Updating Results

Grant Thornton

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

Will Briggs

Don’t get caught up doing things that you or other people think you ‘should’ do, or stress if you don’t know what you want to do. Follow and try new things that you’re interested in and you’ll work it out.

What's your job about?

Grant Thornton is an international accounting and professional services firm which specialises in a few areas such as Audit & Assurance and Tax.  As a Corporate Tax Associate, my general day-to-day work revolves primarily around income tax issues for medium to large corporate clients. Most engagements with clients in my role can generally be split into either compliance work (income tax returns, fringe benefit returns, tax calculations) and tax advisory matters (application of tax law, due diligence reports, letters of advice) or a combination of both.

Most clients have a range of tax issues that they need assistance with, as tax law and regulations are quite complex and its application varies from business to business. My responsibilities generally include the preparation of tax return work papers and reconciliations, as well as performing research and drafting advice for clients to assist in advising them on tax law issues. Often, performing what appears to be relatively straightforward compliance work will raise unforseen tax issues which need to be researched and resolved for the client. As a result, it is rare to perform just one task for any given client, as many will engage us to work continuously on various advisory issues, in addition to assisting with their tax compliance obligations. This means that you have to be adaptable to assisting with a range of issues, while being confident in communicating with clients to keep the work progressing.

What's your background?

I was born in SA but grew up all over Australia, doing most of my primary schooling in the NT and QLD and most of my high-school years back in SA. From around year 10 I knew that I had an interest in finance, business and law but my favourite subjects were English and Physics, so I was a bit all over the place when it came to knowing what I wanted to do after school. After finishing my exams, I made multiple last minute changes to my uni selections, from law, to business, to economics and finally to a Commerce degree at The University of Adelaide. My logic for the choice being that Commerce was broader, covered a range of the subject areas I was interested in during the first year and I could switch or defer without the pressure of feeling like I had to complete something because I had committed to a longer, more expensive course.

I found accounting the most interesting subject in my first year and chose to follow that through as my major, while taking some economics and philosophy electives to keep in touch with the other subject interests I had in school. While studying, I worked a part-time job at a local fruit shop and ran a small clothing business with a friend. At the start of my third year in Commerce in 2020, I applied for graduate positions and landed my role at GT, before graduating at the end of the year.  I started at GT earlier this year and have now been here for seven months and counting!

Could someone with a different background do your job?

While having a background in studying accounting might be helpful in allowing you to be more familiar with the concepts in the role of a tax accountant, I don’t think having a background in studying or working in accounting is necessary to work as one. Accounting is such a broad discipline that school and university subjects can only cover a fraction of the technical skills necessary for each type of role and most of my learning and development has been in conjunction with my role. If you are interested in the profession, have good technology skills, can apply attention to detail in large data sets and have effective communication and writing skills, then you are well on your way to having the right characteristics to be a good fit for the role.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

As the Corporate Tax service line is a smaller team than some of the other specialisations, quite often you are interacting with a client directly as an Associate.  You quickly get to know the client via meetings, conference calls and emails. This gives you a lot better understanding of the people and the businesses on the other side of the letter you’re writing or the tax return you’re doing. There are also opportunities where research into a topic like environmental covenants, or particular R&D schemes helps to form advice for a client to realise incentives in developing projects that have a positive impact beyond just their business but also on a wider community level.

What are the limitations of your job?

Tax law can often be pretty complex and confusing and sometimes you can spend hours and hours looking for something, without getting close to the result you wanted. While there is almost always an answer out there, getting to it can sometimes be tedious and test your patience. Additionally, as a lot of tax work is based on legislation, there is a quite a high level of responsibility in ensuring that correct procedures are followed and that clients are not compromised. The good news is that as a graduate, you’re not expected to know everything or never make a mistake, you just need to make sure you ask questions when you’re not sure and use the experience of the team around you.

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

  1. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do. Don’t get caught up doing things that you or other people think you ‘should’ do, or stress if you don’t know what you want to do. Follow and try new things that you’re interested in and you’ll work it out.
  2. Stuff is never as scary as it seems. A public speaking presentation, a job interview, a big exam, your first day at a job – they’re all scarier in your head. The good thing is there’s only a first time for everything, so once you’ve done it you’re past it and you normally end up learning something you didn’t know about yourself.
  3. You can’t win them all. Sometimes it’s just not your day, which is alright. You don’t have to be hard on yourself if something doesn’t work out as planned, as long as you can look back on it and have learned something or be able have a laugh about it (or both).