I graduated from the University of Nottingham with a Master’s degree, a second dan black belt in Taekwondo and countless stories from my time spent travelling in China, Malaysia Singapore and India. I could have stayed at university forever living the student life, but I needed to start a career.
I started my career at a bank and worked there for 2 years before starting at PwC. In all honesty, I loved my time at my first job and worked with some of the nicest people. However, I felt undecided about my career there and wanted to train in a field in which I could become an expert, a ‘go to’ if you will. With a thirst for detail and problem solving, Tax at PwC seemed the most natural choice.
What was the application process like?
Don’t feel overwhelmed by all of the stages, take it step by step and prepare for each on that basis. Complete practise tests before sitting the actual online tests and make sure you can speak in detail for each of your competency examples. Remember the competencies vary slightly from the first interview to the final partner interview. From conversations I’ve had with my colleagues, most people worry about the ‘Commercial Awareness’ competency. Don’t overthink this and remember that there are plenty of channels out there to help your research. You’re simply expected to be able to hold a conversation and to show some enthusiasm.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to recognise and speak about your weaknesses. There are opportunities for you to show that you’re keen to develop. PwC prides itself in making sure that its recruitment process creates a relaxed environment in which you can perform at your best, and so although it’s easier said than done, try and stay calm.
Why did you choose a job in this sector?
Our tax system is pivotal to the success of the UK economy and it’s the complexity of it that I was most drawn to. Tax consultants have the opportunity to work within both the public and private sectors, across every industry and with a broad range of clients based in the UK and the rest of the world. The job itself can be incredibly diverse.
PwC stood out to me from the other ‘Big Four’ as its graduate programme extended beyond the ACA. This gave me firm reason to believe that PwC is willing to invest in and train its graduates towards a long term career. PwC have well-established national and global networks with opportunities to second to different areas of the business in order to broaden both your skills and knowledge.
What are your main duties?
I mostly work with large corporates and listed entities in the Corporate Tax team in Birmingham. The Tax teams include:
• Corporate Tax
• Transfer Pricing
• Finance and Treasury
• Mergers and Acquisitions
• Private Business
• Private Clients
There tends to be employees of different grades without duplication assigned to each client. This makes sure that any work suitable for an associate is always delegated to me for clients within my portfolio. I also benefit from working directly with senior managers and partners whom are experts in their specialist tax areas.
For clients with whom we contract on a recurring basis, there tends to be a well established relationship with the client’s Finance Director or Tax Manager. The team either meets regularly with the client or the client gets in touch spontaneously when tax advice is needed. Examples include assessing the UK and international tax implications of a group restructure or acquisition or commenting on the practicality of a tax model that has been set up for a new business venture.
Tax advice is not usually isolated to one particular area, and so experts are often brought in from the areas listed above. This has helped me to develop my professional network within Birmingham and across the region as a whole.
As an associate, I also undertake business development activities. Examples include understanding the impact of new tax legislation or researching the business and tax environment of a target client.
One of the best things I enjoy about working at PwC is that I’m trusted to fill my own week. When I have capacity I seek work from managers in tax areas that I’m most interested in. The variation will allow me to make a more informed choice when deciding upon a specialism.
The trickiest element of my job is achieving a work life balance whilst studying towards the ACA qualification. You tend to be in and out of the office whilst exams approach and in order to pass them, lots of discipline and commitment for studies is required.
The myth about all accountants working late nights is not true. It depends how senior you are and also which area you work in. A lot of your day is based on time management. I usually work 9 to 5. Every now and then, during busy season, I may stay a few hours later, however, PwC have been equally as flexible when I’ve needed time off in return.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
Post qualifying I’d like to take a secondment to another area of Tax or to a different service line. I also hope to be a manager by my fifth or sixth year at PwC in my chosen specialism. I’m involved in a lot of community work, which is encouraged by PwC, and so I’d like to continue organising fundraisers and days out in the community too.