From AAT Apprentice to Made in Manchester Award Winner

AAT Apprentice and ICAEW student, Max, reflects on his journey to success in his accounting career.

Picking up fantastic awards along the way, Max describes how hard work, perseverance, and good opportunities lead to the career he loves.

AAT apprentice Max

From AAT Apprentice to Made in Manchester Award Winner

AAT Apprentice and ICAEW student, Max, reflects on his journey to success in his accounting career.

Picking up fantastic awards along the way, Max describes how hard work, perseverance, and good opportunities lead to the career he loves.

From school leaver to AAT apprentice: Does a 13-year-old really know what they want to do in life? I did. I wanted to be a solicitor. So, in year 9, I set up to complete my work experience at a local firm in Urmston. At the last minute, I received a phone call from the solicitors. Unfortunately, they were going to have to cancel. After a few frantic phone calls from my Mum, I ended up finding a replacement to spend my first week of work at a firm of accountants in Altrincham, MBL (Business & Tax Advisers) Ltd.

Starting the AAT Apprenticeship

Turns out I loved it, and they seemed to love me too. So, for the next two years I would come back and help out over the school holidays. Fast forward two years, aged 15, I completed my GCSEs. As my friends looked forward to a big summer break, I had been offered an AAT apprenticeship with MBL. I started straight away.

What wasn’t there to love? I had more money than all of my friends. I had the top of the range suits that Topman had to offer. Plus, I was working four days a week and went to Manchester for college once a week to study AAT. I was even awarded the ‘Apprentice of the year’ at the 2013 Altrincham and Sale Chamber of Commerce Awards, did that mean I was a local celebrity?

Stepping up to ICAEW

After an amazing six years at MBL, I had completed my AAT. Then, I moved on to start studying for my ICAEW qualification. This was a massive step up for me, and you soon realise why the chartered accountant qualification is recognised as one of the most prestigious qualifications across all industries.

I would be lying if I said I cruised through these exams. I really struggled. At this point I decided to move firms, to UHY Hacker Young in Manchester, a Top 20 UK firm. I thought being a small fish in a big pond would give me the experience I needed to help me push on with my qualification.

It was at UHY where I met Stuart Hurst, (if you don’t know him, give him a follow on LinkedIn). Stuart helped me find my ‘WHY’. He helped me understand why it was I wanted to be an accountant, to change the industry and the lives of owner-managed businesses across the UK, through the use of cloud accounting solutions.

Made in Manchester

Over the next three years I grew as part of the UK’s number one cloud accounting team. We won Xero’s Large Firm of the Year award, amongst several other team awards.  I even managed to fill up my own trophy cabinet with a Made in Manchester Award, a North West Young Professional Award and was shortlisted as one of the ‘Best Digital Rising Stars’ at the 2020 Digital Accountancy Awards.

Along with the work progression at UHY, I slowly progressed through my exams. I dropped down to one exam per sitting after I realised towards the end of my qualification that I am actually Dyslexic. This may have given some indication as to why the professional exams were such a struggle for me towards the beginning.

Sometimes, the best journeys in life are not always in straight lines. I currently sit with one final exam to complete my ICAEW qualification, the end is in sight!

From AAT Apprentice to Head of Accounts

In 2021, even though the rest of the world looked like it was falling apart, my career took its latest turn. I’ve recently left UHY after a great three years. I will be opening a Liverpool office for a London/Manchester-based firm called Accounts and Legal. A firm based heavily around my personal beliefs, to turn up at work on a Monday morning to make a difference to people’s lives, whether that’s through growing their company, or helping them get their weekends back with automating their bookkeeping process.

Want to follow in Max’s footsteps?

I’m looking to grow the Liverpool office, and would love to take someone on the AAT to ICAEW journey. If this sounds like an opportunity you would be interested in, then please reach out to me at m.whiteley@accountsandlegal.co.uk for more information.

Learn more about AAT and ICAEW courses at FI Manchester below:

AAT Courses

ICAEW Courses

To continue reading more exclusive tips and industry news from First Intuition, head to FI Hub.

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