Suzy Kerton CA talks about technology and accounting

Dawn over Buenos Aires

Suzy Kerton CA is the CFO of Clear Books, specialists in online accounting software for small businesses. She qualified as a CA in 2012 while working with Baker Tilly.

She was highly commended in last year’s One Young CA competition and was the youngest in FD Magazine’s 35 under 35 list. She’s achieved a lot in a short time. Here she gives an insight into her working life.

When you were younger, what direction did you imagine your career would go in?

I don’t think I really knew what I wanted to be. Although, I always knew I wanted to be involved in business but not necessarily in a finance role.

At school, I was good at maths. Accountancy is probably much more suitable for me than I thought it would be. It’s much more interesting. At first, in Test of Competence (TC) classes, I found it so interesting – business law and all the other topics.Suzy Kerton

What prompted the decision to become a CA and train with Baker Tilly?

I thought it was great opportunity to work at the same time as studying. You’re effectively being paid to study and get a great knowledge of how businesses work.

With Baker Tilly, it’s a smaller firm so in the audit department you get to work on the whole company – all of the audit, not just one facet. I got to work on really cool clients like Links of London, Sweaty Betty and Curzon Cinemas. It was really interesting and engaging.

I was lucky enough to go on secondment to Baker Tilly Argentina in their Buenos Aires office.

I really enjoyed it. Audit wasn’t for me, but it was a great experience and I made really good business connections there.

What’s your current role?

In my current role I do everything finance related from the bookkeeping, monthly reconciliations, VAT returns, processing payroll, monitoring KPIs, and managing budgets to training our customers on Clear Books’ software.

Who is your role model?

I look up to Mark Zuckerberg. I admire the way he leads by example. He didn’t take a salary from Facebook at all and that shows you the commitment he has to the company. It shows that he totally believes in what he was doing and he was willing to sacrifice his earnings, but he knew that in the long term, the company would grow.

He’s the kind of leader that you’d follow. It’s inspiring to see his motivation and commitment to Facebook. He’s also committed to bringing the internet to everyone in the world, which I think is very important.

I’m also really into technology, so I’m interested in tech start-ups. It’s amazing what Zuckerberg’s done – he started a business and now people can’t imagine life without Facebook. He’s the kind of leader that’s brought positive change to the world.

What do you see on the horizon for accountants?

I really believe in cloud accounting. I’m doing Clear Books’ accounts, all the bookkeeping, the VAT returns and all the statutory accounts on the cloud.

One day, cloud software will be able to do everything. For example, at Clear Books we use software which can log into your bank account on a read-only basis and automatically download your transactions and put them into Clear Books. At the moment a person still has to go through and consider each transaction, but one day that process will be automated and the technology will be so clever that it’ll recognise what each transaction is for. That’ll change a CA’s job completely – it’s really significant.

It’ll free up CAs from doing the mundane business transactions. At Clear Books, it takes a lot of time to do the processing whereas my time could be better spent analysing the data.

I see cloud accounting as a positive thing that empowers accountants on the basis that anyone can use it. It allows business owners who are not accountants to know what their business is doing and, while they’re doing the bookkeeping and updating their transactions, their accountant can still give valuable advice without having to spend time on the bookkeeping. The client saves money and the accountant can take on more clients because they’ll have more time.

What’s your own next challenge?

My ultimate goal is to have my own business - to run my own company. Now I’m gaining knowledge of how businesses run effectively and what makes a business successful to be able to do that - and to have a good business idea.

I have started up something with a friend – it’s a scheme to organise secondments for accountants.

I was lucky enough to go to Argentina on secondment with Baker Tilly, but this is for accountants who’ve trained at a non-international network to offer them similar opportunities. It may be of interest to some ICAS students.

It would either be a one or two-month secondment, so nothing too long. That’s the idea at the moment.

And what’s going on with you at the moment?

I’m talking at an ICAS event called Inspiring a Generation: Values into Action, which is in London next month. It’s about inspiring people to lead to make a difference.

I’m also fundraising for Sport Relief.


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