Nichola's Story - from bookkeeper to Director with Hallidays

In May 2015 Nichola Coles made one of the most exciting steps in her career with Hallidays to become a director and lead her own team...

You might say that her first exciting step was when she first walked into Hallidays for an interview in January 2006 for the role as Bookkeeper! Was it the warm and cheery welcome she received that helped her feel comfortable and confident enough to impress Directors Paul and Anna who interviewed her?

But why did Nichola want to move away from her existing role in Industry?

“It was boring and lacked variety. Sitting in the same office day in day out churning the same figures for the same company from one month to the next. I might have been on a bit more money in industry but that’s because the work isn’t stimulating and is so repetitive. I wanted a role in practice with all the variety that brought, dealing with different clients but also knowing there was a career path for me as compared with industry where you have to wait for someone to leave or move roles.”

Did Nichola know then that Hallidays was an excellent training firm?

Hallidays has an eye wateringly high exam pass rate. A rate that was above 94% in 2017 - the target every year is 80% and it has only been narrowly missed twice in the 15 years the firm has been measuring it. What she probably didn’t know was the experience and exposure to a variety of work and training she was to receive would prepare her for her move from Bookkeeper to Account Senior, Audit Manager then Director in 2016.

Has Hallidays changed during your time here?

“Wow, yes whilst the strong ethical culture that runs through Hallidays has always been there, our passion and focus to support and help our clients and team members to grow means the work I’m involved with is really interesting. We are constantly looking at different, innovative ways that we can help them. And because we don’t use timesheets client contact is very high.”

However, Nichola was tempted away from Hallidays and admits she cried the day she left, she wasn’t looking for another job but she was curious.The only practice she had worked in was Hallidays and she was offered more money and felt she couldn’t refuse. We all know how this feels, you love where you work but could it be even better somewhere else?

“It was such a shock when I moved, the extra money didn’t matter, I just wasn’t happy and work is such a huge part of your life. I couldn’t believe the difference in culture. I had come from Hallidays where client care is at the very focus of everything, back to a ‘timesheet’ culture. The detrimental impact of time recording and managing the firm based on this had a huge impact on the time I spent with clients - my client contact dropped to less than 20% and there was extreme pressure to push the work down to junior team members to maximize profits. It really made me realise how different Hallidays is from the majority of accountancy firms. I knew I had made a mistake and was delighted that Hallidays welcomed me back to join the team after a short 3 month gap! I have never regretted my decision to return and can’t imagine working anywhere else!”

What else do you love about working with the Hallidays team?

“The team love the coaching culture which has been introduced with team days where the whole firm is involved. It’s not everywhere you will see directors on space hoppers and the MD on a trampoline in front of a room of 80 people and a junior team member acting as a Judge! With Personal Development goals to really push you I have improved so many skills such as presenting both internally and externally, working on business growth with clients and lecturing at college. We measure team happiness which is now constantly above 88%. We believe this is intrinsically linked to client happiness because if the team members are not happy then our clients won’t receive the best possible support from us.

“It’s more than just the variety of projects at Hallidays that the team love, it’s more than our flexible working, dress down Friday’s, big baskets of fruit in the kitchens and the Summer BBQ – it’s our approach, our culture - we care about our team and we care about our clients.”