I joined Mercer & Hole in May 2008 in the Trust department of the St Albans office. I finished my MA in Artefact Studies from UCL in September 2007 and spent some months volunteering at a local museum. Although both of my degrees are in archaeology, I wanted to enter a profession that offered a professional qualification, wide variety of work and continued learning and challenges. I found that accountancy ticked all those boxes.
I originally applied for a trainee position in tax, but during the recruitment process I was offered a place in the Trust department instead. As I have gained more experience I have been given increasingly more responsibility and now I have a client allocation that I look after. Other trainees have joined our department and I have been heavily involved with their training, which has made me realise just how much I have learned since I joined the firm. Working in the Trust department has exposed me to a great variety of work, and in addition to trusts accounting and tax, I am also involved in administration of estates, VAT work and personal tax services.
My first accounting qualification was ACCA and I became a full ACCA member in July 2011. The qualification has given me a wide range of skills in accountancy, which are proving surprisingly useful outside of work as well as in the office. I was given study leave to attend courses at college, but a lot of my evenings and weekends were also spent studying. The exams were challenging and required dedicated work, but it was always a great feeling to find out that I had passed my exams. The final professional exams seemed particularly daunting, but it has been gratifying to see how much knowledge I have accumulated as I have progressed through the courses.
Having become a permanent member of staff in July 2011, I was given the option to do further training and I went back to college to study towards a membership in STEP, which is the Society for Trusts and Estates Practitioners. I passed all four exams first time and became a full member of STEP in late 2012. Since then, I have been promoted to an Assistant Trust Manager and my personal development continues. I am also actively involved with the local branch of STEP and have recently become the branch treasurer.
Continued learning and development is very important. The STEP branch organises seminars several times a year, which many of us attend, and we are sent on other external courses if our knowledge needs to be supplemented in a specific area. We also attend in-house training sessions, tax updates and have access to a variety of relevant journals and other publications, so the learning never stops!
All in all, I am very pleased to be working at Mercer & Hole and I enjoy every day at the office, so much so that the last six and a half years have flown by. My colleagues are all incredibly supportive and there are always people I can turn to when I am uncertain about something. The good work/life balance is encouraged and I am not generally expected to work overtime. Outside of work I like to draw, write novels, read, play board games and table-top, role-playing games, as well as spending lots of time with my dog, Sinta.
The atmosphere in the office is very friendly and relaxed, and because of its relatively small size, we all know each other. The in-house training sessions and the quiz nights also give us an opportunity to meet and socialise with people from the other offices, and we also often do things with the other departments in the St Albans office.
I would warmly recommend applying for a trainee position at Mercer & Hole!