I graduated in 2005 from the University of Bristol with an MSc degree in Economics, Finance and Management, and joined Tax Computer Systems to work as a tax consultant in 2005.Tax Computer Systems Ltd is one of the UK’s leading Corporate Tax software providers.
The company offered me an ATT study package immediately after I joined, which gave me a good understanding of basic tax rules and terms, and enabled me to better understand our work and the requirements of our users. After finishing ATT in May 2006 I had a year and half study break to concentrate on project work within TCSL. Later I started my CTA exams and became a Chartered Tax Advisor in January 2009.
Why did you choose a career in the industry?
When I finished my degree I received two job offers, one as tax trainee and another one as a trainee accountant. Although I completed accounting courses during my university study, I found I was more interested in tax. I find it more challenging with constant legislative changes and new Finance bills each year.
I had learnt Chinese tax in my BA study in China and I was keen to learn the UK tax system with a thought that one day I may be able to use my knowledge of both. Without hesitation, I accepted the offer from Tax Computer Systems and started as a tax trainee in April 2005.
What is a typical day like for you?
The first thing I do is to check my emails. Part of the responsibility of my team is to act as a knowledge source for the rest of the company on detailed tax queries. Our clients or colleagues can raise queries at any time, and we always aim to provide a timely and comprehensive response.
Enquiries can range from general corporation tax matters and group issues through to more specialist areas such as charities. The queries can be very specific and we always aim to analyse the issue and give an answer or solution as soon as possible, so it is very important to know how to search for relevant information, such as legislation, case studies or commentaries such as the HMRC manuals, and understand them thoroughly in a very short time.
The majority of my time in the office is spent on project work. The project could be as general as understanding and summarizing the latest Finance bill, or as specific as introducing new tax rules into our software. Most projects involve ongoing communication with others, not only with other tax professionals such as our ‘big 4’ clients or HMRC tax specialists, but also with non tax people like our internal systems development team.
The job is wide ranging and there are always many other things to juggle at the same time. The company encourages internal training and we often run courses to pass on details of tax changes to other tax and non-tax departments.
We have a number of graduates in the company and I spend some of my time supervising them and introducing them to tax. The remainder of my time is spend in maintaining our software to ensure it is calculating tax accurately and is fully up to date with recent legislative changes.
Everyday there are so many things to keep me busy all the time. I need to prioritise and manage my time to keep my ‘to do’ list under control, which is quite stimulating.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
My work is very creative. I can design the software in the way that I think is the most efficient and best for our users. Working with my managers I have control of the whole project, so once the project is finished, it can be very rewarding.
It is also a very challenging role. Because we have so many clients from different industries, I have chance to deal with a wide range of corporation tax issues which makes the job very enjoyable.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I hope that one day I can get involve in some international tax, especially Chinese tax so I can use my Chinese tax knowledge together with my language skills and background.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Tax is complex but logical and would suit someone with a problem solving mentality. Gaining a professional certificate is important and will help you advance your career.
It is better to start with a company which offers a study package, so they can support you during your study and exams. Many companies will give you study leave for the exams, which is a great help to balance between work, study and life.