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David Cobb, Partner from Tax discusses the main reasons he pursued a career in Tax, after graduating from Nottingham University with a Joint Honours degree in Pure & Applied Physics with Electronics. More, David shared with us what he likes best about working at Deloitte and his passions outside of work.
What made you apply to Deloitte, and why Japanese Human Capital?
Given Deloitte’s excellent reputation for the quality of their tax services, I was excited by the prospect of working within a team which could offer access to an array of varied and high-calibre clients, whilst also obtaining respected professional qualifications.
Why you got involved/what interested you into joining SID?
As a first-year student emerging from semester one, I had little clue as to what I wanted to do with my future so the opportunity to apply for a spring program where I could experience a professional atmosphere without having to determine a set career path was excellent. Deloitte appealed to me, particularly, because of their well-organised career events as well as the enthusiasm and helpfulness of the professionals who came along to them. I applied to ‘Spring into Deloitte’, thinking my experience would entail some teamwork exercises and perhaps a tour of the office but I honestly did not expect to leave feeling as inspired and motivated as I did, after just two days.
Exam time can be a challenging period for a lot of students. Different students deal with it in different ways. We asked three of our BrightStart school leavers (Devon, Michael and Angharad) and one of our graduates (Nayema) how they got through it. Here’s a summary of what they said. Stand by for some invaluable tips!
Having been through exams yourself, what would be your best tips for someone who’s about to take them?
Start revising early. It gives you the chance to plan properly. It gives you time to spot gaps in your understanding and ask teachers or lecturers for help. It gives you the best possible chance of walking into the exam room feeling prepared and confident. It might be tempting to have fun now and revise later but the benefits of revising early are endless.
Practising past papers is also crucial. It’s no good memorising the entire syllabus if you can’t perform in a practical scenario. Practising papers under timed conditions will help you understand what the exam will be like on the day, and that’ll take some of the pressure off you.
Sounds cheesy, but DON’T PANIC!! A bit of pressure is good to motivate you to revise beforehand. But when it comes to the actual exam, you’re so much more likely to remember those little things you forgot to look over if your head is calm.
At Deloitte, how do you manage your time between work and revision?
Generally, work time is for work. And study happens around that, mostly at weekends. Waking up a little earlier at weekends and doing a couple of hours of solid revision really helps.
Deloitte’s study days are also brilliant. We’re allowed to take a number of days as study leave every year, so that’s a great way to take some time off just before exams to prepare.
What would be your three top tips for staying calm throughout the exam period?
- Don’t just revise. Make sure every day has some non-exam chill time. Go for a long walk. Watch a movie. Take up a hobby. Do anything that gives you some head space.
- Talk to people. As clichéd as it sounds, talking to other people who are doing the exams will help you realise that you’re not alone and that other people may be finding it hard too!
- Eat and sleep normally. As tempting as it is to stuff your cheeks with chocolate, drink copious amounts of Red Bull and stay up until 4am cramming as much into your brain as possible, the caffeine rush that keeps you awake isn’t going to last forever and will leave you exhausted and with a headache – not ideal exam conditions.
What would be your top tips when it comes to time management around exams?
It’s all about planning your weeks in advance. See which days you can realistically fit revision in and stick to that schedule. Also, give your phone to someone else while you’re revising. You might actually get some work done!
Don’t forget to take breaks. It’s best to work for an hour or so, then take a 10-15 minute rest. Also, don’t waste too much time going over topics you know well. It’s better to know 5 topics well than 3 topics excellently and 2 topics not very well.
Have you got any tips for university students in the final stages of completing their dissertations?
- Get as much advice from your mentor as possible. Make sure you arrange as many one-to-ones as you can.
- Get someone to properly proofread your work and double check that your structure is logical.
- Focus on having a strong first half, but an even stronger second half. People often concentrate on getting the beginning right, but the findings/conclusions can really make or break a good dissertation.
Work/life balance is important during exam time. What do you do to avoid getting too stressed?
Having a plan definitely helps. If things get intense, plan your weeks and then prioritise your daily tasks each morning.
Make sure you remember to take some time out. Exercise is great stress reliever. And even just spending a few hours reading a book or seeing friends can make a big difference.
Being born and raised in the north of England, the grand plan was always to return from the capital to the fairer half of the country. Joining Deloitte in 2011, I then got engaged to a fellow northerner and we both knew we wanted to eventually journey back up north before raising a family.
As the time approached and we planned to begin a family, concern over working arrangements made its way to the top of our life agenda; however, in conjunction with that, an improved focus on agile working became a prominent Deloitte strategy.
