As a Strathclyde University student studying accounting and finance, an internship is valuable for gaining first-hand experience in the industry and getting a taste at what my future career could be like. Therefore, when Strathclyde’s Management Development Programme (MDP) included the option of an internship to gain a crucial 20 credits towards my degree, I took this as my opportunity to get my foot in the door and get an insight into the world of accountancy and finance. Due to a connection with the firm, Amas Accounting offered me a 96-hour placement with them over the summer with the task of revitalising their social media platforms. As an avid user of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter it was a project perfect for someone growing up in this digital age.
The first thing I noticed at my first day at Amas was how bright, spacious and modern their office was. When I imagined an accountancy practice I pictured an endless sea of filing cabinets flooding the room and dark, dingy lighting. However, at Amas the desks are free of paper and crisp white; the ceilings are high and walls are neutral and fresh; and only two filing cabinets are present in the whole office.
The Modern Approach
I soon learned that Amas are different to your traditional accountants. They are not bogged down with transactions and other business administration tasks but are focused on providing expert advice that will help businesses grow. As a paperless firm they do not spend hours entering in a client’s information or locating files, everything is in ‘the cloud’. They are passionate about using cloud accounting software such as Xero and Futrli and help clients to utilise its capabilities effectively. And while there are so many accountancy firms stuck in the past, Amas are enthusiastic about moving with the times and getting excited about the technology that is available; something I find refreshing. This was an aspect of the company they wanted to get across to the public and through social media, raise awareness of their tech-savvy company and so an article was written about the benefits of working with digital accountants like them. One of those benefits was that you can have more regular meetings with your accountant and this really was true. An accountant is sometimes viewed as someone you see maybe once a year, but I noticed how often they meet with their clients and contact them either with a phone call or through email to ensure they maintain a strong, collaborative relationship with them.
Jane is the founder and director of Amas and has been successfully running the practice for 15 years. In my 8 weeks at the company, it was apparent that she very driven and passionate about providing the best for her clients but also creates a light-hearted atmosphere in the office and all the staff make it an enjoyable place to work. Jane also provides her co-workers with flexible working hours as she believes strongly about a good work/life balance. As well as herself, Dorothy and Gillian are mothers and Amas allows them to continue their profession and have a family life. Declan also has other commitments as a football coach and Amas allows for both jobs. However, this does not affect their productivity as they work efficiently but with care and the digital aspect of the business allows them to work from anywhere. I found this aspect of the business inspiring as I realised you do not have to work 100 hours in a week to achieve highly, it is about using time effectively.
Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits is an area that Amas are heavily involved in and have helped numerous companies with successful claims. However, one problem they were experiencing was people’s dismissive attitude towards the incentive as R&D is usually associated with only science and technology firms. Therefore, through the use of social media, I was given the challenge of showing that R&D Tax Credits apply to businesses in a range of sectors. After doing my own research, we decided to create a series of articles called ‘R&D don’t apply to me’ where we would focus on a particular industry per article and highlight examples of companies who have had successful R&D claims. Trending events gave inspiration for our posts on the golf and beer industry with The Open taking place and then International Beer Day and reached a wide audience. As part of my experience I met with their marketing experts, Iain and Mark, who helped to fine tune my articles and provide advice and inspiration for future posts.
Prior to my time at Amas, I was not even aware of R&D Tax Credits or that accounting firms could be so forward-thinking. But now, my eyes have been opened and I can’t help but wonder if a business could gain R&D Tax Credits when I see an advert for a new product on TV. I also wish I could rewrite last semester’s essay on providing advice to a small, unorganised company because I would tell them to use an accountancy practice like Amas. They could have benefitted with the help of Jane, Gillian, Dorothy and Declan.