Vault Q&A: Audit Assistant, Baker Tilley
Name of Employee: Sioned Evans
Title: Audit Assistant
Name of Employer: Baker Tilly
Location (city): London
Number of years at firm: just over 1 year
Number of years in current role: just over 1 year, on 3-year training agreement
Degree(s): Civil and Environmental Engineering – M Eng
How did you first decide to enter your industry?
I was working in civil engineering to begin with, and then I was a graduate engineer for two years. It wasn’t for me, so I decided to become a chartered accountant and started looking at different training schemes.
What first attracted you?
The range of experiences and flexible opportunities. The firms I looked at were good, and I wanted a wider business awareness. Audit in particular is well suited for versatility in your career.
What are the typical education requirements?
For my role you need a 2:1 in an honours degree, any discipline. You also need to have GCSE Maths and English at grade B. You need a certain number of UCAS points, I think it’s 300.
What skills and/or experience are important for success?
You need to be quite flexible, quite enthusiastic and happy to work in teams. It’s very much about working with different people, so communication skills are key. There’s quite a steep learning curve, especially with training on the side, and it can be tricky to balance work with study and having fun. You need a fairly strong base in maths — there are lots of numbers so you need to be comfortable with that — but there are people who have done all kinds of degrees. You don’t need a 1st in Maths or anything – more you need to be willing to learn. It’s like doing a new degree.
What is the typical career path in your industry?
There’s isn’t one – that’s why I was attracted. Lots of people tend to do three year training agreement. From there you can stay on at the firm or go on somewhere else. You can move to different departments like business restructuring, taxation, corporate finance etc. You can also move to different countries, or into industry, depending on what you prefer. Audit lets you see different types of industries.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Meeting new people, going out to clients and seeing completely different businesses. I go out every two or three weeks. You have a real range of experiences. It’s really nice being part of a group going through the process together – there’s a strong support structure, and clients have often trained in the same way. It’s always changing – you do have to be flexible. I’ve done days in Luxembourg as well as London. The culture here is nice, very nine–to–five and very sociable.
What is your least favourite part of your job?
It can be quite draining – it will take out a large portion of your life, especially with studying. That’s the only downside. I appreciate that it’s worth it though.
How relevant is your education to what you are doing today?
My degree was very focused, but engineering is also very flexible. I did management and professional modules. It does lend itself to finance, and I’ve worked in teams and projects before.
Can you offer any advice to graduates seeking a career in the accounting profession?
I would advise them to talk to people who are actually doing the training scheme, and to look into what the study involves. It’s a big commitment for three years – most people go into audit. You can be working anywhere, need to be flexible. Just think it through, it’s a great career. Give it a go, find out about it. Get to know different firm’s cultures – get what you want out of the job.
What is something unusual that they might not know?
There are no major shocks. You do jump straight in though, you could be with a client on the first day. People think you get more training – but you learn more from being out there. You’re strongly supported but it’s a big jump from university.
What is your favourite perk?
There are lots of perks. It’s very nine to five, there are lots of social events — the Christmas party was brilliant. You can be working anywhere, people have been to America. The secondment opportunities are also exciting and there are a range of salary benefits – it’s very competitive. There are bonuses after exam sittings and a profit share bonus annually. There are other options, though I’m not entirely sure what all of them are.
It’s a really good job and I’m very happy. It opens a lot of doors, everyone here — the managers and the seniors in particular — is really friendly. There’s a nice mix of everyone being individuals and having lots in common. Everyone is bright, and happy to balance work with going out and having a positive working environment. If you fail you have to start again from the beginning though.