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From Graduate to Taxation Technician…A Journey

As one of the more recent employees of Abacus and with this being my first full-time employment, I thought it would be most appropriate to share some of my experiences so far, predominantly in relation to on-the-job training, studying during full time employment and remaining motivated during examinations…But first a little about where my journey as a tax student began.

I first knew I wanted to follow a career in Tax whilst studying at university when I developed a particular interest in the taxation modules.  I graduated from University in July 2013 and began my employment with Abacus shortly afterwards, during which I have been exposed to the somewhat exciting (perhaps others would disagree!) and ever so fast changing world of
TAXATION…albeit, only a slither of such a vast and varied subject.

Since, this is really one of the first times I have paused for thought and if anyone is to take something useful out of this post, then perhaps it is to just stop and reflect every once in a while on what you have accomplished, learnt or gained.  After all, time does quite literally fly by and there is sadly no pause or rewind button in life.

I am happy to write that after starting my ATT qualification (with the Association of Taxation Technicians) in December 2013, I have almost successfully completed it and qualified as a Taxation Technician (one final exam to go!).  As an employer, Abacus have been very supportive from the outset; from arranging travel to the UK for training courses through to fine tuning those crucial examination techniques during the final revision courses.  I have been lucky enough to have had this additional support which I think has been the key to my success in my final exams, as well as providing me with the opportunity to meet others in similar positions and to ask the tax tutors some tricky questions!

Many of us work and study but we also have lives on top of this. The task of managing all these at once did initially seem quite daunting – in fact to a certain extent it still is – but I found that for me, the key is to stay focused, study/work “SMART” (not always hard and for long periods) and know why you are pursuing a certain course and what you will gain from it in the end.  Additionally, ensure you don’t neglect other things in your life; obviously some sacrifices must be made along the way, but don’t lose sight of the fun, social sides of your life, whether that be through sports, hobbies, friends or family.  I know for me a supportive social network certainly helps me to relax and breaks up long periods of study.

Of course exams can only prepare you so far and much of what I have learnt and continue to learn is “on the job” and through real life cases.  I am still amazed to learn how different the transition is from the books (theoretical) to the work place (practical) – often you can only wish some jobs were like an exam style question (I never thought I would say that two
years ago!), where everything is given to you on one or two pages.  However, I do think that the most satisfying part of my job is to persevere with a certain task and to get to the other side – once completed accurately, the sense of achievement is quite pleasing and also provides a foundation to build upon for the next task.

I remember reading somewhere a quote which, although humorous to an extent, has a useful message: “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again, then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it!”  Obviously, I would reiterate the “try, try again” part and not the “quit” part,  but I find the best approach is to be positive, prepare well and then you should hopefully not need to resort to quitting (although at times you may feel like doing so!)

When I was struggling with a technically challenging tax concept (I will add that there seems to be more and more as you progress in a tax career) someone told me “it’s not rocket science”, and it wasn’t, but it was a very technical area and I just couldn’t get my head round it – however all I needed was perseverance and over time I came to understand the issue.  Sometimes a good break and sleep is all you need before returning to face it all again.  I find this helps during examinations and when learning new areas that at first can seem particularly complex.

I am a firm believer that providing that you have fully prepared for an exam, put in the effort and have genuinely absorbed the information in the syllabus, you should be confident and have no reason to doubt yourself…that’s the approach I adopt!

In the future, I hope to further my personal development and learning and to keep up to date with the continuous changes in tax law…and perhaps in a few years’ time I will have another pause for thought and look at where I am and what I have achieved…I recommend everyone do this every once in a while!

Written by:

David Brodie
Tax Graduate, Abacus Trust Company Limited