Young, gifted and CIMA

January 2023

Meet Grace Bayton, the youngest-ever CIMA qualified accountant.

Grace Bayton, 20, was a straight A student in her GCSEs but didn’t follow her friends into sixth form or university.

Instead, she signed up to an accountancy apprenticeship. She bought her first house at 18 is now planning to move again. PQ magazine caught up with her recently and asked her some questions. Here’s what she told us…

Why did you decide to go for an apprenticeship rather than go to university?

When I was in college, I was researching all the options to become an accountant I looked at a degree, then a fast-track degree and then came across apprenticeships. I discovered that there were no entry requirements to start a chartered accountancy qualification and I was ready to start working and make a difference.

Why accountancy and why CIMA?

I’ve always loved maths, I was looking at doing a maths degree but I wasn’t sure what career it would get me in the end. I’ve always been intrigued by businesses and how they work and would love to own my own business. So, I thought why not become an accountant, if I can understand the numbers I’ll be on my way to becoming a CEO of the future.

How did you find balancing everything, the study, work and life!

It was very tough, Covid helped as I couldn’t really go out anyway, so during that time I’d spend three hours every evening studying and in six months I’d already completed half of the qualification. Once Covid was over and I was completing the strategic level exams I found it really difficult to balance everything. I missed out on social things I wanted to do, but now being fully qualified it was definitely worth it.

How did you find the professional exams – what was the easiest and what was the hardest?

Strategic Level was tough! I failed F3 twice because I didn’t have enough time to study, so that was definitely the hardest. In the end my fiancée was a great help, asking me questions and reminding me to revise. I think she deserves an honorary CIMA designation for it. I always found the ‘E’ papers the easiest, despite having a love of maths. I passed E1 in around three weeks.

Any tips for studying for fellow stuffers?

Firstly, have a clear revision schedule and clear goals. For the first 12 exams I had a four-week exam strategy.

• Week 1&2: Read the book.
• Week 3: Complete all the questions.
• Week 4: Do a mock, and go back and answer all the questions I got wrong the first time!

Secondly, get your family and friends involved.

Get them to ask you questions, get them to remind you to revise and share the journey with them.

You are the youngest-ever CIMA qualified accountant at 20. Do you think this will be an advantage or disadvantage?

Well, it’s great to have made headlines and be able to spend more time than the average accountant building my post-qualification experience. Although, I do feel for some employers it may be a drawback, as from the outside they may think I’m too young to be in a senior role as a qualified accountant.

Despite this though, I bought my first house at 18 with the money I saved from working my first year as an apprentice and I’m about to move into my second home in the next few weeks, so I’m not like most 20 year olds.

I’ve got the same experience as any qualified accountant, which was approved by CIMA in order for me to become a member.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I would love to start my own business in something FinTech. Failing that I hope to be a CFO, changing people’s perceptions of finance!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Always give back – no matter how well you do, it’s always important to help others and be kind to people. For every good thing that happens to me, I try and give something back to the community.

• Grace recently starred on BBC Wales in an interview with Nick Hartley. See https://tinyurl. com/44u4t8ev

Grace up close and personal

Job title: Management Accountant.
Employers: Institute of Physic Publishing.
First job: Gym attendant.
Last download: The Chain – Fleetwood Mac.
Favourite box set: The Mighty Ducks.
Favourite TV show: Game of Thrones.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? Playing tug of war with my dogs Rupert
(Spaniel) and Florence (Jack Russell).
How do you chill out? Going for a long walk with my fiancée and the dogs.
What is your (other) claim to fame? I’m Welsh under-20s 10k champion – and I can plate spin…