with clients and watching their businesses do well. I also have a keen interest in taking on new trainees and giving them the guidance I received when I first started.”
Stephenson Smart accountants now have over 100 staff based in seven offices and support more than 4,500 clients. We are a forward-thinking firm who take pride in providing enriching opportunities to school leavers, graduates and those wishing to explore a new career path.
Profiles: Mike Rowles and Martyn Benstead