In this article we discuss Ross Lomas’ career path into Accountancy and his current role, as well as his thoughts on the search for talent in the sector.
Hi Ross, who are you and what do you do?
Good morning, my name is Ross Lomas and I am a Partner at Saffery Champness, based in our Peterborough office. What I do varies considerably from day-to-day but essentially it is to support and enable the success of my clients as well as my team. I look after a wide range of clients ranging from small partnerships to large international groups. A lot of which are entrepreneurial, owner-managed businesses. I am also Staff Partner for my office so a lot of time is also spent looking after the team and helping ensure the environment we work in brings out the best in the team.
What has your career journey been like?
I was around 17 when I decided this was a career I was interested in and after finishing my A levels and spending a little time working, I started sending out my CV to a number of local firms. Fortunately, a small firm in Whittlesey gave me an opportunity to study for my AAT and learn some of the basics before moving to Saffery to start my ACA studies in 2008.
As soon as I walked through the door at Saffery I felt it was a great fit for me. The clients were really interesting and it was great to be supported through my studies, but the main thing was just the team was so welcoming. It really felt like a family and was so friendly and supportive. The office has tripled in size since then, but I’m really pleased that it still has that same feel and the team work really hard to support each other.
I’ve been able to progress through the ranks here, making partner in April. And feel really fortunate to have so many opportunities to progress and get involved in new and interesting clients. The other partners gave me a lot of their time. I hope I can do the same for others over the coming years.
What do you enjoy about your area of the Accounting industry?
I really enjoy getting out and seeing businesses and getting to understand how they operate and what makes them tick. It’s very rewarding when you know you have been able to help them overcome challenges and see them doing well. A lot of our clients are family or owner-managed businesses so it is such a big part of their lives. Similarly, it’s really rewarding when the team are passing exams and qualifying or reaching their next promotion.
What opportunities are there now in Accountancy?
I think there are lots of opportunities and it’s a great career for people. Firstly, ACA is an excellent qualification which can help open doors for people, whether you want to stay in practice or move to an industry role. Being competent in finance is a skill that anyone in business should have, in my view. Secondly, I think accountancy practices are a great place to learn and be exposed to lots of different businesses. You are continually learning and developing in your role with plenty of opportunity for progression, so you are frequently being challenged, which keeps the job interesting.
What is the biggest challenge you’re facing right now?
It’s probably no surprise that recruitment is a big challenge at the moment. The whole sector is looking for more resource to support their clients. And make the most of the opportunities for firms like Saffery. It is hard to find top talent but one thing we are doing is investing heavily in our trainee recruitment. Having just taken on our biggest ever intake, with both graduates and school leavers joining the team. It is great that there are so many opportunities to both support our existing clients and new businesses, but it is a balancing act to make sure we don’t overload the team and ensure service levels remain as high as ever.
Who or what inspires you?
That’s an interesting question, partly because it has changed over time. When I was training and working my way through, I was being inspired by some of the other partners. Who were such great mentors for me. However now I would say my inspiration comes partly from the team. As they make you want to be at your best for them, and also comes from my two children at home. Having kids certainly changes your perspective on things and they teach me as much as I teach them! Wanting to make them proud is certainly a motivator.
What advice would you give to others looking to pursue a career in Accountancy?
I would say to them to be as open as possible. Don’t worry about asking silly questions as the earlier you ask them the better! We are all still learning and still asking plenty of silly questions. Try to say yes to new opportunities wherever possible. Even if you are not confident, say yes and you will learn so much more.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I think the best advice I have had was don’t compare yourself to others. It’s never helpful. Just do your own thing and give your all and everything else will take care of itself.