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.
The nature of the life of a trainee is that, for a couple of months a year, we leave the office and head over to college for study and revision for exams. As mentioned in my last blog, April was a month spent in front of books as I completed my final CTA stage. For May, it’s the ACA trainees turn to be out of the office as they prepare for June and July exams.
April has proved to be a month where my focus has almost entirely been on my future. Though the first weekend of the month played to the Southern Chartered Accountants Student Society (SCASS) Ball which was a great opportunity to get the bow-tie out and have a good night out with fellow colleagues. In keeping with last year, the event was held at St Mary’s Football Stadium and never fails to be a well talked about night during the year.
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.
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.
In my December blog, I talked about how a career in tax often means you’re working to a deadline. Different service lines will often work towards different deadlines and working for Grant Thornton means I’m working for several service lines of our tax offerings. As a result, the deadlines of December in Corporate Tax were quickly followed up by more deadlines in January for my work in Personal Tax and Trust Tax.
January then was a month filled with long days in the office, getting through the rigor of self assessment tax returns. Whilst my time spent on this type of work has dropped recently, I still found myself in the thick of it towards the end of the month, getting my hands dirty.
A plus point of our firm in relation to the overtime I do during busy periods is that this extra time gets saved as time off in lieu. During December and January I’ve racked up some five days of extra holiday, which is vital when I’m taking around three weeks a year for my exams.
If you follow me on twitter (@GT_NickB), you’ll notice that I’ve been fairly absent throughout December and January. My commitment to the job has been partly to blame for this, but with CTA results out in January I’ve been feeling slightly muted.
If you’ve read any of my later blogs from 2012, you’ll probably get the impression that my CTA training was a difficult time for me. I have never before worked so hard for any exams, and sitting two CTA papers cast a shadow over the effort I put into my University finals (which at the time seemed like a lot).
This strong effort I placed on the exams allowed me to take a relaxed approach to the results day. I had accepted that if I couldn’t pass, it was simply that I wasn’t smart enough to pass and that my effort would never come into question. That said, five minutes before the results came out I was a shaking wreck as I leant over my laptop screen with a prematurely (or optimistically) purchased bottle of Champagne on my desk.
These are moments I will never forget. From picking up my GCSE and A-Level results, to finding out my degree classification to passing my ATT exams. Each step seems that little more important to the next path in my life but all are incrementally as important as the last in the big picture.
The good news is I passed both and that I’m now just two weeks away from Bradenham again. The final sitting of CTA is just around the corner in May, and now more than ever I feel ready, not battered and bruised.
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!
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.
Whilst at University at Loughborough, I studied for the Accounting and Financial Management course. Having studied for one of those courses which was 12 hours a week, my chemistry and engineering housemates would often give me a hard time for doing a “easy subject”. Naturally, anyone doing 25-30 hours a week is going to get annoyed by someone like me getting by with 12 hours, but I always supported the idea that my course was difficult, just in a different way.
Whilst this may be hard for some to understand, but I found that the difficulty in a 12 hour a week degree course is keeping the pressure on and maintaining motivation. As a student, I found it all too easy to procrastinate and be lumped with a mammoth task towards the end of the semester. Something I’ve had to snap out of whilst working at Grant Thornton and studying for the CTA.
I started training for CTA only a few months ago but since then it’s been relentless and I can honestly say I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Like I do with all diary entries, I read the previous month’s blog again to refresh my memory, I recalled that August was a tough month – well September has been tougher.
Having had a tough month, I have naturally begun questioning my ability up against this prestigious and tough qualification. For the first time in my academic life, I have finally felt like I have met my match, something I have been searching for since I left school at 16. The challenge is great, and that feeling of failure is impossible to live with. As a result, I took a couple of weeks away from the books to allow the dust to settle and I now feel totally refreshed and 100% focused for my five week revision and exam session in October and November. The support network I have had from my line manager and fellow trainees has really helped to pull me through this and I’m grateful to have such a supportive culture surrounding me during this difficult time.
But enough about exams.
September was a good month for social occasions, with the office summer do being held at a fancy hotel in the New Forest on one Friday followed by the office away day the next. The away day was great, an afternoon of buggy racing, quad biking and other teambuilding events which set the tone of a night out on the town in Southampton with some fellow trainees.
Having joined the social committee within the office, it would be fair to say I’m looking forward to planning the next events, with go-karting, bowling and curry nights all in the pipeline – but first up on the schedule is the Christmas party which never fails to disappoint.
On that note, I’ll get back to the books and give one big heave-ho for the November exams. In readiness, I apologise if I don’t have much to say during October but that’ll largely be down to the fact that I’m either at home studying or at Bradenham revising.
Roll on 7 November.