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Newly Qualified Accountants

An interview with James Chadwick

flexible working - british businesses yet to face up to the impact

James Chadwick, Director, Grant Thornton UK LLP

James' career to date:

I qualified as a CA within the audit practice of Scott Moncrieff in 2003 then joined Grant Thornton in 2004 as an Audit Senior. My main driver for moving was to work on more complex assignments and I saw that there would be more opportunity to do so at Grant Thornton given their profile and international reach.

Over the next 4 years I progressed to Senior Manager, working on a wide range of clients from owner-managed businesses to global FMCG businesses which meant there was never a dull moment! I also took the opportunity to spend 6 months on secondment in industry, working with the finance director of one of Scotland's largest private companies on a wide range of projects from a systems implementation to disposals to a refinancing.

Whilst the secondment gave me an excellent insight into both working in industry and the client's perspective, I decided that my future lay in practice. I became a director in 2011 and also took over responsibility for running the firm's 60 strong audit practice in Scotland.

Why did you think you would suit a career within finance?

First and foremost I have a real interest in business and understanding what it is that sets really successful businesses apart from the competition. Working with a diverse range of clients, both in terms of size and operations, allows me to see this first hand.

What attracted you to a career in finance?

I had always taken on finance roles in Young Enterprise companies and University clubs and had enjoyed it so a move into accountancy was always a natural progression.

What do you enjoy about your current role?

There are two key elements of the role that I really enjoy. Firstly, my broad client base ensures there is always a new challenge to resolve and when you do that to help the client it gives a great sense of satisfaction. Secondly, I  really enjoy working with the team at Grant Thornton and helping our people grow and provide them with opportunities to develop is fantastic.

Has your role evolved since qualifying?

Absolutely. I started off as an Audit Senior carrying out all of the audit work and I am now signing the audit reports with overall responsibility for the department.

How do you feel your organisation's finance function has developed as a result of the financial crisis?

For us, it has been around maintaining our levels of recruitment to ensure that when the market returns we are well placed to capitalise on that. I think we have done that pretty well and will continue to invest.

What attributes do you feel make you successful in your current role?

Having a real interest and understanding of my clients' business means that you can understand the issues they are facing and provide advice that is tailored for them. I was once told that as a professional adviser you need to make sure you "advise". That is something that has stayed with me.

What advice would you give someone who was considering a career in finance?

If you make sure you have a genuine interest in your client's business then not only does this lead to you delivering higher quality work but also makes it more enjoyable. The opportunities to progress will then follow.

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