On the 28th September, two Midlands Finance GMTS Grads were given an award for their exceptional performance in their CIPFA finance programme. Liam Daly, Graduate Trainee in the Finance Department of Derby and Derbyshire CCG and Isobel Carpenter, Graduate Trainee in the Finance Department of King’s Mill Hospital, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, were both recognised for excelling and so we have interviewed them on their experience to share their achievements.
Tell me about the CIPFA finance programme
CIPFA is an accounting qualification dedicated to public finance. On the NHS GMTS, it takes 2.5 years to complete. The modules are quite varied including company and public service financial reporting, audit and assurance, business and change management and corporate governance and law to name a few. There are two exam periods a year (June and December) and two resit periods a year (March and September).
There are 12 exams that we will have to do over the course. We have both done 4 so far and are studying another 3. My award was for the Financial Accounting exam.
Have you had any difficulties on the programme?
Since joining the scheme, I had around 3 weeks working in the office before moving to working from home full time due to Covid. Whilst our first set of CIPFA education was intended to be online, all of our education after this has also been online whereas it was expected to be face to face learning. I would prefer our education to be face to face, but it has also been good to have something to focus on during the pandemic and continue to make progress towards the qualification. The first year is also quite difficult as alongside CIPFA exams, GMTS finance trainees are also working towards modules 1-3 of EGA and other graduate scheme commitments such as experiential learning and ALS.
All our learning has been online web classes. CIPFA provide these anyway but during normal circumstances we could choose to go to face to face classes instead. We never had that option as these have been postponed due to Covid.
How did you feel when you were told you’d get an award for exceptional performance in your CIPFA finance programme?
I was both surprised and pleased. The module I got an award for was part of our first set of CIPFA exams and I was concerned that having no background in finance I would struggle. The revision period also coincided with the November 2020 lockdown so I felt I had put a lot of work in and was pleased it had been recognised.
Surprised! I didn’t even know they gave out awards. But very pleased once it settled in.
Tell me about the award event
The awards event was fun and it was great to be able to share it with Liam – a GMTS finance colleague in the same cohort and region. Due to Covid, this was only the second time we’d met face to face. We travelled to London for the event and had a great time. There were a lot of other awards presented on the night, for example Public Finance Future Leader of the Year, which were really inspiring.
Originally it was meant to be held at the Public Finance event back in July. However that was cancelled so they added us into the Public Finance Awards event (28th September) held at The Brewery in London. The students were invited earlier as we had our presentation in a room before the main event got started (I assume this was because we weren’t originally a part of the event) during which we were given a certificate. We then joined the rest of the attendees who were there for various Public Finance Team awards. The students were split across two tables so we were able to get to know each other a bit over the course of the evening.
What advice do you have for future grads who aim to perform exceptionally?
I think it’s important to use all of the exercises provided to you by CIPFA for practice and to ask colleagues/class mates for help when there’s something you don’t understand.
Tough one! I think to go over the work from the lectures as you go along to try and cement it in your mind.