Tag Archives: Experience

Alex’s Corporate Finance Blog – Part 2

In my previous blog I gave you a brief background to our Corporate Finance team, as well as touching on some of my experiences within Lead Advisory and Public Company Advisory.  As recruitment season is well and truly upon us, I will share some of my experiences hunting for a placement, what I think made me successful and how I have been making the most of the opportunity.

The first point worth mentioning is that your university will probably be pushing for you to apply to as many placements as possible. Whilst this scatter gun approach has some benefits, I would offer a word of caution. In my experience there is often an inverse relationship between quantity and quality of applications.  Applying for fifty placements sounds impressive… Read this post

Being an in-charge at Grant Thornton

“The price of greatness is responsibility” – Winston Churchill

Having now been at Grant Thornton for over a year and a half, one of my objectives this year was to in-charge a small audit before Christmas. So a few weeks ago I had my first in-charge job – objective…Tick!

So OK, being an in-charge is not quite on Winston Churchill’s levels of ‘responsibility’… Read this post

Unlocking the Potential for Dynamic Students

When I joined Grant Thornton I was really proud to be a part of a down to earth, dynamic and forward thinking organisation. I’d moved from another large accountancy firm where they did trainee recruitment really well. What I was excited about was using my existing expertise and turning it up a notch to help create and build a new approach that felt really right for Grant Thornton. One of the first projects I worked on was this very blog, along with a group of amazing trainees. Being surrounded by such fantastic talent and energy really inspired me to strive to be market leading in everything we do as a team.

As well as being market leading with our approach to social media we knew we had to do something bold and brave around how we identify and select great talent. We’re an ambitious firm that’s really going places, and finding amazing trainees is central to our growth strategy. We’re on track to achieving our ambition of being a £500m turnover business a year early. The trainees we hire are pivotal to this, and ultimately driving the growth of our firm.

We already hire great talent. Each year we look for over 350 business advisers to join us across our four programmes; graduate, school leaver, summer intern and 12 month placement. A brave approach to social media and a bold marketing campaign needed to be complemented by a distinctive approach to selection. This realisation set the scene and is where our thinking began. Read this post

The Summer Internship

Hi, I’m Liam and this summer I completed a six week internship working mainly in commercial audit from Grant Thornton’s Bristol office. I also had the opportunity to spend time in the commercial tax, corporate finance and public sector audit departments, as well as working from the Cardiff office for one week.

At the moment I’m in my fourth year studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Warwick. I get asked a lot why I chose to work for an accountancy firm and, at the time, I applied because I was interested in business from modules at university and reading newspapers. I also enjoy watching TV shows like Dragons Den; which I think really demonstrates how important understanding the numbers is for a business.

I’d considered other business and finance careers, but chose accountancy because of the chance to study for the ACA qualification and the opportunity to work closely with clients. Grant Thornton stood out to me because they work mainly with medium sized businesses and promised a greater variety of work than some of the larger firms.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed and from my second day I was out completing real work on a client site. Each week I was with a different client and was involved in most sections of the audit. It surprised me how independently I was expected to work and towards the end of my internship I was responsible for entire sections of the audit. The fieldwork was normally led by a second or third year trainee, making it really easy for me to ask lots of questions without feeling silly. All of my work was of course thoroughly checked and everyone was encouraged to share feedback at the end of a job.

The open plan office at Bristol made it easy to talk to the managers and I felt a real effort was made to fully involve me with the department. Working in audit, however, does mean you can sometimes feel like a stranger in the office, but I personally enjoyed working in a small team and visiting clients.

There were of course aspects I found difficult, such as getting up early to catch a train to Cardiff and working with detailed spreadsheets. However, I was grateful to have the opportunity to work with clients in a different city and enjoyed being engaged by the work.

At the end of my internship I was fortunate to secure a graduate position with the audit team. My summer with Grant Thornton was a brilliant experience and I’m really looking forward to starting with the firm next year.

If you have any questions please post on the Facebook page. I’m also the Campus Ambassador at Warwick this year and am really looking forward to hopefully meeting some of you at our events.

Grant Thornton vs the Mid-Tier Firms

When applying for a role as a trainee for a professional services firm, I’m sure many will apply for more than just the one firm in the hope that they will secure a position with at least one. The obvious comparison that is often made about Grant Thornton and other firms is usually up against the Big Four. However, with graduate and school leaver positions available at mid-tier firms, maybe this is a comparison which is often overlooked.

Read this post

Tax Insight: Start-up Business Relief

When I was a student at Loughborough University, one of my favourite modules was focused around the sources of funds and financial packages of new business start-ups. While this was only a 10 credit final year module, its impact on my desires to focus in this field in the future are clearly apparent.

