Shaun McGlade, SMCG Ltd

Gen BODY - Shaun McGlade-min

Does the Chartered Accountancy qualification offer security as a career?

In a word, yes! I have found it to be an instantly recognisable qualification by both employers and clients resulting in consistent demand within the jobs market. The varied modules studied have enabled me to acquire roles within both practice & industry before setting up my own business. This evidences the security and flexibility of this qualification and its recognisability within the jobs market for key roles within organisations.  

The skills I learnt as part of my Chartered Accountancy qualification have helped me provide a well-rounded & succinct suite of advice to our clients during the current COVID-19 Pandemic. The crisis has led to a number of novel grants, loans & employment supports offered to businesses which have required me to learn, understand and communicate the details to clients. These coupled with the material covered on the course & the support networks developed have helped to ensure we could offer relevant, concise, accurate & high-level business leadership advice to help clients survive the crisis.

Have you discovered flexibility in your career options as a Chartered Accountant? Do you feel you could move industry or country easily?

I have found great flexibility in my career as a Chartered Accountant in that, as previously noted, I have been able to complete roles in practice and industry. The experience gained on the course and in practice during my training covered a breadth of industries & sectors while still focusing on the specific nuances that exist in each industry such as retail, construction, agri-food & engineering enabled me to move sectors as the client work required. This breadth of experience & flexibility meant I could take up a role as finance manager in the retail sector upon completion of my training contract within practice, before subsequently engaging again with a variety of industries when I set up my own business.  

How have your strategic skills as a Chartered Accountant been of benefit to you and your company, during recent times?

As the Managing Director of my own business, SMCG Ltd, I have relied on my strategic skills, as a Chartered Accountant, to benefit not only our clients but our own business also. At SMCG Ltd we have consistently “practiced what we preached” to clients, because as a business owner I face the same economic realities faced by all businesses. This was brought into renewed focus during the current COVID-19 crisis with first and foremost the threat to health and wellbeing of staff and clients and how to negate these threats. My skills acquired from being a Chartered Accountant helped to focus both our clients and our business on key business funding decisions in both the short, medium & long term, reviewing supply chains in light of closures, cost control and much more. This has helped secure the future of our business to come through the crisis stronger, leaner and more competitive in our new post COVID-19 landscape.

Can you share your thoughts on how flexibility to study from work or home could prove a real advantage?

Combining work and study is a key component of the qualification and it is one of the most difficult tasks to get right! I quickly learnt I needed to be very organised to facilitate success in both areas and to have the energy personally to compete on both fronts. Preparation and planning were the key to success which can be made more manageable by the move to 100% online study, firstly as this frees up more time for students as it removes the travel time associated with getting to the classes. This can present an opportunity to review or replay classes if students are unclear on certain topics to aid understanding. I found the online suite of lectures available while I was completing my Chartered Accountancy qualification a very useful resource to aid understanding when completing further reading or in preparation for assignments and examinations.

Tell us about your academic background?

I achieved 2.1 Hons Degree in Business Studies at University of Ulster, Jordanstown.

Why accountancy?

Throughout my school and university life I had a keen interest in how businesses structured themselves financially depending on the strategy prevalent in the organisation.

I viewed the taxation of business and more importantly the value add to an organisation of good tax planning as a key competitive advantage for me personally when seeking employment in the future.

I had also seen, growing up, the importance of an accountant and the positive role they played in our family business.

Why Chartered Accountants Ireland?

Chartered Accountants Ireland have a worldwide reputation, they are the largest accountancy body in Ireland and have a strong track record of consistent high-quality teaching for professional exams.

Can you explain the Flexible Route to someone who doesn't know what it is?

The Flexible Route enabled me to undertake my professional studies before I had secured a training contract (I subsequently obtained a training contract with Cavanagh Kelly Chartered Accountants) to obtain the necessary experience. I benefitted from this greatly as it allowed me to keep the momentum of my studies going while still facilitating me to achieve my working career objectives.

What are the advantages to working and studying?

Application of what is being learnt to a “live” working environment, and no requirement for a career break to press on with studies – working period has an unbroken record.

Where have you worked and what kind of roles have you been in?

Upon completion of my training contract I undertook a role as Finance Manager of a franchise business for 2 years before setting up my own Accountancy Sub-Contracting & Bookkeeping Company, which has been going for 4 years to date.

Describe a typical day for you?

Varied depending on cases being worked on. 

Is it flexible?

Yes, I found it to be very flexible as I found the qualification moulded to my working life very well and accommodated the various challenges that posed.

How was combining work and study?

This is a key component of the qualification and it is almost the most difficult to get right! I quickly learnt I needed to be very organised to facilitate success in both areas and to have the energy personally to compete on both fronts. Preparation and planning were the keys to success.

Can you see how someone who is not an accountant might benefit from this qualification?

Yes, as it allows studies and training to be done largely at the pace of the applicant. The accessibility of lecturers (often in their own time) to answer questions was also something which I found advantageous. 

What advice would you give someone who is considering the Flexible Route?

It is a challenge to complete the Chartered exams however the Flexible Route was best suited for me to achieve this. As long as you plan and prepare your time from the start it should be a manageable challenge.

What success are you looking for & what are your future goals?

To expand my company and ensure its continued success.