Proving the value to a company of employing and training an apprentice, J Sweeney Accountants are celebrating success at the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards last month after Loren Barber picked up the Apprentice of the Year Award.
Loren joined J Sweeney Accountants as an AAT Level 3 Accountancy apprentice in May 2021 and has lost no time in developing her role, building a client base, and making an impressive contribution to the success of the firm. Picking up her award at the ceremony at the County Ground in November was further recognition of her rapid progress.
“Just being nominated for an award in the first place means so much but then to actually win it is incredible and I’m so thankful for the opportunity. To know that my hard work has been recognised not only at J Sweeney but on a wider level, is absolutely astounding.
“Making my mum and dad proud and knowing my great-grandad is looking down from above, seeing me win an award for something that we had been planning together since I was seven is just surreal and I will treasure that.”
Currently a Junior Accountant at the Pitsford company, Loren hopes to be fully qualified by 2023, the culmination of the ambition she has held from an early age. It’s an ambition that was put on hold when the pandemic disrupted her A Levels and as Loren struggled to find a position when few companies were hiring during those uncertain times.
After an impressive interview and the offer of an apprenticeship with J Sweeney Accountants, though, it was only a few short months before Loren began working directly with a client to manage their processes from start to finish. She very quickly became their outsourced accountant, including managing their inbox, processing sales and purchase transactions and obtaining authorisation from directors.
Joseph Skinner, Partner at J Sweeney Accountants, said:
“We’re incredibly proud of Loren for winning the award, but we weren’t surprised because we’ve seen for ourselves how quickly she became part of the team and how the roles that she’s doing are way beyond what you might expect of an apprentice.
“We have a relaxed, fun culture and mentality here and she’s fitted right in and her progression has been seamless. We have taken on a second apprentice now and maybe another one very soon, because from our point of view it’s an ideal way to bring people into a growing business and expand the team. We’re committed to developing the next generation of accountants.
“The evening after Loren’s success at the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards we were at the Park Inn Northampton for the Northamptonshire Education Awards, where we were proud to sponsor the Maths Team or Teacher of the Year Award. Giving young people a good grounding in maths is vital, they’re the employees of tomorrow and we want to be front and centre in making that happen.”
J Sweeney Accountants tailors its accountancy services depending on clients’ needs. The practice offers a full range of services for SMEs, not only year-end accounts, tax planning, company formation and business plans, but there’s also an outsourced financial directorships service for firms that don’t have an in-house finance department or need a bit more accountability and advice. The fact remains that an accountant is the best source of connections that might just give a company the support it needs to push on.
Building close working relationships is vital, earning the trust of clients and becoming an integral part of their business. A fixed-fee arrangement means that clients don’t have to worry how much the bill is going to be when they contact their advisor and the outsourcing model is attractive to those that are not in a position to invest in a dedicated finance department but need experienced and high-quality financial support.
Director and founder James Sweeney, said:
“We understand the needs of businesses, especially new and smaller firms and our services not only deliver the full range of accountancy and tax functions, with specialisms across all areas that mean our clients get a complete, all-round service, but we also become a part of their team. We’re not just there for financial services but we’re there to support them and offer general business advice as they’re growing and developing.
“That’s why we were so thrilled that Loren was named Apprentice of the Year because she embodies that ethos of building relationships with clients. She has not only handled working with her own clients in a way that shows her ability and confidence, not afraid to make changes or suggest new processes where she thinks they might be beneficial, but also in the way she has embraced the overall client service offering – taking it upon herself to step in when a colleague is away from the office and a there’s a task that needs doing.
“Her professionalism with clients is exceptional and that’s why she’s the perfect fit for the J Sweeney team.”