Ben Morris works with First Intuition as one of our tutors, supporting our students through their apprenticeships. He is uniquely qualified for this role as he started his journey learning with First Intuition himself. We talked to Ben about his experience on both sides of the desk, from student to tutor.
Tell me how you got started in accountancy?
This was in the days before apprenticeships. When I graduated from University with a degree in Accounting and Finance, I joined an accounting practice in Cheltenham, and they sent me to First Intuition as they were the existing training provider for my company. I sat a few exams for the ICAEW, ACA chartered qualification. I felt I needed a break from learning after GCSEs, A levels and university, so stayed with my firm being an accountant and auditor. When I felt it was time to get going again, I started self-studying with First Intuition again as I had always had a good experience with them. When I qualified, I spent some time in practice, and then Graham got in contact and said, “Have you ever thought about teaching?”. To be honest I hadn’t but it was something that I would be interested in doing and so here we are now.
So now you are teaching apprentices. What does your daily work involve?
In normal times they would come into the centre in Bristol, they are given the material for the course they work through to prepare them for the exams. If it’s one of the earlier level courses, once we have helped get them to that initial level of understanding where we’re happy they would then take time away to practice the questions and then return to sit the exam. If it is one of the more advanced courses, then it’s broken down into learning and revision phases where we get extra time to prepare the students.
As we are talking in May 2021 this is presumably happening online at the moment. How does that change things?
The process is much the same. There are slight differences in that we were utilising a lot more technology at the moment. We are able to use Zoom polls, online quizzes and breakout rooms. So, we are certainly making the best of the situation.
How would an apprenticeship have made a difference to your learning experience back in the beginning?
That’s a really interesting question. If I had undertaken the apprenticeship scheme, then I would have attended a lot more skills days where I would have built up, presentation skills, team working skills. I would have become a more well-rounded individual possibly. I guess you get some of those skills at university, so the apprenticeship really does appeal to school leavers as it helps them build their life experience as well as the learning.
So, the key point of the apprenticeship is self-development as much as it is the skills development.
Yes exactly. A little bit of coaching goes a long way, I think, in the sense of becoming a more well-rounded business person, particularly coming straight out of A levels into the AAT. It does expose the apprentices to challenges and situations that do make them more aware of the real world, definitely. Obviously, I don’t think you can ever replace that life experience fully with just being out in the real world in business. I think a combination of working in business, plus the apprenticeship plus the professional qualification builds up an individual to the accountant that you would expect to have as a client.
Having seen First Intuition both as a student and tutor what do you think makes them stand out as a training provider?
It is definitely the personal approach that they take. Throughout my time as a trainee there they knew who I was, they knew my name. You could walk in after being away for weeks to start the next course and they would remember you and understand you. There’s a lot more care, because they do care, it’s that business, they want you to grow they want you to succeed. So everyone who works there has that sort of philosophy of dealing with people on a personal level. Everyone I’ve spoken to who has experienced other training says First Intuition are the polar opposite of what they have seen before.
Thanks for your insights Ben. First Intuition’s goal is to develop financially fluent professionals who can make an impact for talent hungry employers. Get in touch with the team in Bristol or call us on 0117 3540190.