Working for Grant Thornton – on the Isle of Man

Working for Grant Thornton - on the Isle of Man

Helen Hudson has been an accountant for eight years, the last two of which have been spent in the Isle of Man as an audit manager for Grant Thornton. She spoke to Accountancy Age about life and work on the island

Working for Grant Thornton – on the Isle of Man

What made you move to the Isle of Man?

It’s got all the accountancy firms here in the Isle of Man – the Big Four, Grant Thornton, Baker Tilly – and loads of smaller firms as well, but it’s a small place. You don’t need to live in a big city.

What do you do in your day-to-day role as an audit manager?

The audit teams will go out and perform the fieldwork, and then I’ll review the file and identify any issues.

What skills do you think are important for people working in audit nowadays?

I think the ability to communicate with anybody you meet – not necessarily financially-minded people, just anybody working in business. Then the ability to analyse information quickly, so if you are looking at a big spreadsheet, you know immediately what you need to pull out from that.

Has technology had a big impact on the sector since you started?

We use Excel and auditing software, but all this technology was already there since I started.

How do you see it changing the audit process in the future?

I think the tech will improve the processing and testing side of audit. But a lot of audit is about judgement, taking the information you are given and making a professional judgement on that, and that will always have to be done by people.

What is your experience of being a woman in audit – is it still quite male-dominated?

I’ve always worked in small firms, and I’ve never had any issues. We’ve got female directors and partners at Grant Thornton. Their approach seems to be that if you are good enough for the job, then you can have the job. We do have flexitime and there are people who are part-time because they’ve got young children. I tend to come in early and leave early.

Have their been any issues recruiting into audit because of some of the negative stories?

I think there are always going to be people going into accountancy, and the best way to train is in an audit firm. I think the hardest part is retaining them once they are qualified, as a lot of them move into an industry role at that point. When I first qualified, I was getting constantly emailed by recruiters.

What are the benefits of staying in practice for you?

I like practice because it’s varied. You are working with different clients in different industries all the time.

Does Grant Thornton in the Isle of Man take on apprentices and graduates?

Yeah, they take on graduates in the summer, when they graduate after their three-year ACCA training contract.

Do you get time off to study while at Grant Thornton?

You study at an external training provider, and get time off to go there and do that. You don’t have to do it in your own time.

What are people’s perceptions and misconceptions when you tell them you work on the Isle of Man?

I think it’s got a bit of a tax haven-type reputation. So the general comment is “do you spend all day helping people avoid tax” – which is not the case! Some people think it is very old-fashioned. It is a slower pace of life than you’d get in London or Manchester, but it’s got everything that you need. The beaches are lovely. It is a really nice place to live.

 

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