#WWYAB – Seizing Opportunities

One of the most important things for me of working at a large firm such as Grant Thornton is the opportunities that are presented to you. From my induction at Talent 12, I remember our CEO, Scott Barnes, telling us that we are all responsible for shaping our own future. I feel the way each of us can best do this is to work extremely hard along the way and continue to look to challenge ourselves.

My advice for all trainees is…

…to be interested and intrigued – talk to your colleagues and understand the clients they are working on or the issues their clients are facing. Once you have identified which clients or specific industries interest you, then communicate this to your line manager who can accommodate your interest and plan for you to work with these, or similar clients. In doing so, your daily work will become more exciting and meaningful to you, encouraging you to take ownership and initiative. By showing initiative you will find you are in a much better situation to really get to know your client and begin to add value.

Trainees at Grant Thornton are encouraged to take on responsibility from the start. My next bit of advice is to be confident when faced with new situations and always be willing to learn. I was once told ‘If you never ask why, then things stay the same’ and this has stuck with me through my training period. Starting work with little accounting knowledge can be daunting at first, however with the supportive nature of everyone at Grant Thornton asking questions is encouraged, allowing you to understand and embrace the responsibility that is given to you. I have now been at Grant Thornton for a year and am beginning to in-charge audits. This involves developing a whole new set of skills, such as planning the key issues to be dealt with during the audit and supervising and coaching more junior trainees during the fieldwork. This is a new opportunity for me and makes my day job more varied and challenging but also more rewarding. By asking the right questions at the right times I feel well equipped to take the next step as an ‘in-charge’.

From a social side of things, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with and even to organise events yourself. For me there are two benefits of such social plans. Not only are good food and drink often consumed, but these events also allow us to develop trusting relationships with colleagues and to establish some common ground to build a rapport – all of which allow us to collaborate further in the future. Recently I received an invitation to attend the Southampton office annual golf event which is attended by existing and prospective clients. I enthusiastically accepted my invitation and on the day was able to meet and socialise with a wide-range of  diverse local business owners. To understand their business and the issues they are facing was an eye-opener, however having met client staff from my next audit in a social situation  and shared some laughs over a few missed putts, this has given me the confidence to hit the ground running when the audit comes around and to have deeper conversations. My advice is to get involved – we work hard as a team and it is important to have fun as a team. By taking the opportunity to laugh together, when work does build up, we are all willing to go the extra-mile for each other.

At Grant Thornton there are plenty of opportunities internally. During my time in the Southampton office I have seen a colleague go on secondment to Sydney as well as two qualified  executives relocate to the London Finsbury office where they will begin their careers in Corporate Finance and Forensic and Investigation Services. It is important to always be thinking about your next step, what interests you most and where you can best add value both to yourself and to your clients. Challenge yourself, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and remember to keep asking questions along the way.

For further insights into what I get up to as a trainee, or if you would like to ask me a direct question, find me on twitter : @GT_SeanM.

4 thoughts on “#WWYAB – Seizing Opportunities

  1. avatarmari


    Thank you for your comments and great advice.

    I was wondering if you or someone else in the team could shed some light in the following for me:

    I would like to apply for audit but eventually would like to work in Consultancy (is it different from advisory??), Recovery and Reorganisation or Forensic and Investigation. Would the Audit route be a suitable grounding to move on to these areas, or would you recommend a different entry route?

    Thank you in advance for your time and help with this. It’s truly appreciated!

  2. avatarmari

    Hello again,

    I would also like to ask what dis your first year as audit trainee entail and what exactly are the audit tests? I get the general idea but I would appreciate a few details about them to get a better understanding.

    Many thanks!

  3. avatarSean McDermott Post author

    Hi Mari,

    I believe consultancy and advisory are essentially the same thing, however at Grant Thornton we refer to it mainly as advisory. Audit is definetly a suitable grounding for you to move onto other areas as it gives you wide exposure to all different aspects of a business. As mentioned above I have already witnessed from the Southampton office those who have trained in audit/tax and have then progressed to work in either Corporate Finance or Forensic and Investigation.
    If you are certain that you want to apply to either Recovery and Reorganisation or Forensic and Investigations then I would recommend you apply for those roles now. However, if you are not certain and would prefer to give yourself some time before committing to a more specialised service line, then I would say audit would be the better choice for you.

    You will also need to consider the office you are applying to and the role you are applying for. For example, the Southampton office does not offer graduate positions in Recovery and Reorganisation, whereas the London offices and other offices will do.

    With regards to your first year as an audit trainee, your time will be spent either at Bradenham (search our website for numerous blogs on Bradenham), studying towards your professional qualification at college, or assissting other assisstants during an audit.

    Audit tests vary greatly depending on the nature of the client. However just as an example, we would test the ‘recoverability’ of the clients debtors at year end by testing what money they had received after their reporting date. If cash has been received, this gives us comfort over the existence and recoverability of that debt at the year end.
    Another common test would be the stock-take whereby we verify the stock the client claims to have at the reporting date. We would then need to ensure the value of that stock is correct and not over-valued. Usually this is done by comparing the stock price to the actual price it was sold for and comparing any differences.

    I hope this answers your question and gives you further insight into audit tests.

    If you have any other questions then please get in touch.



  4. avatarmari

    Hi Sean,

    Thank you for your response, it’s greatly appreciated. I think I would rather have some solid grounding and a formal qualification before moving to a more specialist area, so I will apply for audit first. Also, there are no vacancies in Recovery and Reorganisation or Investigations at the moment, so I cannot really compare what these two programmes offer exactly 🙂

    Many thanks for all your time.


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