Kristina joined Sayer Vincent in 2009 as an audit trainee and qualified in 2012. Since then, she has focused her career in the charity sector working for several large organisations and is now Financial Controller at Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. Kristina has also taken up the opportunity to give back to the sector and gain more experience through her role as a trustee. Let’s hear from Kristina about her time at SV and what she’s been up to since leaving the firm:
How was your time training and working at Sayer Vincent?
I’m sure most who have gone through the process will agree that training and studying is not easy! However, the structure and support offered at Sayer Vincent was brilliant. The intake of trainees was relatively small when I joined and there was a real sense of camaraderie. We supported each other through exams and developed a great network throughout our time together.
Are there any key lessons learned from your time at SV?
I would recommend taking advantage of opportunities as much as possible. During my time training as an auditor, I took the chance to work on internal audits and other assignments including governance projects, this gave me a much broader perspective. I’ve been able to transfer skills learned through these experiences to my work in other charities after leaving SV. One of the key transferrable skills I gained was the ability to quickly identify problems and risks and analyse things from a different perspective.
How has your training at SV impacted on your career?
Whilst training as an auditor, I was required to interact with very senior people on a regular basis. I used my analytical skills to ask the right questions during audits to get to a conclusion quickly. I developed excellent communication skills while interacting with people from finance staff to CEOs – this was helpful especially when the time came to ask difficult questions. Developing these soft skills early on in my career was a great benefit of the audit training and these skills have been highly transferable.
Audit trainees at SV are given a lot of responsibility from an early stage. I began leading audits and going out to some clients on my own as a second-year trainee. This really built up my confidence and helped me to realize I could do more than I thought I could. I also greatly developed my ability to problem solve and think through problems logically.
“I met so many bright, talented people at SV, everyone was very dedicated. Continuing my career in finance within the charity sector, I seem to regularly cross paths with colleagues I trained with or contacts made during my time at SV. I have managed to naturally build a strong network of charity finance professionals, which has been brilliant and very helpful throughout my career. I’m always pleased when I bump into another SV alumni!”
What advice can you give to those seeking a role in charity finance?
Think about what you really enjoy doing
During my time at SV, I was exposed to such a wide variety of clients across the social purpose sector which gave me amazing insight into how different organisations work. I’d advise future trainees or those aspiring to work in the sector to really think about what they would like to do in the future as there will be opportunities to develop key skills in any particular area of interest.
It’s not just about the money
Don’t be motivated by just salary or fancy job titles. Really think about what you enjoy doing and have a passion for, that approach will take you a very long way in your career. During my time at SV, I found that the sooner you identified your interests, the sooner support could be given towards achieving that goal.
Take up as many opportunities as possible
I had recently started a new job as Senior Financial Accountant at the Royal College of Nursing when I took up the opportunity of a nine-month secondment in the business accounting team. It probably wasn’t ideal timing as I was new in my role, but great opportunities don’t always come around. My experience there helped me gain a broader picture of accounting practices and awareness of the sector. In my current role with Sainsburys Family Charitable Trusts I now do both financial and management accounting – this role might not have been possible for me if I hadn’t taken up the secondment opportunity early on in my previous role.
Never stop learning
As a finance professional you can never stop learning. While I was at SV I also achieved my certificate in charity accounting and finance (CIPFA). I found the overlap between accounting and law very interesting and wanted to learn more, so I gained a certificate in charity law and governance (ICSA). Some of the non-finance training I have completed has been particularly beneficial and served as a learning curve. It’s also helped me to bridge the gap because finance is not an isolated part of an organisation so it’s very useful as an accountant to get out into the business more and understand various aspects outside of finance.