Jake Steer - Audit and Accounts Trainee (Trainee Accountant)
Meet Jake Steer, a diligent student from Chichester College who has been working alongside our Accountancy and Audit team at Lewis Brownlee. In this revealing interview, Jake shares insights about his journey as a Trainee Accountant, how his studies at Chichester College and Lewis Brownlee are preparing him for the real-world demands of the profession, and why accountancy has been a pleasant surprise. So, without much further ado, let’s delve into ‘Lewis Brownlee – a Trainee Accountant’s Perspective!’


Changing Perceptions: From Tedious to Thrilling


Q: What were your initial impressions of the accountancy world before you started working with us? And, how have those impressions evolved since being a Trainee Accountant?


A: Initially, I thought the accountancy world would be rather dull, consisting mostly of tedious tasks undertaken in silence. However, working with Lewis Brownlee’s Audit and Accounts team has changed my opinion entirely. The work can be challenging, but you’re never alone. There’s a real sense of camaraderie, so we manage to have a good time while completing our tasks. So, my overall opinion of the accountancy sector has changed drastically in a good way!


The Rewards of the Profession


Q: In your experience, what has been the most rewarding aspect of working in the accountancy profession so far?


A: I would say it’s the knowledge you gain and the relationships you form. Since, starting I feel much more proficient in many areas ranging from Excel right through to Xero. At Lewis Brownlee, I have formed many great working relationships. The company helps encourage this too with the quarterly QuEST meetings they put on that we can go to. These are enjoyable ways to spend time with the people you work with. They also allow you to have direct input into improvements the firm can make, and keep you up to date with what’s going on.


One of the most rewarding aspects of working at Lewis Brownlee is the opportunity to engage with colleagues who are as committed to their professional development as you are. Hearing about their aspirations, whether they’re pursuing AAT or ACCA qualifications, provides invaluable insights into accountancy. For me, this has not only spurred me on towards achieving my own goals, but it has also offered the added benefit of having seasoned professionals readily available to offer guidance and share their expertise. They’ve already been there so can steer me in the right direction!


Pivotal Experiences


Q: Can you pinpoint any specific experiences or moments that have significantly shaped your perspective about the accountancy world?


A: The first audit I participated in was transformative. It required me to travel to London and handle new responsibilities. I didn’t know how to drive at the time. So, I had to get the train and stay in a hotel by myself for the first time.

Despite my initial apprehensions, I received enormous support from Lewis Brownlee checking in to make sure I was ok, comfortable, and that everything went to plan. The audit went well too! It was very different to what I had expected but I found I really enjoyed meeting new people and learning new skills.

When we finished, we went out to a restaurant for dinner (paid for by the company). It’s safe to say the whole experience from start to finish reshaped my view of the accountancy world being dull. In fact, it was fun and informative. I’d even say this audit was both a great life and work experience!


Academic Preparedness and Industry Realities


Q: How do you think your studies at Chichester College prepared you for the realities of working in this field?


A: Chichester College has prepared me well! In my first year of Chichester College I studied A Level Business, Economics and Accountancy. This gave me the foundation knowledge I needed to be able to go into AAT Level 2 in my second year. Level 2 taught the basics: Payroll, Contract Law, using Xero and Excel. Then, when I started Level 3, I also started at Lewis Brownlee.

I found that the Xero, Excel and Word knowledge I had learnt at Chichester College made life much easier for me entering the working world. It meant that I already had a good grounding for the work to come – particularly VAT returns. My work at Lewis Brownlee in turn has complemented my course. My work with them on VAT has put me ahead in the unit from direct experience.

Bridging the Gaps Between Academia and Practice


Q: Have you noticed any gaps between what you learned at Chichester College and the practical skills you’ve acquired while working as a Trainee Accountant?


A: There are some gaps but I think this is inevitable. Chichester College is focussed on teaching the theory, whereas Lewis Brownlee is showing it in practise. Both prepare you for the working world in different ways. Chichester College has prepared me for working in the accountancy workplace. It has given me the necessary basic knowledge to hit the floor running. Lewis Brownlee has given me active experience of how that knowledge is applied in real life cases. It has also shown me directly the implications it has on people’s finance.


Advice to Future Accountants


Q: What advice would you give to other students at Chichester College who are considering a career in the accountancy world?


A: I would say go for it! You never know until you try. So, if it is something you are thinking about, or even a second choice that has been forced to the forefront, I think you will be pleasantly surprised and AAT at Chichester College is a good place to start!


Teamwork and Collaboration


Q: Could you speak to any collaborative projects or experiences you have had with Lewis Brownlee?


A: Audits have been the main collaborative projects. These experiences have not only improved my technical skills but have also significantly boosted my confidence, enabling me to engage effectively with clients. The first few audits I was involved in really helped relieve my anxiety about talking to new people. Others since have also taught me new skills whether that be using new systems or accountancy principles. Another point I enjoy is the fact we have to be suited and booted to meet clients and it’s hard for a suit not to give you a profound sense of importance!


