Why becoming a MAAT and utilising membership resources might be the best career option for you

AAT full membership (MAAT) is an internationally recognised professional status in accounting and finance.

It demonstrates a high standard of education, skills and experience to employers and clients, and a commitment to your professional development.

The benefits of having MAAT status

Jo Wilkinson FMAAT, finance director at Northbar Limited & North Brewing Company Ltd, says there are a number of useful benefits and resources available for MAAT’s. “The training resources provided are very helpful to my role, as a finance director in industry, and allow me to evidence my CPD (continual professional development),” she notes. “Last year, for example, I attended a full day financial reporting update course at a discounted MAAT rate.”

Wilkinson says the free webinars, on everything from time management to effectively communicating financial information, are also useful because she can watch them with her team.

Joe Knott, MAAT, managing director at Birkett & Co accountancy firm, says he has found the local branch meetings really useful.I can fit these in around work and they provide a manageable amount of information,” he notes. “In addition, the annual conference is hugely beneficial for me as I can cover a large amount of CPD and tailor it to my role.”

The conference also provides good networking opportunities, says Knott. “It enables me to meet other individuals in practice to discuss the challenges we face and learn another perspective or another approach,” he notes. “It also gave me access to people with decades of experience, something you couldn’t teach in a classroom.”

Career progression

Wilkinson believes being MAAT qualified has helped her career progression. “The company were looking for a qualified individual to overhaul their current systems and processes, after hiring a string of unqualified bookkeepers,” she notes. “An ability to understand the fundamental principles of accounting was definitely required for the role, and I think this is what the letters MAAT represent.”

Experience versus qualifications

Steph Rickaby, director of Sunflower Accounts, says having an ACCA qualification really helped her confidence and career. “I first started as a trainee in practise, as a single parent with very little confidence,” she notes.

“I felt that there was an imbalance between my studies and my lack of practical experience. However once I got to grips with the experience, which was a steep learning curve, my career progressed rapidly.” Having the ACCA qualification showed prospective employers she had reached a certain standard, Rickaby adds. “This does, however, need to go hand in hand with experience which is, arguably, just as important,” she says.

Having chartered status

Having chartered status has, says Wilkinson, helped validate her credentials to the company stakeholders. “However, now that I have a good deal of experience working both in practice and in industry I have extended my membership and gained FMAAT status. This signifies to contacts, and to the finance teams of suppliers and customers, that our finance team has a high level of skill and knowledge. Even without going on to study for a chartered qualification, there are ways that you can continue to build your personal brand with AAT,” she says.

Rickaby says having chartered status provides a number of advantages. “For me as a member and fellow of ACCA, we have access to engagement letters and free CPD in the form of articles and videos. The ACCA roadshows are also useful, as is the access to a helpline for professional guidance on things like money laundering.”

A clients’ perspective

Rickaby says, however, that she’s not sure having chartered status makes that much of a difference to clients. “To clients, an accountant is an accountant and they put complete trust in us as professionals, regardless.” Sometimes, says Rickaby, clients are shocked when she explains that they are an ACCA firm of accountants as opposed to unqualified accountants. “They don’t realise that the profession is unregulated.”

Recruitment and job skills

Wilkinson says that if she was looking to recruit, she would view someone with MAAT as a more valuable and credible candidate than someone who has gone direct into chartered accountancy training.

“Training for AAT requires you to work within a business and learn real ‘on the job’ skills. I have seen the benefits that this route has had on our finance assistant who is working through his AAT apprenticeship at the moment,” she says. “Those first few years learning the basics of accounting, and having a real understanding of all the different building blocks of the role, were really very valuable for me and I would definitely look for that experience in a candidate.”

Growing your business

“For me, what’s really important is the CPD,” says Rickaby. “It’s about developing myself as a business owner and director. It’s about looking at new products that would benefit my client, to help them streamline their businesses as well as keeping up to date with the latest tax and accounting legislation.”

Key takeaways

  • Having MAAT status gives members access to a number of resources including webinars, branch meetings and CPD tools.
  • MAAT status gives an accountant a credible, recognisable qualification which may have the edge over those that have gone direct on to Chartered.
  • According to the AAT’s annual member survey, 97% of MAATs and FMAATs are likely to recommend AAT full membership.

In summary

Having full AAT membership status and/or chartered status can open up a wealth of benefits, resources and opportunities. It’s particularly beneficial for accountancy professionals who are interested in CPD.

Further reading:

Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.

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