Since leaving Loughborough, I’ve revisited on several occasions, many of which have been for careers events where I’ve been able to talk to the Grant Thornton employee hopefuls and talent of tomorrow. One question I’m always faced with, for which I find it almost impossible to answer, is “what do you do on a daily basis?”.

While I’m not going to be able to answer that question over the next 300 words, I am going to be able to explain a technical tax relief which I have recently been involved in. Fingers cross this will give an insight into the kind of thing a corporate tax associate does, as well as complementing my previous enjoyment for my favourite degree module.

New business is a real focus of our Coalition Government as it links in directly to David Cameron’s Big Society. As a result, in the March 2012 budget the Government announced a new form of tax relief for individuals if they invest up to 100,000GBP in early start-up companies’ shares.

This relief, called Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (or SEIS) relief, gives the individual a 50% reduction on their tax liability on SEIS investments up to 100,000GBP. Therefore, an investment in a SEIS company could see a tax liability reduced by 50,000GBP (or your actual tax liability, if less).

Furthermore, if these shares are sold after three years of ownership, they are exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT). In addition, there is a temporary CGT break for the 2012/13 tax year which means any gains made from the sale of other assets in the year, which are reinvested in SEIS shares, will be exempt from capital gains tax.

As future gains after three years are exempt, which can be chargeable at 28%, this relief can be worth in excess of 75% in tax reliefs and is certainly a generous way for the Government to encourage growth in new start-up companies.

The company will of course need to meet certain criteria too, including a restriction on their number of employees, amount of assets held and amount raised. They must also be operating within a ‘qualifying trade’ as outlined by tax legislation. These are all factors which must be considered when operating a SEIS plan and clearly its complexity strikes the need for professional tax advice.

I take great pleasure in working through beneficial tax solutions for clients which have a wider impact on the exciting business of new start-ups. I also enjoy how these technical pieces of tax legislation have a defined motivation to work towards building a more diverse and innovative British economy.

If you’ve found this interesting, then maybe a career in tax is for you. Feel free to comment below or tweet at me (@GT_NickB) if you should have any other questions regarding my job or the type of work I get involved with.

The Secret Life of an Audit Manager

I joined Grant Thornton in 1984 as a trainee, studying for the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators exams (which focuses on Company Law, but also includes accountancy, audit and tax). I passed the exams and was admitted as an associate member of ICSA in February 1987.

Later that year I started the ACA training, and passed the first 8 exams. Sadly, just before I sat my final 4 exams my father died – and although I went ahead and sat the exams my mind was not ‘in gear’, and I was unsuccessful in one of the four papers. The credit system did not exist back then, which meant I had to re-sit all 4 papers, which I did, but again was unsuccessful in the same paper. I tried for a third time, but got the same result.

The firm was very supportive, allowing me to continue my career with my ICSA qualification and by that time knowing the work I was capable of carrying out. By then I was an audit senior and shortly afterwards was promoted to assistant manager and then manager.

I have always been a strong believer in personal development, and working as a line manager, training manager and assessor at the Development Centres I have taken a keen interest over the years in the development of the firm’s trainees. However, I felt there was something missing for me in not having an accountancy qualification, and I was sad that the qualification had eluded me earlier in my career.

In 2006 I made the decision that I wanted to gain an accountancy qualification. I recognised that it would be hard work and challenging, but it felt an important step in my own professional development. It also felt important to honour the work that I do, and my career that, even after many years, remains stimulating, motivating and very rewarding. With the support and encouragement of my office assurance partners and Office Managing Partner, I registered with the ACCA. I would have to take 9 exams to enable me to qualify. I was surprised that they had granted me some exemptions because of my ICSA qualification – after all I had taken these exams more than 20 years earlier!

I decided to do the studying by distance learning, and the books for the first 2 exams arrived in January 2010. It has been hard work since then, keeping up with the demands of the ‘day job’ as a senior assurance manager, studying in the evenings and weekends (for all the trainees – I really do understand what trainees face!) and trying to maintain my home and social life!!

The subjects have been wide-ranging: the audit and financial & corporate reporting have been based on international standards (which has been good to learn), and I have also taken exams in financial and business management, business strategy and analysis and tax. I have enjoyed the learning, up-dating my knowledge, and reading some really interesting and informative articles (especially around business analysis).

I sat my first exams in June 2010, and was so happy when I passed them. I sat a further 2 in December 2010 (and passed), 3 in June 2011 (and passed) and the final 2 in December 2011. I got the results on Monday (13 February) and was over the moon when I read the words “pass” against both papers. In fact, I think I’m still smiling!