I am currently studying towards my ATT qualification in a tax apprenticeship at Saffery Champness Chartered Accountants. I started my apprenticeship after studying Accounting, Maths, Business and Graphics at college. I have always had an interest in numbers and finance and knew it was my strong point.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship in the tax industry?
After studying accounting in college, I knew I wanted to work in an accounting and finance environment. When I found out it was possible to work full time, gain experience and study towards a qualification at the same time, this made more sense for me than going back into full time education and seemed like the better option for my career. Although I originally thought I needed a degree to get a good job, after speaking to different employers and people I knew who worked in accountancy firms, I realised the apprenticeship route was just as respected and could get you to the same position in the future.
What is your role as a Tax Trainee?
As a Tax Trainee I am given a variety of roles and responsibilities within personal and corporation tax such as:
- Tax Compliance – I am involved with the preparation and submission of personal, trust, partnership and corporation tax returns based on information provided by the client and in some cases, obtaining the information from a third party. My duties include calculating the tax liabilities, ensuring deadlines are met and that clients are advised in good time of their liabilities.
- Tax Queries – I assist with general queries that clients may have about tax consequences and outcomes. This will usually involve me preparing a number of tax calculations or computations until we have found the best outcome for the client.
- Accounts and Audit assignments – although I am a tax trainee, I have the opportunity to help with audit and accounts preparation. This is good experience for me to gain skills in other areas of accounting.
What are the most stressful parts of the apprenticeship?
I find the most demanding part of the apprenticeship to be balancing work with studying, especially close to exam times and work deadlines. It can be hard to focus on client work when I have exams approaching, however when I am busy with studying my managers at Saffery Champness are very understanding and realise my workload may need to be reduced.
What skills and personal qualities are useful in this profession?
- Being a quick learner – having the ability to adapt to changing situations and environments allows you to make quick rational decisions and deal with the outcome.
- Thinking ahead – anticipating positive and negative outcomes allows you to be ready and prepared, which is something that happens quite often in tax.
- Enthusiastic & motivated – it’s important to have goals and objectives to give you something to work towards and remind you of what you want to achieve.
- Confidence – this is important as you will need to deal with colleagues, partners and sometimes clients. There might be times where you need to use your own initiative to work independently as well as in a team.
What challenges have you come across and how did you overcome these?
During busy periods, managing my workload has been a challenge. I have often taken too much on, making it difficult to get everything completed whilst keeping the quality of my work to a high standard. After speaking to my manager however, I realised my colleagues did not expect me to complete all the work straight away. I have now learnt to prioritise and plan when I will do certain jobs, and to let people know when they can expect the work to be done.
Do you have any advice for students wanting to get into the tax industry?
- Be open minded – I didn’t originally plan to go into tax, however once I looked into different job roles both within accountancy and tax, I realised tax was more suited to me and was something I wanted go into.
- Research the area you are entering into – an apprenticeship can give you a lot of experience for the future.
- Take your time – if you don’t know exactly what you want now, this doesn’t mean you won’t next year. Continue to research and gain experience in different areas before making a final decision on which area you are most suited to. It’s important to find an apprenticeship that’s right for you, one which you will enjoy and progress in.