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Grant Thornton

  • #5 in Accounting & advisory
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Lachie Strathmore

The real-world knowledge I’ve acquired in less than a year of work is phenomenal, and it’s awesome to be learning things that people actually use in real life.

What's your job about?

As the name suggests, my division deals with private business clients.  My role involves helping clients navigate the various tax and accounting standards that they must comply with. This includes lodging tax returns, preparing financial statements, dealing with GST and lodging Business Activity Statements.

A lot of the job for the first month or so was learning to navigate the various software and platforms we use – for example, MYOB, Xero, the ATO website, and Microsoft Excel. I started off with small jobs like data entry, extracting information and preparing a few individual tax returns.

The small bits and pieces then progress into whole jobs – this means that when it’s time for us to prepare a client’s tax work for the year, I am involved every step of the way – from emailing the client for their information, preparing the relevant work-papers and adjustments, and then preparing financial statements and lodging their tax return.

There are a number of other services my division provides, which I will slowly become more involved in as I get more experience. Some of these things include restructuring, estate planning, and facilitating the sales of businesses.

What's your background?

I have lived in Melbourne my whole life, and always knew I wanted to do something in business. A Commerce degree, therefore, seemed the logical option for my university pathway.

Something I did during university which made my experience a whole lot better was ‘underloading –instead of doing 4 subjects each semester and having a very intense workload, I did 2 or 3 subjects. This allowed me to not only focus more on each subject but gave me plenty of free time to pursue other hobbies. Most notably, I began playing golf, and this interest led me to work in a golf store – a part-time job I held during my time at University.

My introduction to the professional working world was a 6-week internship in the Audit division at Deloitte in the summer of 2019/20 (the year before I graduated). I applied through the Deloitte website, completed the aptitude tests, assessment centre, the manager interview and partner interview. I was offered a job at Deloitte after my internship, but although I really liked Deloitte, I decided that Audit wasn’t for me. It was a difficult decision to turn down a job after my internship – here was a Big 4 opportunity on a silver platter, something that many Commerce students dream of!

However, I knew it wasn’t what I was after and changing lanes to Private Advisory has probably been the most critical decision (and best one) of my career so far. I have been at Grant Thornton for 7 months now, and love the team I am a part of.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Most of the knowledge required for my job is attained through on-the-job training and also via the extra-study that I am lucky enough for GT to sponsor me for – this being the Chartered Accountants, and also the Certified Tax Advisory program. Given this, I think you could come from any background, and acquire the skills as you go.

It would be beneficial to have some fundamental accounting knowledge such as journal entries, knowing your way around a balance sheet and understanding debits and credits. There are also pre-requisite law subjects required before undertaking the extra study, which I completed at university. However, I am sure that it is possible to attain these skills through breadth subjects whilst completing a different degree.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

School and university don’t teach you about taxes or superannuation. No one talks about how wealthy people manage their money or what a family trust is. When someone told me to keep that receipt because I can claim it in my tax return, I had no idea what that meant.

Since working here, I now know these things! The real-world knowledge I’ve acquired in less than a year of work is phenomenal, and it’s awesome to be learning things that people actually use in real life.

What are the limitations of your job?

Whilst learning is the coolest thing about the job, it’s also the most demanding. I felt like (and still feel like) I was thrown in the deep end with so many new concepts, and sometimes it’s mentally draining to stay on top of everything.

After finishing a day of work, then have to come home and study for the extra qualifications can sometimes be crushing. What motivates me to do it though is just looking at the people ahead of me – the managers, senior managers, partners – they all have such a wealth of knowledge that enables them to be great at their jobs. They’ve only been able to attain this through constant learning and study, and spending the time to learn is just an absolute necessity in the professional world.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Slow down. Even if all your friends have finished their degrees and have jobs lined up by the time they are 22, who cares? You have another 40+ years to work. There’s no rush to finish.
  2. Take the time to find something you like. If you think don’t take the time in your early 20s trying to find out what you want to do, then you’ll waste many more years down the track doing something you don’t want to do.
  3. Find hobbies. Yes, there are some people who live and breathe work and they love it. But for most of us, we need something outside of work that we are passionate about. Try new things and explore activities that make you happy, and continue them in your working life.