Discussions began with my very niche London-based team. I didn’t want to leave and they didn’t want to lose me considering the significant progress we’d made in my three years with them, but the north was calling.
The team therefore broached discussions with the Leeds office around the possibility of a transfer to Leeds, while remaining within my team – something the team in Leeds were very willing to accommodate. Clearly every situation is unique and what I’ve been able to achieve could not be guaranteed for everyone. But the firm is committed to working closely with you to try to find a solution which works for everyone.
I live within a one hour commute of the Leeds office, as was the case in London, but now we’re near both our families. I’m also pleased to announce that we have a child on the way (due next month). Thanks to Deloitte’s flexibility and open communications between the London and Leeds offices, we were able to move in our own time with much less stress than is usually the case.
Taking into consideration the strides made by Deloitte in relation to technology, the implementation of Desktop Anywhere (allowing me to log in on my personal computer) and the accessibility of the internet from almost everywhere, working remotely is now a doddle. Coupled with secure methods of logging in and your own responsibilities surrounding data protection, the ease with which we can work from whenever, wherever (to coin a well-known Shakira phrase) means that I can meet both firm and client needs, without losing any quality or quantity in output.
As is the case with any role, it is considered important to maintain regular contact with your team, and although I am 200 miles away from them on a daily basis, we maintain regular contact via audio and/or video technology, shrinking the distance and maintaining the bonds that were present whilst I was physically in London.
One of my major clients has also benefitted from my relocation, reducing their journey time to visit me. (Plus, the lunch in the Leeds office received great informal client feedback!)
Finally, the Leeds team deserve thanks and appreciation for making me feel so welcome. Not only were senior management very accepting of my relocation and flexible around dates, but the wider team have made a real effort to get to know me and remind me of my inner-Yorkshireman (in most respects a good thing!) As we don’t work on the same clients, this may not have happened naturally and I appreciated them taking that time to make the transition easier for me.
As I say, everyone’s story will be different but I can vouch for how hard the business will work to support you.
Dan Conlon is a Manager in our Tax team based (now) in Leeds
Hello again. In the latest in our series of blog posts inspired by insight from our Chief Economist Ian Stewart, we look at how business confidence is putting recruitment of talent back on the boardroom agenda.
The UK economy has delivered many positive surprises in recent months, with the latest GDP data showing that output was 3.1% higher in the first quarter of this year compared to a year earlier. This represents the fastest pace of growth since before the financial crisis, and has beaten most economists’ forecasts for growth.
These strong output numbers have reflected many of the results we have been seeing in our CFO Survey recently. Risk appetite among the Chief Financial Officers of the UK’s largest companies rose to a six-and-a-half year high in the first quarter and our index of economic and financial uncertainty has fallen by a third over the last year.
Encouragingly one of the biggest improvements we have seen recently can be found in CFOs expectations for the jobs market.
In the years following the financial crisis CFOs have been fairly pessimistic about the outlook for new jobs in the UK. Between the third quarter 2010 (when we first started asking CFOs about their views or hiring) and the end of 2011 an average net -16% of CFOs believed that UK corporates’ hiring would rise in the following 12 months. Over the same period only a fifth (+19%) of CFOs thought there would be a rise in hiring, compared to more than a third (+37%) who thought hiring would be scaled back.
Pessimism about hiring peaked at the end of 2011, when a net of -71% of CFOs thought hiring would fall in the following 12 months. Astonishingly, not one of the CFOs that we surveyed in Q4 2011 thought employment would rise in the following year.
The views of these CFOs – who typically represent around a third of the UK equity market – were borne out by the employment numbers that followed. Throughout 2012 employment growth fell steadily. Year-on-year growth in employment fell from 1.4% at the beginning of 2012 to a low of 0.1% at the start of 2013. A total of 206,000 workforce jobs had been lost through 2012.
The good news is that our CFOs expectations for hiring have changed in a big way in the last year. Optimism about hiring reached a peak in our latest survey, for Q1 2014. A net +81% of those surveyed believe UK corporates’ hiring will increase over the next year, with an average reading of +58% for this indicator over the last four quarters.
So far the recovery from the financial crisis has not been driven by businesses investing in hiring new staff, capital expenditure or discretionary spending. The fact that CFOs are now so bullish about expanding workforces in the next 12 months bodes well for the UK jobs market and for the sustainability of the recovery we are seeing in GDP.
You can keep up to date with the economy as it shifts by subscribing to the Monday Briefings at http://www.deloitte.co.uk/mondaybriefing
And of course, we'll have another in our series of Economics & Employment blogs to share shortly.
