How to build your business credibility

When you invest your time and money into a qualification like AAT, you want it to work hard for you and your career.

Beyond providing you with technical accounting skills and professional knowledge, you want your membership and AAT’s brand to give you strength in the marketplace.

Clients, potential or longstanding, will take comfort in knowing that they’re dealing with someone who is well-qualified and above all operating within best practice and compliance when handling their financial reporting obligations.

“I wouldn’t do it without being licensed,” says Daljit Virdee MAAT, owner of DSV Accounting.

“Just as AAT’s CPD is amazing and extremely useful in keeping you up-to-date, being licensed gives you a lot of confidence. When you’re approaching clients and you’re trying to gain more business, it’s nice to be able to say that ‘I’m AAT licensed and regulated’. Not only does it give me confidence, but you can tell it’s a bit of a selling point to whoever you’re speaking to.”

Furthermore, the support of an organisation and a membership base provides yet further confidence. “It was made obvious when I became an AAT member that you’re really made to feel part of something big,” says Virdee. “To have what feels like a great support network around you, I think it helps both subconsciously and in real-terms.

“Additionally, when you go to AAT events you’ll meet other members and that’s a chance to pose questions to more experienced people around setting up on their own, you can always find someone who knows what you’re going through.”

Meanwhile, support during the transition to self-employment was a key benefit for Richard Clynes MAAT, owner of Versatax Accountancy in Sunderland. “The clarity you get from  AAT with things like how to engage with clients and being clear about the services you will be providing has proved invaluable.”

For Geoff Beeching AAT, owner of SAF Accounting in Canterbury, who became licensed in April 2014, a focus has been on developing his business. “My practice continues to grow and I have implemented a referral system between myself and another well-established practice. Being licensed enabled me to make this connection. They knew they were dealing with a qualified person and a person with experience.

“My clients knowing I’m licensed gives them faith in my ability, they have trust in my advice.”

Top tips and AAT’s commitment to your success from Farida Rahman-Wright, professional standards manager at AAT

  • As you go into practice, your obligations increase and there are more regulations, laws and processes that you need knowledge of, and that’s where we can play a big part, in terms of making sure our members are compliant in all aspects. We can also provide advice around best practice, assuring your footing as a legitimate professional.
  • We lobby government and official bodies for change on your behalf, seeking for the best outcomes for our members. We also make you aware of forthcoming policy or regulatory movements, how they may affect you and we support you should you require assistance in negotiating these changes.
  • We firmly believe in the responsibility we and our members have in serving the public interest. We don’t just advise people to follow the rules, laws and code of ethics, we have a framework in place to ensure our commitments are met and members compliant.
  • Attend an AAT “Be Your Own Boss” event. With practical tips from experts, the opportunity to meet with other like-minded members and an overview of AAT’s scheme for members in practice, these events give an essential background into what’s involved in setting up on your own and how AAT can support you. The events are informal and give delegates the opportunity to ask questions, network and gain insight from the experience of others.

Neil Johnson is a freelance business journalist who contributes regularly to trade publications and member organisations, covering employability, recruitment, business trends and industrial analysis.

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