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Q&A with Al Catlow

Al Catlow

You

What is your business background? 

When I left school I got a job as an office junior at Capital International Limited, so my job role was mainly filing, making drinks etc. Once I’d been there a little while, an opportunity opened up within their dealing team which involved buying and selling investments for clients. I learnt a lot in that year and I still have an interest in investing but I decided to have some time out so I went to Australia for six months travelling which was amazing, and when I came back, I got a job at Browne Craine! I started out fairly junior within the company but was given an opportunity to take my accountancy exams. I have worked at Browne Craine for 11 years now and have worked my way up as one of the managers of the accounts department.

What was your very first job? 

Towards the end of my school career I spent the last two or three summer holidays working for Paddy’s at the Queenie Factory in Port St Mary.  I was de-shelling queenies, which is unlike anything I’ve ever done before.  It was challenging as it was piecework, the more you de-shelled – the more you got paid!  So it was great for me as a student, trying to earn some extra cash…if a bit smelly!

If you hadn’t chosen your current career, is there another career path you would have liked to have pursued? 

I’d have loved to have become a Lawyer. When I was studying to become a qualified accountant, I had to sit two Law exams and I found them both incredibly interesting. If I hadn’t become an accountant I would have loved to go down that path.

What’s the best business lesson you’ve ever learned, and how did that come about? 

Communication can prevent or fix almost any problem. I’m really lucky to a part of a close knit team and I find when we talk to each other, it really helps makes things a lot easier. My directors, James and Craig, are really approachable and they’ve taught me a lot over the years, so I hope I’m doing the same for the junior members of our team.

What’s the best thing about your job? 

As we deal with such a large variety of local clients, it’s fascinating to learn about the different industries and gain knowledge in different areas. I have also built some great relationships with our clients over the years which I really like.

What is the best business advice you could offer to anyone? 

Ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it. Even the people at the top don’t know the answers to everything and so if you don’t know something – ask! That way you’re constantly learning and you’re never standing still.

Digital age

What are your favourite gadgets? 

Does my coffee machine count? I don’t think I’d survive without that! Other than that, my phone.

Which websites do you visit most? 

It’s probably YouTube! I find it handy for learning how to do things like DIY, etc., I also buy a lot of things on Amazon, and I find Pinterest is great for inspiration too.

Do you shop online and if so what for? 

Clothes.

Personal

Where in the world would you most like to visit and why?

I am lucky enough to have travelled to a lot of places but the top two on my list now are Venice and Napa Valley in America. Venice looks so picturesque and unique, especially the canals and bridges.  Napa Valley is one of the best wine regions in the world, I’d love to stroll through the vineyards or take a balloon ride over the views.

What is your favourite TV series?

Breaking Bad.

What is your favourite film?

I’d usually say Forest Gump but I watched La Vita Bella recently and it was incredible – once you get used to the subtitles!

What is your favourite single or album?  

I couldn’t possibly pick one, it changes on a weekly basis depending what mood I’m in and what I’m doing…from Guns n Roses to Lady Gaga – I like everything!

What is the most memorable event you have attended? 

I have attended a lot of friend’s weddings which have each been wonderful and I’ve also been to a lot of concerts which stand out. My most memorable moment was probably scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, which was extraordinary.

Name 3 things you would like to do before you die?

Hot air balloon, learn another language, go on safari.

What is the best piece of personal advice you could offer? 

Don’t compare yourself to other people. Everyone is on a separate path and just because someone is at one point in their life, doesn’t mean you are not where you should be, if you’re not at the same point.

Current

What are the current challenges facing the accountancy industry?

As a result of the pandemic, businesses are facing all different types of challenges, and they are looking to accountants for guidance. Our usual role is mainly assisting clients with their statutory obligations such as tax returns and preparation of annual financial statements.  However, I now spend more of my day giving general business advice and assisting clients’ with key day-to-day decisions. Our client’s main priority at the minute is surviving the economic impact of this global pandemic, so I’m becoming more of an advisor and assisting with that side of things.  

Our “everyday” role is taking a bit if a backseat at the moment as the challenges we are currently facing is to ensure we manage our stress levels and wait to see the after effects of the pandemic.

 

Peregrine Tiagnet ICAEW