Tag Archives: Bradenham and training

My Journey from Intern to Employee

Hi, I’m Toby

I loved university, my three years at the University of East Anglia were some of the best of my life. The friends I met and the memories I have will last a lifetime. Summer days sitting in the square or down by the lake, Saturday nights in the Student Union, spending time with mates and even lectures are remembered with fondness.

Read this post

A Day in the Life of an Auditor

When I was looking to join Grant Thornton I found it very difficult to understand exactly what it was that an auditor does, and certainly when I tell people that I am an auditor, I receive many a blank face. So I thought I would write this blog to try and help those of you who are thinking of becoming an auditor, to understand what it actually is that we do.

In one sentence, the job of an auditor is to ensure that a company’s financial statements give a true and fair view of their financial position. This means that if a company says that it has 1,000,000GBP worth of fixed assets, or that is has made 20,000,000GBP worth of sales, we must find some way to test that this is valid.

As an auditor therefore, we spend the majority of our time out at clients, carrying out lots of different tests such as carrying out calculations to check that a company is depreciating it’s fixed assets correctly, checking a sample of a company’s sales to supporting documentation, and occasionally attending stock takes. Audits can range from one week to two months, and at Grant Thornton you will work within different teams from various offices, which means that you get great variety in your working day. Some of the tests have to be carried out directly with the client, which means that you get to work with a lot of different people, from different backgrounds, and with different experiences.

As you will work on so many different clients, you can find that you are juggling a lot of work. Each day will often start with making a to-do list to organise priorities, opening up your emails and responding to those which are most urgent, and putting the rest on your to-do list.

At Grant Thornton there are lots of other areas that you can get involved in; for example, I have got involved with the Spilling the Beans team who run this website. You can become a ‘champion’ of the different software’s we use at Grant Thornton, which means you will be the person people go to if they are having problems. There is the CLEARR system, which I have previously written about and which is unique to Grant Thornton and carries our core values of collaboration, leadership, excellence, agility, responsibility and respect – all of which make day to day life as an auditor at Grant Thornton an interesting one.

Nick’s Diary – November 2012

With thanks for Will who stepped in for my October diary entry, it has now been two months since I last posted a diary entry for this blog. Will’s input was well needed as for six weeks running up to my exams I breathed, slept, ate and lived CTA. Reading back over my blog entries during the summer it’s clear to see that the exam pressure of CTA was starting to get on top of me.

A lot of this pressure was compounded when I began to struggle with the CTA law e-assessment. This one hour multiple choice test, with its unusually high 67% pass mark requirement, had defeated me on two occasions. As a man who always puts 110% into his work, my continued struggle with this exam was beginning to damage my confidence in the run up to the written papers.

Though, through perseverance and many many long hours with my law textbook I eventually nailed the test in early October. This, along with our internal CTA exams, was proving to me that CTA really is a massive step up from ATT. I had reason to be concerned. But with the revision course at Bradenham and some fantastic trainees and tutors, the CTA revision was almost enjoyable!November then started with me sitting comfortably the two hardest exams I have ever done. I am proud to say that I gave it everything I had and my future now lies with the examining Gods. Fingers are firmly crossed.

Getting back to the office after six weeks away was a welcome change. Being able to get stuck straight into the job again was refreshing and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making the most of my weekends without the revision guilt hanging over me!

With Christmas seemingly just round the corner my feet have barely touched the ground. The Southampton office closes over the Christmas period so I now have three weeks to finish off and submit a long list of tax returns. I think it will be a well deserved break after a hectic few months!

In this I’m looking to fit in some memorable moments! Be sure to keep your eyes peeled on our twitter accounts for live updates of the 2012 Autumn Statement.

Breaking Records at Bradenham

Hi, I’m Davina and I work in the corporate tax department of the Reading IQ office. Even though I only joined Grant Thornton three months ago, I have already had a lot of very different experiences which is great! These include the national induction in London for two days, two courses at Bradenham Manor (our internal training facility), college for my ACA exams as well as working in the office. I thought I’d write a bit about the first course I attended at Bradenham called ‘Breaking Records’.

For those of you who don’t already know, Bradenham Manor is near High Wycombe and is where Grant Thornton house all their internal training courses. The site has everything you could possibly need on your door step, including accommodation, a games room and bar. So along with the studying element, the social aspect of Bradenham is really good! I have met so many other trainees from different offices all over the country, who I am regularly in touch with, so it’s a great opportunity to network. On the rare occasion that we are blessed with some sunshine (likely I was!), the grounds look exceptionally beautiful.

