I graduated from the University of Birmingham in June 2006 with a first class degree in Maths & Statistics. When it came to making a career choice, I wanted to continue studying at the same time as earning and knew that obtaining a highly regarded professional qualification would be a great way to kick start my career.
I joined BTG Tax (then Shaw & Co) in August 2006 with no tax knowledge whatsoever and almost immediately started my ATT training. With the support of an excellent firm and a lot of hard work I was CTA qualified within three years. I even managed to pick up some prizes along the way!
Why did you choose a career in tax?
I felt I had the necessary skills to work in tax; I’ve always had a ‘good head for figures’ and my brain works in an analytical way, which is definitely a help in this job. I also enjoy working with people and acting in an advisory capacity.
I decided that I wanted to work for a company that deals specifically with tax (as opposed to the tax department of a firm that predominantly does something else) because I felt the range of skills I could acquire would be broader. I knew that BTG Tax had a wide variety of clients, which would expose me to a range of tax issues and it was this diversity that appealed to me.
What is a typical day like for you?
BTG Tax offers a rotational system for graduates so I spent my first two years working in four different departments for six months at a time. I was thrown in at the deep end from the beginning and this meant I quickly gained experience in all areas of tax. It kept the job interesting and was a big help when it came to my studies as I could often apply a real life scenario encountered at work to an exam question.
Once qualified, I decided to specialise in personal tax and have had my own portfolio of clients for several years now. The type of work I do varies greatly from day to day, but my responsibilities include preparing personal Tax Returns, payroll administration and year end reporting, liaising with our Image Rights company in Cyprus to provide advice to sports and entertainment individuals, attending meetings, dealing with HMRC enquiries and providing ad hoc consultancy advice. Typically, I arrive in the office around 8am and leave at about 5:30pm.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Tax is a challenging profession because the legislation is constantly changing, and you need to maintain a current understanding. You have to develop the skills to apply your technical knowledge to a variety of situations and you never know what question will pop up next, so there is no time to get bored.
Looking after their tax affairs is often something that people would rather put off as it feels like a burden. Therefore, our clients are often extremely grateful for our help. It can be very satisfying when you receive a ‘thank you’ and know you have enabled a client to structure their affairs in the most tax efficient way,or put their mind at rest about a technical issue that needed resolving.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I see myself continuing to specialise in our Private Client department and working my way up within the firm. I would like to become a tax manager and I hope to build upon my professional relationship with clients and contacts and continue to expand my knowledge and experience.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into tax?
Do not be put off if you currently have no knowledge of tax; I certainly didn’t when I left university! As long as you are willing to put in a lot of hard work you should succeed in building a successful career. Having a supportive employer who can guide you along the way is a real bonus.
Don’t consider a career in tax unless you are willing to dedicate your spare time to study for the first few years – it is a struggle at times but the training really does help on a day to day basis and it definitely pays off in the end. You can expect your salary to increase substantially once you are qualified and I definitely noticed that I was given the responsibility of more complex (and, therefore, more interesting) work as soon as I passed my exams.