My Journey To Becoming A Chartered Accountant By Morenike Vincent

My Journey To Becoming A Chartered Accountant By Morenike Vincent
Morenike Vincent

There are so many ICAN success stories all over the internet, but this particular one by Mrs Morenike Vincent inspired me so much that I waited for over one month to read the end of the story. Read further to find out how her story has been a source of inspiration for me.

I became an ICAN Chartered Accountant July of 2015, I remember that day, unable to sleep in the wee hours of the morning because results were to be released, anyone who has taken ICAN exams would get the amount of tension I felt that night. Then around 1 am, the SMS came in, and it was ALL OVER! I cried, I ran to tell my mum and she knelt by her bed crying, thanking God.

Before you think who are these dramatic people, ontop exam, I will tell you why. I share my ICAN success story with you not because I just want to write something, no. I share it knowing fully well that we all tow different paths in life. You may as well be at the foot of a seemingly insurmountable mountain in a quest to acquiring a professional certification, or who knows? Your story might be totally unrelated to mine. But one thing is sure, we all journey through life’s intricacies, and I hope that my story will encourage you and give you courage to press on.

I remember November 2006 so well. Gaining admission into Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) was in all wise a feat. But no! I was not in the party of those who would rest on their oars. “I need to start my professional exam ASAP!” I thought to myself. As per serious girl things now, I had it all planned - I would start with the Accountant Technician’s Scheme (ATS) which required only my O level result to register. And on acquiring the ATS certification, I would apply for the professional ICAN exam.

Preparing for the ATS exam would equally help my school work (or so I thought), I would be more serious (an idle mind is the devil's workshop) and by first semester 400 level I would have fulfilled the dream I had as a little girl, I would be a Chartered Accountant. I found out all about ATS/ICAN and gave my dad all the details, I went to ICAN office to get the form for registration, got my books and started reading. My dad was amazed! So I went for my first exam--ATS 1, and as expected, I cleared all four papers. The journey finally had begun, and on a stellar note. A few more years? Gbam! All done. Or so I dreamt.

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January 2 2008, I packed my bags and went back to school (though the school session had not commenced yet), all because I wanted to attend classes for ATS 2. Serious girl things! I read o! And was comfortable with all but one of my courses- Government Accounting. I just did not get it. It was just not a mind tasking course for me. And then, there was this comic lecturer who taught the course, haha! Thinking of this man alone makes me laugh to tears. He told us that the syllabus was scattered and we should just follow him. Of the 21 students in the class, 5 stopped attending, I was not one of them. I wish I was though, because when the results were finally released, only 6 people made it to ATS 3. Sadly, I was not one of them.

This was my first ever encounter with failure. And it dealt me a big blow! I had always been one of the best in my set, I was the go-to girl, and I took my accounting and related courses very seriously. But when I least expected, ATS re-wrote the epistle, rubbished all I held as a template and left me wondering, why? In that moment, I felt like I would implode. Please laugh oh, because I am laughing too, all because of one paper.

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I remember kneeling and crying my eyes all out, for ATS. I got up saying to myself "Reni, just do it again, you will pass it and i did just that Yay! ATS2 conquered onto ATS3.... Wooosh! The dream was on and the joy rekindled. One more level and I would become AAT. That felt good, but this was not the plan because I was already in 300 level! Time had run by already! January 2009, I was in 300 Level and ready to take the ATS3 exams but I had not started preparations for the March diet.

Then considering my responsibilities in church as well, I developed cold feet and pushed my exam to September 2009. Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on a strike that lasted four months and some friends and I stayed back all through, preparing for the September exam. I was very ill during the exam and each paper came with as much tears as prayers. The girl who sat next to me advised that I go to the hospital, get appropriate treatment and write the next diet. Ha! If I could, I would have flung her out of the window! For what naa? After forfeiting a lovely break to study for the exam? No way, for all I cared, they could as well bring the hospital to me! So I pressed on, even though my hand writing was barely legible, but i could not just give up.

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Tension grew as the date for ATS3 results drew closer, on the Thursday results were released I couldn't eat. My friends started rejoicing. All, save for one, passed all papers. I asked how they knew their results so soon, they said a mutual friend checked for them. I wondered why the friend in question failed to check mine. My mind played back to ATS2, this friend checked my result but could not tell me because I had failed a paper. No, it was not happening again, I quickly located him and asked if he checked my result, “Oh! I’m sorry, I forgot” he said. You can imagine the mental torture I went through from Thursday to Monday morning when I eventually checked my result online.

I remember waking around 5am on Monday morning sensing a need to just dance and praise God so I did so. Oh! Did I dance? I danced crying because Reni was scared! God would come through for me, He had to. I prayed, and hoped, and cried and cried more. Please, God please. At 8am, I took a bus to the cyber cafe (lol this was 2009), you can imagine, I was the first customer. My heart was racing so fast! It took eternity before the page loaded! when it did. I almost flew out of the window. Yes! I PASSED! I called my mum, “I am now an AAT.”

