Name: Gregory Forde
Degree/university: First class honours in business and economics from Brunel University
Year of graduation: 2005
Occupation: Economist at Ernst & Young
What do you do in your job?
When two companies are related and there is a transaction between them, they can manipulate the profits if one is in a high-tax jurisdiction and the other in a low-tax jurisdiction. This is known as transfer pricing. Our team analyses transfer pricing. We negotiate with the tax authorities in terms of what the correct company margins should be, based on their business activities. We also analyse other tax issues that arise from such transactions.
The hours are reasonable. Generally, we have a strategy meeting each morning. Then there may be more meetings to discuss various projects, and then I’ll work on a specific project. Lunchtimes normally consist of a client call or internal training. Then the afternoon consists of more meetings, client calls and project work.
What was your motivation in applying?
I did a work placement at a corporate investment bank, and it offered me a job. But I thought I’d also apply to other companies. When I met the head partner of the team I now work in, I became convinced that Ernst & Young was my best option. The company talked more about what it could do for me than what I could do for Ernst & Young.
What did the application process involve?
I applied through the website and did the online test. Then I went to two test centres and had to go through two stages of interviews.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The perception of tax is that it’s dull. But when you get into it you realise how interesting it is. It’s really diverse – no issue is ever the same as the last. You get to travel a lot, and the work itself is challenging. I actually prefer tax to debt restructure or portfolio management, which surprises a lot of people.
I also like the emphasis on diversity within the company. I have set up a mentoring scheme for Afro-Caribbean students between the ages of 14 and 16. It involves employees of Ernst & Young going into schools and mentoring the children.
Most challenging part of your job?
There is so much to do that it never feels there are enough hours in the day. Getting your head round all the tax principles is also challenging. If, like me, you don’t come from an accounting background, it is especially tough. But you learn quickly. The CIMA qualification that I’m studying for are also challenging, but you get lots of support from the company.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
Don’t listen to the stereotypical view that tax is boring. A lot of people think "no way" when anyone suggests applying to work in tax, but it is really enjoyable and it pays well, too.
If you want to work in standard corporate tax, you’ll find that many companies split the roles into industry lines, such as financial services, industrial, commercial and government and national growth markets. Lisa Holden, national graduate recruitment manager at Ernst & Young, adds that there are specialist roles, too. "For example, within human capital, you could work in expatriate taxation." Lisa says jobs in tax have changed a lot in recent years. "In the past, for most of our graduate roles, we were looking for a number-crunching ability. We still need that, but we’re also after people to network and build relationships now, because a lot of the job is about client liaison.’
As a fresh graduate, you can expect to earn in upwards of £27,000 in London, although the figure may be marginally less in the regions.