OakNorth Bank became an ICAEW-registered training employer so I could qualify as an accountant

By Vishal Shah, Senior Director of Treasury at OakNorth Bank

In 2010, I graduated with a First-Class Honours degree in Business Studies from the University of Northampton. This included a year in industry as a Finance Analyst for Cisco Systems Emerging Markets where I worked from Dubai, UAE. I then moved to GE Capital where I spent five and a half years, before moving to Barclays where I spent two years.

So, prior to joining OakNorth Bank, my experience had pretty much all been at blue chip firms. This was great for my early-stage career development and training, especially in the earlier years of my career, but after several years, I was seeking a new challenge in a dynamic and fast-paced organisation.

This is what led me to OakNorth Bank.

I was attracted to the prospect of contributing to a greater purpose and mission, being part of a flat hierarchy where everyone’s views are considered in decision making, and where you’re empowered to make a tangible impact.

When I joined the bank in August 2017, I was part-way through my accountancy qualification, and from day one, the business encouraged and supported me through to its completion. The bank actually became an ICAEW-registered training employer just so I could complete my qualification. The 18 months in which I completed my qualification were very challenging, but also very rewarding. This was because I needed to balance being in a regulated role as part of the finance team, with the long and extensive studying required to pass the accountancy exams. I also had a young family at home too! I’d often study on my train commute into the office (whilst trying not to fall asleep!), and also on the commute back home after work. I also put in extra hours each night when I got home – so it helped that my round daily commute (pre-covid) was ~4.5hrs from East Midlands to London. OakNorth was hugely supportive throughout, letting me do hybrid working and giving me study leave. In the end, I qualified with first-time passes averaging above 70% results across all stages.

I’m glad OakNorth Bank recognised the value of professional development through training early on, as it has enabled me to add value to the organisation and strengthen the finance team. I hope my experience going through this journey inspires others and demonstrates they can gain a professional qualification whilst balancing the responsibilities of work and personal life.

Over the years, my responsibilities have increased as we continue to scale the business and balance sheet. Being part of a growth business, where responsibilities often stretch beyond the typical remit of a Treasurer has served as a real career accelerator and as such, I’ve been promoted twice during my four-year tenure with the business. The fact that the business is founder led means even simple conversations are often inspiring and motivating given their entrepreneurial and commercial mindsets. Regardless of your function, you’re surrounded by super talented and ambitious professionals with a similar work ethic and outlook. Key highlights have of course been getting my qualification, helping to secure a line of credit from the Bank of England via the Term Funding Scheme, setting up new partnerships, and inputting into new product launches.

Looking ahead, I’m excited about scaling the Treasury function and making it more sophisticated, proportionate to our size and complexity, contributing to meeting overall corporate objectives through the delivery of our V2MOMs, welcoming new talent to the Bank through the rotational program, and helping to shape candidates’ experiences.

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