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All change – why moving to a different kind of tax company has been the best move yet
I read somewhere that ‘life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better by change.’ Having worked for PwC, within their global mobility department, straight out of sixth form college; I had only known what it was like to work at a large corporation. It was a great experience, but after eight and a half years, I felt that I had reached a plateau with my technical learning. I was ready to take on bigger – and better challenges.
Early last year, I began a new chapter of my professional career with ForrestBrown. Sure it’s small compared to my previous employer, but they have an incredibly ambitious talent pool that’s driving the business forward at an unbelievably rapid rate. When I joined, there were around 20 people here – now we’re 46 strong!
Not your usual kind of tax workplace
People might be under the false impression that our modestly sized company is simply a claims processing centre. Well, thankfully – that’s not the case! Most of our business is inbound. We have a steady stream of business coming in, and our tax managers are often out meeting new clients, as well as our existing clients.
We work in a niche market, specialising in research and development (R&D), so help a lot of interesting companies that lead in innovation, optimising their R&D tax credits using our award-winning process and specialist knowledge. I recently got to attend an exciting innovations event held at Future Space, located at the University of the West of England. In addition to learning about some of the game changers in tech and innovation, one of the Directors here and I presented on the R&D tax credit scheme: how individual companies can potentially qualify for it, and what the likely benefits could be to their company.
I find the opportunity to work with people from all different sectors and industries, from online retailers to food manufacturers, immensely stimulating.
Though we deal with a wide range of businesses and maintain a high level of professionalism – our company culture is quite relaxed in terms of our outward appearance. From our online presence to our dress code, which is smart casual – we like to keep things professional, yet informal.
I find the formalities of bigger big tax corporations quite stifling. Here, aside from the relaxed dress code, the other benefit is – no time sheets to fill out! I can’t tell you just how much easier this makes my life.
Working hard as a team
Everyone works incredibly hard here to maintain the high standards of work we do, so you never feel that you’re the only one working away. During particularly busy periods, groups stay late, so we order in some food and take our time to recoup and enjoy some pizza, or whatever is on the menu for the day. It’s a great atmosphere, despite the high level of pressure at times, but everyone is very supportive, which makes the demanding spells pass much more smoothly.
I also think the great social aspect at ForrestBrown helps create a close-knit team – we have the usual Friday drinks like most places, but we also have lunch together quite frequently, and quarterly social events. Last year we had an end of year party and enjoyed a weekend away to Lisbon. That was a lot fun and great for bringing the team together. I’d never have had that opportunity at my previous company. You get a much more personal feel here – like you’re really looked after.
Tax professionals differ – so does how we work best
I feel the Directors have put real thought into catering for everyone’s working style – if you want to work at a desk and need a quiet place to focus, we have quiet rooms; we also have comfy sofas you can work on if you want a more relaxed feel, and also some stand up desks, if you work better on your feet. You can change it up depending on what you’re working on or how you feel. Everyone’s encouraged to work how they feel is best for them.
If you need to work from home once in a while, so long as you communicate that you’re working agile – management are happy to accommodate and are quite flexible.
What it takes to make the cut
What does it take to become part of the ForrestBrown team? You need to be a good communicator, for sure – putting technical language into layman’s terms, is key. Along with this, being personable is obviously essential, as you’ll be delivering to clients while showing an interest in them and what they’re doing.
Everyone at ForrestBrown has an entrepreneurial spirit – taking charge of our own work, developing business, but at the same time maintaining an exceptionally high level of work, which is why we have a string of awards added to our bow.
If you feel you have what it takes to join our award-winning company, or want to arrange to have a chat with us in our office, please get in touch.