1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Assistant tax advisor in International Tax Services. In ITS our projects often involve advising on the UK tax implications of large group transactions and structuring of groups to achieve more tax effective structures. At this stage (first year) there is a lot of administration work while you build up your knowledge of the work, however, as seen in people who have been in the firm for a couple of years you can see how the role evolves to a more technical role. International tax is an extremely broad subject and is one of the most technical areas; however through tax training sessions with experienced members of the firm you can quickly increase your knowledge. There is the opportunity to be involved in client calls and meetings which always provide an interesting insight into the tax scenarios businesses face. You are constantly working with different people in the team of different levels.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Over the five years we complete the ACA qualification with ICAEW. Over these first two years we complete the CFAB qualification, which is a foundation to the ACA. I completed the first two exams within a two months of joining; these were accounting and assurance. We studied for these exams for two weeks at a Kaplan centre, before taking the exams about a month afterwards. The college sessions were pretty intense as there is a lot of content to learn - you definitely have to put the effort in between college and the exams to ensure a secure pass. Twice a year EY sends us on internal training courses, which can last between one and three weeks. These training courses start of with the basics of tax, for example doing tax computations, and progress to cover more complex topics, for example international tax issues. These are really interesting courses, once again you learn so much during these weeks that you need to really concentrate. The topics I covered during these internal sessions will no doubt make my college sessions for Principles of Tax (upcoming in July) much easier! Whilst in the office you quickly build communication skills and time management. The workload can vary a lot between different weeks. You understand the process of client engagements, from proposal stage to closing stage. By working with a range of people you see what projects they are involved in. Everyone that you work with tends to explain what they are working on; people tend to specialise in areas so you can gather a lot of knowledge from spending time with as many different people as you can.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoy the opportunity to learn through a range of sources; for example the ACA, internal training and constantly at the office. The admin work which we often have at this stage is understandable, since we it is difficult to be involved in such technical areas so quickly, but can be somewhat mundane. However, this will improve as we progress in the firm. One unexpected aspect of working in the firm is that you tend to have to ask for work. I expected a manager who you would always work with and would hand work down, but it is completely different. You will be given work during busy periods, but in quieter periods you will have to ask around. I enjoy working with everyone in my team; they are all open to questions and genuinely a lovely bunch of people!
4. How valued do you feel by EY?
People that you work with are always appreciative of your work. I have received recognition awards in the past which reflect this and also motivate you to continue with this consistency.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
From when applied to the firm up to now there has always been very good communication and organisation. We had a week induction with all the school leavers from across the UK in our first week which was a fantastic opportunity to meet everyone.
The college sessions are organised well, as are the internal training sessions. As you progress, your time spent at college will increase. For example, for the CFAB you spend six weeks at college in total; two in Autumn of first year, two in summer of the following year, and two in autumn again. However, the next stage of exams after the CFAB will involve a month at college at a time.
You are assigned a counselling manager within your team; they oversee your development within the firm and are always open to questions and discussion. Upon starting the firm, you discuss a goal plan with your counselling manager which gives you specific targets to work towards during each year.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The training was very well structured. To give an overview, for our first two exams (accounting and assurance), we spent a two week block at college. During this time we had tutors on each topic. They welcomed emails and discussion after class. In the period between the end of college sessions and the actual exam (about a month later) they encouraged emails and there was also an online-tutorial day which we could dial into from home.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
People at EY are always prompt to respond to any queries. There was definitely support from within my team when I had my exams, and an email of recognition for passing both exams was sent around the team for us.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
I live on the outskirts of London, so still live at home and commute in on the tube. Therefore I don't have an issue with my salary meeting my costs.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
9a. Would you recommend EY to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
It is a great way to enter into business through a structured programme which incorporates education and experience. I found myself faced with a dilemma of what line of work I may enter into if I went to uni and graduated, so decided to give the school leaver programme a go. The benefit of this programme is that you can start working straightaway whilst also obtaining qualifications (ACA) that graduates will achieve too, plus build more experience quickly.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to EY? *
My first interview was with a senior manager and was a strengths-based interview. Just make sure you have a lot of examples of where you have displayed a particular skill, for example teamwork and communication. This is easier than you think; for example, DofE is a great example which covers a range of skills. Make sure you are interested in the area you are applying too, and a brief knowledge of the area is good. Having questions prepared to ask at the end, for example on the role of your interviewer, is always advisable. Following on from the initial interview, there was an assessment day and partner interview. This consisted of a group exercise which tests your communication skills and ability to analyse under time pressure. There is a short written exercise which again tests time management, and a repeat of the psychometric tests. Be confident and relax!
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