On the 5 October 2015, I arrived into Grant Thornton for my induction, to meet the FAAS (Financial Accounting and Advisory Services) team and begin my three weeks training with the rest of my intake. Just over three years later, I received my FAE results. Thankfully, I was among the lucky candidates who passed the exams on first attempt, the biggest achievement of my life to date.
Obviously study, exam technique and class attendance are major factors to attribute to your academic performances. However, there are additional contributing factors that shouldn't be taken for granted. The support that I received from Seniors, Managers, Directors and of course Partners over the course of the last three years has been a gigantic factor behind my success. Every year in the lead up to exams, the firm hosts the CA Institute lecturers who give the examination candidates a private group tutorial - a great way to answer any questions you might have on the exams or on a specific area of the course. On top of this, if we were still struggling with anything closer to the exams, everyone would will us to approach them so they could help – a great environment for students.
FAAS, unlike other departments is not exclusively aligned to one type of role, as you would typically find in an audit or tax department. This was one of the primary reasons I initially decided to apply to FAAS. Although I have spent the majority of my time working on audits of international companies in a variety of sectors, since joining FAAS, I have worked on an assortment of other assignments, for example:
- a tax assignment with a National bank;
- a financial reporting assignment with one of the World's largest fund administrators;
- a treasury role with an global top 5 aircraft leasing company, and;
- a systems implementation role with one of Ireland's largest tourist attractions.
All of the above secondments, including audit work, has afforded me a breadth of experience that most trainees are not exposed to. Not only do they add to my CV, but they have also contributed to exam success. To give a practical example, while working on the aforementioned treasury assignment with an aircraft leasing company, I was exposed to foreign exchange derivatives which I became familiar with through practice. One of the questions in the 2018 FAE Core paper was about hedging using foreign exchange products and I had the benefit of practical knowledge.
Performance in work assignments and professional exams is a crucial element of having a successful training contract period, however for me these were only two minor contributing aspects to my experience in FAAS and Grant Thornton in general. I have always found that you get out what you put in. To name a few of the other activities I have been involved in; the Trinity Access Program, a member of the Sports and Social Committee, a contributor to the Graduate Recruitment Campaign and a participant in various CSR events, all of which have made my time with Grant Thornton far more enjoyable.
When I joined FAAS in 2015 the team was approximately 60 people strong, 3 years later the team is made up of over 150 members of whom I know most of. The number of team members is growing in line with the demand for the services FAAS provides. We specialise in servicing the needs of international companies based in Ireland – typically those that have their EMEA HQ located here. Being part of a department that is growing so rapidly provides opportunities for trainees and non-trainees to explore areas of finance to which they would not usually be exposed.
It goes without saying that another benefit of being a member of a large department and of course firm, means that your calendar is regularly updated for new social events. Throughout the year there are numerous annual events; summer barbecues, quiz nights or Friday night drinks in the Grant Thornton restaurant. The lead up to Christmas is always a great time of year as there are guaranteed plenty of departmental Christmas parties and overall the firm Christmas party, a black tie event which is always a huge affair.
Being on this side of my training contract is somewhat surreal, time has flown but to say it has been the most challenging and enjoyable periods of my career to date would be a huge understatement. Turning to the future - having the benefit of an assortment of experience to lean on, I have a very clear picture in my head the career path I would like to follow and it's one that would not have been in the realm of possibilities without the training I have received with FAAS and Grant Thornton.