AAT students and members get lots of professional benefits; one of these is the opportunity to attend and take part in free events in your local area. We met with AAT committee members to hear what’s going on.
These AAT branch events are a great way to meet other people in the industry, make professional contacts and new friends, and hear about the latest developments.
Some AAT members have found new jobs or hired new associates through the branch network, or simply expanded their client portfolio.
The branch network brings members together in their local area; this is the heart of the AAT community.
How the AAT branch network works
The AAT branch network is here to support you throughout your career in accounting and finance. Our 49 AAT branches and counting, as well as one international branch in Botswana, are run by over 300 volunteer members.
Each branch runs events in all areas of accounting throughout the year, usually during evenings and weekends. They’re all free to attend, and you can go to as many as you like.
Subjects include tax and VAT, business skills, blockchain, cybersecurity and changes to the Finance Act. Some events are more technical, such as a detailed presentation on accounting for vehicles, while others deal with the softer skills like career development and running your own practice.
There’s something for everyone.
Why should I attend?
Attending local branch events is a great way to meet AAT members in your area and network with accounting professionals. You’ll get to exchange views and information with like-minded people, and find local business opportunities.
Aside from the benefits of networking, you can also use the events to gain CPD in relevant areas of finance, share ideas and best practice, and gain advice on career development.
The AAT branches are run by the AAT members themselves, who volunteer their time to make sure they’re bringing you the very latest speakers and essential CPD. The people behind the branches are a friendly lot, and are keen to see their local AAT communities grow and develop.
We met with committee members from 3 branches to get a peek behind the scenes.
What’s on offer at branch events?
As every branch is run by local AAT members, each one has it’s own unique flavour.
Julian Yates FMAAT is treasurer of AAT Manchester branch and runs his own practice, Belgrave Accounts in Sale. He’s been a committee member for five years and has found his involvement with the branch both professionally and personally rewarding.
“We like to split the presentations between general skills which include anti-money laundering, cyber security, and how Companies House works, with more technical issues like VAT and Making Tax Digital,” he says.
“It can be very rewarding to be part of the branch as it gives you an opportunity to connect with the wider AAT community. It also gives you opportunities to develop your own skills and enhance your career.”
At the Manchester branch, this year’s events have included:
- an update on the effects of Brexit
- details of the new legislation to be enacted in the Finance Act,
- student events
- a technical session on accounting for vehicles
- a presentation on property income and IR35
- a VAT update
- and a discussion on cybersecurity and the implications for accountancy practices.
Develop professionally through your branch
Jonathan Kendall FMAAT is chair of the Exeter branch, which was shortlisted for branch of the year at the AAT Professional Member Awards 2019.
“Attending branch meetings and becoming a committee member have really helped my professional confidence,” he says. He is now involved in chairing meetings, introducing speakers, and co-ordinating events.
He qualified as an accountant in 2006 and now works as a financial manager for a small group of companies in Newton Abbot. Alongside this he joined the branch committee ten years ago.
“I have held the office of secretary for two years and I’m now in my third year of being branch chair.”
He says that the beauty of the branch events is that they’re all clearly visible on the AAT website, so you can browse and see which one you’d like to attend.
“You aren’t restricted to branches where you live either, so if you see a neighbouring branch with an event you’re interested in, then you’re more than welcome to attend that,” he explains.
“Come along and see what we have to offer – we’re always pleased to see new people and very happy to hear from people who would like to volunteer and get involved with the committee.”
It’s a great way to get connected to your local AAT community, especially for self-employed members who may not get to talk shop very often. Plus, most branch events will count towards your CPD requirements, whilst you pick up new skills or develop existing ones.
Build your career
Rosie Berridge FMAAT and Becky Dwyer MAAT work at Accountability, a practice in Edinburgh. They blazed a trail for the AAT community in Scotland by setting up the Edinburgh AAT branch themselves, after spotting a gap for accountants.
“I met Becky at an AAT Connect event and we got talking about the lack of branch events in our area of Scotland. We decided to set one up and now we run events on MTD, the Future of Finance including Blockchain, crypto, and machine learning, motivating yourself in your accounting career, setting up in practice and GDPR.”
A recent focus at the Edinburgh branch is events for students, and Rosie and Becky have set up a bi-monthly student networking event at a local hotel.
“We felt there was something missing for students,” Becky explains. “At an AAT event, a student could potentially meet their next employer, so it could be pivotal to their career.”
Rosie brought Becky onboard at her own practice, and took on another new employee via the AAT branch network too.
“As a potential employer it’s brilliant for me,” she says. “I’ve had new business referrals for people in practice and attending the branch events enables you to make those connections.”
You can be part of AAT in a wide variety of ways. We have distance-learning students studying at home, students in colleges, people studying alongside a full-time job, and members at various stages of their careers. But you’re all a part of the AAT Community.
The branch network is a way for you to connect to others within AAT to learn, grow, and develop further. Get started today by finding your local branch with the links below and checking out some upcoming events. And who knows, maybe you’ll be running things in a few years!
- Find your nearest branch: https://www.aat.org.uk/branch-listing-uk
- Find out more: https://www.aat.org.uk/branches
- Search for a branch event: Branch events are free to attend and are open to anyone with an interest in accounting and finance.
Read more on the AAT branch network;
- Vernon Anderson – From AAT branch network to AAT president
- AAT’s branch network – how to benefit from your peers
- How AAT’s branch network is broadening the horizons of AAT students
Marianne Curphey is an award-winning financial writer and columnist, and author of the book How Money Works. She worked as City Editor at The Guardian, deputy editor of Guardian online, and has worked for The Times, Telegraph and BBC.