Hi, I’m Anusha and I recently joined the National Tax Investigations team in our London Euston office. When considering which team I wanted to join, Tax Investigations appealed to me as it offers diversity across the taxes (e.g. Corporation Tax, Income Tax, VAT, etc.) and provides on-going challenges as HMRC continues to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. Read this post
Whether its ACA, ACCA, AAT, ATT, CTA, FIA or CIPFA, a big part of your life as a Grant Thornton trainee is studying and taking exams (and it seems, learning acronyms). How you study for your qualification will vary; it may be via day release or a block of time away from work at college or out at our training centre in Bradenham (where Kaplan college come to us to teach the tax qualifications, rather than the other way around). What is common throughout, however, is the effort required.
A major consideration when applying for a role in a professional services firm like Grant Thornton is the choice of professional qualifications. There are various acronyms floating around for professional finance qualifications and some can seem very familiar. At Grant Thornton, we offer ACA, ACCA, AAT and ICAS on the accountancy side and ATT and CTA for tax.
Hi, I’m Kirill and I joined the Bristol office as a graduate in September 2011 in the Entrepreneurial and Private Client (EPC) team. I am working towards the Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification and have recently sat my ATT exams with my results pending (fingers crossed). Despite the economic climate, EPC nationally is growing at Grant Thornton and we are currently looking for graduates to fill positions in our Oxford office. As a result, I thought I’d share some of my experiences with you to see if my line of work is something you might be interested in.
As the saying goes, there are only two certain things in life: death and taxes. Being a member of the EPC team entails occasionally dealing with both. We help our clients in a variety of ways: assisting with tax efficient disposals of companies and investments, estate planning and safeguarding family wealth, as well as making sure that their current tax affairs are in order.
Naturally, things like that are often obscure to the general public, thus technical expertise becomes of the utmost importance. Grant Thornton’s structured training and development programme helps you to stay on top of fundamentals of the UK tax system and updated on the latest court cases and legislation alike. The EPC field is extremely varied, and one can often find oneself trying to keep in mind a set of tax implications whilst bearing in mind the legal side of things.
As far as the clients go, the EPC team focuses on suppling advice and assistance to a wide range of high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs. I have worked on some really interesting cases, including professional athletes and a number of well known celebrities as well as other people with unconventional backgrounds.
It is a common cliche, but there is definitely no such thing as a typical day. Some weeks I find myself working on a single project and sometimes I have to respond to requests from a dozen clients before lunch – anything goes! On a few occasions I have been involved in research for tax publications in national media about new legislation – it really shows that the work we do in our department is of universal interest!
If you’d like to know anymore about my department or the type of work I do, please feel free to comment below and the Spilling the Beans team will be happy to help. Otherwise, happy applying!
I was once asked at a careers event at Loughborough University how I had coped with the transformation from student to employee. Where the 11am roll out of bed became a 7am rush and a week’s worth of lecturing hours can sometimes fit themselves into one day at the office. I guess this will be a concern for a lot of people at University and, as I’m not exactly a ‘morning person’, it was probably a concern to me. As my student days are now two years behind me, I can honestly say a 7am start no longer fills me with dread, even if I still don’t like the noise of my alarm clock. Typically, and this really isn’t as bad as it sounds, the Grant Thornton Southampton office can feel a bit like my second home.
April though was quite the contrary to this rule, as I spent plenty of time hopping around my skillset in what was a three tier month.
I kicked the month off by heading back to Corporation Tax, where there was plenty of work to be catching up with after the end of my audit secondment. This also saw me heading out to a client early in the month to complete their tax return on site – an increasingly regular feature in my training contract as my experience and client relationships grow.
Mid-month came another shift in my day job, as I headed back over to the audit department for one final week to complete the audit of a games manufacturer. This provided yet another opportunity to broaden my horizons and get an insight into another truly interesting company.
As April drew to a close I started to experience one thing I’m sure all students can relate to. It’s that constant and nagging reminder of exams, badgering away in the back of your mind. This is one student habit I’ve not yet managed to shake and so the last week of the month was spent sitting at home with a textbook just inches away from my face.
As part of the CTA training contract, part way through we must complete a ‘hurdle’ exam which is designed to see if we’re up to the mental challenge of this qualification. I’d had plenty of practice but was still surprised to see how high the bar has been raised from ATT to CTA. Fortunately, a 67% pass is enough to see me heading off to Bradenham next month as I start my CTA qualification.
It’s been ages since I’ve been to Bradenham and I can’t wait to get up there to see my fellow tax trainees again. Of course, Bradenham being Bradenham means fantastic food and zero commute. I’ll probably weigh in at a couple of stone heavier at the end of May but here’s to hoping I’ll be smarter for it too.
With Christmas well and truly enjoyed, there wasn’t much time to continue with the lethargic and lazy lifestyle I had, yet again, developed over the festive period. January was the tax advisers experience of “jumping in the deep end” which was a sobering thought for someone who had kept warm on turkey and mulled wine for the previous fortnight.
The start of January was a great time for me to reflect, as I completed the first milestone of my anniversary with Grant Thornton. As the firm continues to bring in new and enthusiastic talent, I had the chance to meet Southampton’s new starters and welcome them to the firm. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year and meeting our new trainees reminded me of the excitement I had when I first joined – I’m pleased to say I look at year two with the same level of ambition and hunger.
A reflection on 2011 allowed me to dive into some good memories with the firm such as my first week at Bradenham, the numerous balls and parties arranged in conjunction with our office and my successes at work, including working on this award winning website. Of course, a rollercoaster doesn’t work without dips, and I won’t be drawing too much on the memories of my month long revision stint, but I guess if there’s no pain, there’s no gain.
