AAT’s branch network supports AAT members and students throughout their careers in accounting and finance. It’s easy to get involved with your local AAT branch and there are many benefits.
AAT has a network of 49 branches throughout the UK, as well as one international branch in Botswana. Run by over 300 volunteer members, the branch network aims to support AAT members throughout their careers in accounting and finance.
AAT branches are run according to seven overarching principles: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership. Their primary objectives include identifying and meeting local members’ CPD needs, providing a social forum for networking, and helping students to attain their qualifications.
Branch events are made possible thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of the many volunteers. Each branch runs courses and events in all areas of accounting, tax and professional development, as well as offering support and valuable networking opportunities. Events are held throughout the year, usually during evenings and weekends.
AAT’s branch network is open to full, fellow, affiliate and student members, as well as the wider business community. As such, it caters for all AAT members, from students to qualified professionals working in senior positions.
A training tool
Leicestershire branch vice chairperson Steve Harratt, like all branch committee members, is a volunteer and fits his duties organising branch activities around his work and personal commitments.
“I joined my local branch nearly 20 years ago and it’s a resource I didn’t want to lose,” he says. “It was like a training tool to me and that’s the reason it’s important we try and retain that. One of the biggest advantages of local events is networking and building local connections. A lot of the time, some of the issues our members are facing are very similar and often there are a lot of people within that area who are facing the same problems, so it’s a great opportunity to have a cup of tea with people in a similar position and discuss those issues. Whether it’s getting the answer to your question or hearing you’re not alone, you can talk it through and feel better about it.”
AAT’s president Heather Hill regularly attends branch events and meets with members.
“When I first moved to my area in the early ’90s, I set up on my own, but I felt quite isolated,” she explains. “I remembered AAT held branch events, so I investigated that and joined my local branch. I was so happy that I had somewhere local to go and start networking. When you’re in practice on your own and just starting out, it can be handy to talk things through with someone else who can offer you that reassurance. That meant a lot to me.
Nothing beats in-person and if you find out somebody needs assistance, you exchange contact details, so you have that supportive network and bonding. If you don’t know anyone when you go to a branch event, you’ll get to know the committee and they’ll encourage you. Branch events have such a warm atmosphere and it’s great to be with like-minded people.”
There are further benefits for those who wish to volunteer with their local branch, including the vital experience volunteering can provide for future senior roles.
“A lot of people who have gone onto AAT Council, vice presidency and presidency of AAT started their progression by volunteering for their local branch,” AAT product support and delivery manager Tom Duncan explains. “It’s a great way for people to get involved and volunteer their time to progress in that way. For younger members who perhaps have less work experience, it’s a great opportunity to add more strings to your bow through roles such as treasury and event planning and organisation, which you otherwise may not have.”
Benefits of getting involved with your local AAT branch
- Meet members and students in your area
As an AAT student, contact with AAT and other AAT members is often virtual, such as visiting the website or social media pages. You may not have many opportunities to meet other AAT members face-to-face, especially if you study by distance. By getting involved with your local branch, you have the opportunity to spend time with other AAT members and students, and create a network.
- Network with professionals
A common question from students is how and where to network – and AAT branch events are an excellent start. There are opportunities to network at the start or end of each event and you will be surrounded by fellow AAT members and students from all sectors and industries.
- Gain CPD in relevant areas of accounting and finance
As well as ensuring you are keeping up-to-date with any changes affecting your work, attending branch events counts towards your continuing professional development (CPD). For students who are considering progressing to full AAT membership, CPD is an important part of this.
- Share ideas
Whether you are currently working in an accounting position or not, branch events are a great place to share ideas and experiences with other accounting professionals. Each branch event focuses on a different topic and will often involve a question and answer session, where AAT members and students can ask questions or share their ideas and experiences.
Find your next local branch event at aat.org.uk/aat-events
- Did you know you could volunteer from home as an accountant?
- AAT’s rules for volunteering
- The healing power of volunteering at work
Hannah Dolan is AAT Comment’s Content Editor.