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Fatima Laiq, student placement diaries, Accounting and Finance

Fatima Laiq shares her experience of her ten-month placement with KBM Training and Recruitment as an accounting and business work placement trainee

Fatima Laiq's placement helped her gain a first-hand account of small business growth in a competitive environment, which she believes has given her invaluable experience for the future.

August and September 2016: getting to know the business

“As my placement stated accounting and business, I was told I would be working on both aspects to get a complete understanding of how businesses work. On the first day I was given a tour of the building and met teams in different departments. I was told how I would work with these departments and who would provide me with the data I was to deal with. As it was my first day, I was told to understand the business by going on to websites, which I went through and made notes to remember important bits related to my job role.

I started off my journey learning the SAGE 50 Accounts software, and my line manager arranged one week’s training for me. I was then given book-keeping duties for different clients and regular book-keeping for KBM Consultants, a company of the KBM Group. As I was directly in contact with the KBM Consultants Director, he provided me with daily invoices, and my duties during the first two months included maintaining ledgers and files of KBM consultants, making sure all the requested invoices were generated and processed on SAGE 50 and that the daily report was up to date using the Excel sheet. On the business side of things, I was given the office petty cash. My duties included making a detailed petty cash sheet, dealing with clients on regular basis, maintaining their profiles and folders, and updating sales reports using the ZOHO CRM software.”

October and November 2016: ongoing learning and improving skills

Now that Fatima was more aware of the different functions of the company she started to work on her own without the constant supervision. She was able to correctly allocate invoices against their nominal codes, and she says her communication skills improved by establishing contacts with various clients.

“After getting a full grip on book-keeping side, I was given training on control accounts, which is making adjustments and maintenance of journals. I worked on a basic client’s file alongside my manager, to observe and take notes so that I could perform these tasks later. My duties increased from book-keeping and petty cash to making journal adjustments for various clients from different industries such as retail, wholesale and construction.

In November, a group of students came from Italy and I gave them a lecture on social media marketing and accounting in the modern world. This was a learning point for me because I was imparting knowledge and improving my communication and presentation skills.”

December 2016 and January 2017:

“As my placement also involved the business side of things, I attended a meeting with the director and the manager where they discussed the upcoming projects and how they would execute them. I gave my opinions, which was a new experience for me, as being a work placement trainee it is very rare that you sit in these sorts of meetings. The company is also involved in recruitment and so to get an understanding of this I worked closely with the recruitment manager, who trained me on different aspects of being in a HR team. I worked in the HR team during December, interviewing candidates and placing them at different companies.

At the end of each year, the company performs an evaluation of each staff member. I was told that my performance was satisfactory and could be improved by more attention.

In January, I was given basic clients to perform book-keeping with, which I was very confident at doing by this point. I was also trained on performing VAT for different clients. This was an interesting month, as I was by then able to undertake book-keeping with minimal support from my manager, and I learnt how to perform VAT and various processes related to HR.”

February and March 2017: growing confidence through wide-ranging tasks

After spending six months within the company, Fatima was by this time very much aware of KBM’s operations and how all departments and companies are linked together. She says that to fully understand her duties and operations, the in-depth knowledge of the business she gained in the previous months proved very important.

“By this stage I had mastered monthly sales reports, book-keeping, ledger maintenance up to VAT submissions and some aspects of HR. I was put in the payroll department to view their monthly payroll and RTIs submissions. The company uses SAGE Payroll software to carry out all of their payroll tasks. At the end of the month I closely monitored the payroll processes, and how different task codes are used to calculate the tax and NIC. On the business side, I was now very confident in dealing with everyday queries, emails and phone calls. The best thing about this placement was that my role wasn’t stuck to one thing, and I was being revolved around the company and given various duties. One of these was as a credit controller, dealing with debtors, uploading bad debts to the Credit Protection Agency and keeping detailed records.”

April and May 2017: a new title and new skills

In April, Fatima’s title was upgraded to Accounts Executive. KBM hired an internee from Italy for two months and she was made responsible for her training and tasks. Alongside her other day-to-day duties, Fatima also made her internship plan and integrated training aspects, as well as conducted weekly performance reviews.

“We were given a project, and discussed how to carry out that project, which was an exciting experience for me as I was improving my leadership qualities by giving tasks and making sure they were completed within the given timeframe. I also learned about the Construction Industry Scheme [CIS], how to register for it, the rules and legislation, different types of CIS Sage CIS activation wizards, completing company preferences, nominal codes for CIS, setting up subcontractors’ records and other CIS workings for the client home base.

I was also trained on how to use QuickBooks and performed book-keeping on one of the clients using QuickBooks for practice.  In May I was trained on budgeting and forecasting and performed tasks involving soothing techniques, trend analysis, evaluation of forecasting techniques, IRR and payback period, and producing visual reports to display easily understandable information. I made many presentations on the performance of the company, which were then presented to the director and the manager.”

June 2017: passing on the baton and a time to reflect

“During my last month I learnt accounts production on Sage software, assisting the accountant in producing final accounts. This was a good learning point for me, as I learnt how the final accounts are produced and the process behind it. During this time my manager also reviewed my performance and gave a satisfactory report. I was then told to make a list of tasks I was responsible for and was asked to train my colleague so he could perform these tasks once I’d left.  

Overall, my placement year has seen me trained on many new things and has enhanced my abilities. I have become more confident and professional. I now have full command of performing book-keeping tasks up until full bank reconciliations. As most of my tasks involved book-keeping, ledger maintenance and reconciliations and VAT, I believe I have mastered it. Working in KBM has given me an insight into how small business works and can grow in such a competitive environment.”