After 14 years in the insurance industry, and required to apply for her senior role no fewer than a dozen times under different management regimes, Emma Fone knew it was time to change career.
On the 12th occasion, she was expecting a baby a month later. It was the incentive she needed.
Emma’s job was demanding, managing a team spread across the UK, 5.30am starts and long journeys to distant offices.
How could she best use her vast financial experience and facility with numbers?
“I wanted to look after my young family after all the years of working long hours away from home,” said the mother of three daughters Natasha, 17, Madison, 7 and Sophia, 2.
She found the answer in bookkeeping. It had long been her dream to run her own business and she thought bookkeeping would make the dream come true.
“I’ve always wanted to work for myself. I’m well organised. Everything has to be right and done in the correct order.I enjoy working with numbers and solving puzzles. I’ve got quite a logical brain so putting all these things together made me start to think about bookkeeping. The more I read and the more I looked at the skills required, the more it seemed the right fit for me.”
After voluntary redundancy, Emma learned the basics by starting with the Level 1 Certificate in Bookkeeping course devised by the International Association of Bookkeepers (IAB).
She studied via distance learning with Woodgrove Tutorials, a business accredited by the IAB and run by award-winning principal Brian Harford.
In just three weeks, she completed the course. “Level 1 was fairly simple but it was a really good place to start. It gives you lots to think about, covering calls for payment, invoicing and an introduction to VAT. The IAB workbook is well laid out, logical and straightforward.
“There’s not a huge amount of numeracy but for me it was about procedure, where to maintain records, how to record transactions. It’s not until you get to Level 2 that you start to really look at day books and enter into the world of double entry bookkeeping.”
Emma moved rapidly on to Level 2. Two months later, she took an exam at a centre – that wasn’t necessary with Level 1 – and passed with high marks.
In barely four months, she had applied to become an IAB Associate (AIAB), achieving the accolade in one of the fastest times recorded by a new entrant to bookkeeping.
It was then on to Level 3, a more demanding course, with assignments that took “a bit longer.” She sits the exam in early 2016. A pass will entitle her to become an MIAB – Member of the IAB.
But Emma is not stopping there. She is determined to move swiftly to Level 4, and beyond that to the IAB courses in Computerised Accounting for Business.
Emma loves being part of the IAB. “They’re extremely professional and quick to respond. All the materials have been great. I’ve been on their website and there’s a section for students which is really handy.”
“Bookkeeping plays to all my strengths, all the stuff I enjoy doing. The fact that you can help companies by taking away the financial record and requirements burden and letting them do what they do best really appeals to me.”
When Emma has established her business, she is keen to help others learn about finance. “If I went into school and said ‘bookkeeper,’ half of them wouldn’t know what I was talking about. Development of individuals is a passion of mine, something I thoroughly enjoyed in my previous career.”
She admires Brian for the way he has worked with her. Some providers offer gadgets as incentives to sign up, Emma wanted knowledge, not gadgets.
“Brian is very knowledgeable. With my desire to ask questions, he was definitely the right person for me. He doesn’t just answer the question but explains in great detail. He’s very enthusiastic. I didn’t want someone who’s just going to tick boxes. I needed someone to push me. He challenges you and expresses things very differently to the textbook. The real world is not going to be as it is in a textbook. If I send him an assignment, it’s back in a couple of hours.”
Brian said: “Students enrol for courses and Woodgrove sends them assignments. They then submit them to us, we mark them, give feedback and a model answer, and on they go.
“We take them through the course step by step. They can do the assignments when they want but Emma Fone submitted hers very quickly.
“We respond by giving her fast feedback so there’s little delay and that keeps Emma motivated. And she cracks on. She passed Level 1 with excellent results, and then onto Level 2, bang, bang, bang.”
He adds: ”Emma passed Levels 1 and 2 in three months. That’s unusual. A lot of students take a break. But as soon as Emma finished Level 2, she was onto Level 3. I admire her tenacity, motivation and determination.”
Emma, 34, was born in the Wirral but now lives with husband Robbie and her children in Hertfordshire.
As a former British martial arts champion, she loves running and keeping fit. “It’s nice to go out on the road and allow my mind to clear.”
She believes bookkeeping is a fantastic career for anyone who “loves being organised, enjoys numeracy and solving puzzles, and likes dealing with people.
“It also opens doors to accountancy if that’s what you want. But for me, my passion lies with bookkeeping.”
A link to Woodgrove Tutorials website can be found here: www.woodgrove-tutorials.co.uk/.