The (Training) Firm

ATO firms
By Andrew Murphy, Business Development Manager

20 May 2016

The blog team chats to Andrew Murphy, Business Development Manager with ICAS, about the vast range of businesses that work with us, and embrace chartered accountancy.

What is the difference between an ATO and Training Principal?

The Authorised Training Office (ATO) is the training firm that meets ICAS standards, and has an employee or partner who has been qualified for at least three years. The ATO can be from any sector of business, from public practice, industry, charity and private businesses, and more.

The Training Principal is the person in the company responsible for looking after the CA students. The training principal is usually a CA. For example, a high street Bank is an ATO and ‘John Smith CA’ the chief financial officer is the Training Principal. Our own students can go on to become Training Principals for organisations when they qualify. There are no limits to the number of ATOs we can work with so we’re always looking to build relationships across different industries. The most important thing is that they can offer a structure and supportive training environment for CA students.

Who are our ATOs?

Some examples of our current ATOs are Lloyds Bank, Sainsbury’s Bank, Tesco Bank, Morgan Stanley, Skyscanner, most accounting practices in Scotland, and of course the ‘Big 4’.

The benefits of becoming an ATO is that it helps businesses attract the best talent, as well as equipping the business with a top class accountancy professional. Whether they’re working in farming or finance, there is a requirement for qualified accountants across the industries. I think there is a degree of loyalty from CA graduates, who quite often work with the training office for many years after initial qualification.

Why is range important?

It might be surprising to hear that 52% of our members are under 45 years old (31% are under the age of 35), and this is due in part to the sheer numbers of students who are working hard to earn their CA designation and start contributing value to their training firms from day one.

The more training firms we work with, the more option there is for our future students. Currently, we have CAs working in the manufacturing industry, business services, banking and finance, and real estate and construction. We are continually branching out to support the varied types of business we work with.

Our demographics vary by region, with more ‘small’ companies training students in Glasgow, Edinburgh and West of Scotland, compared to ‘big’ companies training students in London. Whether our students are training as a ’generalist’ or intend to become a sector specialist, there is no one type of industry to work within. The most common professional specialisms of our students and members currently include corporate / financial reporting, tax, and audit and assurance.

There are numerous opportunities within an authorised training office to expand your career, the only limit is your ambition!

If you know of a firm that could become an ATO, let them know about this article: they can register interest here.


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