• Role: Assistant Tax Manager
  • Location: Birmingham
  • University: Warwick
  • Degree: BSc Mathematics
  • Organisation: BDO

Robyn Clayton

I graduated with a Maths degree from the University of Warwick during the summer of 2008.

I was interested in a career in accountancy, and arranged to undertake some work experience during the university summer holidays, partly to help me decide whether this was the right career for me, and partly to earn some money whilst studying.

During my first summer I worked at a small accountancy firm and gained some experience in audit, accounts and tax. I found the tax side the most interesting, so during my second summer I worked at a specialist tax firm in their business, personal and investigative tax teams.

Following this, I applied to join BDO’s business tax team in Birmingham during my final year of university and joined their graduate scheme in the autumn of 2008, becoming ACA and CTA qualified within three and a half years.

Why did you choose a career in tax?

I enjoyed the work experience I undertook in tax, particularly the fact that it is a field that is constantly changing with new and amended legislation being introduced each year following the annual Budget, meaning that I am continually learning in order to keep my tax knowledge up to date.

Additionally, tax appealed to me as it suited my abilities, being analytical and numerical in nature.

It is also a highly regarded profession and gave me the opportunity to continue to study and obtain professional qualifications.

How did you get your job at BDO LLP?

BDO’s application process involved an online application form, two online tests, an assessment day and a partner interview.

If you are interested in a career in tax, I would recommend that you try to gain some work experience, like I did. This can help you to decide whether tax is a profession that you can see yourself in for the long-term, and can also help set you apart from other candidates during the application process.

What is a typical day like for you?

I tend to arrive at the office quite early at around 8am, and will first of all look at my to-do list and prioritise what work I will do that day.
Typically I will work on a number of clients each day, and a mixture of compliance and advisory work.

Compliance work typically involves preparing a company’s tax computation and tax return for submission to HMRC, or calculating what tax entries should be included within a company’s set of financial statements. I will often liaise with clients and various colleagues when undertaking compliance work.

Advisory work can be varied and can include, for example, preparing reports for clients about the tax treatment of a particular transaction that the client is undertaking, or carrying out a piece of technical research through reading of the legislation and various other resources.

The variety of work means that no two days are the same, and that I am continually learning and being challenged. At the end of the day I will check that my timecard is completed and my to-do list is up to date, and I usually leave the office around 5pm.

What are the most stressful parts of the job?

Whilst I was studying for exams, I found that keeping a good study-work-life balance was hard, especially the closer the exams were. However I think that this is to be expected in the first few years, and the hard work seems worthwhile once you pass the exams and eventually obtain a professional qualification – it gave me a real sense of achievement.

In business tax, December and January are the busiest months for me and I am usually working non-stop during these months in order to meet HMRC and client deadlines. This can be stressful at times however my colleagues within the business tax team are in the same position and are happy to help and lend support so that deadlines are met.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing I enjoy most about my job is the variety of clients that I get to work with in all different business sectors.
I particularly enjoy going out to meet with clients and building a working relationship with them where I have worked with them year after year, and seeing that they appreciate the tax compliance and advisory work that we provide.

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