Student spotlight: Five minutes with Manu Hinojosa
Manu Hinojosa is a recently qualified CA student who trained with EY in Jersey. He talks to Stef Scott about the challenges of being a CA student and shares some study and exam tips for current students.
What did you do before you began your CA studies with ICAS?
I had a bit of a previous life before I came to ICAS. I had a completely different career before coming to ICAS and no previous experience in accountancy or finance. I used to be a translator and I studied translation in Spain, France and Scotland before spending seven years as a translator and project manager.
As much as I loved translation I wanted to start a new path and decided to completely change career. I decided to study accountancy and change letters for numbers.
The knowledge and skills you gain by becoming a CA opens up so many career opportunities, whether you want to go down the traditional accountancy route or if you want to go into any other business-related profession.
What was it that specifically made you want to become a chartered accountant?
The career I had previously, as much as I enjoyed it, it wasn’t a long term option. I knew that becoming a CA would give much wider prospects, help me specialise in a particular area and would give me a qualification that was recognised worldwide. All that helped me join the dots and decide to train as a CA with ICAS. It ticked all the right boxes for me.
What firm did you train with?
I trained with EY here in Jersey. It’s a good place to train because it’s part of the global EY firm. There’s only about 100 people in the office here so you get the benefits of a large organisation but with the advantages of being in a small office.
Can you describe your experience of being a CA student and studying with ICAS?
I would say it’s challenging and it’s different to any studies that I’ve done before. The support that you get from ICAS tutors, and from all the online and offline material is really great.
As hard as the experience is, you’ve got all the help you need readily available. The support from the ICAS tutors is second to none. I found that extremely useful because compared to when you go to university you don’t get as much one to one contact. Being able to phone a tutor or e-mail them and get a response straight away was fantastic – really supportive.
The support from the ICAS tutors is second to none.
How would you describe ICAS as an organisation?
ICAS certainly has more of a personal touch rather than just being a large organisation that trains thousands and thousands of students. I think it’s important to feel connected. For example, I’ve met Anton three times throughout my studies and it’s quite nice to get someone as important as him from the organisation coming down to Jersey and to meet the students. That shows that ICAS really cares about its students and prospective members.
What did you find challenging about the ICAS CA course and how did you cope with those challenges?
One of the most challenging things for me was the volume of content to be assimilated in a short period of time. The way I did the course, it was the intensive route where you get study leave for eight weeks at a time or thirteen weeks at a time. So you go to classes every day and get lots of new material to learn.
The best way to cope with that is to dedicate yourself for few hours each day after you’ve been to class. Make sure that all that content you’ve got for each day, you’ve learnt it properly. Otherwise, it’s quite easy to fall behind!
What advice would you give to new CA students?
Don’t burn out too early. The course is not a sprint, so if you start being really committed and highly dedicated from the beginning and spend six hours every night studying, you’re going to burn out and not get to the end. Try to be balanced in your approach.
Another thing I would say is don’t hesitate to seek advice from tutors, colleagues and class members. Your tutors in particular have gone through the same process as you. They’ve got knowledge that can help you. Remember you are not on your own!
Another thing I would say is don’t hesitate to seek advice from tutors, colleagues and class members. Remember you are not on your own!
Can you share some study tips for other CA students?
In particular, I think TPE is a very different exam to any other ICAS exam. For me, it’s about knowing how to revise for that exam. It’s not so much about revising your technical standards, but more about doing lots of practice questions, and really perfecting your exam technique. Understanding the time pressure you are under is so important for TPE.
Make sure you know your timings and you know how much time you’re going to allocate to each part of the exam. It is very easy to spend far too long on one area and then run out of time.
On the day of the exam you need to have a very clear mind. You’ve got loads to read and you’ve got so much to think about. You need to be focused. Think about the case in front of you, picture what’s going on and give sound, logical advice in your answer.
Something that helped me to keep a clear mind that day was knowing that my wife was two days overdue and could give birth at any time during the exam! That made me less worried about the exam as I was more concerned about having to leave at any point to run to the hospital. Saying that, everything turned out fine as my daughter was born ten days late!
What do you feel is special about the CA qualification?
I think it’s all about the wealth of knowledge that you can acquire from the qualification. I didn’t have a business or accountancy background at all, so being able to learn so much in such a short period of time, and then being able to put it into practice was invaluable.
The knowledge and skills you gain by becoming a CA opens up so many career opportunities, whether you want to go down the traditional accountancy route or if you want to go into any other business-related profession. Your ICAS CA studies are always going to be very useful no matter where you want to go.