Tag Archives: Offices

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!

Location Blog Summary

Since the Spilling the Beans blog’s incarnation a few years ago, we’ve constantly pushed to develop the site to help it achieve its goal of giving potential trainees an insight into what life is like at Grant Thornton. Two years ago we added a forum, and we were quickly inundated with queries regarding our various offices – clearly it worked and we were starting to learn about what you guys wanted to know about Grant Thornton.

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Location Blog Special – London Finsbury Square

Hi, I’m Priya and an Assistant Tax Manager in the London Finsbury Square office. I joined Grant Thornton at the start of 2012 having previously completed my ACA training contract at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in 2007. More recently, I have worked in the tax team for a market leader in the leisure and entertainment industry. I am currently studying for my CTA exams with Kaplan to complement my ACA qualification and enhance my understanding of the various technical tax issues relevant to my clients.

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Location Blog Special – Liverpool

Liverpool office blog

Hi, I’m Beoley and I joined Grant Thornton in August 2010 as a school leaver in the Liverpool office. The Liverpool office is located on the 4th floor of the Royal Liver Building. Opening in 1911 this is a Grade I listed building sited at the Pier Head and is one of Liverpool’s Three Graces which line the city’s water front, along with the neighbouring Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building.

Overall there are around 140 Grant Thornton employees working in a range of departments, including; audit, tax advisory, recovery & reorganisation, corporate finance and accounts preparation. A more recent addition to the Liverpool office saw over 40 former Audit Commission staff join us at the end of 2012.

I work in the audit department along with 41 other employees. Typically we work at the client’s premises in teams. The size of the team I work on will depend on the size of the client and can range from one to ten people . We all work as a team and there is definitely a ‘family feel’ in our office with plenty of jokes and laughs. Within the audit department we have a ‘hot desk’ policy meaning that we are not allocated a specific desk, this gives everyone a chance to interact with different staff in the office and build better relationships with colleagues.

We have recently merged with our Manchester office to become the North West office and have a number of clients across the region, even some in North Wales . This means there are many opportunities to travel with work and the occasional away job will mean staying in a hotel for a week or so, so plenty of restaurant dining!

The annual intake is quite large for the size of the Liverpool office; last year we took on both a tax and audit graduate, four school leavers and a 12-month intern. Recruiting a number of trainees in the same location at one time is a great way to make new friends and makes starting a new job a lot easier by knowing that there will be other people in the same boat, so there is no need to worry about settling in.

After qualification there are countless opportunities. A number of our executives have recently been promoted to Assistant Manager and then a further two have been promoted to Manager after holding their Assistant Manager positions for a year. There are also secondment opportunities available both to other departments in the UK or to Grant Thornton offices abroad. One of my colleagues has recently been out in Australia for three months, whilst another has seconded to our Cardiff office to work in their Forensic Investigations department. The world is your oyster at Grant Thornton!

Socially there is always something to do in Liverpool, be it our monthly drinks night, the theatre, ice skating, concerts and days out (the list is endless). We also take part in the annual football tournament (might I add the Liverpool girls team won this year) whereby each office goes head to head to win the title and a trophy. As a ‘thank you’ we also have summer BBQ’s, pizza and wine evenings and away days including trips to Alton Towers. LCASA (Liverpool Chartered Accountants Students Association) and MYP (Merseyside Young Professionals) both hold events such as the annual ball, quiz nights and karaoke.

Outside of work there is plenty of choice for shopping enthusiasts with Liverpool One, The Met Quarter and Cavern Walks within a five minute walk from the office; this is a great way to spend your lunch time or after work. There are also plenty of exciting places to eat and drink and always an opportunity to go out with work colleagues for birthdays or any other celebrations we can think of!

Should you have any further questions about the office or the area, please don’t hesitate to comment on this blog or contact me through twitter on @GT_Beoley.

Location Blog Special – Reading

Hi I’m Chris, I joined Grant Thornton around two years ago as a school leaver in what is now the Reading IQ or Winnersh Office. Reading IQ is part of the Thames Valley unit with the Oxford office.

The Reading IQ office is part of the Winnersh IQ Business Park which is located just outside Reading off Junction 10 on the M4 and is home to approximately 80 staff members over 3 main departments ? GCOS (Global Coordination and Outsourcing Solutions), Audit and Tax. The office itself is a new build so everything is very new and shiny! There’s even a pool table which gets frequent use in lunches and breaks, and in the pipeline there’s even a hint of a tournament brewing!

