The lone star accountant

May 2022

We follow the journey of ACCA member Bradley Layton from Douglas to Dallas.

Not many 24-year-olds would find themselves assured of their career future in such a turbulent world, but ACCA member Bradley Layton has recently taken the next confident step on his flourishing career ladder with a move from the Isle of Man to Texas with PwC where he is a Senior Associate.

Bradley joined PwC IOM’s accountancy training programme following a pathway to the ACCA qualification straight after taking his A levels in Maths, History and Politics at Ramsay Grammar School.

Let’s start with your career in accounting and finance. What made you want to be an accountant?

I’ve always loved maths since year four at school, that’s about eight or nine years old. I love working with numbers so that was very much part of my drive towards accountancy.

I also knew from quite a young age that I didn’t want to go to university. I remember in my early teens my Mum found a news article about the existence of jobs being offered by employers where school leavers could earn a degree while working. Accountancy was cited as an example where you could work full time and also study to secure a Masters level qualification like ACCA.

The opportunity arose with PwC IOM, who I joined in 2016, and I qualified with ACCA in

I’ve had a regular salary, great training with no student costs so there’s a real upside in doing this. I recognise it’s not for everyone, but it really suited me.

What about the learning and working experience – how did that play out for you?

The school leaver programme is a five-year commitment and I’ve loved it, the time has really flown by. The first 10 weeks were especially hard for me, and I found it a challenge, but I persevered and came to enjoy it more and more as the programme developed. I soon realised the global nature of the ACCA Qualification would be a benefit which made me even more determined to achieve this.

As employers, PwC IOM were incredibly supportive – they made it clear that while work comes first, they want you to succeed in your exams as well and will support you to do so.

Time was protected to attend day classes or to leave early for evening sessions, and also time off given to study for exams. They understand the process and were supportive of my journey even when I had study concerns.

It was a perfect balance. There was also a great sense of teamwork at PwC, with other people on the programme helping out – it’s a very supportive environment.

And how did you handle studying?

It was a great experience as I was part of cohort with like-minded people, and colleagues at PwC IOM had also been on the same journey in the past. It’s hard work to balance a full-time job, including overtime, with studying at the same time. But being part of a good environment made it a lot easier and it’s very much a learning community at PwC.

I secured the highest score worldwide for ACCA’s advanced audit paper. Part of that was because I was being trained as an auditor at PwC while studying. I could put into practice in the exam what I had been learning at work for the past four years.

Also, this was my last exam out of 13 papers and I could apply everything that I’d learned in terms of study techniques and previous exam papers, so I was really prepared for this. All this meant I was at my most experienced and knowledgeable about how to take on an exam, still it was a massive shock when the email came through telling me I’d got the highest score worldwide.

I studied with MPES, a training provider on the Isle of Man, which has a great reputation and record for people passing exams. So, it all came together really well to end up with this result.

Tell us about the move to the US to work and live? Is there a big change in work culture?

Once I got to the end of my exams, I started to think about the next steps in my career journey.

I thought to myself there’s a big world out there that I should be seeing, and while it was hard to leave the Isle of Man the opportunity came up to transfer within PwC to get global experience in the United States.

I’m really lucky that my employer helped with the visa process and the move to Dallas where I’m now based.

I moved here in mid-November, and I’m still getting used to it. The culture is different despite a shared language and history but that was the point of moving. My new US colleagues have really welcomed me to the team, and it’s an environment where you feel very at home straight away – and the ACCA qualification has prepared me for this global move, too.

What’s the best thing about your current role and where do you see your career going?

The best thing about my job is the variety, you get to see inside so many different industries and businesses, it gives you a really broad exposure. Every day there are new challenges which is really energising, I’m always excited about what new things each day will bring.

What advice would you give to other students doing exams?

Take it one step at a time, don’t get ahead of yourself – that’s advice I’d give for any student regardless of whether they’re working at the same time or not, whether at university or not.
I’d also advise ACCA students like me to take each exam in the right order, the knowledge from one feeds into the next.

I took a forensic approach to my study and exam technique – I think you have to with accountancy. It’s important to keep trying find more techniques to improve and explore new ways of doing things, not allowing yourself to become complacent.