Hazlewoods is not only a big regional player – with three offices in Gloucestershire – but also one of the top 50 accountancy firms in the UK. Apart from offering specialist services, the firm can also boast great career progression and retention rates with seven of the current partners having started out as trainees.
- Good client interaction and high levels of responsibility
- Supportive network of colleagues
- Excellent professional training, and accessible seniors always available to answer questions
- Personal, small firm feel with a friendly atmosphere
- Great career prospects and retention rates for trainees
- Good work/life balance, helpful flexi-time policy
- Occasionally little variety of work at lower levels
- Communication from partners can be inconsistent
- Lack of large FTSE clients
- As a small firm, promotion sometimes means switching teams
- Internal, on-the-job training could be more structured
Hazlewoods is one of the top fifty accountancy practices in the UK by income. Based in Gloucestershire with three local offices in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Staverton, the firm employs 210 staff to closely look after its diverse clients: from small businesses and family-run operations, to listed companies and large multinationals. Hazlewoods may very well be entrenched locally but its recent inclusion into HLB International, a global network of independent accountancies that operates in over 100 counties, allows the firm to easily tap into international advice and country expertise to service an ever growing list of international clients. Back home is where the heart is, and where Hazlewoods know-how runs deep: its core services revolve around accountancy and audit, advisory services, tax, corporate finance, and financial planning, but the firm has also cleverly developed niche industry specialisms.
In agriculture, the firm provides bespoke services to both farmers and landowners, ranging from annual accounts and tax returns, to audits and business advice. With two decades worth of experience in the dental sector, Hazlewoods offers its clients anything from acquisition advice to support when making the transition from NHS to private. Additionally, of all chartered accountants, Hazlewoods was the first to establish a team of tax and business advisors to estate and lettings agents. Whether acting on behalf of single office businesses or large conglomerates, the practice offers a wide array of services that cover anything from stamp duty to land and tax planning.
Hazlewoods health and care team meanwhile has been in business since the 1980s and has built up quite a reputation – offering sales, acquisition, accounting, due diligence and tax advice for clients wishing to expand or sell their businesses. From care home owners to corporate groups, no fish is too small or too big for Hazlewoods, allowing the firm to recently rake in a cool £131 million in health care transactions in a single year.
Building on the firm’s multi-sector success, Hazlewoods property team was established to give advice to the construction industry, where mistakes in matter of taxation can be very costly. The list of specialties goes on, and includes the legal team that was formed just before the turn of the millennium and has since grown to 22, which currently acts for over 90 legal practices. Finally, unusual as it may seem, Hazlewoods has a veterinary practice. Far from shoeing horses, this 17 person strong team offers accounting, tax and business advice to vets across the country.
An active community involvement compliments the firm’s very hands on approach to business, with Hazlewoods choosing a different charity each year to which it dedicates money from various fundraising activities. In the past these have included Macmillan Cancer Support, local children’s charity Hop Skip and Jump, and a local charity that assists orphaned pupils at a Ugandan school. Currently the chosen beneficiary is a Cheltenham-based Cancer charity.Read all 117 employee quotes
Hazlewoods is amongst the top fifty accountancy firms in the UK, and the annual graduate intake consists of around 20. It hardly needs to be said that these facts will make competition for places fierce, so you need to offer more than an adequate standard of numeracy skills to get hired at this accountancy firm.
A solid academic background, starting with good GCSE and A-Level grades, particularly in Maths and English, is vital since qualifying as an accountant entails a good amount of studying and passing exams. Although your degree specialism is not crucial, Hazlewoods requires candidates to have obtained at least a 2:1 degree. Apart from demonstrating a decent educational track-record, candidates also need to be ‘honest, friendly, hard working and relaxed’. The company’s culture is defined by a strong and result-oriented work ethic so you need to have an abundance of motivation and feel happy about getting a lot of responsibility early on. There is also an option to join the firm after A-levels, and study for the ATT first, instead of going to university.
Furthermore, since the life of an accountant involves dealing with a broad range of people, ‘you should be comfortable and confident in talking to anyone from a MD to someone on the shop floor’. Being able to present the firm with excellent written and oral communications skills during the recruitment process is therefore essential.
At Hazlewoods, graduates have the opportunity to train in various departments, including audit, tax, corporate finance, as well as accountancy and business advisory. ‘Training is extremely important, both internal and external’. Organised by HR, training sessions are particularly intense in the first two weeks as graduates will be sent to an external location to study. The chartered exams usually take place in Bristol and will last several weeks. While professional training is naturally a significant part of a trainee’s life, there are still plenty of opportunities to receive informal mentoring. Colleague support is said to be ‘excellent, with the seniors being extra helpful’, making Hazlewoods ‘an extremely friendly and supportive’ company to work for.
Applying to Hazlewoods is easy: fill in the application form and return it to the HR team as soon as possible, keeping in mind that places tend to fill quite quickly. It is important to be precise and convincing so you can make it to the assessment centre that will follow, where you will be asked to give a brief presentation, take part in a numerical and verbal reasoning test, and undergo an interview, which is all followed by a lunch with the existing team. This may seem daunting, but if you are successful you will be rewarded with a ‘friendly and relaxed’ second interview, with the director you will report to.
Interview questions are likely to focus on your qualities and relevant work experience, and are especially designed to quiz you on your career choice and motivation. As one junior accountant advises, ‘do research into the career, and more importantly, the firm in which you have an interview for’ so you can give a focused answers on why you want to work for Hazlewoods and explain your career aspirations convincingly. Remember that ‘being honest and open in the interview is most important for both the employee and employer’, so use your personality as a way to emphasise your strengths and abilities. If you are successful, you can look forward to excellent career progressions as ‘seven of the current partners started in the firm as trainees’. Sounds good? Then don’t waste your time and apply!
Graduate Recruitment Info
Tel: +44(0)1242 680 000
No. of employees: 210+
No. of offices: 3
Annual Graduate Intake: Approx. 20 trainees
Starting salary: £18,500
Accountancy & Audit
Good internal training programs, but poor at actually helping with the straightforward mechanics of how to do things. I feel that often I know why I should be doing something, but don't know how to do it – i.e. Where to find forms, how to fill them out correctly or submit them. Often, a lot is left to your own judgement.Junior Accountant, CheltenhamHelpful?
Smart formal dress, however there are often days in which the firm dress down for charity.Junior Accountant, GloucesterHelpful?
It is a recent project but we are given regular updates, we are moving to paperless, and there are recycling bins everywhere. One office recycles tea bags.Junior Accountant, CheltenhamHelpful?
Moving from an assistant to senior requires three years experience, and completion of a professional qualification. Movement from senior to manager depends on the individual and team, although some colleagues have achieved director status in five years.Junior Accountant, CheltenhamHelpful?