How I became the Financial Controller at Plymouth Argyle Football Club

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Ben Rendle FMAAT, FCMA, CGMA, Financial Controller at Plymouth Argyle Football Club, started AAT as a 17-year old school leaver. He was studying and training through the modern apprenticeship scheme, he never imagined he’d be leading the finance team of a branch of a FTSE 250 company less than five years later.

And then going on to become Financial Controller at Plymouth Argyle.

“My career developed rapidly! I started AAT as an Accounts Junior. Within the space of two and a half years I progressed to a General Accounts Clerk and then an Assistant Management Accountant,” he notes.

An accountancy apprenticeship seemed a logical choice, says Rendle, as his father was also an accountant. After completing his apprenticeship, he was headhunted by a rival brand, which was then acquired by a company called Pendragon two-years later.

“I remained with Pendragon until I was made redundant at the start of the financial crisis in 2008 when my branch was closed. Despite offers to relocate I chose to find a role in a new industry,” Rendle says.  “I was looking for nine months prior to obtaining a two-week temporary assignment at Plymouth Argyle FC. Almost nine years on, I still look after their accounts, alongside other group companies.”

As his career progressed, he decided to become chartered with CIMA. “As I worked within industry, I thought CIMA was the most viable option for me. My father also studied CIMA” he notes. “As the general accountancy sector changes with the advent of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), I expect the skills instilled by the CIMA qualification will increase in demand from the accounting sector as a whole,” says Rendle.

Rendle completed the operational level of CIMA in 2005, all though it was not without its challenges. “Due to a series of issues, including being made redundant and my study provider ceasing in my local area, I ended up taking a ten year break from my studies after completing the operational level.”

He restarted his studies in 2015. “I ended up completing the management and strategic levels in 13 months, whilst helping my wife look after our newborn and 8-year old daughter,” he notes.

It was not an easy time. “Studying, whilst working and raising a young family involved a lot of juggling,” he says. “I basically spent an hour every lunchtime studying and two hours in the evening, Monday to Friday.”

Rendle also created a WhatsApp study group which initially had 56 members. “We helped each other through the course and the majority completed the strategic level within five months,” he notes. “Since qualifying I have kept the group running, focusing on helping Strategic Case Study students prepare for the final exam.”

Rendle started AAT in 1999 and has since assisted four of his staff through the qualification.

He also finds the active CIMA branch network for members and students useful. “It gives me the opportunity to get involved with the institute on varying levels from volunteering in the branch network as I do currently, right through to assessing membership applications should I wish to apply for this responsibility,” he notes.

Juggling the demands of a young family, whilst studying and working can be tricky, says Rendle, but it can be worth focusing on what you hope to achieve. “Firstly, I would suggest that people review where they see their career progressing,” says Rendle. “Do you, for example, want to work in a partner-run practice? Do you want to work in industry? And do you want to ultimately work for yourself?” he asks.

Rendle hopes to eventually become a Finance Director/CFO. “It’s the next logical step for me. I enjoy the strategic element of my current role and this is something I hope to expand on in future years,” he says.

Find out more about where CIMA can take you.

CIMA is the world's largest professional body of management accountants.

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