Rebecca's story

My first child was a baby when I realised that I was the only chartered accountant on the island of around 2,000 residents. A local business man was working at our house one day and asked me to take him on as a client, I felt like I couldn't refuse. But I was left wondering whether I could juggle looking after my children on an island that has almost no child care, and grow a client base at the same time. I had no idea what future opportunities this would open up to me at the time.

I'm 37 and my husband is 59, so I'm aware that I may one day be in a position that means I may have to support my children financially myself, so it makes sense to build my practice. And anyway, I love working and helping people alongside bringing my children up, it is all about getting the balance right. I feel great when I am using my skills to help people run their own businesses more effectively, I am very keen to empower my clients. Once my second child was born there was one available nanny on the island, but she could only do 3 hours a day. So that's how I started - building my business in 3 hours a day. I took on small jobs and slowly built up a good reputation. I want to be able to be a key player in my children's early years but I also think it is good for them to see their mum as a worker and a capacity to help others. For me, getting that balance right is crucial.

Life on the island has its challenges because we're so remote, but it's worth it for the close-knit community. It's given my practice a real vision and an understanding of my client base and their needs. I want to contribute to the economy and wellbeing of the island, as well as improve the reputation of accountants and my industry. I really want to help people become more competent with their own taxes by training them to use accounting software and offering affordable rates for islanders. I'm training someone in bookkeeping skills and I'd like to sponsor local events where I can. I do very little marketing or advertising, because everything here is based on word of mouth.

Eventually my wonderful nanny was able to offer me more hours, and I now have childcare 3 days a week, so I've been able to grow the business and have a good work-life blend. I think I'm doing well because I am embracing new software and empowering my clients to manage a lot for themselves. People now come to me from the mainland, even though there are other accountants there. My dream is to work when it rains and be outside when it's sunny!

While researching how to grow my business, I saw the ICAEW tax conference. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to stay focused, keep my skills up-to-date and offer my clients everything I can. I really wanted to attend, but it was a minimum of 3 trains and a ferry, and 3 nights away. That's just the reality of getting off the island and to a city. Between travel, accommodation and childcare, it was going to cost me nearly £1,000. At that stage of my business development, I just couldn't justify it.

I phoned caba and explained that, while I had a steady income, this cost would hit me quite hard. They were nothing short of fantastic. They came back to me to tell me they would pay for 1 night of accommodation and also cover the conference fees. It made my day. Suddenly the conference became affordable for me. I was able to invest in myself and my clients because caba backed me.

I'm so glad I was able to attend the conference, it was such a breath of fresh air to be able to network with other professionals having come from such an out-of-the-way environment. Professional development is important, but not always straightforward. I'm running a really modern business in a very remote place, and caba's helping me do that.

how caba can help

caba supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please:

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Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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