How to develop your staff with AAT

As an employer, naturally you want the best for your staff and your business. So how do you demonstrate the benefits of being an AAT member to your employees?

If you have employees who are studying the AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting (Level 2); the AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting (Level 3) or the AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting (Level 4) then they are Student Members of AAT.

Once they’ve achieved the MAAT designation, your employee can progress to Professional Membership. Having employees who are full AAT members will not only help your employees’ marketability, but it will also help your business. AAT designations are the recognised mark of qualified financial professionals who have the skills and work experience your clients will appreciate.


What’s more, if you help your employees gain their AAT qualifications you stand a good chance of holding on to them. A recent survey* found that nearly a third of staff feel disenchanted by their lack of opportunity to develop their careers.

Another# found that the cost to your business of replacing an employee paid £25,000 is more than £5,000. Encouraging employees to gain AAT qualifications will help keep control of your bottom line too.

Key takeaway: As an employer, point out to your employees the demonstrable benefits of studying for AAT qualifications and student membership. Your business will gain too.

Leading by example

Victoria Cooper FMAAT runs her own accountancy practice, Red Shoes Accounting. She says: “I do encourage my team to study for the AAT qualifications as it gives them good foundations and really useful skills for a solid career in the accountancy profession as well as benefitting my firm”.

Cooper adds: “My first employer was keen for me to complete AAT qualifications and I was able to learn via one day a week at college for three years. It did give me huge amounts of confidence as well as fundamental skills and knowledge to take my career forward. I always recommend AAT to aspiring, ambitious accountants”.

Encouraging study

As an employer, you could help your employees to get their qualifications by offering paid study leave to attend classes or revise. You could also suggest that they find a mentor at work to help them study.

They can also access e-learning and study aids through their MyAAT account. Online resources include sample assessments and tests. Employers can also encourage staff (including non-AAT members) to attend AAT courses and events at regional branches. Students also get AAT magazines and an emailed newsletter – there are also AAT discussion forums offering support and help.

Key takeaway: Employers can offer practical help to those studying for AAT – and there is also invaluable assistance from the AAT online and through regional branches

How my employer helped me with AAT

Richard Matthews MAAT was encouraged to study for his AAT qualifications by his employer, HMRC. Matthews says: “My employer gave me time off to attend college for tuition and revision sessions as well as my exams.

They also made sure that my progress was reviewed regularly both in terms of actual exam passes but also to make sure I was coping. They also let me know about other AAT students within the organisation so that we could support one another”.

Why you should encourage Professional Membership

Once an employee has MAAT (and after four years, FMAAT) they are professional members of the AAT. Such designations are proof that the holders are qualified accounting professionals. Clients will know they are dealing with professionals who are covered by the AAT’s Code of Conduct and are subject to the AAT’s disciplinary process.

Key takeaway: Support your staff to Professional Membership and your business will benefit. Your clients will appreciate the professionalism that comes hand in hand with AAT membership

Carry on learning

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a prerequisite to maintain AAT professional designation. As an employer, if you support and encourage your employees’ CPD your business will benefit from staff who aren’t just treading water but are improving their skills all the time.

Key takeaway: CPD is the responsibility of the employee rather than the employer – but employers who support and encourage their staff with their CPD will see demonstrable benefits

Progression to Chartered status

Once your employees have attained Level 4 AAT Diploma in Accounting (Professional) they can progress their careers by studying for chartered status. About a third of all AAT students follow this route. There are more details on how AAT members can become chartered accountants without having to go to university via the links below.

From the point of your business, having chartered accountants on your payroll will enhance your attractions to clients. Importantly as an employer, you will have a role in encouraging staff members who take the route towards chartered accountant status as it’s a serious commitment and will take at least three years’ study.

Key takeaway: Encouraging staff to go for chartered status is beneficial for your company – and you will need to be committed to supporting employees’ studies.


Your business will benefit from having staff with internationally-recognised AAT qualifications. And your clients will enjoy the services of professional staff covered by a rigorous code of conduct who continually keep their skills up to date.

Further reading:

Charlotte Beugge spent more than 20 years as the deputy personal finance editor on The Daily Telegraph and then The Daily Mail. A freelancer since 2010, her work has appeared in national newspapers, magazines and websites.

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