Best of times

Jonathan Coates on working for PwC, The Times' number-one rated graduate employer

After graduating from Leeds University and taking some time out to travel around South America, I found myself eager to get stuck into my career. Rated as number one in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employer for the last eight years running and with a global network, PwC was a great place to start. Two and a half years down the line and a few weeks away from qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I can honestly say that the decision to join PwC was the best I could have made.

As an international finance centre Guernsey attracts a variety of different financial services businesses. Here in the Guernsey office we provide audit, tax and advisory services to a wide range of clients both in and outside of financial services; some who are local to the island and others from much further afield. In the course of my training as an auditor so far I have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients such as private equity funds, offshore banks, real estate funds and investment managers. As an auditor I am able to work closely with client teams and review the processes and transactions which take place in their operations on a daily basis. I therefore get to see how these businesses operate from the inside-out. Each audit also provides new challenges as I build up my knowledge of how different sectors within the financial services industry work.

This type of experience is invaluable and will provide a great platform for my future career.

Compared with PwC in the UK, we are a relatively small business, and because of this I am entrusted with a high level of responsibility in my day to day role. This has been the case since the outset of my PwC career. I am responsible for leading teams on site at the client’s office, talking face to face with clients about their issues, managing my own workload and providing coaching to junior members of the firm. Although the learning curve is steep, there is always support available, whether it is from peers, senior team members or the personal ‘buddy’ you are allocated when joining the firm. Each staff member is also assigned a coach who is there to provide advice on any personal or professional matters and help to ensure you get the most out of the PwC experience. Whether you choose to take the ICAEW or ACCA route, studying for a professional qualification is challenging and you need to work hard to succeed. However, with the level of support provided by PwC, I felt that passing the exams was always achievable. They provide paid study leave and college tuition which is run by experienced and professional tutors. You will also join the firm as part of an annual intake of up to 13 or 14 people who are all starting the same training as you. This makes the studying process so much easier as there are always people to share ideas with. I have recently completed my final exams and found the support network in place to be invaluable.

PwC really focus on delivering beyond the clients expectations, and we’re therefore expected to work hard in order to meet our client’s needs. However, a good work life balance is also one of PwC’s primary concerns and maintaining personal hobbies and interests is actively encouraged. Our office has a committed sports and social committee which hosts a range of events including regular Friday night drinks, trips to Sark and Herm and an annual themed black tie ball. There are also a number of sports teams competing in the local leagues including football, hockey, touch rugby and netball. These teams are open to all from day one and are a great way to get to know people in the office.

PwC is a global network of firms, supporting global clients, so it stands to reason there are lots of opportunities to work off the island. My colleagues have travelled to places such as Boston, Sao Paulo and even Alderney. Post-qualification PwC also encourages staff to undertake longer term secondments in order to gain valuable experience from the network which can be brought back and shared. There are also opportunities to gain experience in the different service areas. I work as part of the audit department but completed a three month secondment to the advisory team, an area which I have always been interested in.  I am now almost at the end of my graduate training contract and have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far with PwC. 

I work with friendly and intelligent people, many of whom I share common interests with and find my work both interesting and challenging. From my first day in the office everyone, from my peers to the partners have been welcoming and always approachable. For me, it is the people I’ve met from the recruitment process throughout my early career that differentiates PwC from other employers.

If you’re interested in a career in accountancy, I’d get on with doing your research and making your applications sooner rather than later.  Last year at PwC we saw an increasing trend in organised candidates applying for our vacancies earlier in the process. As a result this year’s intake filled up very quickly.  If you want to check out what it would be like to work with us before committing, PwC also offer work-experience placements.  I took this route and the experience gave me a great insight into the work I would be performing on a daily basis and the culture within PwC.