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Outlines of people | AccountingWEB | Consilium eyes staircase of talent with new venture

Social-mobility venture gives access to new talent


An initiative between Consilium Chartered Accountants and the ICAS Foundation will focus on social mobility and inclusion while giving the accountancy firm advanced access to a ‘staircase of talent’.

4th Mar 2024
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A new venture designed to create a “staircase of talent” while focusing on social mobility and inclusion has been unveiled, with David Holt of Consilium Chartered Accountants saying the initiative will provide access to talent “ahead of the curve”.

Announced last month, the partnership between Consilium and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) is designed to provide financial support, mentorship and training opportunities to “young people from disadvantaged backgrounds” to help them study accountancy at university and complete their chartered accountancy training with Consilium.

Marked by a £30,000 donation from Consilium, the initiative is looking to pave the way for a “more diverse and inclusive industry, where talent, rather than background, dictates success”.

The ICAS Foundation is an independently registered social-mobility charity that operates a mentoring scheme, with more than 200 chartered accountants signed up to support the students throughout their studies.

Giving something back

Holt, a partner at Consilium, spoke to AccountingWEB about the partnership, saying that the firm first became involved with ICAS nine years ago.

“We were looking to see what we could give back, and it seemed a very good fit,” he said.

“As part of the foundation launching this partnership initiative, initially they were contacting firms with whom they worked closely many times. So we, as part of our 10-year anniversary and what our plans were for going forward from there, were looking as to what else we could extend to providing charitable support through volunteering days or other initiatives.

“When we spoke to Sanjay [Singh, director of ICAS] about what he was trying to do with the foundation and it just fitted in exactly with what we wanted to do.

“On top of that, there was the opportunity to contribute financially to the foundation as well to support students – so just in simple terms, it ticked all the boxes.”

Main source of recruits

Holt noted that while the main reason the firm is getting involved in the initiative is the support it gives to students, he’d be “lying if I said that we didn’t get a lot out of it as well”.

“The quality of people that come through from the foundation is absolutely excellent. It has been – not by design – probably our main source of getting new recruits over the past few years and we have benefited significantly in terms of the quality of people that have come through from an internship into chartered accounting trainee contracts, so it’s been perfect in that respect.”

Holt believes that the success of new recruits coming from the foundation is both testament to how good the operation is, and also somewhat representative of a wider skills gap in the industry.

He added that he “wouldn’t measure success in terms of what it’s done for Concilium”.

“I would measure success in terms of the feedback I got from Sanjay. If Sanjay felt that the contribution that we were making was providing more people with opportunities and helping them do it – that is the primary reason why we’re doing it.

“We have, over time, provided a number of mentors into the programme and we’re looking to expand that but we’re also looking to make sure that foundation students are better informed about careers in accountancy, and better prepared for careers in accountancy.”

All about opportunities

Holt doesn’t see the initiative as being about challenges.

“I just see it as being about opportunities. Sanjay wants to achieve something and we’re in a position to give the support. I’m willing to give him the time of the partners and the rest of the team to help them achieve that.

“Looking at it from a selfish point of view, anything that gives you access to talent ahead of the curve – you’d be silly not to be looking at. While it’s not the primary incentive, it’s definitely been a side benefit.”

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