By Shaun Curtis
Shaun Curtis is a tax partner at Deloitte in Wales who specialises in personal tax. Looking back on his career path from graduate to partner, Shaun explores the opportunities available to anyone considering a career in tax at Deloitte.
Tax is complex. Legislation and regulation are constantly changing and the speed of change is certainly challenging, but working in a fast-paced environment to ensure clients remain compliant means that no two days are the same.
The same can be said for working at Deloitte. You’ll find multiple opportunities to train across different service lines and be part of small or large teams. Your career is really in your own hands and you can be equally successful if you are in Wales, other parts of the UK or overseas.
What I especially like about the firm is that a successful career isn’t determined by your location, it’s determined by your passion and ambition. And Deloitte in Wales can certainly provide many opportunities for people in all sorts of disciplines and experiences to have an immensely rewarding and successful career, especially as Cardiff is Deloitte’s largest office in the UK outside of London.
It’s up to you – it’s your choice, your career. For me, apart from a six-month secondment to a London-based tax team, I’ve always been based in Deloitte’s Cardiff office and I am just as ambitious now as when I joined the firm as a graduate in 2007.
This year I made partner, having worked my way up through the graduate pathway. It was a proud moment for me and a big milestone in my career. I now head up the business tax team in Wales, a team of 55 people, and I’m also the national lead of the Entrepreneur and Advisory Group for private client services.
Leading the advisory group gives me insight into other areas of the business and whilst specialising in personal tax has always been my goal, it has also given me the flexibility to work where I want and seize additional opportunities to expand my knowledge.
Growing up in Pembrokeshire, I’ve lived, studied and worked in Wales my whole life. I grew up within a family business and understand first-hand the trust clients place in you to provide the correct advice.
I attended Cardiff University and upon graduation I wanted to stay within the city to pursue a financial career – that’s when I started at Deloitte as a graduate entrant.
The graduate programme in tax is very well established, and more recently has kicked-off with a three week ‘tax analyst academy’. The purpose is to help new tax analysts prepare for a successful career in the firm, develop core technical and consulting skills that’ll enable them to add value from the get-go. It’s a great way for you to meet, albeit virtually currently, your peers around the UK and leaders from different areas of the tax practice.
When I joined the graduate programme in 2007, the set-up was a bit different and I also had the opportunity to experience different parts of tax. This was a personal choice and not a set pathway, and it enabled me to gain exposure early on to working with colleagues from across different parts of the Deloitte business.
Although I work within the private client team, this opportunity to work across different areas of tax broadened not only my knowledge and experience, but also my understanding of our clients and their challenges. During my early career, I spent a lot of time getting to know how my clients work, their ambitions and expectations. For me, this was the most important part.
I work one-to-one with clients and understanding their business is essential. They need to trust you and know that you will be proactive in the advice they need.
I’ve had the privilege of spending many days with fascinating clients, from walking the shop floor with a well-known national retail client to helping a client during the lambing season, and seen first-hand an idea go from an entrepreneur’s mind into a multi-million pound organisation. My team and I are at our best when we really understand a client, their aspirations and goals and support them during this journey.
Understanding the intricacies of running a business, but also the complexity of family relationships is essential. Personal tax has always been my passion as I see first-hand how good advice can transform and support a person’s wealth for generations.
I place a huge emphasis on trust and I have worked with many of my clients for over 10 years. It is this trust which clients place in me and the team that has determined my career with Deloitte.
The tax function’s mentoring scheme has proved invaluable to me throughout my career and no one should ever underestimate the power of a mentor. Impartial, but always present, I have been fortunate to have the support of different mentors at different times of my career.
A memorable yet simple nugget of advice one mentor gave me is that you have to enjoy what you do and have fun whilst you’re doing it. This spoke to me and I’ve built my work ethos around this, especially as it is a huge privilege to work with clients and the tax specialists around me.
Looking back, one of the reasons that prompted me to join Deloitte was its people. Following university, I was fortunate enough to be presented with offers from both large and small firms, but it was the passion and knowledge of the two people who interviewed me that inspired me to join this firm and have helped shape my career.
Mentors have been integral to my progression within the business and will continue to be so, and in turn I have re-directed that passion to graduates and members of my team to be their mentor. I am proud that there are people in my team who are on the path to becoming associate directors and directors, each one choosing different paths and projects to broaden their experience along the way.
Becoming a partner has opened up new possibilities for me and new aspirations for the future. We’re already a successful tax practice in Wales - I want to build the team further and attract talent that is passionate about their career and about supporting our clients.
It is your career and your path, but if you are looking for a career in tax with opportunities and variety then take a look at our graduate programme – you could be the next graduate celebrating their pathway to partner success.