Award winner: Jay Wilson’s rapid rise

AAT Professional Member of the Year award winner Jay Wilson MAAT AATQB has achieved significant success in a short amount of time.

Here we speak to him about his rapid rise within the industry and the things he’s learnt along the way.

Starting out

Two years ago, 25-year-old Jay Wilson could barely speak up in meetings. Now, he’s the finance manager of claims management company, Allay. His impressive achievements in his relatively short accounting career earned him the AAT Professional Member of the Year (AATQB) award last year. Since then he has also become an AAT Licenced Accountant and has started his own accounting business with a plan to build it up slowly.

He says he is starting with a small number of clients, eventually intending to make his own business his full-time job. “It’s the start of something,” he says. “I’m not expecting to have a huge business in the first year. I’m just taking it client by client, step by step. So when I eventually leave my current job, I want my business to be big enough to go full-time. Then I can really push the sales, get the lead conversions, get the client acquisitions going and hopefully some revenue generation. I’m content with it at the moment, but eventually I want it to be my only job.” 

Rapid progression 

When he began his AAT journey, Wilson was working full-time at a call centre and also working part-time at a bar. In between both jobs, he started to work his way through every AAT qualification. He later gave up these jobs to focus on accounting. While still studying, he joined Allay as an accounts assistant, and from there he progressed rapidly. “I’ve had several promotions, and I’m now the finance manager,” he says.

“It’s been a whirlwind. I never really expected to pass the AAT exams but I worked hard, and it’s clearly shown. My career has completely done a U-turn – now when I wake up on a Monday morning, I’m excited to go to work. There’s always something different to do, and there are always problems to solve.”

Leadership learning curve 

In his current role at Allay, Wilson manages a number of staff, including some that are doing their AAT studies. “I’m in a leadership position now, which is something very new to me,” he explains. “Because I’ve now progressed in my job, when I produce the accounts I have to deliver them to the board, and explain what it all means in terms of business performance. I found it very nerve-wracking to get up in front of people and talk and be clear. I struggled with speaking in front of people.”

This prompted him to do whatever he could to improve his public speaking skills. Through AAT, Wilson met with professional public speaking trainer and accountant, Alexandra Bond Burnett, who gave him some advice. “She taught me loads of different things from posture to where my feet are when I’m speaking,” says Wilson. “I learned so many new skills. It was a great confidence boost, as well. I’m not as nervous now, and I speak with a bit of authority. I can project my voice, and I come across more professional.” 

In summary

With his new-found confidence, Wilson is excited about the future, and where his career in accounting will progress to next. “I’ve had a lot of help from AAT to get my business moving forward,” he says. “Even though I’m qualified now, the learning doesn’t stop. I’m continually developing. With accountancy; it’s like passing your driving test.

You learn how to drive, and you pass your test, but you learn a lot after your test as well – you start learning to drive on your own. I want to run a successful business, but there’s still so much more to learn.” 

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