“We want boys that have been to a good university and a good tailor, preferably in that order”!

I recently attended my Dad’s retirement party. He’s always said “If you’re not working, you’re spending”. I was starting to think that he’d never retire but at 70 years young he finally decided to call it a day. The party was alright as well, good food, a few drinks and enjoyed by all.

There were a couple of speeches and as you’d imagine stories about his career old and new were told. It was, however, the story that he told about his first job that resonated the most: he quoted his first employer saying, “We want boys that have been to a good university and a good tailor, preferably in that order”. This was in the 70s (maybe even 60s) but it got me thinking – have things changed that much?

At Churchill Howard we recruit for a variety of roles within the accountancy and finance space (drop us a line to find out more) where the common denominator is the requirement of an accountancy qualification.

If a candidate is fully qualified (CIMA/ACA/ACCA), has a progressive career history and a relevant skill set, should they be struck off a shortlist because of where they went to university, the grade they attained at university or because they didn’t go to university at all?

I recently met a Finance Director who said they saw more value in someone’s ability to become a qualified accountant whilst working full time, under pressure to tight deadlines.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve also been asked for candidates GCSE grades upon presenting CVs. Does an A* in  GCSE geography obtained 10 years ago or more improve a candidates ability to prepare and present financial reporting? Will it make them more steely in front of demanding stakeholders? Or, are these skills that are learnt and developed in the work place?

Strong academics speak for themselves and candidates with strong academics will always be in high demand. From a personal perspective I think that candidates should be judged on their last 3-5 years’ experience rather than on the decisions they made between the ages of 15-22.

Author: Charles Michael (Consultant – Qualified Finance)

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