Advice on pathways: Interview with Philip Jones CPFA CA
Philip Jones CPFA CA, Director of Audit at Grant Thornton UK LLP, talks about his experience successfully completing the Pathways Test of Relevant Expertise (TRE) route, and offers his advice to those considering it.
Phil’s career has spanned 33 years so far, working with organisations like the NHS, local authorities, emergency services and even airports.
Now a Director of Audit at Grant Thornton, and a member of the West Midlands Regional Council for HfMA (Healthcare Financial Management Association), Phil works with clients such as the NHS, Birmingham City Council and other local government authorities to complete external audits and promote good financial management.
After qualifying with CIPFA in 1987, Phil held a variety of roles within the Audit Commission, through which he became the regional Head for the West Midlands and responsible for an interdisciplinary team of 120 staff.
He has even appeared on television and radio interviews, having produced a number of high-profile public interest reports that highlighted failings in governance at a number of public bodies.
In 2011, Phil joined Grant Thornton UK LLP and was involved in securing a substantial contract which resulted in him overseeing the transfer of over 400 staff to the firm; the smooth transition gained recognition and praise from external regulators.
What motivated you to complete the Pathways Route to becoming a CA?
“Our professional trainees at Grant Thornton UK LLP undertake the CIPFA-ICAS integrated qualification which equips them professionally to work with both public and private sector organisations.
"The lines between the public and private sector have become increasingly blurred and it makes sense to acquire a professional qualification which enables the practitioner to operate in a number of organisational contexts.
CIPFA is a great qualification for those working in the public sector, but the additional CA qualification enables me to connect to a wider network of professionals in the private sector, across a wide range of businesses and commercial activities
"Having heard about the Pathways scheme, I considered that I could benefit in the same way that our trainees are – by obtaining a professional qualification which has a high-standing in the private sector, and which would give me access to information and technical and educational resources relevant to the wider world of business and commerce.
“CIPFA is a great qualification for those working in the public sector, but the additional CA qualification enables me to connect to a wider network of professionals in the private sector, across a wide range of businesses and commercial activities. I think there is a great fit between the two qualifications.
What would your advice be to other candidates considering the Pathways Route?
“Be prepared to think about your career to date, what you have achieved and how this relates to the ways in which you have sought to advance the ambitions of the profession, whether by showing professional independence, working with other professionals or coming up with solutions to complex and challenging organisational issues.
“The reflective essays that you are required to complete as part of the TRE Pathways process enables you to think about the way your career has progressed in a structured way. You can then link this with the professional requirements, issues and learnings you have experienced along the way.
“It is useful if you can identify, at an early stage, two colleagues or acquaintances who are already chartered accountants (either ICAS or ICAEW for instance) who can act as sponsors for you in this process, and vouch for your good standing.
“Most of all, be clear as to why you want to do it. For me, it was a no-brainer, given that I am interested in working with organisations across the public and private sectors. Others hopefully, may well reach the same conclusions!"
The Pathways route to ICAS membership