Euan tells us about his journey from graduating with a degree in French & History from the University of Warwick to securing a role as an Audit Trainee within the Privately-Owned Business team at Mazars in Sutton, South London. He also shares his unique insight into what life at a leading financial services firm is like and offers his advice for members looking to start their career at the firm
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
In 2020, I graduated from the University of Warwick with a degree in French & History. Being amid a pandemic, it wasn’t the best time to enter the job market and so I wanted to make myself more attractive to employers in the competitive, marketplace. Taking this into account, I chose to continue my studies and completed a Masters in Business with Accounting and Finance. Through this degree my interest in audit was piqued, I was fascinated by how money moves within a business and the processes that are in place to prevent untoward behaviour by those in positions of power. I was shocked by how large-scale fraud and bad practice was able to take place at some of the largest and most respected companies. I also noticed, through my studies, that audit was a sector that was (and still is) going through a period of huge upheaval and change.
What stood out to you about Mazars when applying for opportunities?
I desperately wanted to combine my niche education of French and Accounting into a single role. Mazars offered a unique opportunity to work with French clients in the UK while working towards an accounting qualification. This was a dream position for me, and it put Mazars above the rest when applying for jobs.
What do you enjoy most about working in Audit?
A reason I enjoy the job so much is the variety. Because I work in Privately Owned Business, all my clients are very small which means every week possesses a new challenge. It also means I get to work across all the sections of an audit, giving me a broader and more general experience than graduates working for larger clients. I think this is an excellent way to start your career as you quickly learn and develop your audit skills.
What is a ‘normal day’ like in your role as a Graduate Audit Trainee?
It sounds cliché, but there genuinely is no “normal” day in my role. As a trainee there are, broadly speaking, 3 types of days you’ll experience including working on a client file, studying ACA material and visiting a client site to perform a stocktake or other fieldwork. All these are very different experiences and are further varied by the new hybrid working environment. Employees are currently expected to attend the office at least 2 days a week, though this is likely to increase further. As a new starter, you should maximise your office time as there’s so much to learn and in the physical environment you’ll receive the support you need to do this.
How would you describe the culture at Mazars?
I think the culture at any firm is office-specific. I know this having visited our London office as well as my home office of Sutton (South London). Personally, I prefer the culture of my home office as it’s much smaller, making it easier to get to know people and feel part of the company. Furthermore, there’s a much healthier working culture at Mazars compared to Big 4 firms although, naturally, longer hours are somewhat inevitable in our industry. This is something I really value as it allows me to work at my most efficient and ensures I maintain a super healthy work-like balance. I can’t stress the importance of this enough, as to qualify, you’ll need to work in the industry for 3 years minimum. That’s a long time to be living on fumes and burning the candle at both ends.
I feel very well-supported in successfully passing my exams, with dedicated time off to study (20% of our total working time on average), which is fantastic and sets you up to do well in exams despite the pressure.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying to Mazars?
The key to a successful application to Mazars is having a foundation of knowledge on Audit. If you’re able to demonstrate your understanding of the industry and role as well as ask pertinent questions, you’ll immediately stand out. There are several ways of honing your knowledge, I’d recommend reaching out to current to graduates on LinkedIn (including myself!), as well as doing some research on events that have had key impacts on the industry. These include the collapse of Carillion and Barings bank. If you want to make your research more interesting, you can ease yourself into it by watching the film Rogue Trader, a film about Nick Leeson, who near single-handedly collapsed Barings.
Want to find out how you can launch your career in Audit? Check out Mazars’ profile here.