‘Breaking Records’ is the first course that new trainees will attend at Bradenham, and is essentially an introduction to book-keeping. The week and a half long course introduces the basis of accountancy and book keeping and can be quite intense at times. But don’t panic, you don’t need to have any prior accountancy experience (most trainees don’t) and everything is taught from the ground-up. The course is taught by Grant Thornton staff from a variety of service lines, and because they have been through it all before they are really supportive and always willing to help. Initially, I struggled to grasp some of the basic concepts which can be frustrating, but my tutors were extremely patient and went the extra mile to explain things in different ways to assist my understanding.

There is plenty of practice questions so that you can really get to grips with it all and when you do, it feels very rewarding! The Breaking Records course provided me with a really strong foundation for my first ACA accounting exam, and was well prepared when I went to college for the tuition.

There are lots of opportunities to go to Bradenham for various courses depending on the department you work in. The relaxed teaching environment and strong social element make it a fantastic place to learn and network. The experience definitely lived up to the expectations I had after joining the firm.

Nick’s Diary – May 2012

As I entered into May, I was still high from the buzz of passing the CTA Hurdle exam, knowing that I was only a few days away from getting back to Bradenham. My chop-and-change lifestyle in April was swapped during May, as I focused solely on my corporate tax compliance work.

Getting back and focusing on my corporate tax work was ideal, as I have been increasingly taking on larger tax compliance jobs to continue with my tax development and understanding. Subsequently, it’s been a challenging month for me technically, but I’ve enjoyed taking the next step up the ladder in my abilities whilst making two more client visits.

Ever since I accepted my job in November 2009, I have been all too aware that CTA is a tough qualification. On day one at Bradenham, where I started my tutoring for CTA, the Kaplan tutor assured me that CTA is one of the hardest professional qualifications around. Over the next four days he did everything he could to prove himself right, and my head is still spinning from the sheer breadth and complexity of knowledge needed to sit just one CTA exam. I’m now looking forward to November, where I will sit my first two of four CTA exams, and I think it’s going to be a tough few months.

Study books aside though and Bradenham didn’t disappoint. The weather was fantastic (making concentrating an even tougher task) and the company always generated laughter. I managed to eat enough food for a month in the four days I was there so am adequately cutting back in the aftermath.

One of the modules I studied at Bradenham was Inheritance Tax (IHT) and since returning back to work, I have taken on responsibility for around 50 trusts. This perfect timing will help me to develop me IHT knowledge both practically and academically, a winning combo!

As the month draws to a close, I am looking to June for some time off to enjoy this fantastic British summer we are currently having. As for the extended public holidays in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee – I’m not exactly a royalist, but the idea of a BBQ and some sunshine at Pimms o’clock sounds too good to miss. No doubt by the time I blog again I will be burnt head to toe!

The Legend of Bradenham…

Bradenham is a place you’ll get to know and love if you join the firm. It’s our central training facility which all trainees attend for internal training throughout the three years of their contracts. It takes on an almost legendary status for several reasons which I’ve attempted to outline below.

Firstly the training is excellent as it’s delivered by a mixture of external consultants and Grant Thornton’s own development team who have years of experience in the very careers that trainees themselves are pursuing. I’ve just got back from a week at Bradenham where I have been attending the fourth course of my training contract. This course was aimed at second year trainees and I’ve been learning what it takes to step up to being an in-charge accountant. I’ve had an intense week learning how to deliver an audit from scratch but the other reasons for Bradenham’s legendary status more than made up for the effort of studying.

Talk to any trainee who’s been there and they’ll definitely mention the FOOD. I know I’ve blogged in the last few months about my attempts to banish a few pounds I put on last year but I couldn’t resist the cooked breakfasts or the great lunches and dinners (Southern Fried Chicken was the highlight last week) that are laid on every day. However, there is also a gym on site so there’s really no excuse for not staying active even though the classes are mentally demanding.

Location wise it’s also tough to beat. Our training centre is based in a 17th century manor house surrounded by stunning Buckinghamshire countryside. There’s lots of wildlife too, and I have to admit that during one lesson I was distracted when three red kites kept flying past the window. With the unseasonably hot weather, last week meant relaxing outside with a very welcome cup of tea and cake after class. There’s also volleyball, boule, croquet, a bar and a games room on site which mean unwinding in the evenings isn’t a problem.

So now I’m back working on audits I can certainly say that what I learned last week has improved the way I approach my work. It’s also massively enhanced my understanding of the service we’re delivering to our clients which is really important. Now I need to start thinking about enrolling on my next course so I can benefit from more training and (don’t judge me) the delicious desserts?

Emma Clark ‘spills the beans’ on life in our Kettering office since starting


Kettering office starters at Talent'10

Hi, my name is Emma and I’ve just started in the Kettering office as an Audit trainee studying for the ACA.

Most of you have probably never heard of Kettering, but I think it’s pretty perfect – an hour on the direct train to London, but on a day-to-day basis it’s pretty, peaceful, and most people have fairly short commutes to work.

