John Devine

Tell us about your academic background?

Bachelor of Science in Economics and Finance, UCD 2014 -2017. 1:1

Why accountancy? 

Upon leaving college I was keen to pursue a career in the finance industry. I felt my undergraduate degree set me up very well for a career in this sector with the exception of one notable gap in my skillset – accountancy. Accountancy is common to all businesses across every sector and I believe gaining expert knowledge in this area will stand to me in any career I pursue in the future.

Why Chartered Accountants Ireland?

After deciding to pursue an accounting qualification I began to notice a lot of successful business people in Ireland come from a Chartered Accountancy background. Anyone I spoke to about the different options to qualify as an accountant, including college lecturers and prospective employers, held the ACA qualification in high regard. I also like the structured approach of the Institute by combining on the job practical experience with lectures delivered by subject experts.

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

The Flexible Route gives you all the knowledge, skills and qualification as a trainee in a traditional training contract in an accountancy practice, but without pursing the traditional training contract route. The flexible structure also allows you to work around your work and other commitments. You can attain the ACA qualification even if you’re not working in a directly relevant role at present.

What are the advantages to working and studying?

You get both on-the-job practical experience as well as concrete accounting knowledge. You can earn a wage while still continuing your education and gain a well-regarded qualification on the way.  The lectures give you a chance to meet with your peers and see how they are finding the material, especially if you work in a small office that might not have a second person at your level.

Describe a typical day for you? 

There is really no such thing as a typical day. As I work in Mergers and Acquisitions, all of work I do is project driven so it really depends what stage of the process we are at and how many we have ongoing at any particular point in time. At the beginning of each process we spend a lot of time with clients getting a real understanding of the business and fact finding paying particular attention to the financial details in order to portray each company as accurately and clearly as possible in an information memorandum. Then it evolves into a project management role managing potential buyers, various due diligence streams and lawyers, and dealing with critical deal specific issues and negotiating points. Deepening on what stage of each process we are at, it is a combination of the above. I typically save the study for the weekends particularly if there are no lectures on.

I’ve rarely had a typical day in any of my jobs to date, and I’ve worked across various industries, organizations and functions.

Is it flexible?

Yes, I find it very flexible. For example, I work in a small office where I would not have been able to be absent for an extended period of time for study leave. By opting to go down the flexible route, I was able to split up my CAP 2 exams to take them two at a time instead of the typical sitting of four in one go.

How was combining work and study?

Combining working and study was fairly seamless. Both of the partners in my office are ACA qualified and they encouraged me to attend lectures and stay on top of the study workload. The big take away for me was the volume of resources online including both recorded lectures and written notes, past case notes and a very clearly defined competency statement. This enabled me to pick up where I left off and do a bit of study whenever I had some spare time.

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

I think this qualification would be useful for anybody at all who is interested in business. Having come through the program, particularly the FAE level, I really got an appreciation for the wider applicability of the course. It covers a range of topics from accounting to tax, company law, business leadership and strategy. It provides a very strong platform for anybody considering going into business either at management level or as an entrepreneur.

Would you recommend the Flexible Route to others? Why?

Yes, I have no hesitation in recommending the Flexible Route to others. It gives you the chance to obtain an internationally recognised professional accountancy qualification and you don’t need to be in a traditional training contract to obtain it. You can work in any role you want in any industry and still obtain the qualification provided you obtain the necessary experience somewhere down the line. The knowledge you gain is applicable to any business and the more I deal with clients, the more I see the same issues and concepts repeating themselves, ones which we can advise on that I learned about whilst studying for exams.

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

The hardest part is actually making the decision to commit to the programme. Once you’re enrolled, you can see how you’re going and take the exams at your own pace. There is also a very strong support system in place from the Institute.

What success are you looking for?

I am hoping to pass the FAE exams this coming August and hopefully have all the exams passed on the first sitting. I’d like to use my fundamental knowledge of accounting and wider business strategy to develop an expertise in corporate finance in order to provide value adding advice to clients of our firm and continue to work on interesting M&A deals.