What it’s like to work as a Tax Graduate at EY
Francesca graduated from the University of Dundee University in 2020 with a degree in accounting. She spoke to us about working as an Assistant Tax Advisor in EY’s Global Compliance and Reporting team in Glasgow.
How did you get into tax – and EY?
I got into accountancy in school because I was a very mathematically minded person. Some people would say it’s very nerdy of me, but it was very satisfying to get a balance sheet balanced and all that – I got really excited! Then I studied accountancy at university and did an internship with EY – that was my path and how I got the job here.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go into industry, or to work for a small firm or whether I would want work for in a global professional services role. My careers advisor at university set up an informal session for anyone who wanted to go down that path and we were told if we wanted to get professional qualifications then a professional services firm were very supportive in doing that.
I applied for an internship with EY and entered in 2019 – my penultimate year in university. It was quite a challenging but rewarding process, involving several rounds such as, online testing, an assessment centre and interviews where I could learn about EY and myself. On the internship, if all goes well, you could be offered a graduate job at the end of the programme, and I put my success down to how I presented at my internship .
What was it like starting full-time work during a pandemic?
I was very involved in representing student voices in school and at university and that helped me when I started at the firm because I was a virtual joiner. It was a big challenge but because I had done the internship, I had the advantage of at least knowing some of the people I was working with, though it also meant I knew what I was missing out on. The EY offices are a great environment to be in, a great buzz – it makes work seem like a relaxed and fun environment even though you’re doing detailed and difficult work sometimes.
EY also hosted some fantastic virtual events on topics such as mental health, motivation, and mindfulness to help us prioritise our wellbeing.
How would you describe your role?
I’m part of the Global Compliance and Reporting (GCR) team. We work with companies that operate within the FTSE 250 and FTSE 500. Our role is to make sure they are compliant with tax legislation, so they are paying the correct amount of tax, and to help them utilise any of the available relief and exemptions they may qualify for. So, with Covid, for example, this could involve helping businesses to navigate new government grants and schemes.
I love the culture of EY and it just feels like everyone gets on really well despite the high-paced working environment. I don’t feel stressed or pressured. If I need to ask for help, I don’t think I could be in a more supportive team. I think that by far is the thing for me that makes me feel lucky to have the job I do have. I learn something new every day and while it can be quite daunting it also keeps it exciting. Whenever anyone asks me what I do, and I say, ‘Oh I’m a tax advisor’ the conversation is often over! But I would say the stereotype does not live up. It is definitely not boring – it’s a very interesting job!
Advice for new starters
In my first few weeks I had imposter syndrome and it was difficult to feel competent but the way you learn is to put yourself out there and get involved with different jobs and clients and see what interests you. That’s the advice I’ve passed on to the three new graduates who joined this September. Initiative and communication are two key skills to develop. Tax is an in-depth subject, and you need to spend time reading legislation and doing a lot of research or having a chat with someone who has been involved in a similar case before and recognise you will never know it all.
Looking to the future
Originally, I thought I would start work in the forces, the public sector, or a charity, not accounting! My mum works for a charity and does a lot of work for human rights and I admire that. But having the opportunity to work in an international company like EY was a big selling point for me, along with support to do my qualifications and being given training time to get my ICAS chartered accountancy qualification and CTA tax adviser exams. Ultimately, I would like to use the accountancy skills I learn, as I become qualified and beyond, to go into something that aligns with my personal passions. If I go down a more senior route within EY, one of the things I would like to do is to align more with charitable organisations and develop a pro bono sector. My dream job would be the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a charity. I haven’t put much thought into the future, but I think I’m my mother’s daughter!
I’m really proud that EY is supporting a fundraising initiative where I am part of a team that has been set a task to invest £500 in whatever way we can and turn that into £5000, with all the funds raised going to a children’s charity. I knew about the EY Foundation, the EY Women’s Network and the EY Multicultural network, but I didn’t realise there would be anything so rewarding for me in the workplace. When I’m qualified, I could apply for any charity secondments that come up through EY. It’s not unheard of to do six months or a year elsewhere to get a different experience and broaden your knowledge and abilities. Coming back and working for the firm after a secondment is a win-win for everybody.
As I grew up in Australia I would also love to live in another country and another environment again. It’s comforting to know that if you work for a firm like EY you have the opportunity to move.
Working from home has just made me want to spend any time I am not working outside and out of the house. I like hill climbing and walking in the summer and I relax with anything that doesn’t involve a screen; I would say travelling, but unfortunately, I’m not doing too much of that now. I have seen a lot of Scotland in the last year and that is a bonus!
Applications are currently open to EY’s Tax Graduate Programme . Find out more and apply.