7th February, 2020, Stephenson Smart
A Norfolk company is forging a reputation for inspiring the next generation of accountants with its approach to training.
Stephenson Smart has 28 trainees employed across its six offices, studying for an AAT, ACA or ACCA qualification - with many offered opportunities fresh out of school.
Currently the King’s Lynn office alone has 14 new employees studying while working to gain practical experience.
Many already plan to take further exams to specialise in specific areas, or to become chartered tax advisors.
Two other employees are studying for a payroll degree with the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals.
Olivia Allen recently stepped onto the training rungs after turning her back on university life.
Olivia, who is 19, swapped an English literature degree at King’s College in London to pursue Stephenson Smart’s training scheme.
She said: "I started my degree, but I got to the end of the first three months and I really wasn’t enjoying it. I knew I had made a mistake. I panicked that I was going to get myself into debt doing something that I didn’t actually want to do.
"I’ve always had an interest in finance because my dad is a financial advisor and I had heard really good things about the training scheme at Stephenson Smart.
"I love the consistency of it all. You take an exam once every three months with ACCA. It’s a challenge, but as I tick them off, I’m one step closer to being qualified, which I hope to be within three years.”
Each trainee joins a specific team led by one of the partners and are allowed 20pc of their work time to study. They also attend a training provider.
AAT trainee Zara Barlow, 19, works at the company’s Wisbech office, after being offered a position when she was still in full time education, while Stephenson Smart agreed to defer Elsie Riches start date for nine months until she completed her studies.
The company also offered 19-year-old Luke Howard a position in the King’s Lynn payroll department until his current AAT training position became available.
Claire Melton, partner at King’s Lynn, said the company had the largest contingent of trainees for several years.
"It is really important for us to have an open-door policy for all ages. We have a rigorous interview policy, we only pick who we consider to be the best candidates, so we are extremely lucky to have such talented young people here in Norfolk."