The London Chamber of Commerce has an employment department, through which holders of its certificates are found posts free of charge. The examinations are conducted at many local centres in the United Kingdom as well as in London.
Probably the ambitious accountant will not rest satisfied until she has joined the
London Association of Accountants, and passed the Intermediate and Final examinations of that body. If the Institute of Chartered Accountants represents aristocratic exclusiveness, the London Association of Accountants is a democratic body which welcomes, tests, and hall-marks both men and women who approach it. It is only about two years since this concession was granted to women accountants, and as yet there are but few of them, but they are reputed as all satisfactorily in practice.
The examinations are held in June and December of each year. The subjects for the Intermediate examination are book-keeping and accounts (including executorship and partnership accounts), auditing, and mercantile law; for the Final examination, they are book-keeping and accounts (including executorship accounts), book-keeping and accounts (including partnership and company accounts), auditing, joint stock company and bankruptcy law, the rights and duties of trustees, liquidators, and receivers, partnership law. The Final examination differs somewhat for Scotch candidates. Usually the Intermediate examination is undergone after two years' articled service, the Final after four years' service.
The association has a well-equipped technical library at the service of members, and issues a monthly publication, "The Certified Accountants' Journal" (price 2d.), free to members; it gives lectures during winter, and another advantage it offers, through its "Students' Society," is postal tuition for the examinations of the association, and the loan of books from the library.
Let us suppose, at about the age of twenty or twenty-one, a woman has secured her coveted parchment and wishes to gain experience. It should be her aim before she settles down to start practice on her own, account to see as much as she can of various kinds of work. Indeed, it may, for a little while, be to her advantage to consider experience of more value to her than a high salary. Provided she can afford the time and expense, she might well try to get an insight into the ways of foreign accountancy.
Moreover, she must learn of the most up-to-date appliances and calculating machines, some of the best of which hail from the United States. Many labour-saving machines are already in use in counting-houses, and will become more and more widely adopted as their merits are proved. There is, for instance, the Burrough's adding machine in use in counting-houses, while the Elliott-fisher machines not only add and write in one operation, but in making out invoices enter the charge on the sales record or day book (either bound book or loose leaf) by the same operation which makes the invoice, and both invoice and charge are added simultaneously with the writing; and the Wahl Remington writes, adds, and subtracts.
When one discovers a machine which writes, manifolds, tabulates, and adds separately fifteen columns in one operation, it is easy to see that though the labour of detailed calculation may be lessened, there is all the more need for the keen, alert eye which instantly can detect mistakes. To scent an error immediately is a valuable power in any worker; where hundreds and thousands of pounds are involved it is of the greatest importance.
Another matter of concern to the intending woman accountant is the openness to new methods of working and originating improvements on old systems. In her early efforts to gain ideas and.experience, she will not wish to remain over long handling one set of books, or confining her attention to one kind of business. Now she will seek entry into a German firm established in this country, learn what will be of use to her, and then pass as book-keeper to an American, Swiss, or Russian firm.
The woman who means to get on never lets herself get into a rut; she is open to learn even during brief holidays spent in foreign towns, for always it is the man or woman who knows what others do not, and can do more and better than someone else, who rises to the top. If she has interest to gain entrance to a firm of accountants, it will be well; and if she wishes to start as an accountant by herself, she may even think it worth while to article herself to a member of the London Association of Accountants for three years or so at a premium of about 25 guineas, while she studies for her examination in the evenings.
Being trained and qualified, she may expect, a salary of two or three guineas a week, and probably she will find access easiest to trading firms managed and staffed by women, such as produce, for instance, articles of clothing worn by women and children. There are also numbers of societies and associations managed by women where a woman accountant might be employed. In such directions the young accountant is advised to advance. In making her way as an independent accountant or in partnership with another, she might inquire through the "Certified Accountants' Journal" for a promising locality or town in which to make a start, and, at any rate at first, solicit work and advertise herself. Then, though introductions can pave the way, success will depend on the woman herself.
The book-keeper is the lowly sister of the woman accountant, and she is becoming ubiquitous.
A well-paid post for the woman book-keeper may be found in an hotel. The hours are long, but the work interesting; she has her meals, and from £1 to £2 a week nonresident; from £35 to £50 a year with board and laundry, resident.
In the Post Office Savings Bank, numbers of women are employed making up the accounts of depositors as the books arrive on their "birthdays." Indeed, this department of the Post Office alone offers a large field of work to the girl of fair education. Advantages connected with it are security of tenure (retirement enforced at marriage, however), reasonable hours (seven a day), and holidays (three or four weeks in summer), fair salaries with a small yearly increase up to a certain amount, and pensions after ten years' service.