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  • Name: Robert Hackney
  • Job Title: Tax Adviser
  • Location: Manchester
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: BA Natural Sciences
  • Areas of Specialism: Business Advisory

I graduated from Cambridge University in 2007, with a degree in Natural Sciences. I completed an internship with Ernst & Young in the summer of 2006, before my final year at university, and following this I joined the firm’s graduate scheme in August 2007, working within Business Tax Services.
I qualified as a Chartered Accountant with ICAS in 2010, after which I studied for the Chartered Tax Adviser exams, qualifying as a CTA during summer 2011.

Why did you choose a career in tax?

With my father also being a chartered accountant, I have always been aware of accountancy and related professions, but it was only towards the later stages of my university career that I fully explored the career options in this area. As a science graduate – and in fact I originally gained a place for maths at university, before changing course after my first year – I have a natural leading towards numerate roles. My penultimate year internship gave me exposure to the realities of a tax career, and the challenging mix of helping clients with problem-solving in the face of the ever-changing tax legislation. This, together with a solid base of more routine compliance work, confirmed the attractiveness of the role to me.
Taking on a role within tax on a graduate scheme meant that I immediately started working towards the Chartered Accountancy qualification, with the option to further my studies with the CTA qualification after this. Both of these are highly respected and I knew that they would put me in a strong position for my future career development, as well as being challenging and interesting in their own right.

What is a typical day like for you?

Part of the attraction of a tax career is that there can be huge variation in the nature of the work from one day to the next. Commonly I might be working on preparing the tax computations for one of the clients within my portfolio, requiring regular contact with both the internal team and the client themselves, or helping to address a detailed technical query that’s been put to us by a client. My role is mainly office-based, but I’ll regularly be out of the office meeting with clients at their premises or elsewhere, perhaps on a scheduled update meeting or to advise them on a particularly complex issue relevant to them.
At any given time, I could also be working on a larger-scale advisory project, such as a major transaction by a large international client. This involves working as part of a large team, drawing together specialists in all areas of tax to advise the client.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Within tax, you never stop learning – new rules, legislation and consultations are continually being introduced, making the role a challenging one and providing new opportunities for creative thinking with each new development.
There’s also a great feeling of satisfaction that comes from completing a project to a high standard that’s recognised by the client, and really adding value to it. Work like this helps clients to see tax not simply as a burden, but also to appreciate the ways in which they can gain major benefits from working with us!

What are the most stressful parts of the job?

There’s a definite cycle to some elements of my work, with tax returns needing to be filed on an annual basis for most of my clients. Many clients work to an annual accounting calendar ending in either March or December, meaning that the weeks coming up to their filing deadline can, even with the best of planning, become extremely busy. However, throughout my work I’ll almost always be part of a team working towards a common goal. With the support of colleagues, both junior and senior, it’s possible to ensure that everything gets completed in time while continuing to work to a high standard.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?

I started almost ‘from scratch’ with my knowledge of accountancy and tax issues when I graduated from university, so I can say from first-hand experience that this isn’t any barrier to success if you have the ability and desire to learn. Working in tax can be a challenging role, but if you’re someone who enjoys problem-solving and the exciting demands of being within a fast-moving professional world, it could be ideal for you!

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