As far as I could remember, my dream was always to become an auditor. My aunt, who is no longer with us, was an auditor for Coopers and Lybrand many years ago and I had always looked up to her and wanted to be like her when I was older.
I remember being focused from a very young age. I did maths and accounting for my A-Levels, an accounting degree and even decided to do my ACCA exams at the same time as my accounting degree, just to be sure that I had given myself the best chance possible to realise my dream and become an auditor.
Having completed my degree, I applied to join graduate schemes in various firms, including the 'Big 4'. Things took what I thought was a turn for the worst at the time, when I went for my first interview with KPMG.
The KPMG interviewer was surprised that I had already completed ACCA, even though I had only just left university. She pointed out that going through their, or any accounting firm's audit graduate training programme for that matter, would mean repeating all the exams I had done for my ACCA because the exams were very similar.
I was very clear that this was not something that I was interested in doing and it seemed that my dream had been shattered. The exams were hard enough the first time round. I passed all my exams first time with excellent marks but I wasn't just about to do them all again.
She then suggested tax but as I had missed the tax intake for that year; I would have to wait for the next intake the following year. Before this conversation, I had never even considered taking up tax as a career.
Instead of waiting for a year to join an accounting firm, I decided to try my luck with in-house roles. I came across a magic circle law firm that was looking to recruit a tax assistant. I only went for this one interview, fell in love with the role; was for the first time excited by the prospect of working in tax and have not looked back since.
As I had already done ACCA, I was exempted from doing ATT and went straight to do my CTA exams. I became exam qualified – with a first time pass – in 2007. I then gained the three years professional experience I needed to become a full member of the CIOT by 2010.
If you are like me and have never even thought about specialising in tax, I would encourage you to consider it. Even though I really wanted to be an auditor, my career in tax has been so exciting that I haven't even had any time for regrets.
How does CTA help? When I did the CTA exams, you had to pass all four written papers at the same sitting. This really helped me to focus. It was an enormous challenge that really helped to prepare me for the pressures of working in tax.
Recruiters always say how a first time CTA pass is an incredibly good thing to have on your CV. The skills you learn when studying for your CTA will always be useful, no matter what area of tax you end up specialising in.
Becoming a CTA is not easy and employers appreciate and respect that. I would recommend CTA to anyone who is looking to become a respected tax professional, to anyone who is looking for a challenge and to anyone who wants to set themselves apart from the crowd!"