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Induction to AAT took place June 2010 and I was happy, my family too. As planned, I went on to apply for the ICAN Professional examination with my ATS certificate, only to find out that the syllabus had changed. A new level had been included and as such, I had to write one paper Business Communication and Research Methodology (BCRM) in that level before moving on! Annoying!

Well I did that paper, prepared but again, I was ill during the exam (this time though, the illness was due to something my friends and I ate! Argh! ) I kept losing my thoughts and blanking in the exam hall and could barely write, but God helped me. Results came and I passed. Glory to God. So far, I learnt that the journey to success is not straight line and if the WHY behind the goal is not strong, then Giving up is inevitable.

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So it was time to take the first stage of the ICAN Professional Examination (PE1). I was helping out in church on campus while waiting for National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) posting and convocation ceremony. Studying for the May 2011 diet was not fun, the initial drive I had during ATS was gone. I was disappointed, yes! Because that was not the plan! With the initial plan, I was to be chartered by first semester 400 level. It was taking way too long than I had anticipated! I was tempted at different times to ditch the whole thing jare! But somehow, I managed to drag myself through. Let me explain: So upon obtaining a BSc in Accounting, my classmates could now use their degree certificate to apply for ICAN PE and we would be on the same level! So what was the whole point! Why did I subject myself to the torture of ATS? All the supposed time saved was lost! I had mixed emotions.

Anger, laced with disappointment and garnished with sadness. Joy sure was not part of it, or why exactly would I be happy? In any case, I encouraged myself to look on the bright side, PE1 was the second to the last level, hence, by November 2011 I would write PE2... Voila! The new plan. How I wish the journey to success always was just a straight-line, but sometimes life happens.

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May 2011 was near and as an accounting graduate, I figured that I was well and able to tackle ICAN PE1 effortlessly, at least that was what our financial accounting lecturer told us so we could buy his textbook group accounts. lol. So I did not attend classes- bad move, and read the four courses using ICAN study pack and my OAU books. Hahaha, see me priding myself being an OAU graduate. Forgetting that in school we were taught SAS while ICAN uses IAS/IFRS.

Anyway, in my mind I read for exam and wrote the PE1 exam. I was at the NYSC camp in Yola when my mum called me to tell me my result. I can still remember and can hear her voice as I write. "Reni what does Bad failure mean?" Do all you can to come back to Lagos and face your exams! Okay wait o, bad failure ke? How now? I didn't even pass IT! I was so sure I was going to pass that I gave out my study packs to a classmate.

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I read daily. At work and at home, limited to only my study packs and notes but this time I did so diligently and men it was not easy! Not one bit because no one around me was writing and I had four roommates. I would close my eyes whether there was sleep or not and wait till my roomies had slept-off. Then, I would resume at my table. At work I would read my jottings as often as I could. I had learnt to do away with any emotional ties with ICAN - just read and go write exam!

I wrote the four papers and anxiously awaited the results, really anxiously. Months passed and result day was here! our darling internet was so slooooow. I gazed at the screen of my phone so keenly like a culprit waiting to hear the Judge’s sentence. I kept gazing as the page loaded at the speed of a snail, 1% through 1.001%.

The wait was enough to raise one's blood pressure (BP) to the roof. Finally, they came in trickles:
  1. 1st loaded- Passed (FA)
  2. 2nd loaded - passed (IT) 
  3. 3rd loaded- passed (MA) 
Then the 4th! Mehn I was rejoicing already... and yeah ICAN saved their Joker for the last, Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA) – Failed. haha Sad wouldn’t be adequate to describe what I felt. The tears poured all out like a tap that lost its knob, but not for long, I dusted it all off and got to reading for AAA again.

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Reading for AAA again was tough because I had read it all. What else did they want?! I wrote the exam again for the third time. Wow! That was hard, really hard. Failing an exam was fast becoming the norm. How could I have become like this? How could the journey have become so long? How? My heart raced with so many questions. But answers chose to lay in silence. The result of the AAA I wrote came shortly after i concluded my NYSC.

I eagerly awaited my result, of course this time I would pass. But no, I was so wrong, I didn't pass the exam! Speak of the sun setting in broad daylight, tell of the darkness being so thick, imagine walking the lonely path in the cold dark wind, face down, shoulders slouched and the eyes filled with hot tears? OMG! I was broken, so broken. All I heard was "didn't you read?" "May be this is not for you" "free ICAN " At that point, I lost every interest, it all didn't make sense any more. Seriously? Was it a dream or a joke? Those who knew my story and were concerned about my well-being advised that I stop putting in the futile effort, maybe it is not for me. How can a goal look so near, but yet so far. I was frustrated but resolute. I just would not cave-in. There was just something in me that would not let me give up.

