Our 35 Under 35 highlights the best young talent in Accountancy, in partnership with Accountancy Age. Our Principal Consultant, Jodi King, talks to Tom Warner, Associate Director in the Private Client Tax team at Evelyn Partners. Tom provides insight on working as a trusted adviser for landowners and rural businesses. He also explains why accountancy is a people business, and that being yourself is as important as ever.
Hi Tom, who are you and what do you do?
I am an Associate Director in the Private Client Tax team at Evelyn Partners. I have been with the firm for a little over 8 years and work in the Landed Estate and Rural Business team, specialising in providing advice to families and landowners. Our aim is to help them achieve their objectives and succeed in long-term growth and generational planning.
What has your career journey been like to date?
My career in accountancy began in 2010 fresh from school. I was an early-stage adopter of the ‘school leaver’ deciding that I could achieve my future career goals without the need for a degree. From August 2010 until November 2012 I worked for a medium-size firm, leaving them after completion of my AAT studies to work for a smaller boutique firm until mid-2015. At this point an opportunity arose to join a large firm (previously Smith & Williamson, now Evelyn Partners) as a part-qualified employee, partway through my ACA studies.
The next 8 years have been a blur; completing my ACA and CTA (and ATT in the background) whilst studying towards STEP to further strengthen my skills in the arena in which I advise. I have moved up the corporate ladder over the years. During this time, I have seen a positive change in the way the profession operates, including the culture within my firm and the use of technology.
What do you enjoy about your area of Accounting?
Specialising in tax (both private client and corporate), whilst still having exposure to accounts, gives great satisfaction in being able to call yourself a general practitioner. I love tax, there is nothing more satisfying than identifying a different way of doing things or undertaking planning to genuinely impact someone’s life for the better.
Tax underpins our economy and so getting it right is important. There is so much negative press in the media when it comes to tax. Such as rate increases, large companies not paying their fair share etc. However, there is never enough good news where a firm has genuinely helped someone in their lives and for future generations. That is the buzz that I get from my area of the industry – genuinely making a difference to people.
What are the latest trends you are seeing in the Accountancy sector?
There are sector specific matters in the news and media. With the Autumn Budget and next year’s General Election on the horizon, tax is always at the forefront of discussions. That being said, trends are appearing more frequently as the world and technology develops. Certainly I see regular use of ‘robots’ within the accounting sector.
Despite the initial fear of an ‘I, Robot’ style confrontation, I have seen first-hand the benefits of automation and robots within the accountancy sector. Whilst I hand-on-heart believe there will always be a place for human advisers in our sector, there is certainly a space (getting larger by the day) for robots, AI and automation to assist clients and practitioners alike.
Are there any specific challenges you are facing at the moment?
Working with landowners and rural businesses, the big challenge we are currently facing is uncertainty. With the change in the subsidy regime for farmers and landowners and a focus on land use and environmental management, we eagerly await the response from government on the natural capital consultation earlier this year.
With many landowners and farmers having to focus their time and efforts on the future (with financial forecasts and growth plans), being able to advise on their current and future tax position is paramount.
This is coupled with the uncertainty of a change in government which may impact key inheritance tax reliefs that will hugely affect the farming and landed sectors.
Who or what inspires you?
The ability to genuinely improve someone’s livelihood. Specialising as a tax practitioner provides an opportunity to get to know your clients intimately, become their trusted adviser and begin to place the power of good advice in their hands.
There is no better feeling than returning home from work knowing you have helped someone!
What advice would you give others looking to pursue a career in Accountancy?
The short answer is do it! At a younger age, or among those not familiar with the industry, there is a common misconception that accountancy is one big job and everyone can do everything. When you start your career, doing a bit of everything is important. This way, you’ll soon get to know what you like and what you’re good at.
A career in accountancy therefore presents many opportunities. From bookkeeping to forensic accounting to tax compliance and cross-border VAT, there really is a plethora of options once you start your career.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak to anyone who has gone into the industry before. Experience and wisdom count for a lot and will help you make your own decisions and form your own future.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
An age old adage “always be yourself”. Whilst it rings true in many scenarios, I was pleasantly surprised by how appropriate it was (and still is) in my accountancy career. At the end of the day accountancy is a people business. Having a personable manner and getting to know someone on a relatively intimate scale is part of the job. Sometimes (and more often than you might think) you do not ‘fit’ with a potential client and that’s okay! Being yourself will appeal to some and not others. It is not only beneficial financially (for the growth and success of your firm) but also personally for your own mental health and wellbeing. Never sell yourself short, but equally never undermine your own integrity – it’s just not worth it!
Tom was listed in the 35 Under 35 Accountancy Age Winners for 2022.
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