Thanks for clicking. Every month the economics team here at Deloitte look at significant economic trends from the point of view of the recruitment marketplace, and we are then able to share the resulting blog post with you. Number 1 is below.
The phrases ‘wage squeeze’ and ‘income inequality’ have been at the forefront of policy debates in recent months, both in the UK and abroad. The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, recently warned global politicians that “in far too many countries the benefits of growth are being enjoyed by far too few people.”
Falling wages and rising inequality are in many respects very different issues – wages could reasonably be expected to fall at the same time as the gap between rich and poor narrows – yet they are often talked of in the same breath, to describe an environment where a large proportion of the workforce have experienced both real and relative declines in wealth.
In the UK, a number of common powerful factors have created this environment for middle and low-paid workers.
Inequality has been on the rise across much of the West since well before the financial crisis and, in the case of the UK and the US, since the late 1970s. Secular trends such as technological progress, globalisation, the expansion of financial markets and the decline of unions have reduced the relative value of unskilled labour and bolstered the returns to high level skills and to capital. In much of the world labour's share of GDP has shrunk and the share going in profits have risen. This trend has clearly been a factor in constraining wage growth for many low and middle-income earners and at the same time contributing to widening inequality.
In this sort of a world, expertise, education and experience are at a premium. The most conspicuous examples are in the financial sector but this process has been at work across the economy. Since 1978, real incomes for UK doctors have risen 153%, for lawyers 114% and for quantity surveyors by 65%. Over the same period, incomes for fork lift truck drivers have fallen 5% and pay for unskilled production line workers has dropped 3%.
Such inequalities reflect, in part, widely differing levels of educational and training achievement not just across social groups but across generations. Recent OECD research came up with the alarming finding that that England is the only country in the developed world in which adults aged 55-to-65 outperform those aged 16-to-24 in literacy and numeracy tests. This fact may help explain why, since 2007, the number of under-24s in work has shrunk by almost half a million even as the number of over 55s in work has increased.
A more recent trend has occurred since the global financial crisis, which has caused a major squeeze on consumer incomes. Whilst real incomes actually rose during the recession, in 2008-09, they have since fallen as the economy moved back to growth. Since 2010 consumers have had to contend with falling real incomes, above average inflation, rising taxes and a squeeze on state benefit. Real incomes have fallen as a result, and have fallen for the longest period for 50 years. (The paradox is that all of this has occurred in an environment where the UK economy has created more than a million new jobs.)
The good news is that the worse of the squeeze on incomes in the UK is probably past. Our strong suspicion is that 2014 will be the year that average real earnings start to rise again. Indeed most economists now expect an improved labour market – with increased competition for labour – and lower inflation to deliver increases in real incomes over the next five years. The Bank of England forecast growth of 2.75% in average earnings in 2014.
Early in your career it’s a good idea to join a big firm. Deloitte heavily invests in your development. You will gain professional qualifications that will boost your CV. You will receive a lot of training along the way that will give you hugely valuable skills. I was sent to Dublin for three weeks to learn Java. Having never done coding I experienced a steep learning curve (and got to discover Dublin which I had never been to).
At Deloitte you also have a much broader range of options as to where you want to take your career. We are such a big firm that no matter where your interests lie, there will always be something for you. We work across the private, public and financial sectors and within those cover a wide range of industries. We work for the automotive industry, the healthcare industry, insurance firms etc. Though you are initially encouraged to get a flavour across the board, eventually people specialise in one area.
Another great thing about Deloitte is its community investment. There are a lot of charity events, such as the Christmas Pudding Race, and Movember that sees your friends and colleagues make fools of themselves for charity, but also more serious ones such as the Ride Across Britain event. We are also encouraged to do pro bono work where we offer our skills and services for free for a good cause.
Finally, you will meet a lot of impressive and fun people along the way. With a consulting graduate intake of nearly 300 people you will get to make a lot of new friends and will always have someone to go for a drink with after work. There are lots of social events also. Yesterday I was at a “Women in Technology” event where Judi James, who worked for Big Brother, talk to us about confidence and resilience, and Jay Kumar taught us about Bollywood dancing and the Gangnam style dance. Tonight all technology analysts are invited to an open bar to catch up with our fellow colleagues. Deloitte has a very good stand on work life balance and the social events will mean you will never get bored.
The reasons mentioned above made me choose Deloitte to start my career. Clearly, the statistics about the firm also speak for themselves so check out our website if you want to learn more.