Stories of our impact

It’s not who you know, it’s what you know

Meet Richard Hopkins-Burton, an assistant director in our Financial Advisory business. For the past ten years, he’s taken on several volunteer roles at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to give something back to the profession. Here’s how he’s helping young people in the Midlands find out about the opportunities available to them.

It’s down to you

“Having come from a working-class background, I’ve always been grateful for the opportunities chartered accountancy has afforded me. I really like that entry to the profession isn’t down to the school you went to or the people you know; it’s down to you – your drive, your acumen and your ability.

I’ve volunteered at ICAEW in a number of ways over the years. I see it as a way of giving something back to the institute that has helped me so much with my career, as well as to show others that it’s possible to get ahead in accountancy regardless of your background.

The best experience to date has been helping out with BASE. BASE is ICAEW’s business and accounting competition for students aged 16 to 19. Teams are set a business challenge that they must analyse and propose solutions to. As a mentor, my role has been to help them work through the challenge and get ready to present to the judges, developing their business skills and commercial awareness along the way.

The lightbulb moment

The BASE game has proved to be a real voyage of discovery for the students. As well as developing important employability skills, they’ve also gained great insights into what it’s like to be a chartered accountant. They’ve learned that it’s much more than just adding up, but better still, they’ve realised that they can do it, even when they didn’t consider themselves to be strong at maths.

The lightbulb moment for many of the students I’ve mentored has been when they’ve worked out accountancy isn't just something they might want to pursue for a career, it’s something they can actually do. That has been the most rewarding part. Through BASE, I’m delighted to have helped raise the profession’s profile across hundreds of young people in the West Midlands. To me, making young people aware of opportunities is the first step in raising aspirations.

Since its launch as a UK-wide event in 2009, more than 13,000 students have participated in the BASE competition. BASE 2016 was the biggest event yet, with 525 teams taking part in 48 heats, and 300 students making it to the national final.”