How this Chartered Accountant in Ghana Started a Career in Finance Despite all Challenges
- Hi! I am Ernest Boakye-Yiadom, an Accountant from ACCA(UK) and Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants (Ghana).
- I happen to be the only Chartered Accountant in my family and it has been a journey of determination.
- Because of my professional certification, I am very well respected by colleagues and my professional opinion is widely sought on technical matters.
- I have more than thirteen years of experience in External / Internal Audit Function and primarily risk-based audits special reviews and investigations.
- Here is my story of How I started my career in 'Finance' despite all challenges!
Tracing back roots & changing lanes from 'Arts to Accounting'
Growing up was not easy. Both of my parents are trained teachers by profession however since the teaching profession was not high paying, my parents made a lot of sacrifices to see us through our education.
Luckily, having parents who are teachers did have a very positive impact on me...I loved studying and have always been focused on my studies!
In Ghana, students decide their career path, in senior high school. You can choose from – General Arts, Visual Arts, Science or Business Studies.
I opted for General Arts, with emphasis on Geography, Economics, Mathematics and Literature-in-English…after all my dad is Geographer and like any child, I wanted to be like him.
In short, studying to be a Chartered Accountant was not part of the original plan.
However, when I was still in college, back in 2002, the Accounting option was considered to be one of the most challenging.
I thought if 'I could pursue and succeed at it, it will provide me leverage to take up more challenging roles later in life'.
So I moved from Arts to Bachelor of Science in Administration degree and eventually settled on the Accounting option in the third year!
Coming from a pure Arts background also meant that I had to put in extra hours to get a firm grounding in Accounting!
What Next...Should I opt for a Professional Accounting Certification like CA, ACCA?
In my third year at college, a close friend of mine told me about the professional accounting programs - ACCA and CA (Ghana).
I knew early on the importance of having a professional certification so I decided to pursue ACCA(UK).
Why ACCA and not CA(Ghana)? My BSc (Accounting program) covered the Ghanaian Corporate Law and Tax curriculum which also formed part of the syllabus of CA (Ghana). Therefore, thought that studying for the ACCA program will widen my spectrum as it covered the UK Corporate Law and Tax environment and open me up for international opportunities in the future.
So, I decided to take the challenge of studying for the ACCA simultaneously with my BSc degree.
ACCA Journey and funding my studies
I started my ACCA journey in the third year of my undergraduate studies and it has been a fulfilling one indeed.
During the early stages of my ACCA journey, I had to personally finance the papers I took. and finance was a big challenge!
Funding my studies was a big challenge but somehow we made arrangements for funds.
I also knew I had to start working at the earliest.
After I completed the Level I exams and the first paper of Level II ACCA exams, I got an opportunity at PwC, Ghana.
Luckily PwC Ghana Office provided full funding for the subsequent ACCA papers when I joined the firm. That was a big relief.
I was eventually recruited to the Assurance and Business Advisory Services Wing of the Ghana practice, where I had the opportunity to work on various high profile multinational companies and eventually qualified as a fully certified ACCA member.
Did education transform my life?
Education has contributed a great deal to transform my life.
Because of my professional certification, I am very well respected by colleagues and my professional opinion is widely sought on technical matters, both within and outside my professional work environment.
I do not just accept things on the face of it, I dare to question the status quo and understand why people do what they do.
I have had the opportunity to deal with people, I ordinarily would not have had the opportunity to meet!
I have developed a great deal of confidence and see opportunities where others see challenges.
But, the certification is not an end in its self. Getting the qualification is only the starting reference to a career in accountancy. I have a long way to go!
We must continuously update ourselves by undertaking Continuous Professional Developments and continue to play our roles as gatekeepers of society by upholding high levels of integrity.
I settled for the ACCA certification because of its wide reach, global appeal and the robust, comprehensive and dynamic nature of the syllabus. However, I have subsequently acquired other qualifications.
I have an MSc degree in Oil and Gas Accounting (with merit), CPA CGA certification from British Columbia and CA Ghana membership certificate.
No challenge is insurmountable. Take time to widen your professional network and consult fellow professionals for second opinions if you are not sure.
I wish to encourage prospective and current CAs to be resilient in their professional journey if they want to make an impact and leave footprints in the ‘sands’ of the profession.
Determination is everything. You must believe 'YOU CAN'.
Now It's Your Turn...
What are you doing to achieve your dream? You can reach me on Ernest Boakye-Yiadom!
(Image edited by Ankit Lodhi)