In early January, Steven Burgess, Director at Scrutton Bland, sat down with Scott Golding, Associate Portfolio Director at AJ Chambers. Steven discusses his career to date and the benefits of working at a leading Accountancy firm.
Hi Steven, who are you and what do you do?
I’m a Director at Scrutton Bland in our audit team primarily based out of our Ipswich office. As a Responsible Individual, I take responsibility for signing the auditor’s reports for my audit clients, whilst also acting for a number of companies that fall outside the requirement for audit.
As well as looking after clients, a key part of my role is to help lead the Ipswich audit team which now consists of over 20 members of staff, working closely with the management team whilst ensuring all staff have the opportunity to progress and develop.
Away from the office I enjoy getting involved in business development for the firm, including meeting with fellow professionals and prospective clients.
What has your career journey been like? We would like to know where you started, and how you got to where you are now?
I joined a small practice in 2003. I had a varied role consisting of bookkeeping, accounts preparation, audit, drafting corporation tax computations and VAT returns. Combined with studying for my AAT qualification, this gave me an excellent level of knowledge to push on with my career.
In 2006 that practice merged with a larger regional practice where I began to specialise in audit. I then qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2008 by which time I was leading some of the firm’s largest audit clients. From there I progressed to Senior Manager before joining Scrutton Bland as a Director in January 2022.
What do you enjoy about your particular area of the accounting profession?
The world of audit can be challenging at the best of times. Reacting to changes in accounting standards and Company Law requirements, whilst staying on top of auditing standards always keeps us on our toes.
During the outbreak of Covid-19 we had to react very quickly and adapt to a new way of working – working from home. It seems somewhat surreal now to think that before the pandemic the expectation would have been all staff to be in the office for every day of their working week. Our agile working policies now makes us more flexible having proved that working from home can work.
Notwithstanding the above, teamwork and communication remains critical to an audit. The good running of our department and wider firm. We get to work closely with colleagues in our Ipswich and Colchester offices. Whilst also meeting and working with lots of different team members from other departments in our open plan offices.
What opportunities are there now in Accountancy?
We take on a large number of new recruits, as well as offering opportunities for work experience and internships. Meanwhile our professional staff are also offered routes to gain professional qualifications. There continues to be so many different aspects of accountancy to specialise in. Whether that’s audit, internal audit, corporate finance, tax or business advisory, we offer many opportunities. We are also niche, such that we run an insurance practice so we really can offer variety.
In audit we have a variety of commercial clients, as well as clients operating not for profit including charities and the education sector. We always aim to allow the team an opportunity to specialise in an area of work that they enjoy to maximise job satisfaction.
Why do you enjoy working at Scrutton Bland?
“All staff are encouraged to have a voice. I genuinely feel that no matter the forum, I can influence decisions being made. In the audit team we encourage challenge, which is important to ensure an efficient audit process. Whilst also empowering the team to drive the practice forward.
Working so closely with the Partners of the firm makes me feel truly supported. We spend a lot of time at work hence this is very important to me.
We’re also a very sociable team which is great. It’s also nice being able to get together as a whole firm annually for events such as our AGM. The Partners are also always thinking outside the box of things to engage the team. And provide light relief, one example of this was the regular visits by a coffee van in recent months.
Who or what inspires you at your firm?
There are times when the team needs to group together to get a task done to meet a deadline and in such times the commitment of team members is second to none. This serves to remind me what a great team it is that I work with.
What advice would you give others looking to pursue a career in Accountancy?
Speak to others you may know that currently work in practice to get a feel for what it’s like. There are many different routes in which you can choose to specialise. It’s a myth that you need to be good at maths… that’s what calculators and Excel are for!
It’s also sensible to understand the different routes into accountancy, whether this be straight from sixth form or from university.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given in your current role?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It may be cliché however I’m a believer in no question being a silly question – this doesn’t stop at any level and my Partners continue to actively encourage this of me.