Tag Archives: Southampton

Put Your Hand Up

Hi everyone, I’m Nick and I’m a former member of the Spilling the Beans team. Having spent a little while away from the team now, it’s been great to see how my successors have continued to move from strength to strength.

Being a part of this team was really enjoyable and great for my professional development. As a member I got involved in such varied work and, in the three months since I left the team, the little motor inside me (that won’t let me just make do with the nine-to-five) has seen me get involved in a new range of different and exciting projects…

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Location, Location, Location

Hi, I’m Sean and I joined Grant Thornton in September 2012 as an Audit Trainee. Having spent three years at University in Birmingham, I had my mind set on returning to the ‘bright lights’ of London, my hometown, where I could begin my career as an accountant and start to pay off my student loan.

As you may know, London is very competitive and graduate positions tend to be filled early. During the application process I was told that despite Grant Thornton liking my application, the London Euston office had filled their vacancies and I was asked to consider applying to another office. This caused me to weigh-up the pros and cons of moving to a new city, especially my living arrangements and the work and social opportunities available in a new place.

Southampton was my new chosen destination and I was somewhat apprehensive before the Assessment Centre day. However, by the end of that day my mind had firmly been made up. I received a call directly from the Audit Partner who interviewed me, stating how enthused he was with my application and for me to join his office. Looking back, this is typical of life at Grant Thornton and our values. It proved to me that trainees play a key role in the firms growth. Rather than applying for other accountancy firms in London, I felt Grant Thornton’s distinctive brand message of growth and the responsibility given to trainees from the start were convincing factors for my future.

Eight months later and I have not looked back since joining the Southampton office. My experience has been varied and no week is the same. I write this blog having just returned from a visit to Northern Ireland to a subsidiary company of one of our regular clients in the construction industry. With the Southampton office being somewhat smaller in comparison to London, it presents greater opportunities to adopt responsibility and have ownership of jobs from the start. This is definitely an advantage of working in a regional office.

Southampton offers reasonably priced accommodation and I have been lucky enough to find a shared house within walking distance of both the office and our local Kaplan centre (the external training provider used for our exams). There are regular social events, all of which are well attended and have helped me to settle down in the South. I particularly look forward to the Grant Thornton National Football Tournament. The event will be held in Liverpool during July and the Southampton office will be sending along two boys and two girls teams to bring back the trophy!

My advice to current applicants is to be open-minded. Regional offices offer you a varied experience with great responsibility. You should consider whether it is the firm and its values which help decide on your next job offer or whether the location is the most important factor relevant to you. Things are developing well my end, still a long way to go with the student loan though!

Nick’s Diary – April 2013

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.

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Location Blog Special – Southampton

Hi everyone, I’m Nick and I started working at Grant Thornton’s Southampton office in January 2012. Here is my insight into life at Southampton and this office.

The Southampton office is a stand-alone building, with Grant Thornton taking up the ground, first and second floors with Michael Page and Santander residing on the top two floors of the building. It is home to roughly 90 Grant Thornton employees over several departments – audit, tax advisory, recovery & reorganisation, corporate finance, corporate restructuring, accounts preparation and our personal tax compliance unit. The office is managed primarily by two audit partners who both have a personal approach and strong leadership.

The audit department is approximately 30 people strong, with around 20 people making up the trainees. In tax, the department is smaller and we currently have only two trainees (including myself) increasing to three in January.

In terms of yearly intake, the Southampton office takes on one tax graduate, around three audit graduates and three school leaver programme trainees between September and January. Therefore trainees often start with others in the same boat and this particuarly helped me in finding my feet and getting adjusted to the environment with my freshly faced colleagues.

Southampton has a city has strong industries in property, travel, shipping, retail and logistics. Therefore, we have many clients working in these areas. However, as Grant Thornton tends to focus its strengths on client size rather than client type, you can expect to see a wide range of client type being serviced by the Southampton office. This includes a wide range in geographics too, as a few members from the audit team get the opportunity to fly to California once a year to complete the audit of a subsidiary UK-based client.

The city of Southampton itself has a immersive history as it is one of Britain’s oldest cities. The historic walls entwine with the high street which boasts West Quay, one of the biggest shopping centres in the UK. Being on the south coast, it is ideal for seafarers and has two great venues in Portsmouth and Bournemouth just only 30 minutes drive away. On Southampton’s doorstep is the New Forest, a preserved national park which is the only place I’ve ever seen wild horses roaming the fields. It offers a great location for a chilled out Sunday picnic.

As Southampton has two Universities, you can expect to see an accommodating and diverse nightlife scene, and for the more quiet Saturday nights, the city is able to offer some of the best restaurants in the South, with a wide range of independently owned cultural restaurants. There are also plenty of gig venues, where you can see headline acts at the historic Mayflower or budding rockstars in smaller venues. There seems to forever be developments and planning going on around the city which will only add to a greater social environment for the out-going trainee.

I made the lengthy relocation from Portsmouth to Southampton when I started at Grant Thornton and, despite remaining a Pompey fan, I’ve not looked back. My city centre accommodation isn’t too expensive and I have the benefit of a 20 minute walk to work. The office is progressive and constantly growing; the future looks bright for the city and Grant Thornton itself.

Should you have any further queries about the office or the area, please don’t hesitate to query in this blog or contact me through twitter on @GT_NickB.

Why I didn’t choose London…

Like Lucy, I started as part of the 2010 year intake with the exception that I started in January 2011 rather than September 2010. The late start varies in offices nationally as Grant Thornton staggers its graduate and school leaver intake. The extra time after University helped me to see the world and get the whole ‘gap year’ idea out of my head before diving into my career head first.

Whilst I went to Loughborough University, I’m a Portsmouth boy at heart so the move over to Southampton wasn’t exactly groundbreaking, but now that I’m into my second year here, I feel well and truly at home in this city.

So London vs regional, that’s the point we’re getting onto here. Maybe I’ll start with this; in my opinion London is one of the best cities in the world. I love it. It’s vibrant, exciting, busy, scarily expensive, diverse and has so much to offer. I love the excitement I get whenever I get to see the beautiful architecture and fascinating history. It’s magical.

I ask myself this: if I were to be there everyday would I lose my love for the city’s magic? Would the more mundane Londoner things start to pull me down? Like getting wedged on the underground rush, struggling for a parking space, paying over the odds for a pint or living out of a one bedroom houseshare. These issues seem to be nonchalantly accepted by Londoners, but I personally think I’d struggle.

My setup in Southampton is quite different. On my admittedly non-London wage I am able to live in a nice apartment in a nice area of the city, only 20 minutes from the centre. I can see the Solent from my window, I have a secure parking space and some great B-roads not too far away. I can walk to work (through several parks) where I am familiar with everyone in my office and can be home by 5:30pm. These luxuries are dear to me and I know a move to London would generate a great deal of personal sacrifice.

I accept that Southampton doesn’t have a giant ferris wheel, nor does the Queen live here, but this city, along with so many other fantastic British cities, each offer something different in their own way. The more I visit different areas of this country, the more I realise that Britain has a lot to offer outside its capital, and the less I want to see the tube everyday.

It’s nice to know I’m only an hour away from London and, who knows, maybe in a couple of years time I’ll fancy doing a secondment to one of the Grant Thornton offices. For now though, I’m happy where I am and no giant gherkin can tempt me otherwise.