Stephen's Story

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Stephen's Story

How did you find Haines Watts?

It was on Linkedin,  a recruiter messaged me and sent me the job description for R&D Tax incentives and reliefs. I then went on to the Haines Watts website to read up on the company and I was really interested so I took him up on the interview. 

My interview was with Gillian and Sam who are based in the Birmingham office and that’s how it all started! 


Tell me about your career path? 

I did economics at university and I’d just finished my master's at the University of Birmingham. With economics, there’s so many different topics. You study regulation, R&D, government, tax and lots of other things so I didn’t have a specific career path. I knew that I wanted to be in finance or investment banking, anything numbers-wise really but I was open to opportunities leaving university. 


What is your role? 

My role is working in incentives and reliefs under the tax team. So we work with R&D, companies that have been involved with R&D come to us and it’s our job at Haines Watts to come together with a report. We detail the R&D, things like payroll, subcontractors and software costs and we apportion this relevant to the amount of R&D that they do, we then submit this to HMRC on their behalf. 

This means liaising with clients on a daily basis to get information. I also have to communicate with lots of different partners in the business as not every office has an R&D team. 


What is the most enjoyable part of working for Haines Watts?

The people and the social activities, I must admit, in the Birmingham office, we do a lot socially. I think our next one is go-karting! It’s really nice to have downtime with the team. With my role, I’m based in Birmingham but I work with a team in Newcastle so it’s been really nice for me to get to know the Birmingham team and feel included. 


What is your work/life balance like? 

My work-life balance is good, it’s getting busier now with year-end approaching and also I have tax exams coming up. With this and commitments outside of work, it doesn’t leave much social time but it should calm down once I have finished my exams and I can have some more time to myself! 


What has been the most challenging part of your career?

Finding the balance at the start between work and study was difficult. When you’re at uni all you have to focus on is studying, when I started working full days and then coming home to study it took some getting used to. Organising my time and finding the motivation to study was challenging but I’ve got it down now. 

How is Haines Watts helping to manage study and work time balance? 

They’re really supportive of my studies, I get days off work for college days and also study days before an exam to get you in the zone. They have also made a study group in the Newcastle office, you can bounce ideas off people and ask questions, it’s nice to have a support network that’s in the same position as you. 


What are your goals within Haines Watts?

I would love to finish my ATT and then go on to do my CTA after that. I also want to get to a senior position in a few years' time to carry on my progression in the business. I have been given a lot of responsibility early on but I would like to take on more responsibility as I go on. 


Why did you choose to work for Haines Watts?

I liked the fact that Haines Watts is a top 15 accountancy firm and also the national presence with all of our offices across the UK. The tax offering is really good as we cover a lot of different areas so there’s lots to get involved in. 


What do you like to do outside of work? 

When I get time, I play basketball with friends. I also go out with friends and socialise. I think that’s why I really like Haines Watts as well, with our social activities you sometimes forget that you’re actually at work so it’s a good balance, not always figures and accounts! 


What is your favourite part of your role? 

The different clients that I deal with. R&D is such a huge thing with lots of companies developing things so I find it really interesting to learn about the companies and what’s new in different industries. 


If you weren’t a tax and incentives reliefs executive, what would you be doing? 

When I was younger I wanted to be a chef but I sort of put that to one side after working in hospitality and seeing what kitchens can be like! 


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t waste time, I know a lot of people like to take gap years etc. I’m a big advocate for getting your studies finished and getting settled in a job, then taking time off to enjoy later down the line. The job market is so competitive at the moment so I would tell my younger self to study hard and get where I want to be! 

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