Specialising in a niche area is a great way to progress your career as an accountant. Here Kieran Hancock, AISMA board member and director of PKF Francis Clark, explains how his career blossomed after grasping an opportunity to specialise in the medical sector

What path did you take to become a medical specialist at your firm?

Shortly after I qualified as an accountant, a manager in the healthcare team at my firm left. I was given the opportunity to take on the role and although I hadn’t considered specialising, I like a challenge and am keen to learn so I said yes.

Since then, I’ve not looked back. The sector has really landed with me and I find it extremely interesting that you can learn about the NHS, through listening and reading, which helps to build your knowledge. You can then put this into practice and use it all day every day!

What qualities helped you succeed as a medical specialist?

I’m quite a methodical and detailed person, which has helped me get into the finances of GP practices. Being curious about how things work and what they mean has meant I was able to build knowledge quickly.

With hard work, a bit of luck and a lot of support, I’ve been able to progress quickly. I was put forward to be a director in our firm and worked hard to make sure that happened.

Describe some of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of your work

I really enjoy being a specialist. It’s a good feeling to gain knowledge and be part of a community that knows a sector in detail. It makes it easy to speak to colleagues and contacts within the same sector and have meaningful conversations.

I also enjoy using the knowledge I’ve built to help develop those within my own team, so that we can offer more to clients and be more efficient and well-rounded.

How do you help make a difference to your clients?

What I find most rewarding is being able to help clients understand their finances and make better decisions. The medical profession is under a lot of pressure and those within it have a limited amount of time. I enjoy helping my medical practice clients understand what their numbers mean for them, answering their questions and being on hand to support them when things are difficult. 

Do you have any tips for someone wanting to progress their career as a specialist medical accountant?

Here are five suggestions:

  • Find time to learn more about the sector through reading and listening to podcasts. This is key to understanding the sector and communicating well with clients.
  • Work out how to explain things in a simple way. Being able to do this is a skill, but it’s extremely important to be able to communicate effectively with clients and help them understand what can be quite a complicated set of accounts.
  • Be yourself. I’d always thought I had to be a certain way at work, but I’ve learned to be myself. This gives you confidence and allows you to interact well with colleagues and clients. Having a good relationship with those people is key, as it helps to build trust. Building a good relationship with clients is likely to make you more valuable than someone who can just talk about accounts/finances. It can also make the more difficult conversations a bit easier!
  • Build a picture in your mind of what you expect things to look like. If you can use your knowledge of the client and the sector and picture what you expect to see, this can help you identify errors and understand the results in detail. You can look into why profits might be higher or lower, or how partners compare to each other.
  • Use others as a source of knowledge. Spend time with more experienced and knowledgeable people. Question them and be curious about what they know.

If you are interested in exploring the career opportunities in this dynamic sector, contact your nearest AISMA accountant.