An interview with Saffery apprentice Lucy Cheffey

Lucy Cheffey

We meet 19-year-old apprentice Lucy Cheffey who works in the Bournemouth office at Saffery.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you joined Saffery

I joined Saffery as a school leaver in September 2022, at the age of 18.  I’d previously studied A levels at The Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester in Economics, Business and Sociology. I’m Dorchester born and bred.

My teachers pointed me in the finance direction for career opportunities and I never felt inclined to apply to university. The obvious job for me seemed to be accountancy. I wanted to work with a company with a well-established training plan in place for trainees and that’s why Saffery came on to my radar.   The Saffery Apprenticeship programme looked very structured, and you come out with a recognised qualification, as an ACA Chartered Accountant.

I really enjoyed the interview process which surprised me by being quite informal. It felt more like a chat to really get to know me rather than standard formal questions.  I really liked everyone that I met during the interview process -they all showed a genuine interest in me.

I much prefer working in the office and when I first started, I would come in every day. However, as I live quite a way from Bournemouth I now do some remote working too, which works for me now that I’m comfortable with processes and the general work that I’m assigned on a day-to-day basis.

Tell us about your role within the business

I work in Audit and right from the start you’re very quickly thrown in to real work and I went out on site visits straight away, which I found is the best way to learn. I really enjoy this as it’s very varied and I get to visit lots of different places to meet clients. I always go on audit visits with a team, and this is a brilliant opportunity to build and forge relationships with colleagues. It also means that you always have someone there to help you.

The team are incredibly supportive of each other.  In an audit team I would have 1 or 2 people above me, supporting and guiding me and now, just 18 months into my role, I also have someone below me that I’m supporting too.

I love how we work across different sectors and experience working with a mix and variety of businesses; I’ve visited independent schools, a car park company, stockbrokers, interior designers, care homes and digital services companies.  It’s interesting to see how different finance teams operate within a business and it shows you the wider picture and helps you recognise the potential for career progression opportunities further down the line.

What’s it like studying and working at the same time?

Balancing studying can be a little difficult as my commute is so long, but it’s manageable.  So far, I’ve done 8 exams over the last 18 months.

We’re not given a set time off per week as studying at college comes in blocks of time. Last week I had 4 days at college, this week I’ve got 3 days of self-study and then I won’t go back to college for another 6 weeks. It really varies. I started studying for my next set of 2 exams in March, but I don’t take these until June so have quite a long time to get ready for them. To date I’ve been to college in Southampton and Reading and attended a training course at head office in London.

Saffery is very good in supporting me.  I struggled with my first exam, but I wasn’t made to feel bad about this and they set up a session for me with a more senior trainee who talked me through it and we worked on techniques.  It was so beneficial to have his input and support.

The apprenticeship programme means that I’ll be fully qualified in July 2026 and I will still only be 22!

Do Saffery cover all your studying and travelling costs?

All my tuition and exam fees are paid for by the firm. I am also reimbursed for any travel on top of my normal commute, whether that be for college or a site visit, and I am paid overtime for my travel when visiting clients onsite.

What’s it like working at Saffery?

The Saffery workplace is an extremely friendly community.  What I experienced in my interviews has been reflected in working life, everyone just gets on.  We’re treated as equals by everyone across the firm. There’s lots of young people here as the firm has a specific focus on recruitment of school leavers and graduates. There’s always lots of social events taking place, with everyone encouraged to get involved.  We recently had an Audit social and played crazy golf, followed by dinner.

What skills do you think you need to be an accountant?

Being able to work comfortably with numbers helps in this role as I work with numbers all day, whether that be looking at a set of accounts or at the underlying records that I would review as part of an audit.

What do you contribute to the team?

I’m hard-working and determined and, most importantly, I enjoy the work that I do.

Contact Us

Roger Wareham
Partner, Bournemouth

Key experience

Roger is head of the Bournemouth office.