Tax rocks - one year in!

Having joined Leathers LLP in the past year, we catch up with our newest employees about their first few months.

Here, Alex Finnigan, Sarah Nelson and Jack Lunn chat about their time at Leathers LLP so far and how they are settling into their new roles within the Tax Department.

So, how are you settling into your new role?

SN: I feel like I’m settling in nicely at Leathers, which I think is actually down to the team of people I work with every day. Everyone’s so nice and approachable, it has made me feel so welcome and comfortable to ask questions whenever I’m stuck on something.

JL: Yeah it’s been pretty much the same for me, the only downside so far is all the football chat. Only so many times you can hear that Sunderland will one day be back in the premiership.

AF: Which they will…….

What surprises you about your job?

AF: I’d probably say what surprises me the most is the variety of different jobs you can do within one day, things are always different day in day out. Also, I think it’s fair to say the different variety of clients we do work for and how their affairs are all so different which makes work more interesting because it’s very rare two people are the same.

JL: The thing that surprises me the most is just how quickly things seem to change in Tax. I never realised just how much of a constantly changing landscape it is.

SN: It’s kind of the speed at which everything happens…

What is your educational background?

SN: I have a degree in accounting and finance from Newcastle University, and have always just worked part-time jobs in bars and restaurants, so this is my first professional role.

JL: I have a degree in History, so a bit different from Sarah’s. After a year of experience in Audit work, I applied at Leathers to join the Tax Team.

AF: Unlike other new members of staff, I actually came straight from sixth form on an apprenticeship role and therefore didn’t go to university etc which seems to be the more desirable path to take today. I studied business studies, geography, PE and economics for a year. I guess I first considered accounting as my future job through business studies as you learn some accounting basics which I found both interesting to learn and fun.

How is this different from your previous role?

AF: As this is my first proper job since leaving sixth form there are obviously differences between the two roles but I would say there are also similarities. The main difference would have to be that I now actually do work in the real world which has much greater responsibility. However, I have always had to ensure that deadlines and things are met and that I arrive at places in good time etc whether it’s for work or school.

SN: Well I used to clean hospital toilets so thankfully there’s none of that going on anymore now I’m at Leathers! It’s a lot less mundane than my previous job as there are always new projects popping up which keeps me on my toes and allows me to learn new things everyday still.

JL: In pretty much every way. I have some experience working in Audit, but the scope of work we do at Leathers in the tax department is something I haven’t experienced. Being in a department that handles pretty much every aspect of the work from start to finish really gives you a better picture of what is actually going on with a client.

Do people ever mistake you for the dreaded ‘taxman’?  

JL: Mainly my Nan. Doesn’t matter how many times I explain what I do, it always come back to ‘Taxman’ somehow.

SN: All the time! Especially when I first got the job and was telling my friends/family about it, I kept getting asked if I could sort them out with a tax refund.

AF: In general, if you say you’re an accountant to people they often think/joke about you being boring and a numbers person when really it’s a lot different to that. Being a numbers person obviously helps but I wouldn’t say it’s crucial and we are all interesting in our own way!

How are the Leathers nights out? 

SN: They’re really good - I always have such a good time and everyone gets on so well with each other, it’s really nice to be a part of. There’s always a good story to laugh about in the office on a Monday (usually something I’ve done!)

JL: Pretty good laugh, I tend to go home early so I keep out of trouble.

AF: Fun to say the least…in all seriousness though, it is good to be able to socialise and mix with colleagues outside the office.  While in work you have to act more professional but outside of work it’s easier to get to know someone on a personal level as people are more relaxed.

What is the training like at Leathers? 

SN: I’m still at the beginning of my training but I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. Me and Jack are trying a different route that will lead us to be jointly qualified with ICAEW and the CIOT which is exciting, although I’m also expecting it to be quite challenging.

AF: My training at Kaplan was going well until the chaos of Covid 19 started… so my plans are kind of on hold at the minute but hopefully I will be able to do some new learning and sit my exams in the near future (fingers crossed).

JL: Yeah both me and Sarah have had the same issue. Unfortunately, with the Coronavirus some of our exams have been disrupted. Doing the joint ACA/CTA qualification has been really useful, as you get to see the wider picture from how the accounts are drawn to how this impacts the final tax position.

Highlight of your first few months? 

AF: I would say my highlights since joining Leathers would be meeting lots of new people, learning new skills and passing my first two AAT exams (the Christmas parties have also been good too).

SN: Oops I am trying to forget the Christmas party

JL: Not work related, but probably our day trip that we all got to take to watch the World Cycling Championship in Harrogate last year. Was a fun day out (despite the rain) and a good chance to see the Harrogate office.

So, where have you been working from during the ‘Crisis’? 

JL: I have been back in my hometown Tamworth. I went to visit family before the lockdown happened and took my work laptop with me to revise. So, once the lockdown began, I have been stuck down here.

SN: My bedroom dressing table has been turned into a desk and I’ve been working from there - it’s nice as I can people watch everyone going past! It also means I can keep an eye on the cat during the day to make sure she’s not getting up to mischief!

AF: During Covid 19 I have been working from the desk I have set up in bedroom. Thanks to Barry and Julie who are still in the office I now have both my surface pro, monitor and office chair which makes working from home a lot easier. However, I am now starting to miss the social aspect of being in the office with everyone.

What have you been working on during the lockdown? 

SN: I’ve been working on a few different projects during lockdown, but I’ve mainly been working on personal tax returns and preparing some trust accounts/tax returns. It’s been nice to see what work is like at the start of the tax year as I only started in September so I only really caught the end of the process last year.

JL: Something new for me has been contacting clients directly once the tax year has begun. Like Sarah I wasn’t about last year for the start of the tax year, so this is all new to me as well.

AF: I have mainly been working on our monthly company payrolls. The governments furlough scheme raised a lot of questions which has been keeping us very busy.

What has been the biggest challenge for you personally? 

AF: The biggest challenge for me personally was probably adjusting to work life and working an actual 9-5 job. The first few weeks did take some getting used to but now I love it. My challenges are now passing my AAT exams (once I get the chance to do them).

SN: I’ve actually enjoyed working from home, I’ve got into a nice routine and feel like I’m managing my time quite well. I do miss interacting with people face to face, although I video chat with colleagues everyday so I do still feel connected. I definitely miss the social element of working in the office and being able to have a laugh with everyone though.

JL: Getting used to remote working. As we have gone pretty much completely paperless in the past few weeks, getting used to reviewing my work on a computer is something I have had to get used to.

What have you been binge watching? 

JL: I have watched all the episodes of Seinfeld since the lockdown. Time well wasted.

AF: Money heist on Netflix which I finished in a couple of days – very good watch and addictive.

SN: I’m currently watching ‘Ozark’ and ‘Dead to Me’ on Netflix. Ozark is really quite gripping and has a similar premise as Breaking Bad, and I only started watching Dead to Me to have some background noise while I was on my phone, but I’ve really got into it and now I’m hooked! We’ve also re-watched the whole of The Office US (way better than the UK version), Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and Peep Show since being in lockdown.

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