The Kettering and Milton Keynes offices are also part of one “business unit”, meaning that we often work together on each other’s clients, and for you it means that you get to meet and go to college with even more trainees. To help us get to know each other better, last Friday we were taken on a trip to Thorpe Park for the day. It was a really good opportunity to get to chat to each other a bit more, as the people you start with are probably the people you actually see the least once you are out at clients. It also gave us the chance to meet manager’s from Milton Keynes who we may be working for, and to generally network.

Not that we haven’t seen the Milton Keynes trainees much recently – when you start at Grant Thornton you are thrown into training and lots of it. After Talent’10 (our National Induction, the picture above is of all the Kettering office starters just before the river cruise, which was the evening’s entertainment) we then spent two weeks together at Bradenham Manor (Grant Thornton’s training centre) which is set in beautiful countryside just outside High Wycombe. Here we learnt the basics of accounting, but we also met trainees from all over the country.

If you mention to anyone in Grant Thornton about Bradenham, their first comments are “You will eat so much food!” and they really aren’t exaggerating either. We were all left with a constant feeling of being fully fed with cooked breakfast, biscuits, hot meals, puddings and yummy cakes. It was a really useful two weeks (something that became even more apparent when we went to financial training for the two weeks afterwards where others in our class looked a little lost at first) but also really fun. I can’t wait to go back in November!

Emma

Talent ’10

Every year Grant Thornton runs an induction programme for their intake of trainees. These are referred to as the ‘Talent’ events. After the amazing success of Talent ’09, I was sure that they couldn’t possibly make the event any better. It turns out I was wrong. Talent ’10 was an extraordinary success, the result of months of careful planning.

The Talent events clearly demonstrate how committed Grant Thornton are to getting their new trainees involved with the firm’s policies and the ways in which they can influence them. The event was opened by the CEO, Scott Barnes, and attended by 4 of the firm’s National Leadership Board, 30 of the firms partners and another 50 senior figures. It was a unique opportunity for the 175 new trainees to meet the firm’s leaders and openly discuss Grant Thornton’s strategies and ethos with them. As well as giving presentations to all the delegates, the partners also ran Skills Session groups. Each of these groups consisted of about ten new trainees, two managers and one or two partners. The groups were designed to allow the new trainees to get a good grasp of the technical operations and risk management policies that Grant Thornton has in place. They were also a good opportunity for the new trainees to meet Grant Thornton’s leaders and openly discuss ideas and concepts with them.

That’s not to say that Talent ’10 is purely about work. On Thursday evening we were all whisked off on a River Cruise down the Thames, complete with a champagne reception, three course meal and (best of all!) a free bar. I never thought that working at Grant Thornton would involve watching the sun set over London, with a champagne cocktail in my hand whilst talking to the Head of Resourcing about disco moves!

Grant Thornton is very keen to stress that everyone here ‘owns’ the success of the firm and that everyone has an important role to play in keeping us successful and at the forefront of our industry. Talent ’10 clearly demonstrates this attitude and, to quote our CEO, “allows us to talk to our future about our future.”

Talent ’10

Every year Grant Thornton runs an induction programme for their intake of trainees. These are referred to as the ‘Talent’ events. After the amazing success of Talent ’09, I was sure that they couldn’t possibly make the event any better. It turns out I was wrong. Talent ’10 was an extraordinary success, the result of months of careful planning.

The Talent events clearly demonstrate how committed Grant Thornton are to getting their new trainees involved with the firm’s policies and the ways in which they can influence them. The event was opened by the CEO, Scott Barnes, and attended by 4 of the firm’s National Leadership Board, 30 of the firms partners and another 50 senior figures. It was a unique opportunity for the 175 new trainees to meet the firm’s leaders and openly discuss Grant Thornton’s strategies and ethos with them. As well as giving presentations to all the delegates, the partners also ran Skills Session groups. Each of these groups consisted of about ten new trainees, two managers and one or two partners. The groups were designed to allow the new trainees to get a good grasp of the technical operations and risk management policies that Grant Thornton has in place. They were also a good opportunity for the new trainees to meet Grant Thornton’s leaders and openly discuss ideas and concepts with them.

That’s not to say that Talent ’10 is purely about work. On Thursday evening we were all whisked off on a River Cruise down the Thames, complete with a champagne reception, three course meal and (best of all!) a free bar. I never thought that working at Grant Thornton would involve watching the sun set over London, with a champagne cocktail in my hand whilst talking to the Head of Resourcing about disco moves!

Grant Thornton is very keen to stress that everyone here ‘owns’ the success of the firm and that everyone has an important role to play in keeping us successful and at the forefront of our industry. Talent ’10 clearly demonstrates this attitude and, to quote our CEO, “allows us to talk to our future about our future.”