I held a clerical position in a Stock and Station corporation for approximately 17 years, and there were many occasions when I felt that I had no future there: that I had dreams of an alternative career. I noted that a public accountant in the town had a brand new English sedan car and I felt envious. Wouldn’t it be nice to be an accountant? I dreamed, and despite having been counselled by a neurologist to study accountancy and to work for myself I took no action. Then, totally out of the blue, I was offered a job in an accounting practice! I jumped at the opportunity and my dream became an aspiration! I would become a qualified accountant. I then worked in the practice for 1 months, familiarising myself with the Income Tax Assessment Act and routine accounting.
Then I commenced, in May 1968, studying with Hemingway Robertson Correspondence School and the Australian Society of Accountants. (The Society conducted its own examinations. I was later to discover that this arrangement would terminate at the end of 1972.) I set myself a target of studying 20 hours per week and found this to be ambitious.
Hemingway’s assignments were very time consuming and, in an effort to do better, I registered with M & M Accounting Services in Flinders Street, Melbourne. For six months I travelled weekly to the city to attend tutored sessions (6pm to 10pm) for two mathematics courses.
By June 1972 I had completed and passed 19 of my 20 subjects. One subject to become qualified! Auditing!! I had till November to study and then sit the examination. I knew no-one who had passed Auditing on the first sitting! How would I go! I studied diligently, but … yes … I failed.
The Society had terminated its program of setting examinations! I was in Limbo!
Then fate smiled! The Society consulted with the Bendigo Institute of Technology (now Latrobe University). I could do a 12 month course at the Bendigo campus, studying Auditing.
This necessitated 3 periods per week. Monday, Tuesday and Friday. My employer was obliging and allowed me to be absent for 3 half-days per week. In consideration I was to work Tuesdays evenings and Saturday mornings. And so I passed with a pass mark of 87%.
My dream; my aspiration had come true. I was now a qualified accountant.
Then, the big test! Did I want to become “Chartered” and eligible to purchase a share in the practice? Or was I content to remain an employee? The advice of the neurologist came to mind: “study accountancy and work for yourself!”. I decided to become “Chartered”!
This decision came with the requirement to study the Chartered Institute’s “Professional Year”.
And so began the most demanding year of all. I joined with eight other students from Wagga Wagga, Albury, and Wangaratta to do, oh, so many assignments, and meet monthly in Albury (9am till 9pm). Also, the "week-end from Hell"at the Institute's head quarters in Sydney! The topic - Computers. In the early 1970's computers, to me, were a "foreign" language. Being in my 40s by this time I was the oldest. The others were in their early 20s and had a better appreciation of technology. I was physically ill! However, success comes to the battler! We all passed, and I became a partner in the Chartered firm of Smith O’Shannessy on 1st July 1975. Thus, the fulfilment, not of a “Bucket List”, but of an “aspiration”.
Ray O’Shannessy OAM. FCA. CPA.