From Scottish Roots to London’s Tax Lanes: My Journey from University Graduate to Tax Semi-Senior at Rayner Essex

We recently caught up with Gillian McDonald in this team story, who shares her journey from Scotland to London, learning more about her career as a Tax Semi-Senior at Rayner Essex and getting better acquainted.

Why did you choose a career in Tax?

Work experience at a local accounting firm in my hometown in the North East of Scotland sparked off my interest for accounting and finance. I completed my degree in Accounting and Corporate Finance at university in Edinburgh and Tax was one of my favorite modules! After graduating, I started my first job in an accounting firm and enjoyed learning about Tax and Finance.

What did you do prior to joining Rayner Essex?

Prior to joining Rayner Essex I worked as a Graduate Tax Assistant at a Scottish accountancy firm near Edinburgh that specialised in accounts for the medical sector. I worked there for two and a half years before moving down to London to start my role as Tax Semi Senior at Rayner Essex.

Why did you choose Rayner Essex? – Why is it a good fit for you?

After deciding to make the move from Scotland to London I enrolled with a recruitment agency specialising in Tax. The agency introduced me to several companies in London, Rayner Essex being one of them. Rayner Essex appealed to me as a friendly mid-tier firm that would allow me to progress my career by taking on a client portfolio whilst continuing with my studies towards my ATT-CTA tax exams. Stepping out of the interview, I knew Rayner Essex was a good fit and the right firm for me from its family feel and genuine people, I also loved the fact that the company was socially active, and would give me a great opportunity to build friendships with my colleagues, as this was really important to me moving into a new city.

What is your current role and describe an average day at work?

My role is a Tax Semi-Senior in the London office. This involves managing a portfolio of a wide range of clients including company directors, self-employed individuals, high net worth individuals and non-domiciled individuals. My typical day involves preparation of personal tax returns and tax accounting for our tax compliance service, corresponding with clients and HM Revenue and Customs.

What has been your greatest challenge and your greatest achievement?

My greatest challenge has been managing my workload, working full time and studying for my professional exams in the evenings and weekends, and maintaining a social life and work life balance. Rayner Essex thankfully gives us study leave, which makes it all more manageable, whilst still challenging! However, I know this will pay off!  My greatest achievement professionally has been passing my tax exams first time round. 

What do you like best about working at Rayner Essex?

I like the range of portfolio of clients and variation of work at Rayner Essex. I often work on several different client cases in a day, providing me with variety and interest. I enjoy working with an amazing team and interacting with both the London and St Albans colleagues at the many social events that the company organises from cocktail making to paintballing. I had great fun recently attending the Chartered Accountants Student Society of London Ball with my colleagues and it’s always lovely meeting new like minded professionals.

Tell us a little more about you and perhaps something about you that people may not already know ?

I enjoy Scottish Highland Dancing which is really great fun, keeping me closely connected to my Scottish roots when I can.

Other than that, outside of work I like socialising with friends and travelling to new places. I also like going to the gym and I have just started a new reformer Pilates class after moving down. I decided to move to London as it is somewhere I have always wanted to live, as I always enjoyed spending school holidays here when I was younger.  I love the variety of things London has on offer.

Where to next in your career?

I would like to continue my professional qualification and become ATT-CTA qualified and progress my career to Chartered Tax Advisor at Rayner Essex.

What would your advice be to someone who is looking to embark into a similar role in Accounting/Tax?

I would say go for it! It is an interesting and varied career and the ever-changing legislation keeps you on your toes. There is a great sense of achievement knowing you are playing an important role in managing your clients tax affairs.

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