Hannah Gowdy, Tax Consulting Trainee, KPMG
What's your name, job and employer?
My name is Hannah Gowdy and I work as a Tax Consultant in KPMG.
What does your job involve?
I work in Corporation Tax. We have Corporation Tax or Income Tax. Income Tax tends to be more personal, on to one for a client. Corporation Tax is usually with a business or a company. I work in Compliance, which is your standard tax return every year, just going through the accounts to see what has changed. I also work in Advisory. A client could come to us and say "We're about doing X, Y and Z, what are the tax problems of benefits?" and we go through all the possibilities and calculate everything so we can advise the best way to do it if they decide to go ahead.
What level of Maths do you need for tax?
I did Maths at A Level, the UK equivalent of the Leaving Cert. I found that has helped but I know a lot of people have come in with Leaving Cert Accounting and that's really helped them, specifically in the Accountancy exams. I don't have Leaving Cert Accounting so I was very anxious at the start that I would be behind because most people were coming in with Accounting in some form. But I passed my exams this year so it was fine. You have lectures all throughout the year and you have plenty of text books to help. The firms are really good at giving you study leave. We get six to twelve weeks a year paid study leave to help us revise. They're very good with revision classes and you can repeat the exam if you need to. But I find that day to day, your computer does most of it. You need to be able to double check it with a calculator, but you'll always have a calculator so it's more about spotting differences
What soft skills are important to be successful?
Timekeeping is a big one. We have big deadlines at specific times of the year and you need to be able to prioritise, to decide whose work comes first based on when the deadline is due, how long it's going to take you and what that client is like. A lot of it you can base on last year to have a fair idea of how complicated it will be this year because a lot of the Compliance is repetitive. Teamwork is important because everything is done in a team, right from a partner to a first year trainee, so you need to be able to get along with people.
What do you love about your job?
The companies are very good with the social aspect of things, which really does help. They take in a lot of people every year so there is maybe a couple hundred in my year of my age, all having started at the same time. They have a social event at least once a month that they organise and pay for. They're really big on the work/life balance. If you stay late you get benefits as a result. The work itself is interesting because it's different every day and you don't know what client you're going to get.
How did you get into your job?
I did Law at university. It was a three year degree and towards the end I wasn't really enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I had applied to take my solicitor's exams because that was what we were told the next step was and I didn't really know what else to do. I did a year of my solicitor's exams and during that year I met an old friend who was working in Tax at one of the other Big Four firms. She told me how her younger sister was currently doing Law and was thinking of going the same route. I looked into it and decided that was more for me, and so I applied.
What skills could you transfer from your Law studies?
Tax is a lot about legislation, case law, rules, everything, particularly if you're doing it for different countries, which is more common. People have offices or are registered in different countries so you have to be able to sort out the different tax issues. Being able to read and understand legislation, look for cases, all of what you had to do through college is applicable.
What advice would you give a first year student?
Don’t be afraid to get involved. When you start something new, throw yourself into it. If you're not enjoying what you're doing, do a bit of research into something you think you might like to do and go for it, because I wish I had done it a year earlier.