Although the office is situated on a business park, there is still a good choice for food. There’s a WH Smith and a restaurant or cafe directly opposite which serves the standard sandwiches as well as doing a range of hot foods which change daily. There’s also a Holiday Inn with a large bar inside which is often used for Friday drinks given by the partners or managers for a job well done or rather just surviving the week!

Overall the social aspect of the office is very good. As discussed often everyone goes for Friday drinks after work at the Holiday Inn or to a nearby pub, a 5 minute drive away, on a Friday for a pub lunch. We also get cakes on a Friday bought by the office as a treat to all staff and get to dress down too – basically Fridays are the best and most indulgent days to be in the office!

There are also various sports socials that go on. Historically staff have met up on a Tuesday at a sports centre to play badminton, but there is also weekly football played amongst staff on the weekend, with some games against other companies arranged for the midweek. Recently a squash league has also started, so there is always something you can do if you want to get involved.

We have a real range of clients in the office ranging from medium to large stock based companies all the way through to sports based entities and even some charities. Most of our clients however are small to medium entities in the computing industry and the majority are based as you would imagine in the Thames Valley region, but we do have a fair amount of clients based in and around London too. So in conclusion the mix of clients is great for a bit of variety!

Overall, Reading IQ is an incredibly dynamic office with engaged, friendly and enthusiastic staff which can offer you numerous opportunities to develop and diversify your skills to become an overall great business advisor.

Location Blog Special – Bristol

In previous blogs I have mentioned travelling around the Southwest and Wales as part of my client work but as my home base is the firm’s Bristol Office I’m writing the profile for both the office and the magnificent city of Bristol itself.

The office is located in the City Quarter, not far from Temple Meads railway station, on two floors of a modern office building. It’s home to around 200 staff mainly split across audit, tax, corporate finance and recovery and reorganisation. We also have other disciplines including Government Infrastructure & Advisory, Forensic accounting services and Risk Assurance. This year the office took on eight new trainees, with the majority in audit and tax.

The audit team, which is made up of our commercial and public sector audit departments (of which I’m a member), is the largest by head count and this will grow once we are joined by over 50 audit commission colleagues in November 2012. The office will then be the dominant public sector audit provider in the Southwest, which is a great reason to apply for our public sector training scheme roles in Bristol.

The office has good facilities, two kitchens, one with a large plasma screen which major sporting events or for colleagues in tax the budget are screened on. We also have showers and secure cycle storage for our cycling colleagues. There’s a good deal of socialising and Bristol has plenty to offer in this regard.

Like Nick said about Southampton, the city has two large universities so night life isn’t a problem. There’s also tonnes of cultural and historic attractions, from the SS Great Britain, street art galore (as the home to Banksy) and the floating harbour with its waterside bars and restaurants. My favourite is the grain barge which is a floating pub with live music venue on the lower decks. We don’t do badly for culture either, and last Saturday I went to see the Lion King musical at the Hippodrome which was AWESOME! We’ve also got lots of sporting opportunities, I have taken part in the Bristol 10k and Bath 100 cycle sportive and a number of my colleagues compete in the Bristol Downs football league.

Many trainees live in Clifton which is a lively place to live. It’s also home to Bristol Zoo which is awesome in itself, but there’s also tonnes of cafes, bars and shops. I’m told rents are reasonable but I opted to live further out in Downend which is to the north east of the city centre where my rent is definitely great value. Being a bit further out is also ideal for me as it gives me easy access to the countryside around Bristol for cycling and walking, including the national arboretum at Westonbirt. I’m only a short bike ride along the cycle way to Bath with all that city has to offer. Even though I’m now an accountant now, I’m an ecologist by trade and can’t stay away from getting my hands dirty on a weekend, so it also made sense to live further out of town as there was a much shorter allotment waiting list where I now live.

If I had to summarise the three main reasons Bristol is a great city live and work in they’d be, in no particular order:

1) The office is growing and full of opportunities with major clients ranging from motor, retail and manufacturing companies to high net worth individuals and owner managed businesses, and we are about to become the primary supplier of audit services to public sector bodies in the Southwest.

2) The city is full of things to do in terms of nightlife, history, culture and sport. There’s always something going on.

3) The city is a gateway to the South Coast and Wales with stunning countryside all around. Oh and Glastonbury is pretty much on our doorstep!

