Bristol Business Blog: Ollie Jordan, Haines Watts Bristol. I’m proof that accountancy apprenticeships work

February 17, 2023

Four years on from starting as an apprentice accountant, I want to share my story and give advice for school leavers thinking about their first career steps.

I’m lucky that I knew early on what I wanted to do for work as I’ve always been good at maths and I studied a business and financial studies BTEC at college. Although my older brother went to university, I decided I could achieve what I wanted more efficiently by going straight into work. 

So, having done my Level 3 AAT accounting qualifications at college, I was taken on straight out of college by small firm near my home in Cullompton in Devon. I stayed with them for a couple of years, passed my Level 4, then was taken on as an apprentice at Haines Watts in Bristol in 2019.

It was quite a big jump to move from a practice dealing with sole traders and microbusinesses to living in a new city and working with bigger firms. Even though Haines Watts is a small business specialist, the work here is on a larger scale.

However, I quickly learned that although I was working for larger companies with bigger processes going on, the theories and principles are all the same. That’s something which gives you a lot of confidence and helps your perspectives to widen.

Having moved on to the three-year ACA course when I arrived here, I’m now one exam away from being a fully qualified accountant. It’s been the quickest possible route, sitting my exams while concurrently gaining professional experience.

I’m only 25, I’m free of university debt and I own my own house in Filton.

Do I feel like I missed out? Not really. I’ve been able to socialise with friendship groups I’ve met through work, and of course I’ve had more money to spend than I would have done as a student or a university graduate. There’s so much to do in Bristol so I feel like I’ve been able to really enjoy my early twenties.

The past year has been particularly good. I’ve been getting involved in many different types of work, including audits, with clients in many different business sectors. And I’ve progressed into a managerial role, so I’m reviewing the work of apprentice accountants and taking on more complex tasks.

Overall, the progress I’ve made can be seen as a reflection of the culture at Haines Watts in general. It’s one which has encouraged me to develop and pick up new skills, not only in accountancy but also in seniority and leadership.

It’s also further endorsement of that decision I took several years ago to go for an apprenticeship rather than the university route. I’m in a management position with a job which is stimulating, challenging and rewarding in equal measure.

My message to young people considering getting into accountancy would definitely be to go for it. If you’re good at numbers and you enjoy problem solving, if you want to achieve your own personal life goals at a young age and make your way ahead, then accountancy can be a great career and Haines Watts could be the company for you.


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