That leads me onto a welcome event of January; the ATT results day. It seems all that hard work paid off and I was ecstatic to see that I’d kept a clean sheet and swooped up all exams in one go. On success of my exams, the congratulations literally couldn’t stop coming and I’m still overwhelmed by the thought of having a few more letters to my name.
The relentless drive of deadline-January had my celebrations waiting until the weekend. It was all hands on deck in the Personal Tax Compliance Unit where I was building up to the end of my secondment. It’s great to see yet more good results coming out of our efforts and I’ll certainly head back to Corporate Tax with a better understanding of tax, as well as a greater appreciation of the hard work our personal tax staff do during January. As ever, hard work is rewarded and an afternoon out with the team was a great way to say send off the month with a bang!
February seems like a month where I’ll get to relax a bit and start to build up reserves for what 2012 has to offer. That said, I get my revision texts for CTA half-way through the month so I guess there’s no rest for the wicked – just the way I like it.
As part of my training contract, I have the opportunity to sit the ATT and CTA exams. As November came round, seemingly all too quickly, I spent the first two days being examined on my knowledge of ATT and technical taxation. Whilst I never want to tempt fate, I think the exams went well, and I wait with anticipation until 17 January when the results will be posted online.
The five weeks I spent out of the office made for a fairly nasty shock to the system in terms of early mornings, but getting back to a full in-tray of work was great and I quickly got back into the swing of things. In addition, getting back to my colleagues and clients was a clear reminder as to why I put the revision hours in.
Before I left for my revision stint, I suggested to my manager that I’d like to spend some time in the office’s Personal Tax Compliance Unit (PTCU). I saw this as a good opportunity to get a wider experience and to be able to know what January is really like for the guys in this department (apparently it’s tough, watch this space).
So along came 17 November and I was seconded to the PTCU until 31 January 2012. Getting to the department and starting commencing my training reminded me of what it was like when I first started at Grant Thornton back in January. The learning curve is always steep and I was straight in the deep end of generating personal tax returns.
I’ve kept some of the more long term work I do in Corporate Tax so I’m not fully disappearing from the department, but on the plus side I’ve got invitations to more Christmas meals. Added to the Christmas Party, I’ve got three Grant Thornton meals to attend in December. Let the mince pie diet commence!
Seeing as the entire month of October was filled with Kaplan revision courses, study leave and mock exams I have wondered whether my life has been interesting enough this month to warrant a diary entry. However, as consistency is key, I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to just leave a two month block empty, so I’ve decided to blog about the ATT and CTA entry route.
I joined in January 2011 and by February I was at Bradenham focusing on my first phase of ATT tuition. Ever since, I’ve been attending courses at Kaplan and Bradenham aimed at preparing me for the exams I have just sat. Throughout this period I have continually sat internal ‘link’ exams which are designed to test my progress and help prepare me for the real thing. Overall this year, I think I’ve spent around 7-8 weeks at Kaplan studying for the ATT along with several more weeks at internal Grant Thornton Bradenham courses.
The ATT consists (or at least it will do in 2012) of three exams and two online e-assessments. The three hour written exam papers are Personal Tax, Business Tax and Accounting Principles and a specialist paper. The specialist papers are Business Tax Higher Skills, Business Compliance, Inheritance Tax and VAT. I sat Business Tax Higher Skills as this best reflected my work in the office. These exams are mainly computation based but do not require a genius’ understanding of mathematics, luckily. The e-assessments, one in Law and one in Professional Responsibilities & Ethics are new to 2012 so sadly I’ve not any experience of what they will be like for the new trainees.
I did manage to get a couple of breaks in between revision and headed over to my old stomping ground of Loughborough University for their Pizza Night and Careers Fair. It was great to go back and speak with up-and-coming applicants about my job, yet another thing I never thought I’d be doing when I joined Grant Thornton as a Tax Associate.
I sat all exams in one sitting which means if my results are favourable in January I’ll have an extra three letters after my name and will be a qualified Taxation Technician ? fingers crossed. Needless to say getting through the five solid weeks of revision and 12 hours of exams in two days was one major relief and it’s great to have my social life back. Although, looking back that investment of time and effort was well worth it and I look forward with muted confidence to results day. My five weeks out of the office made the ‘normal’ 7am start quite a shock to the system but with plenty of work to come back to I’ve quickly been lifted out of revision mode.
November’s calendar looks good so I’ll have plenty of interesting things to blab about next month, I promise.
If you’re interested in reading further about the Association of Taxation Technicians or the Chartered Tax Advisor qualifications the websites can be found here:
Although the Grant Thornton football tournament isn’t strictly speaking August’s news, I guess it’s due a mention. Congratulations went out to Manchester as they beat Liverpool in the final of what was a scorching hot summer’s day. My football skills didn’t exactly come to fruition but at least I can say I had a good weekend nonetheless.
One of my Grant Thornton employee highlights came about this month as I took the train up to London for a photo shoot for this year’s graduate recruitment brochure. I’ve always insisted that tax is a varied role, although I certainly didn’t expect to be posing in a busy London street as part of my job. Embarrassing? Yes – but quite a laugh all the same. Luckily, I timed my visit well and was able to tag along to the London interns leaving bash for a few laughs and a late train home.
It is the nature of the tax-beast that the workload fluctuates throughout the year. Here in the Southampton office, we’re going through our quiet time. A perfect opportunity to take a holiday then – a quiet break in the West Country was just what I needed.
My week off couldn’t have been better timed either. With August sandwiched by ATT courses, the exam season is heating up. A small rest bite was ideal to regenerate that determination and I’m feeling prepared to tackle the final six mock exams head on next month.
Maybe September’s diary entry won’t be quite as memorable…