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Kaplan Heritage: An Interview With Tutor, Tim Howes

Tim Howes, Kaplan tutor

There is no better way to understand an industry, or a company, than through the individuals that represent it.

As part of our Kaplan Heritage celebration, we interviewed a selection of people who have been part of our story over the years: tutors, apprentices, current students, and those who are part of our Accountancy Training alumni.

We asked them about their personal experiences with Kaplan, some of which relate to memories dating as far back as 30 years ago.

Here we speak to Tim Howes, Kaplan Centre Manager for Norwich, who is sharing his passion for training.

Could you give a brief introduction to your role at Kaplan? Where are you based?

I am the Centre Manager, in Norwich. I oversee many areas: staff, planning, clients and delivery in the classroom. I started working for Kaplan Financial’s predecessor (ATC) 27 years ago as a tutor.

What do you remember about first joining Kaplan?

My first impression (when we were ATC) was that the company was a breath of fresh air. Seeing different faces all of the time, and making a difference to people, was a real positive. At the time, we ran courses locally, at national firms’ local offices, and we did pretty much everything ourselves.  Then, the market changed and large firms started to want national training delivery. Becoming part of Kaplan helped us evolve; it was a necessary change. We suddenly became part of a bigger network, with the much needed materials, I.T. and marketing support.

What was your career background prior to starting with Kaplan?

I worked for a local practice that was part of the Moore Stephens network. I quite enjoyed it, but it got to the point where I was to either become a partner or stay in the same role.

What did you teach at Kaplan?

My area has always typically been Financial Accounting and Reporting, Audit and Corporate Reporting.

Did you train with Kaplan?

Yes, my training was with Kaplan when it was ATC. I actually trained with the person who helped to recruit me.

Do students stay in touch after their exams?

From my experience, you have a ‘honeymoon period’ where they qualify and get their head down. This is the period where you don’t hear much from them. However, once they get to a position of seniority and progress with their career, that’s when they tend to pick up the phone and make contact again with their tutors.

How many students do you train per year?

We teach across the whole spectrum of Accountancy Qualifications, so we get a real mix. Over the course of a year, I’d say maybe about 300 to 400. Interestingly, when I go out to client meetings, I occasionally cross paths with people I taught 20 years ago. It is rewarding to see that we put them through the system, and meet up with them again, but in a client context.

What has continued to inspire you over the years, whilst working for Kaplan?

Two things have inspired me. One is seeing people develop and progress beyond the achievements we might have made, in some cases. The other thing, I would say, is the great satisfaction that the tutors receive from their work.

What has been the biggest change in Accountancy whilst you have been at Kaplan?

The biggest change at the moment is the funding for Apprenticeships. When I started to train, I would teach about 99% graduates. However, today we obviously have flourishing AAT programmes, and the Apprenticeship funding that goes with it. In today’s market, we often work with firms that want a central delivery across the whole of the country. I think we have appropriately become a more integrated service.

Why do you think Kaplan’s students have such a good pass rate?

It’s down to the dedication of the staff. They are very determined, and once they get into that classroom, it’s all about delivering for the students. Here at Norwich and Ipswich our pass rates are phenomenal and it’s down to the dedication of both the staff and the students. I personally place the success of individuals above everything else.

How has the Accountancy Training profession evolved; how have Kaplan’s methods evolved to reflect this?

It has changed quite a bit. Firstly, the technology has made a huge difference. The advancement has been phenomenal: it makes delivery so much easier now. The development of standardised products means that things are a lot more ‘joined up’ and more structured. Fragmented and non-connected firms can’t work properly. Here at Kaplan, we have a strong level of consistency across all of our centres.

What’s your favourite memory of working at Kaplan?

It would be obvious to say teaching prize winners and high achieving students, but we get that all the time. So ultimately, I would say - “working with great people”. To me, the best thing is the characters I’ve met along this journey.