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8 May 2017

Breaking the boundaries of the tax world: why ForrestBrown was the perfect career move

Jennifer Eastman - tax career move

As soon as I looked at ForrestBrown’s website, I got the impression it was a really exciting and entrepreneurial place to work. Coming from a corporate background, I was ready for somewhere with more of a personal touch – photos of staff holding funny props definitely reflected that! Reading about the start-up awards they’ve won and brilliant client feedback made it clear to me this was a firm ready to push boundaries in the tax world.

I met with our MD, Simon, over a coffee. His focus on people and growth aspirations for the business – which he built from scratch – filled me with confidence that this was something I wanted to be part of. Both my interviews were then hands down the best I’ve had – I was spoken to on a personal level, rather than quizzed on numerous competencies. From there it just felt like the right move.

No two days are the same

My key responsibilities as a Tax Manager here include handling my 70-strong client portfolio and their R&D claims. This means anything from initial meetings to their aftercare. I love this element to my job – in fact, a highlight for me was recently putting in my biggest claim to date. To be able to tell a client they’re owed a huge sum of tax back was so rewarding and something I was really proud of.

I travel a lot in my role – I’ve been to London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Bristol all in the last week! The firm is happy to ask us where we prefer to go, so you have the opportunity to combine work with visiting family after hours, which is really nice. I also run internal training sessions for our junior colleagues, which are only increasing as we take on more tax associates.

So it’s a really varied role, then, which you can very much mould to your strengths. There are days when you need to get on and crunch the numbers – yes – but I’m given plenty of autonomy to focus on the other elements I enjoy, such as meeting new people and developing my network. The company really values you as an individual in this way; there’s no ‘box’ you need to fill.

Not your average tax firm

There’s a real culture of support here. If I’m stuck on something I know I can always have a team discussion or ask someone for help. It’s also easy to discuss, say, where you want to be in a year’s time and for the firm to give you the tools to get there. Everyone is given equal opportunities and the chance to grow. All you need to do is ask!

We work hard for our clients but are equally rewarded. Not just financially, either – things like opening the beer fridge on a Friday are always great! But it’s also that pat on the back from senior management. In my first week I got an email from one of the directors saying how well I’d done on a job. That’s something I never received in my previous workplaces – it meant a lot.

If you visit the office, you’ll see we’re quite different from your normal tax firm. It models itself more on an agency look and feel – we occasionally even have two sausage dogs that visit us in the office! We don’t work with anyone who’s overly corporate, either, so we never turn up to meetings in suits. Yes – our ultimate focus is delivering R&D tax credit claims – but because our clients vary so much (from digital agencies to roofing companies) there’s never a typical day, which just makes it an all-round more exciting place to be.

A people-focused workplace

I very quickly built up a friendship group here. I was touched to be invited to two socials during my previous notice period, plus a company photoshoot! Come my first day I felt I already knew people and a little more about the business, which made joining much less daunting.

Working in R&D you get to know the businesses you work with really well, including the owners who run it. Meeting such a variety of people gives me a real buzz. I was initially concerned R&D was too much of a ‘niche’ tax area – I couldn’t have been proved more wrong. We deal with so many different people and in different sectors that it never feels repetitive.

There’s so much company loyalty – everyone here wants to help the business grow and develop. We’re split into four teams, with around 46 of us in Tax. But we’re all working to team targets – there’s no “dog eat dog” mentality. We make sure we celebrate successes together, too.

This just goes back to the collaborative, supportive culture we have at ForrestBrown. I’d advise anyone with a passion for people, learning new things and breaking the mould of the tax world to explore our current opportunities – and help us make ForrestBrown an even more exciting place to be!

Looking to challenge yourself in a new role? I’d love for you to join me here as a Tax Manager. Get in touch here.