Name: Emily Tam
Degree and university: University of Cambridge, Economics
Job Title: Investment Management Audit executive at Ernst & Young
What do you actually do? I provide support to the audit team in efficiency and productivity of managing a client engagement. My role involves overseeing the running of the engagement, contributing to effective team work, providing on-the-job training and helping to develop auditing skills for graduate trainees, and providing expertise in accounting frameworks and financial reporting matters.
Why did you decide to go into the financial sector? Having grown up in Hong Kong, a business hub in Asia, I have always been exposed to the fast moving business environment. Having read economics at university, I decided to pursue a career in the financial sector where I would be able to apply some of my knowledge and skills in real life.
I was interested in working in London as it is the focal point of the UK financial services sector. Working in the financial sector will provide me with opportunities to work in different major financial cities around the world. I believe Ernst & Young offers me this choice.
Would you undertake further training to progress your career? Ernst & Young provides regular training programmes to ensure that we are up to date with the constantly changing rules and regulations and financial accounting standards. For example, the investment management sector provides specific training on sectors such as private equity, hedge funds, unit trusts and investment trusts.
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? I enjoy working with talented people in a global firm and the opportunity to drive my own career. I have also enjoyed the variety of work during my three year graduate training contract.
I had the opportunity to be involved in a valuation audit area visit to Madrid in my second year with the firm. Early on, I was given responsibility to take on a role usually performed by a qualified executive.
Although I was put outside my ‘comfort zone’, the support from more senior staff made the experience easier. As well as developing important analytical skills, I learnt to work under pressure and adapt to other working cultures quickly. After all, siesta suits most people!
Assurance services have busy seasons between January and April (and sometimes June when the client has a 31st March year end accounting date). It may become difficult to be away on holidays during this period. Skiing holidays would have to fit in at the end of December!
What skills do you believe you need to succeed? Employers are interested in enthusiastic, motivated, self-driven individuals. When working in accountancy, it is important to demonstrate your ability to work with people as the job is often team orientated. I would say there are three key aspects to focus your personal development on:
1. Establish good relationships with colleagues and clients
2. The quality of work
3. The growth ambitions of the company
What advice would you give graduates wishing to come into this sector? I would advise the graduates to take every opportunity to meet people in your chosen field. The best way to learn about an organisation and the type of work is through an internship. They are invaluable in terms of experience. Work experience will help prove your enthusiasm and can also enable you to discover the roles and organisations that are right for you. Do attend career events organised by universities as these provide valuable insight into the profession and firms.
Throughout your recruitment process, remember that interviewers are interested in understanding how you feel their firm distinguishes itself in the marketplace and, ultimately, why you feel it is the right place for you.