Meet The Team – Declan Smith

Date posted: 9th Nov 2023

I am Declan Smith, Audit and Accounts Senior based at the Darlington office.

How long have you been at Clive Owen?

I have been at the firm for just over 3 years, and in this time I have qualified as a chartered accountant.

What route did you take into being in your current position?

After leaving college, I joined Northumbria University and completed a mathematics degree, then continued to a master’s in mathematics. As part of my degree, I completed a placement in a bank, giving me an insight into the economy and the impacts that businesses have on the financial region. At the time, I was unsure of my next steps but chose to apply for a role at Clive Owen LLP and was accepted under the graduate programme.

What was your experience of the Grad scheme like?

The scheme included a mix of 15 professional exams and on-the-job learning. This included time during the working week to complete training that helped me to progress and complete my course. The firm ensured that I had a good balance between learning and completing my day-to-day work, so I never felt behind with either.

Do you have any tips for those taking exams?

Unfortunately, there is no secret tip or trick, it all comes down to putting the work in. One piece of advice I can give is to be consistent with the revision, doing a little bit most nights of the week will ensure you feel confident heading into the exams. It is worth the sacrifice in the end – trust me!

What else do you do at Clive Owen LLP?

In 2023, I qualified as a mental health first aider and I am part of the wellbeing support team for the Darlington office. Mental well-being is very important to me personally, and it is good to know that I can support my colleagues with any problems they may be facing. It is important to have someone you can chat to, and I am able to point them towards further help should they need it. I am also a buddy to the new starters, offering both professional and pastoral support. I started on the same journey as most younger colleagues and so it feels good to give back any tips and tricks I have picked up.

What has been a highlight of your Clive Owen LLP career?

I have had several highlights in my time here. I was very proud to pass all my professional exams the first time and progress through the programme. I have also recently been nominated for an award from the ICAEW which recognises my exams and extra-curricular work. During my time at Clive Owen LLP, I have also taken on several charity challenges including taking on the Ullswater walk, which my legs still haven’t fully recovered from!

What do you find most challenging about your role?

The variation can be challenging. Every single job and client is different, they often use different systems and have different ways of reporting and tracking their finances. There is no one size fits all so it can be difficult to constantly adapt. Thankfully, I have a great team around me, so we can work collectively and play to our strengths to get the job completed in the most efficient way, to the highest standard.

Describe your typical weekend.

My weekends usually consist of seeing friends and family, whether going to the cinema or for a hike, or my favourite activity, enjoying one of my dad’s home-cooked meals. I also enjoy going to the gym, I find this a really good way to destress and stay active. I have a dog called Cleo who takes up a lot of my time.

When you were younger, what did you want to be and why?

I wanted to be a teacher, I really enjoy helping others and passing on my knowledge and so this seemed like an obvious career path. Bit of a change from the role I am currently in!

What is your pet peeve?

Bad cups of tea. There is just no real excuse in 2023 for anyone to make a bad cup of tea, it’s a very easy process that doesn’t require a lot of training, but it really does get on my nerves – as you can tell!


To find out more about Declan’s life in the Darlington office, click here.



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