Meet the 2018 One Young CA: Q+A with Michael Scott CA
Michael Scott CA has been named as the ICAS One Young CA 2018 in the culmination of this year’s competition, held in association with Investec Click & Invest.
Michael is Accounts Senior and Supervisor at EQ Accountants in Glenrothes. He holds key roles within the company's tax and R&D teams and is a member of EQ's Technology group, working to innovate and prepare solutions for the changing role of accountants.
Michael also acts as Treasurer on the Board of Trustees for Fife Gingerbread, supporting vulnerable families in his local community, as well as working with HCPT The Pilgrimage Trust, which organises and facilitates spiritual retreats abroad for disabled and disadvantaged children.
He will now represent ICAS and the chartered accountancy profession at the One Young World Summit in The Hague later this year. The summit brings together inspiring young people who are committed to making a positive difference.
Michael spoke to Eleanor O'Neill about changing the world one problem at a time and why accountants won't be replaced by robots.
Investec Click & Invest is the online investment management service from Investec.
How does it feel to be One Young CA 2018?
Just to be named within the Top 100 One Young CAs was an incredible honour and I was thrilled. To win One Young CA on top of that is completely overwhelming.
Jonny Jacobs (One Young CA 2017) spoke at my Admissions Ceremony earlier this year and I just thought ‘this guy is inspiring’. Not just because of the achievements he has made in his career, but also his work with Aspire UK (a spinal cord injury charity) and in the area of mental health. I thought that was amazing.
I am well aware there is a level of responsibility that goes along with the title and I’m ready for the challenge. I just hope to do young CAs proud and fulfil my role as an ambassador for ICAS with passion, enthusiasm and drive.
What made you decide to nominate yourself?
When ICAS opened nominations for One Young CA, my wife, Roanna, asked if I was going to enter. She has always been a huge supporter of mine and very encouraging. I owe a lot of my achievements to her support.
Even so, I said that I would leave the competition to other people after seeing the kind of standard they were looking for.
Then, after getting a bit more involved with ICAS and speaking to people there, I thought maybe I should go for it. I had a lot of fun with the process but still didn’t think I was going to win.
How did you get involved in accountancy?
I actually intended to go into primary education as helping young children develop and grow really appealed to me. It's something I'm still actively involved in through my work with HCPT The Pilgrimage Trust - Group 77.
However, when I finally decided that being a teacher wasn't for me, I started a job at William Hill and began to develop a love for finance and numbers. That led me to go on and study accountancy and, from day one, I loved it.
I chose to study further with ICAS because it is a profoundly respected body and has a reputation for high ethical standards. When they opened up the direct entry route, it was a no-brainer for me - I wanted to become a CA and be a part of ICAS.
What does your role at EQ Accountants entail?
I am in a privileged position where I get a wide breadth of experience across the board. I don’t just sit in audit.
I get to sit down with the heads of businesses who are innovative and at the forefront of developments in sectors such as technology, manufacturing, and even food and drink. They are constantly improving and developing products and services in a way that is incredibly interesting. I am able to discuss with them what they are doing and how they are developing innovative solutions and it’s incredible.
Is that something you want to pursue in your career?
Somewhere down the line, I would like to really delve into the numbers of a business and have a role that lets me be a part of growing something innovative and driving it forward.
I read about the career journeys of other CAs, particularly business leaders, on a regular basis and would like to emulate that progression with a solid foundation in Practice.
You are also part of the EQ Technology Team. How do you see the profession changing?
The pace of technological change in the accountancy industry is rapid, but I don’t agree with the fear-mongering about accountants being replaced by machines. Technology has always been a tool for accountants and as it develops, we should embrace it as a resource to increase efficiency and productivity. Technology is an opportunity for accountants to deliver a higher standard of service.
What are you looking forward to at One Young World?
Poverty alleviation is a huge issue for me; a cause Fife Gingerbread tries to tackle. It’s true that you only really know what you can see and, before I started working with charities, I had no idea that almost a quarter of children in Scotland are recognised as living in poverty. That's not right.
To attend One Young World as an ambassador for ICAS is a huge responsibility and to bring those ideas, messages and issues back to other CAs is a purpose I believe in.
Why did you get involved in charity work?
My mantra in life has been: ‘While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to earth’. I heard that lyric in a Frightened Rabbit song back in 2008 and it was a ‘lightbulb moment’. I have always been quite passionate about the issues I wanted to help with, but it can be frustrating to know you’re never going to solve those problems yourself.
Instead, I joined a charity, I fundraise and help others where I can. My hope is that those tiny changes and carrying out work which is manageable for me will not only make a difference to someone but hopefully inspire others to do the same thing. It’s when we come together as a community that big changes happen. It doesn’t take one person to do something massive, it takes a lot of people together.
What is your key message for fellow young CAs?
Use your highly respected and recognised qualification for good. By all means, go out, develop your career, be successful - but at the same time do something that makes a change, no matter how small. Give a little back.