Top 75 trainee interview: Mercer & Hole

In our trainee series, Zak Jakubowski talks to Molly Tait and Matt Pollard, audit trainees at Mercer & Hole, about juggling working days with study and their ambitions to become ACA qualified 

Both from St Albans, Molly Tait (aged 21) and Matt Pollard (aged 20) joined the apprenticeship pathway at Mercer & Hole, ranked 36th in the Accountancy Daily Top 75.

Tait and Pollard have both been at the firm for just over two years. After a year and a half the trainees have already passed their AAT level three and are underway with their ACA qualification which takes three years to complete.

Why accountancy?

Tait said: ‘I have always enjoyed business and maths and I did them as part of my A levels. A career in accountancy seemed like a natural progression from these subjects and I always wanted a career in finance and to gain a well-recognised qualification, so the ACA and AAT enabled me to do that’.

Pollard: ‘I took an isometric test in sixth form which stated I should have a career in finance, I thought the best way to do that would be through an apprenticeship.

‘My Dad is also an accountant and he said there is a lot of scope for progression in that role. There are quite a few areas that interest me as well such as insolvency and financial planning’.

Interview process

Tait said: ‘We first had to fill out a CV, then Mercer & Hole sent us a form to fill in which was more specific to their firm.

‘Then there was a telephone interview followed by a face-to-face interview at the St Albans office where I had to complete psychometric tests. After that I was interviewed by two managers and the head of human resources – then I was offered the job’.

Pollard went through the same process as Tait and felt pretty confident going into it ‘because I had interview practice when I was at school so that helped me a lot’.

Normal working day

There is never a typical working day for the trainees.

Tait explained: ‘My manager briefs me and provides me with information from the client. Other admin tasks that we do are filing confirmation statements, tagging and preparing accounts for Companies House.

Pollard said: ‘When I was in the outsourcing department I did management of accounts for clients, posted invoices and did bank reconciliations.

‘Then one year into the role I was given the opportunity to work directly with a client and a manager which I gained a lot of experience from’.

Pros and cons

‘I enjoy the social aspect and working with people that are close to my age as well an older group, it is good to mix groups of people’, said Pollard.

Tait added: ‘From September I started the ACA and I have been working long days for the past five months so it is pretty intense and it is not easy.

‘I would not say that I do not enjoy it, but it definitely has been testing.’

Advice

Tait advised that people ‘make sure that whatever you want to go into, you are going to enjoy it and you are not going to do something because other people are pressuring you into it but because at the end of the day you have to go to your job every day and you do not want to be doing something that you dislike’.

Pollard added: ‘Accountancy is hard work, but it is worth it in the end so just stick at it.’ 

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