For those of you researching our Public Sector Audit graduate schemes you may have come across a previously unheard acronym, “CIPFA”. It stands for the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and is the professional qualification for accounting in the public sector. After three years of study (and work experience) you will be a Chartered Accountant qualified to work in both the public and private sectors, with CIPFA qualified accountants in senior positions at the IMF, BBC, Olympic Delivery Committee and all of the large accountancy firms.
It’s been a couple of months since I combined some of my thoughts into a blog, and what better time to continue the trend than when attempting to take a break from revision (I’ve already cleaned my flat, colour co-ordinated my wardrobe, counted the tiles in my bathroom…).
Hi, I’m Megan and you first heard from me just over a month ago when I shared my tips on how to stand out from the crowd at assessment centres, it’s been a busy month for us trainees so I thought I’d check-in to let you know what we’ve been up to.
Firstly, in the public sector assurance division we welcomed our new colleagues from the Audit Commission at the beginning of November, it was an exciting time seeing new faces around the office and racing to find a hot-desk in the morning; for me in Bristol it has also most certainly quadrupled my tea round! During the month we all attended a conference “The Best of Both Worlds” at a hotel in Birmingham to get a chance to interact with all of our new joiners and learn what we can take from each other to progress as a unified super-team. As a ‘teambuilding’ experience we were all given instruments (some people had big drums, others maracas, I was stuck with a cow bell to bash at like an infant) and were led by a man that looked remarkably similar to Stavros Flatley into producing a tuneful racket which caused a lot of laughing (and probably some headaches).
Moving on to less exciting notes, many trainees of all levels faced imminent exams, with most at the end of November or beginning of December. As I am a first year CIPFA student I had two exams (Financial Accounting and Management Accounting) to contend with, which I sat in Cardiff. After spending many hours poring over financial statements and budgets I am glad it is all over and can finally enjoy the build-up to Christmas. We will not receive our results until February so for now all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and munch on a few mince pies (not to mention the mulled wine).
Now in my fourth month at Grant Thornton I am being given more responsibility and being let loose on clients more frequently than in my orientation period. It has been fun to travel and get out of the office and a great challenge to learn-by-doing whilst producing work of a high standard. As always, other trainees and managers were on hand when I needed to ask questions – of which there were many.
I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. For those who are faced with exams in the New Year good luck but I’m sure you can still fit in a few hours of crying at the John Lewis advert and picking out all the good Quality Streets before anyone else gets to them. I’m looking forward to lounging in my onesie whilst eating leftover turkey and watching a re-run of a film I’ve seen 20 times already. I’ll leave you on that thought…
This week has certainly been a big week for my department. As you may know I work in Public Sector Assurance which provides audit services to local government and the NHS. This week saw some very significant announcements for my service line. Following a long tendering process with the Audit Commission it was announced on Monday that Grant Thornton has been awarded contracts to deliver local government and NHS audit in the South West, the North West, the West Midlands and South London, Surrey and Kent. These contracts combined are worth 41.3 million pounds per year for five years and will make us the largest single supplier of public sector audit services in England.
In the past this work was carried out by the Audit Commission itself which was one of the first casualties identified in the so called ‘bonfire of the Quangos’ instigated by the Coalition Government when it came into power in 2010. It has taken the past couple of years to complete the tendering process that resulted in the work being contracted out to private sector accountancy firms.
I’m very proud to say that Grant Thornton was selected on the basis of the quality and cost effectiveness of our work.. It has been great over the past few days to read about our success in the Financial Times, Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Accountancy publications. It really shows how ambitious the firm is in growing in our target markets and playing to our key strengths.
Not only does this sounds impressive in terms of the market share and financial value it also means that the national assurance team, which I am part of, will be joined by approximately 300 members of Audit Commission staff across the country at the end of this year. It will also mean we will gain hundreds of new audited bodies across the UK. So it will definitely be an exciting and challenging year as the reality of this win comes in to fruition come September.
This is a massive opportunity for myself and my fellow Public Sector Assurance trainees to develop our skills and experience. I will be entering my third year as a graduate trainee in the midst of all of these changes, so potentially I’ll be in a position to in-charge audits at new bodies and work with new colleagues.
Hopefully this news will provide you with some additional inspiration so that you think about applying to work for what will be the largest provider of public sector audit services in the country. We can truly say that Grant Thornton is now leading the way for the future of public audit.