Accountancy profession joins award winning social mobility programme

The Social Mobility Business Partnership (SMBP), formerly the Legal Social Mobility Partnership (LSMP), a charity dedicated to supporting students from low income backgrounds in their pursuit of a career, in particular, as a legal or finance professional, today announces the fifth year of its work insight and skills training programme and coaching service. This year marks an important milestone for the programme as it welcomes the accountancy profession for the first time and has continued its rapid expansion, now providing over 500 student places across nine towns and cities in the UK.

The SMBP brings together professional bodies (the Solicitors Regulation Authority, CILEx, Law Society of Scotland, The Bar Standards Board, ACCA, the ICAEW and ICAS) social mobility experts (including The Sutton Trust and IntoUniversity) as well as commercial businesses, law and accountancy firms, and professional sports clubs, to deliver week-long, work insight programmes for students and ongoing career coaching through a dedicated online portal.

With work insight weeks taking place nationally between 30 July and 3 August students get the opportunity to visit four different businesses (including amongst others ITV, adidas and PwC) and then a professional sports club (including Manchester United, Harlequins and Wasps) to learn about the psychology of resilience and goal achievement. The programme allows students to gain an understanding of the legal and accountancy profession in the context of business through intensive skills training and business games. They also have access to ongoing support from virtual coaches who are on hand to provide assistance with CVs, filling in application forms and interview preparation.

The LSMP, which initially started in London in 2014 with 20 students, expanded to Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham in 2016 and Brighton, Bristol and Reading in 2017. Last year over 300 students participated and over 70 organisations were involved. This year over 500 student places have been created, with the programme expanding into two further cities, Norwich and Glasgow and expanding the number of student places available in Leeds and Manchester to enable students from Opportunity Areas, Bradford and Oldham to participate.

In 2017, with the financial backing of 23 organisations the LSMP was turned in to a registered charity and was renamed to SMBP as it broadened its scope to showcase the accountancy profession as well as the legal profession.

Barry Matthews, Director of Legal Affairs & Third Party Sales at ITV and CEO of SMBP said: “This year is a real milestone with the scheme evolving in to a registered charity. The success of the scheme is built on the ethos of collaboration and the belief that no one organisation owns social mobility as an issue.

“Through our 100 plus partners we have created a model which makes the step on point for business easy – a day’s worth of content and some sandwiches. Further, our ‘off the shelf’ inductions and resilience days created by our supporting regulators and resilience partner, Cleartrack, has enabled volunteers from businesses and professional sports clubs alike to deliver them.

“Finally, our student sourcing relationships with other charities and local authorities including the Sutton Trust and IntoUniversity, has ensured a ‘baton pass’ approach to solving the issue of social mobility rather than a competitive one.”

Claire Bennison, Head of ACCA UK, said: “Accountancy has never been more diverse and offers many flexible routes into a successful global business career. ACCA was founded in 1904 to ensure the profession could be open to all, and we are therefore delighted to be at the forefront of such initiatives in the 21st century.

“SMBP is a wonderful example of how professions and businesses can work together to show leadership on diversity and access.  This initiative has real energy and rooted in the idea of giving young people skills that will open up choices and opportunity to them

“I hope that for many of the participants this marks the first step on a long and successful accountancy career.”

Notes to Editors

About The Social Mobility Business Partnership (SMBP)

The SMBP is a charity dedicated to broadening access to the legal and accountancy professions by delivering work insight and skills training and ongoing coaching support to secondary state school students from low income backgrounds.

The SMBP starts with an induction where students learn about SRA, CILEx, Law Society of Scotland, The Bar Standards Board, ICAEW, ACCA and ICAS graduate and non-graduate pathways to the professions, the future impact of AI on the delivery of professional services and the facts about university finance.

Student’s then attend a week of intensive skills training coupled with work insights. In this week, students visit four different companies (including, amongst others, ITV, Manchester City, Simply Business, Provident Financial, American Express, Yeo Valley, Amazon, BT, Aviva, Barclays and adidas), with a final day spent with a professional sports team (including Harlequins, Leeds Rhinos, Brighton Hove Albion FC, Bristol Sport, Wasps and Manchester United) learning about the psychology of resilience and goal achievement models.

SMBP then provides virtual coaching; SMBP alumni can draw on the experience of legal professionals, accountants and business professionals for advice on the composition of their CVs/Personal Statements, completion of application forms and preparation for university and job interviews.

The SMBP is an evolution of the multi award winning Legal Social Mobility Partnership (“LSMP”).

The LSMP stemmed from a successful joint work experience initiative run by ITV and Slaughter and May in 2013 and Barry Matthews’ (CEO of SMBP) realisation that multiple in-house teams were also engaged with their panel firms on work experience that met the PRIME criteria.

Building on this successful pilot, a model for work insight and skills placements involving a week with different in-house legal teams and a professional sports club coupled with ongoing alumni support developed. Barry Matthews brought together Olswang, Arnold & Porter and Bird & Bird and client organisations Yahoo!, Microsoft and Viacom to create the model in 2014. Harlequins RUFC then agreed to come on board to provide a day of resilience training to students, and with that the LSMP was born.