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What it’s like to work as an accountant

Rachel Sian Jack, 38, lives in Emsworth with her husband and two children.  She has been an accountant for almost 20 years.

At college, I did five A levels including accountancy, maths, law and sociology. I decided to follow the law and sociology route for university, although accountancy was always a close second.

Due to problems at home, I only completed my first year of university at Warwick and came home to look at transferring locally.

Becoming an accountant

In the meantime, I started temping in an accounts department and decided to change career direction. I applied to one of the top ten accountancy firms and got a place as a trainee. This very large firm wasn’t right for me, but as soon as I started working in a small local practice, alongside studying for my AAT and then ACCA at weekends, I knew that this was the career for me.

I love being able to help businesses grow, I love the social side of spending time with clients and helping them understand their finances. And I love numbers!


The main misconception of a ‘stuffy’ accountant is one that I still see today. I try to be friendly, approachable and proactive with clients so that they understand the ‘jargon’.

People also think that you are just stuck in an office crunching numbers, but my job has a social side as well as spending time with clients.

My advice for budding accountants

Find the right area of accounts for you. Whether it be an auditor in one of the big firms, a management accountant in industry, or a general practitioner in a small firm. And persevere with the exams!

I would give my younger self less of a hard time about leaving university. My career path and professional qualifications have given me everything I need. And I have never looked back from my career choice.

Facing challenges

The job does bring many challenges when dealing with clients and the work, but I always try to work through them by focusing on the task and asking or researching the right questions.

Personally I had to overcome discrimination when I returned to work after maternity leave with my second child. I had been managing a small local practice, but while I was away the business was downsized. I sought advice, but in the end, decided to just move on to a different role which turned out to be perfect for me while I had two young children.

Starting my own business

I have considered it before but it has always felt ‘scary’. But I knew the time was right because this time it just felt exciting.

It has been hard work, and I know there will be lots of challenges ahead, but it is great to be managing my own time, dealing with my own clients, and being more flexible for the children.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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