Career Aspirations


Q: How has collaborating with us influenced your career goals in the accountancy field?


A: Working as one of Lewis Brownlee’s Trainee Accountant’s has clarified and evolved my career goals. It’s reinforced my aspiration to become a chartered accountant. The firm has provided valuable guidance on the qualification pathways available, such as AAT and ACCA, further strengthening the bond between the working world and College. For me, I now know that I want to follow the AAT route to become Chartered by completing my Level 4 and then going on to become ACCA certified. So, Lewis Brownlee has helped cement in my own mind, how my future career will (hopefully!) unfold.


Cultural Appeal


Q: What aspects of our company’s culture do you find most appealing for students considering a similar career path?


A: Lewis Brownlee is a great choice for you whether you are looking for a career in Accountancy, Audit or even Tax. The company fosters a culture that values teamwork, effective communication, and quality service, encapsulated in its values of QuEST (Quality, Enthusiasm, Smart working and Teamwork). It even has dedicated fun sessions to reflect these – the last one even involved a sports day involving both team and individual events. The teams were randomly allocated, meaning you got to meet people from across the firm’s three locations. Naturally, my team won due to its great synergy and teamwork!

After the event we all went out into Chichester for a social event – it was a wonderful way to socialise and to both form and nurture the new relationships made that day.

Flexible working hours and the opportunity to work from home are also additional benefits that enhance employee efficiency and well-being. For instance, I work from 8:00 to 4.30 while others may work 9.30-18:00. I believe it’s little things like this that help employees be much more efficient; and Lewis Brownlee really has an eye to helping bring out the very best in their staff. If I were to pick where I would like to start my Level 3 apprenticeship again, I can say with certainty I would pick Lewis Brownlee again.


Essential Qualities for Success


Q: What qualities or skills do you believe are essential for success in this profession?


A: Determination, timeliness, and teamwork are the essential qualities. These attributes can be developed over time, but they are crucial for meeting deadlines in audits or accounting tasks.


Well-Being Initiatives


Q: How has Lewis Brownlee supported your mental well-being during your time as a Trainee Accountant?


A: Lewis Brownlee takes the mental well-being of its staff seriously. Periodic check-ins with mentors and the HR department have helped me maintain a balanced professional life, which in turn has a positive impact on my performance. The QuEST initiative also helps greatly with this as it brings the team together, meaning there are always people you can talk to. We’re even encouraged to suggest ways the firm can improve at these meetings so the firm takes listening to its staff really importantly.


Development and Continuous Learning


Q: Could you share your thoughts on the firm’s approach to professional development and continuous learning?


A: The firm’s approach to continuous professional development is great as they keep everyone doing training sessions. Just recently, I asked to be enrolled in some Excel training I thought would be useful. Lewis Brownlee immediately contacted Sesca and secured my Word and Excel courses – both were very informative and useful. We also do in-house training sessions ran by our Tax Manager covering useful topics like how to use Xero and how to do a Tax Report.


Values and Culture


Q: Finally, what message would you give to potential new recruits about the firm’s values and culture based on your experience?


A: I would say Lewis Brownlee has great values and is a great company. It treats its staff well, while also conducting events and activities to keep staff working together and to keep nurturing the working relationships it fosters. If you are looking for a company to grow with and enjoy your experience in accountancy, then Lewis Brownlee is the place to be. The work culture is great; it must be one of the best firms particularly for those just starting out in their accountancy careers!


Summing Up


So, there we have it! Jake’s experience as our Trainee Accountant in his own words! At Lewis Brownlee, encouraging the next generation of bright minds into the accountancy world is something we take seriously. Shaping careers and equipping accountants with the best guidance and support is a matter of pride for us. That’s why it’s so important to us to be involved with apprenticeship schemes such as Jake’s!

We are delighted to hear that Jake’s time with us has been every bit as vibrant and helpful as we have hoped for – and we thank him whole-heartedly for being so willing to give us this interview.

For us, hearing directly from someone actively engaged in an Accountancy course while working with us, is one of the best ways we can show aspiring accountants what the profession is really like and why we find it so amazing! So, we hope Jake’s words serve as a compelling testament to the firm’s commitment to professional growth, team-oriented culture, and the holistic well-being of its staff – as well as the fun and vibrant profession that accountancy is today!


So, if you are interested finding out more about being a Trainee Accountant, please do check out Chichester College’s courses! There are some amazing firms (like us!) supporting them and encouraging the next generation of accountants to know what it truly means to Dream Big! 😉



If you’d like to speak to one of our experts about your accounts, please call 01243 782 423, or email from our contact page and we will be in touch!

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