Jenny here. Today we have a great guest blog from one of our lovely Financial Services Business Risk Services (FS BRS) Associates, Athar, who has provided some really valuable insights into life as a trainee at Grant Thornton. Enjoy!
1. What does your role entail?
The beauty of audit and working in the Business Risk Services department is that no two days are the same and your role can entail a variety of tasks and responsibilities. These could include; developing a number of risk and control assessments to improve client’s business performance; delivering objective, innovative and value-adding solutions that enables clients to strengthen their internal controls and governance processes; working as a member of a broader team in providing research for inputs into collaterals and proposals as needed; developing and preparing audit planning documents; performing and documenting walkthroughs, workshops and fieldwork as applicable; contributing in the implementation of new and upcoming regulations and sound organisational strategies to enhance client’s operational efficiencies and drafting final audit reports. Additionally, you can participate in numerous business development activities as well as taking part in various working groups, breakfast briefings, client dinners and conferences.
2. What’s a typical day/ week/ month for you?
Every day is a learning day. You could be working in the office or at a client’s; you could be working by yourself or within a team. Regardless, you will face new and exciting challenges every day and could be introduced to new and diverse areas/businesses each week/month. This enables you to gain greater exposure to a wide range of areas within various industries, allowing you to widen your horizons and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to narrow in on your area of interested and consequently enabling you to take a leap in your profession.
Nevertheless, a typical day will start at 9:00 am. After getting set up, it’s usually either working through the “to do” pile, dealing with a number of instructions/queries or receiving a new assignment from a client. Some days this involves more interaction with clients and other days it can be a variety of responsibilities including, planning and developing audit programs, drafting risk assessments, reviewing and obtaining relevant background documents, conducting fieldwork or even working on writing up final audit reports. Throughout the day/week you might have several discussions and meetings with your team/manager to see where you are and how well you are progressing. The good news is, help is always at hand if you need it. There is a great support network of people that can assist you depending on your query.
Typically, lunch is an hour break between 12:30 – 2:00 depending on your daily/weekly work schedule.
The day usually ends between 5:30/6:00 depending on the client or work that I have been assigned to. My time is split between work and studies and they go hand in hand in developing and improving both my knowledge and understanding of the industry, and my work progression. So, during study times this means that after finishing work it is either straight to home or staying back in the office to revise towards my forthcoming exam. Although managing to find a balance between my ‘work-life’ and ‘study-life’ can seem overwhelming at times (and extremely exhausting), I know it will all be worthwhile and valued in the end.
3. Tell me the most interesting piece of work you’ve done recently – why?
One of the most satisfying projects that I was part of was conducting a Culture Audit on the Internal Audit function of a large retail bank.
It involved understanding and studying the bank’s cultural characteristics such as complex behaviors, norms, values and patterns. The audit involved performing an ‘IA Risk Mind-sets and Behaviours’ review through identifying the inefficient controls in place and articulating a variety of risks including disclosure of information, lack of skill sets, tone from the top, inconsistencies in systems and processes and leadership abilities to the management.
I found the impact of establishing and implementing effective controls (derived from an accurate articulation of associated risks) in relation to employee’s conduct and behaviours very interesting. What is more, the strong correlation between this and having a positive and encouraging organisational culture, increased motivation and productivity was very fascinating.
4. Why did you choose to move into FS BRS? Why would you recommend to others perhaps moving from a similar background?
When deciding what service line I would apply for, I decided to join a team that could offer a wide range of services within different industries as well as one which would have a real positive impact on its client. Analysing complex financial information, but also getting under the skin of a company’s culture and understand the bigger picture was always mind stimulating for me. To become an auditor and work in the FS BRS team, one had to be able to communicate well with people but, if necessary, be professionally sceptical about what they’re saying.
Business Risk Services team provided value-adding risk assurance solutions to a range of different clients and as a business unit they had developed and grown year-on-year which led me to choose them and subsequently move into FS BRS.
5. What’s the best thing about working here/ What’s kept you at Grant Thornton?
The people you work with, from associate to partner level are all incredibly friendly and helpful. The work is broad and challenging and every day presents a new challenge, so you never get bored. Also, working at Grant Thornton offers you a great career progression.
6. What’s next for you and your role?
Graduating, developing my skills and knowledge of the industry as an auditor (I believe this is endless in today’s ever-growing technology and regulatory advancements).
7. What’s the social life like/ people like
It takes profound skills to juggle both studies and a social life as a trainee student. So I often find myself missing out on events, however there are plenty of social and fun events outside our day to day job that allows us to catch up with our colleagues and friends here at FS BRS.
8. What do you think makes Grant Thornton different to other firms and similar teams?
Choosing a firm to start your career with could be a big decision and one that needs careful and thorough consideration. Grant Thornton has proven to be all about building a healthy, high-performance culture where individuals feel respected and encouraged to contribute all their abilities. It is based on three vital values of People and Culture, Career Development and Diverse Experience.
This being said, at FS BRS I had the opportunity to work with countless clients, obtain a well-rounded experience and also work in a firm where I felt I could be supported, valued and make a real difference without having to deal with harsh office politics.
9. What skills do you think you need to have to work here?
If you are analytical, adaptable, a great team player, good communicator and enjoy taking new and diverse challenges every day/week then a career working in Grant Thornton’s Business Risk Services may well be for you.
10. Sum up your job in three words
Diverse, Challenging, Educational