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A North East bookkeeping, payroll and management accountancy firm is expanding with help from an online home study school.
The Accounts Department NE in Washington is training up staff through bookkeeping, accounting and payroll training specialist Ideal Schools, where the firm’s directors also gained their qualifications.
Susan Lang from Chester-le-Street in County Durham started the business in 2016 after a career in accountancy and finance. Last year she joined forces with Juliet McKenna, a former publican, originally from Hampshire, who had been running her own bookkeeping practice for seven years.
“The business has gone from strength to strength,” says Susan, who is Managing Director. “We got up to between 80 and 90 clients and then last September merged with Juliet and her business. We’ve now got around 150 clients between the two of us and have moved into bigger office premises.”
Susan recently qualified with Ideal Schools to complete year end accounts for small limited companies. She already has a degree in Accounting and Finance from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University. Juliet has completed three courses at Ideal Schools in bookkeeping and Payroll.
Now, the firm’s office assistant, Jazmine Crossley, is taking bookkeeping exams through Ideal Schools.
“There are six of us now in the team and we’ve just moved Jazmine from her admin role to become our junior bookkeeper, and have now taken on an admin apprentice,” Susan says.
Juliet ran pubs in Brighton for 20 years and would prepare the books for the accountant. She also completed an accountancy module as part of her science degree in the early 1990s.
“When I left the pub trade, I started my own bookkeeping business in Brighton before moving up to Gateshead four and a half years ago,” says Juliet, who is Operations Director. “I was expanding and finding it hard to keep up with the workload, so it’s brilliant now to be part of a team where we can help each other with the work.”
Susan worked in her family electronics business after graduating, later becoming a quality manger in the petrol industry.
“When I was on maternity leave with my second son, I decided I didn’t want to go back, and for about four years ran my own business training people to use Sage accountancy software,” Susan explains.
Susan, who is Branch Chair in the North East, met Juliet through the local branch of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), which promotes professionalism in the sector and where they are both Advisory Council Members. It was here that Susan also met Brian McVean, the Director of Ideal Schools.
The Glasgow-based training specialist has helped launched thousands of financial careers and businesses since it was set up 37 years ago in 1983.
“When you’re studying remotely, you’ve got to have a bit more motivation to be able to read through the course material and do the assignments,” Susan says. “So it’s great to be able to have conversations with the tutor, to get feedback or chat through an issue. And you can do that in a number of ways, including Facebook, messenger, email or text. The feedback from the tutors was really necessary – and got me though the exam.”
Juliet adds: “I couldn’t have completed my qualifications without Ideal Schools. I wasn’t sure what I was letting myself in for, but they hand held me all the way through it. I’m now contemplating doing some additional courses, which should enable me to alleviate a bit of pressure from some of the faster growing areas of the business, such as Self Assessment and Business Insights.’
The ambition for The Accounts Department NE is to continue its current growth trajectory.
“We’re looking to continue growing the business, and if we can carry on expanding at two to three clients a month, we’ll be pretty much on target for the growth that we want to achieve,” Susan says.