A day in the life of… Claire Carter

In the second of our new monthly “day in the life” series, we spend the day with one of our members to find out what a typical day for them entails.

Name and job role: Claire Carter MAAT AATQB, Accountant/Financial Controller at Speedwell Honda, Speedwell Kia and Speedwell Online

I get up at…

The great thing about working for a car dealership is that I get to try out all the latest models. So I can take my two daughters to school almost silently in a hybrid e-Niro one day and then from a luxury, elevated seat position of a Sportage the next. I live close to work so I’m usually at my desk before 9am (although I’m sometimes tempted to do a few more laps if I have a Honda Civic Type R or Kia XCeed!).

The first thing I do when I get to the office is…

Check the bank balance to see what has been paid in or out and transfer money between accounts according to what needs to be paid that day. With such high-value sales, we have to carefully monitor our cash flow throughout the day.

My responsibilities are…

  • Supervising the purchase ledger, sales ledger, vehicle sales admin and payroll departments.
  • Production of monthly management accounts.
  • Submission of manufacturer composite information for Honda and Kia performance monitoring purposes.
  • HMRC filing and payment of PAYE, VAT, P11ds and Corporation Tax.

I’ve been working here for…

Only eight months but the previous accountant was here for 15 years and retired in his 70s so I’m not expecting to go anywhere for a long time! It’s been a steep learning curve as the Dealer Management System is a bespoke platform used only by the motor trade so has missed out on more recent cloud accounting improvements. Procedures have to be carried out in strict order and aren’t intuitive like Xero or Quickbooks but luckily the previous post holder was generous in sharing his experience and I managed to make many books of notes to refer back to!

This is my first position in industry after more than ten years in practice. I learnt a lot from practice but I’m much more in control of all the variables now. I monitor the input which helps to ensure a good quality output without the hassles that client involvement can bring. My accounts are all reconciled and stay reconciled!

I’m qualified in…

I’m MAAT and AATQB having studied at South Devon College. I started by organising my own apprenticeship for Level 2 and loved it so much that I haven’t stopped studying since. I even took all the options at Level 4 (except auditing which wasn’t taught) just for fun.

I’m now two exams away from being chartered certified with ACCA, so I should finish in 2020. I self-studied to keep costs down but only managed to do this because of the firm foundation I gained with AAT.

A typical day in the office is…

A lot more operational and hands-on than working in practice but that makes it more interesting and fulfilling. The accounts team is centralised but deals with banking and purchase invoices from sales, servicing and parts at three different geographical locations so it can be a challenge to get all the information we need and we do have to be detectives sometimes.

My most memorable work moment is…

Being Father Christmas. We’re having a special promotion at Speedwell at the moment, giving every customer a £500 gift of a cheque signed by yours truly, so I’m very much in the Christmas spirit! (I must check whether a Santa outfit is an allowable business expense and if my staff will agree to dress as elves when they bring me the cheques to sign!).

The best part of my job is…

The cars! And the people are great; most have ten plus years service and the company really does feel like a big family (corny but true). But I’m afraid it is mostly about the cars!

The worst part of my job is…

Deadline time. It can get a bit tense and busy in those last few days every month but it’s always a big relief when everything is finally filed.

When I’m not at work…

I own (a share of) a narrowboat and enjoy travelling around the canals. I like the history, the stunning countryside views and the slower pace of life. A maximum speed of 4mph means you can see kingfishers, dragonflies and herons. We once rounded a corner early one morning to see a deer swimming across the canal right in front of us in the mist.

If I wasn’t in this job I’d be a…

An F1 driver for the Honda Red Bull Racing Team (of course!).

For more inspirational career content:

Sophie Cross Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include lastminute.com Group and Merlin Entertainments.

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