When I graduated from university with a first class degree in Accounting and Finance, I had my mind set on finding an internal accounting role in industry. I did find a short term role within industry and although I liked the company and the people I met, I found that role didn't fit the way I thought it would. So I started looking for roles within practice and in particular, tax. I wanted a role that would offer me the opportunity to have direct contact with clients, develop relationships and also allow me to continue to learn. Buzzacott offered me that and much more.
Looking back I do not feel that career progress was my main focus, it felt natural. I enjoyed speaking with clients, colleagues and contacts. I enjoyed studying for the professional exams (not sitting the exams, but I do like keeping my brain engaged and learning new things). I feel that this enjoyment allowed me to progress naturally as I wanted to learn more and do more. I also asked for a short secondment internally to the Corporate Team to help with my ACCA qualification, which enabled me to work with people from other departments giving me more opportunities to meet new people and learn new skills. Some of the internal relationships made during this time are still strong today and have often resulted in cross team referrals and cross collaboration.
Whether you are speaking to clients, colleagues or other professionals remember that they are all human - just like you, so relax. Saying you will get back to someone isn't a sign of weakness. Actually, most of the time clients appreciate the honesty and much prefer when you come back with a comprehensive response. Both of those snippets of advice were given to me when I first started talking to clients and working in the private client industry. I consider that remembering these two points has definitely contributed to my progression.
At the beginning of the pandemic and the first lock-down, regular check in phone calls and emails were made with clients. After a while everyone started to adapt to the new normal, and clients became more open to the idea of video calling as the lock-down continued. Whilst I will be the first to admit that this will never replace the value of a face to face meeting, I found that it did strengthen the relationship I have with many clients as it reassured them that we are here for them no matter what, in particular for our clients that are more remote.
Whilst traditional networking has been unavailable, I have found online networking opportunities to be a great replacement. Although online events are a bit more controlled, it did provide me with the opportunity to attend more events that were shorter and more intimate, by which I mean that I could focus on events that were of particular interest from a technical perspective and be able to ask questions or have discussions with particular panel members. I think this is more difficult to do at a physical event with larger numbers in attendance. PCD Club provides a good platform for this by hosting topical seminars and discussions with break out rooms in smaller numbers which is much more conducive to open and topical conversations. I feel that I have been able to learn a lot more about the different areas within the private client industry that I may not have had the opportunity to hear about otherwise. PCD Club recently invited me and a colleague to lead a discussion within the NextGen group regarding holding and investing UK residential property which I enjoyed presenting at. It provided me with an open and friendly platform to speak about some technical points with useful breaks in presenting to network and meet likeminded professionals.
I have found that working from home provided the unique opportunity to reassess the meaning of a work life balance. I have enjoyed being able to go out for a coffee break in the garden or a walk around the park in the time that I would usually be commuting. I believe that taking these kind of breaks makes a huge difference to your mind set which in turn has a positive impact on productivity whilst I am working. I will take this process back to the office with me (when we return) and take at least 5 minutes away from my desk either side of lunch in the morning and afternoon to refresh and refocus.
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