A former shop worker in South Wales has seen her business take off after retraining as a bookkeeper

A former shop worker in South Wales has seen her business take off after retraining as a bookkeeper.

Tracy Irvine from Chepstow in Monmouthshire switched careers after completing eight finance qualifications in less than a year with Ideal Schools, which specialises in delivering home study bookkeeping, payroll and taxation courses.

Since launching her business, TKI Bookkeeping & Accounts, in 2019, she has built up more than 100 clients – and has seen demand soar in recent months – despite Covid.

“It was really slow when I first started, but in the last six to nine months, things have really taken off,” Tracy says.

“I’m just happy it’s going so well. I want to help people and I particularly love helping new starts get everything together and keep on top of their finances.”

Tracy’s customers are a mix of sole traders and limited companies, including a café owner, mechanic, construction workers, masonry business and sports goods supplier. Recommendations have seen her pick up new business in Worcestershire and Scotland.

Tracy discovered her love for bookkeeping while helping her son with the books for his limited company in the groundworks trade.

“I thought – I’m enjoying this – and decided that once the kids had got their own families and moved out, it would be my time,” Tracy says.

“I worried I was maybe too old, but my husband said – go for it. So I found Ideal Schools on the internet, and that was it.”

Under money laundering regulations, anyone who wants to be a bookkeeper needs to be accredited, and Ideal Schools facilitates this.

It provides online and distance learning tuition to help people pass bookkeeping and accounting exams with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers – the largest bookkeeping Institute in the world – and the Association of Accounting Technicians. This is the UK’s leading qualification and membership body for accounting staff, with around 125,000 members in more than 90 countries.

Between July 2019 and June 2020, Tracy completed eight qualifications with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. These are Levels 2 and 3 in Bookkeeping; Self Assessment Tax Returns; Level 3 Diploma in Costing and Budgeting; Level 4 in Corporation Tax; Level 4 in Financial Statements; Level 3 in Payroll Management and a Level 4 Diploma In Advanced Bookkeeping and Accounts.

“When I started, I never dreamed I would get to where I am,” Tracy says. “I’ve always worked in supermarkets and retail. I got married when I was 18 and had my kids, so just got part-time jobs in shops to fit in with the children.”

Of the support she got from Ideal Schools, Tracy says: “They were amazing. The coursework was so easy to understand and if you had a problem or question, you could ask them 10 or 20 times – and they were always so patient. The support from the tutors and everybody was just fantastic.”

To help with the business, Tracy has now taken on her daughter’s partner as an apprentice. The firm’s name comes from the initials of Tracy and her husband Keith.

Ideal Schools was opened in Glasgow in 1983 and is 100% dedicated to bookkeeping tuition.

Brian McVean, a director at Ideal Schools and one of its tutors, says: “We love hearing our student’s success stories and we’re thrilled that Tracy’s new business is doing so well.

“The pandemic has not dented demand across all sectors for qualified finance professionals. About 99% of the UK’s private sector businesses are micro, small and medium sized enterprises. All of these are legally required to file accounts every year and record all payments to staff – so there’s never been a better time to work in this sector.”

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