Location Blog Special – Leeds

Hi, I’m Phil and I’m an audit trainee working within the Leeds office. The Leeds office is one of the larger of Grant Thornton’s UK offices, with around 200 members of staff in total across a variety of service lines. The office itself is at No 1 Whitehall Riverside, a brand-new building alongside the River Aire, just a two minute walk from the train station and the heart of the city centre. Grant Thornton occupies two floors of the building, where other tenants include Cobbetts LLP and Bank of New York Mellon, meaning there are plenty of networking opportunities available with young professionals from other firms close by.

The Leeds office covers a broad range of clients across most business sectors (Yorkshire is a fairly sizeable region!) so it is fair to say you will have a varied workload if you come to work here. Particular commercial focuses for the office are in manufacturing, engineering, motor retail and food, which are historically strong industries in the North East region. There is also a large public sector service offering, covering some of the largest NHS Trusts and city councils in the country, so you can choose to specialise and train in this area if that is where your interests lie.

The audit department, of which I am a member, is the largest in the office. The team has about 70 staff in total, with approximately half of this number being made up of trainees, so the support network when you are studying for exams is really strong. An extension of this support is the ‘buddy system’ that we have, where trainees with 12 months or more of experience are partnered with more recent joiners to ensure the induction into working life is as smooth as possible. I know I found this to be very useful in my first few months and you find that a lot of questions your buddy will also have asked upon joining the firm! In addition, the management and partner team are very approachable should you have any queries of them; the ‘open door’ policy is another of things I enjoy about working here.

In recent years the Leeds office has taken on an increasing number of trainees, with the numbers this year increasing to 13 across September and January intakes. The majority of trainees will go into audit with around 1-2 joining the tax department, which although smaller than audit is still sufficiently large to offer a broad client base and variety of work. The high ratio of trainees to qualified staff makes for a strong social scene, which centres around our ‘Third Thursday’ drinks. These take place once a month and offer staff from all departments a chance to catch up, certainly beneficial for the auditors amongst us who spend all of their time out of the office at clients.

Leeds sits pretty much in the centre of Yorkshire, so it’s a great place both to live and as a base from which to explore the rest of the region. Sport, fashion and nightlife all have a strong presence in the city, yet a thirty minute drive can take you to the history of York or the tranquillity of the Dales National Park. As a Yorkshireman in exile for many years, it has been great to come back to the diversity of opportunity on offer here, both in and out of the workplace.

I hope that gives you a brief insight into what it might be like to work here. If you would like to know more please post on our forum here or tweet me @GT_Phil.

Location Blog Special – Oxford

Hi, I’m Matthew and I work in the Employer Solutions team at the Oxford office.

The Oxford office is part of the Thames Valley region, which also includes the two Reading offices. There are around 115 people in Oxford and 100 in Reading, with around 17 graduates joining the two offices each year.

The Oxford office is situated in Oxford Business Park, which is south of the city and is on a good bus route. There is a Tesco’s and M&S within a few minutes’ walk, which is handy!

We have many technology companies as clients in Oxford and there are a lot of Oxford university spin-out companies. As well as this, we have AIM listed, land and property, not for profit and investment companies as clients.

We offer a range of services in the Oxford office. As I am in the Employer Solutions team, my work involves offering clients share schemes, employment tax advice and advice for expatriates who have either come to the UK or work abroad. There are seven people in my team in Oxford with a further two in Reading. Other teams in the office are Research & Development, Corporate Tax, Personal Tax, Financial Planning, Audit and VAT to name a few.

The Oxford office has a number of events during the year, including Summer and Christmas parties. Last year’s Christmas party was in the Randolph ? probably the top hotel in Oxford for a three-course dinner with burlesque entertainers. There are also a few away days spread throughout the year where we will have meetings in various locations, for example, in an Oxford college. A few years ago, the office went to Brussels for the day! There are also social events after work that are subsidised by the office. A month ago we went punting followed by dinner. Fortunately, it was on one of the few days it didn’t rain!

The cost of living in Oxford is quite high, but it does depend on the area. Cowley is a very popular choice since many students live there, which makes it livelier than others, and is a little cheaper. Whereas, Summertown is often regarded as the top place to live! However, wherever you live, there are generally good bus routes in to the centre which makes it very easy to meet up with friends and there is a plethora of pubs to try!

Once qualified there are many opportunities within Grant Thornton to try something different. People go on secondments to other offices such as London or to different teams. There have also been many international secondments to places such as America, Australia and Brazil! I have visited offices in Qatar and Dubai and am hoping to organise a secondment to Dubai next year.

The Oxford office is a successful office and is helpful and friendly. Oxford is a great place to live and I am proud to be part of it.

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.