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I decided to keep going. I made enquiries about lectures in Lagos and attended classes for my November 2012 exam. I started out not being consistent with classes and had internal conversations "Ha! No wonder you did not pass." the other part of me told the other part of me. I struggled internally between church meetings after Sunday service and 12pm classes.

After a while and much struggle, I decided to be diligent with classes, I was certain that God wouldn’t be angry with me for going to classes on a Sunday. I realized the gap for AAA was that I had no experience, so I leveraged the experience of my tutors to back the knowledge I had. I stopped all unnecessary visits and gallivanting. Most days, I was home, reading for AAA. In any case, I had no job. Finally, the exam came and yes, I PASSED.

No one needed to tell me to prepare well for PE2 exam. Exams came and I passed two of the four papers I wrote. This time, I didn’t cry. The End-goal was engraved in my mind and it was just a matter of time! Yes I faced some mockery and jeering. Once, someone asked "Are you still writing this exam? Since…?" I found solace in the fact that my pain and experiences would help others on their journey.

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My Journey To Becoming A Chartered Accountant By Morenike Vincent
Morenike Vincent

I registered for the November 2013 diet but couldn't not prepare adequately for two reasons. First, It was difficult combining study and work as I had not mastered the art of pockets of study time in Lagos traffic. I also began getting restless at work and knew it was getting to the end of my time there. Second, I had an accident on my way home one day. A bus hit the tricycle (keke) I was in, with the impact at my end, throwing us into the gutter with the driver (of the bus) driving off! I was thankful that I was alive and I didn't tell anyone until the nextday, when I asked my brother to help lift up my head because it felt too heavy for my body to lift! He was scared and so was I. I still went to church but got a call and scolding from parents. Anyway, over the next 8-10 weeks I was on a collar and in and out of Igbobi hospital. I look back and though it was hard, but in that mix I got a job with Deloitte.

New job exam policy required one year before writing exams, so till November 2014. This gave me time to think and prepare. I was tempted to flaunt the one year rule and write in May 2014 (think office allowed us who had last stage exam to write because ICAN was CHANGING SYLLABUS AGAIN!) ICAN o! Why now. This time was syllabus upgrade/restructuring and so one more paper was added. I decided to face the new syllabus head on, after all, it was humans that set the exam questions. It was time to prepare for November 2014 exam, and with the new syllabus, I had 3 papers to write (Case study, SFM and CR) I started lectures, got text books but it was a new syllabus with no study packs nor pilot questions, everyone was like a blind man griping for direction! Tuition houses were confused as well. ICAN didn't do us well.

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I recall seeing the question paper and laughing, not the laughter of the conqueror, but that of one whom ICAN had dealt a blow below the belt. I remained hopeful that my prep and classes would pay off, finally, I would pass and walk up stage in my Italian cut grey skirt suit and black pumps to receive my certification and a handshake from the ICAN council, I constantly dreamt of that day! I passed 2 of 3 papers leaving SFM, I had no time to tear up, let’s hit while the iron is hot. I was back to the drawing board.

I registered for the May 2015 diet. I made inquiries about who teaches SFM best and went to that tuition house, I got my textbook and just gave it a last push. I found a scripture and meditated on it (Isaiah 50:7) With all the preparation, 5 days of leave, a select host of cheerleaders and God by my side, I took ICAN by the horn. There were times that I would get to the office by 6am and leave by 10pm because I needed to read. It was tough, but I was tougher. Exam Day! I felt in my heart to start from the last question and work my way back to number one, so I did because number one question, I wondered if it was SFM or FR.

If I had started with number one, i would have been demoralized. I didn't know all the answers o! Hahaha far from it. But as I dropped my pen, words came to mind, which I would use to wage a good warfare over the next two month result waiting period. "This was the Diet I got Chartered" I kept saying it and thinking it and using it to answer every doubt in my mind and thoughts telling me "what if?” Lailai! I refused to allow any contrary thought dwell or linger in my mind. When asked by my senior colleagues at work, “so the exam was very fine and you’re going to pass?” I would say yes, by God’s grace (before that little voice said otherwise). Was this over or just another fail?

On 8th July 2015, results were released via text message. When I got mine I had to read it carefully, I didn't trust ICAN not to attempt to get my hopes high in vain. As I read the text again, tears streamed down my face, IT WAS FINALLY OVER! Finally I could cry, this time for joy, finally I could dance, without sadness, finally what had a beginning had an end. I was finally free! I am an ACA. Really?

The joy that I felt, you cannot totally understand. This milestone was conquered! See God did this. I am trusting that He will use this journey of mine, my journey into achieving a dream, that looked so easy a task, yet was met with many twists and turns, it was delayed, but the vision stayed strong in my heart and that gave me the fuel and staying power see this through to the end!
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