Nick’s Diary – March 2013

Ever since I received my exam timetable this January, I’ve been concerned that March would be a draining month. As a trainee studying CTA, the firm sets internal progress ‘link’ exams in order to allow us to practice exam technique and keep on top of the books. These are usually set a month or so apart. In March, I had four.

This, topped with the knowledge that March is traditionally one of the busiest months in the office, set me up for a lot of weekends in on the books and full focus during the week. As it turned out, this wasn’t the case and the reason is twofold.

Firstly, I’m now nearing the end of my exams, with just two more to sit in May I should be CTA qualified by July. The final two exams, OMB Advisory and Application & Interaction look to assess every tax under the sun. In those two days, I will be spilling information out of my head on corporate tax, personal tax, business tax, VAT, IHT, stamp duty and CGT. It sounds daunting, but with over two years of experience and college courses behind me, it’s becoming easier than expected.

The message here is that the information never leaves your head. Throughout University I found that I would focus on a subject or topic for the exam at the end of the semester. In some cases, I’d never look at this topic again – it was purely academic. With this role, I’m fully submerged in tax on a day-to-day basis and every exam throughout the 30 months of training are relevant to the next. When coming up to the last set of exams, I’ve had two years of preparation and for the first time since I started working at Grant Thornton, I feel confident that I can nail these exams.

Secondly, our team is growing. When I joined in 2011 I was the first tax trainee to be taken on for two years in Southampton. The pressure of the recession meant that expansion was simply not on the cards. Since joining, I’ve watched our team transform, now employing four tax trainees with another due to join in January 2014 (congratulations to you).

This has allowed for greater sharing of our work and gives an improved progression platform. With now three years of consecutive trainee employment under our team’s belt, new trainees have a more structure and progressive training period.

In other news, I visited our London office again for the Budget and had three client visits, trips out like this are becoming the norm and are a great way to stretch the legs of the car and get real insight into our client’s businesses – the exact reason I joined our team in the first place.

April sees me heading up to Bradenham for my final revision course. It’s eyes down for the last time and I cannot wait to get my weekend freedom back in May. I’m almost there…

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