Ben J.

Tax Consultant
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Ben J.
Philosophy
Philosophy
Undergraduate
James
2014
United Kingdom

My employment

Tax Consultant
Deloitte
United Kingdom
Finance and consultancy
Large business (250+ employees)
2015
Happy to discuss
Happy to discuss

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A day in the life of a Tax Consultant in the United Kingdom

International tax support and guidance for Deloitte

What I do

I work for Deloitte, in international tax. In short, my job is to help individuals who work around the world - and their employers - deal with the tax implications of operating across borders. Often these individuals are very high-powered, and my job is to help them navigate the complex and intimidating tax maze in front of them.

Skills I use and how I developed them

Being able to solve problems, or, more often that not, identify which steps need to be taken to solve a problem, is a key skill. This sounds a little meaningless when put generally, but it rings true when applied specifically. All the clients I work with face problems (if they didn't, they wouldn't call us) - and we're trained to be experts in solving those problems, be it individually, or through finding the right people to help.

Interpersonal skills are equally important. How you interact with your clients and peers is a surprising factor in how efficiently and effectively you can get stuff done.

Maths, incidentally, is far from a requisite. If you're basically competent with basic arithmetic, you needn't worry about the numbers. You have numerous tools available (not least a calculator!) to help you handle that (small) side of things.

What I like most

It's genuinely enjoyable. I do interesting work with bright, helpful and funny people.

One big plus is that you actually help someone, and you get to see that end product. Often, the person you're helping in one particular scenario might be moving abroad with their young family, and be worried about the financial implications of this. Putting their mind at ease and enabling them to get excited about their new venture is a good buzz.

What I like least

That I didn't start working here earlier. Prior to joining Deloitte, I worked for an IT company after leaving York. I hated it - it was dull, confusing, and I was given no help. The pay was good, but I dreaded every day and getting out of bed every morning was a battle. It wasn't even close to being worth it. I now earn more and use my brain more. The two are (not always, but often) linked - if you think a job won't stretch you enough, don't take it.

What surprised me most

How much effort Deloitte put into making sure that:
a) I grow,
b) I'm happy.

Their recruitment shpiel and interviews big this up, and naturally I took it with a reasonable pinch of salt, but it rings very true. I'm encouraged to make work fit around the rest of my life, and I'm constantly being asked what I need in order to develop and get promoted.

How I looked for work

I started looking for work in Summer 2014, after graduating. I used a number of job websites, and although it did get me a job, it wasn't much of a job.

I found out about Deloitte from a friend. I was super-lazy about careers stuff at uni, and never even investigated the Big 4. I applied through their website, and the process was, of all the Big 4, by far the simplest and easiest.

How I found out about the job

Personal contacts

The recruitment process

There's an online form where you answer a few basic questions about yourself, and two tests (one numerical, one reasoning). I can't recall which order they come in, but the numerical one looks harder than it is. I felt like I'd got 80% of it wrong, and still passed fine.

You then get into the meat of the process - the interviews. The first interview is typically with a manager, who is almost guaranteed to be spookily friendly. Remember, you're interviewed by volunteers who genuinely want to be in that room with you, so they're not there to live out their own little Alan Sugar fantasy.

The next interview is with a Partner. If you don't know what that means, it broadly translates to 'big cheese'. This will also most likely be a pleasant experience. You might be asked to give a small presentation - I was. The topic was very broad and I went well over my five minutes, but the interviewer didn't mind. The interviews, both of them, are deliberately unstructured. It's a chat, not a box-ticking exercise.

You hear about the outcome very promptly. I was told in my final interview.

My career goals when I graduated

Sounds cheesy, but to be happy. If you're motivated by money, you'll only be disappointed in the early stages of a career.

My career history

Oct 14 - Feb 15: Mid-size IT/Communications company. Hated it!

May 15 - Aug 15: A mid-size accountancy firm (Moore Stephens). These guys helped me back onto my feet, and invested a lot in me. They were happy to hire me despite knowing I was applying to Deloitte.

Sept 15 - present: Deloitte.

What has helped my career to progress

Two things: failure, and asking.

I'm not joking when I say failure. Stuff not going well is really important - it makes you see your real motivations, and forces you into action. Between uni and this job, I've spent a great deal of time unemployed. That time was tough, but without it I'd either be kicking around at my parents' place, or in an awful dead-end job.

As for asking, it's a case of not being embarrassed. Back yourself to be bright enough, so that if you don't understand something, it's probably not your fault. Asking also shows willingness, and people respond very well to that, and take you under their wing.

Courses taken since graduation

I'm currently studying towards the ATT qualification, and plan to study for the CTA.

How my studies have helped my career

Philosophy equipped me with the reasoning skills to be able to do this job well. Breaking things down into component parts is vital in any job, it enables you to cut through jargon and BS.

Philosophy seminars taught me the patience needed to pause and re-address things when other people are struggling to either understand something, or refuse to explain things a certain way.

What surprised me about my career so far

I never thought I'd work for a firm like this one, I was always dead against working in any role involving finance (classic Philosophy student!). The shift from that attitude to my current one has been incredibly organic, but too complex to talk through in this little box.

I now know that I do a good thing, for good reasons, which is very satisfying.

Where I hope to be in 5 years

You're promised a promotion after 2 years here (within tax, that is), and so that's the first goal. You're given targets to hit in order to do that, and you're helped to reach them. In my line of work, there's also the opportunity to go abroad - I'm currently considering whether I'd like to go to the States for a few months a couple of years down the line.

My advice to students considering work

Don't panic! Get advice, back yourself, and see things within a context. Today's job market is tough, no doubt, but the most important thing is that you're happy. After uni ends, your life really opens up, and the assortment of choices can be overwhelming. Paradoxically, given all the competition, almost every avenue looks basically closed. Rejections are inevitable (I've had many), but the trick is in brushing them off.

My advice about working in my industry

Don't pigeon-hole it, for starters. Definitely apply, it's an easy, low-investment thing to do. Get in touch with someone you know who works in the industry, and feel free to drop someone like me a line on here.

Other advice

Run your CV past anyone you can, regardless of who they are. You'd be amazed what can come back. As a kid we had a family friend who was a builder for a living. He was really well-educated, so all his friends worked in finance and academia. When he asked them about their jobs, he got very vague, BS answers, or just jargon (i.e. 'I'm a hedge fund manager'). His stock response always stuck with me - 'yeah, but what do you actually DO?'

Contacting me

Happy to speak to anyone applying for anything. Also people weighing up post-grad, which I seriously did at numerous times.

I'd be particularly helpful to people applying for accountancy (especially tax). I'm also very happy to speak to people who are just plain unsure and/or cynical about stuff - I was, for ages, and it sucked - I had no-one to speak to about it.

I played a load of sport at uni too, and that was incredibly helpful in interviews, etc.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Ben’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Ben a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Ben to be your mentor.

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