This article is no longer listed, please search the site for up to date articles

  • Bio: Chris began working with PwC as a temp, he was taken on within their tax department and now works as a Senior Tax Associate.
  • Role: Senior Tax Associate
  • Organisation: PwC

Chris McCulloch

I always wanted to have letters after my name when I was younger because I thought it was cool and that it meant I was some sort of ‘big shot’. Now, I want letters after my name because people recognise that I’ve achieved something plus, employers tend to pay more!

So when the time came to embark on my life as a grown-up, and I learned that a career in law would not be like on the TV, I was left a little unsure as to which career to choose. As many tax practitioners seem to have done, I ended up ‘falling’ into a career in tax.

How did I get my job at PwC?

Coincidently I stumbled across PwC, when a recruitment friend of mine got me a part-time administration position. It was supposed to be a two-week filler, but six years later I’m still here.

There was a young private client team who had seemed to develop an excellent work/life balance and I knew I could fit in. After doing a little research on the profession I strode into a tax partner’s office (after knocking politely) and did as best a job I could to sell myself.

What was the interview process like?

Well, I would say I was lucky not to go through the formal interview process as I no doubt saved myself some sleepless nights. But what I would say is that my initiative, ambition and personality impressed the tax partner.

Over the years I’ve been involved as an assessor and attended events for students looking at a career in tax. From this I would say the best thing you can do is be yourself and be prepared and there is help and guidance available out there, so use it.

What challenges have I come across?

Once I had my foot in the door I really wanted to excel, but I wasn’t the only one so I knew I had to work hard to stand out. Before long this would mean exams!

Over my first few years I built on my experiences, acquired some decent industry knowledge and got my head around the technical mumbo-jumbo to a point where I was confident I was in the right job. Having a ‘people manager’ to help guide me was invaluable, so when the time was right I put myself forward to study.

The first step was to sit the Association of Tax Techicians exams (ATT), which is a four-part modular set of exams which looks at the core elements of the UK tax system with the opportunity to specialise. It was an excellent foundation for me because it opened my eyes to the scope, variety and complexity of tax.

How did taking the exams affect your career?

With any qualification, the effort you put in is reflected in what you get out and I was lucky enough to win a few of the prizes the Association had on offer. The success of these exams soon opened doors and before I knew it I was a mini-celebrity (in the tax world). This boosted my career prospects and in a few short months I found my work responsibilities had taken a giant leap.

Without giving my brain too much time to forget the hundreds of legislative references and tax rules I’d crammed into it, I decided to go straight in for the Chartered Taxation Advisers (CTA) exams. These exams are not for the faint hearted, but once again the benefit of putting in the hard work is well worth the rewards at the end – it isn’t the ‘gold standard’ in the tax profession for nothing.

What do PwC do?

I remember being told by an external ‘cheesy’ motivational speaker that if asked this question, the answer should be “tax advisers save their clients’ money!” But, having been with PwC for several years now, the firm believes there’s a little more to it than that.

PwC have a vision: one firm – a powerhouse of a commercial enterprise that does the right thing for our clients, our people and our communities. (I stole that right out the brochure…)

But what does it mean for the likes of me? Well, I was recently asked to attend a meeting with a senior tax partner with the opportunity to ask him questions and provide him feedback. These positive behaviours are well received, and along with regular ‘YouMatter’ surveys, PwC are really making my experience count.

What do I do at PwC?

I’m a Senior Tax Associate and I have a large portfolio of high net-worth individual clients. I look after their personal taxation needs including completing and submitting their UK tax returns to HM Revenue & Customs.

As a general example, today I spent the morning researching and drafting a note to a client about the sale of an overseas property. I had to look into the UK and overseas taxation matters as well as exploring the potential ways to save him tax.

I then sat on an IT Forum conference call where we receive updates on system developments and offer suggestions that are fed directly to software providers. Later on I reviewed a relatively complex tax return with self-employment accounts, various overseas aspects, land and property income and a sale of shares following a reorganisation.

Yesterday was something completely different as will tomorrow.

What do I enjoy most about my job?

A job is a job, and you’ll be hard pushed to find one that doesn’t come with its challenges, but those challenges are what makes each day different. And with so much going on in the world of tax, it’s an exciting (relatively) job to be in.

On a day to day level, I could not work at PwC if I was not lucky enough to work in a vibrant and outgoing team who encourage a healthy (sometimes unhealthy) social life.

I am also lucky enough to be part of a wider team (Tax EPC based in London) who are really steering my part of the business in a positive direction. Next year I will be embarking on a secondment down in London, which is an excellent opportunity to develop personally and expand on my PwC experience.

Back to Top