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Accounting Career Trajectories - Episode 4

In the fourth of a series of interviews with Rebecca Wood of Fellows Finance with a focus on career development and career choices for accountants, Rebecca speaks to Becky Hartley. Becky is a CIOT qualified Tax Manager who is on secondment at BDO Singapore.

Which route did you decide to take to begin your career? How do you think this has helped you get to where you are today?becky

I decided to do an accounting degree first with the view of becoming an accountant but when I was at university, the module I actually preferred the most was tax. When I was looking for grad schemes, I remember generally looking for tax roles but some were ACA focused and some were CTA focused. Having the previous degree knowledge definitely helped me make the decision to do the CTA qualification as I already knew I was less interested in ACA.

BDO actually offer the training for this qualification in-house and are the only firm to do this (so I believe). It was therefore fairly easy for me to make the decision to join BDO so I was lucky to be successful when I applied back in 2011/2012 as it was my first choice. I definitely think doing a degree first helped me to get to where I am today as I would not have had the exposure to tax otherwise and would have likely pursued the ACA route. 

Why have you decided to stay in private practice?

As I worked in tax dispute resolution (UK), my work has always been varied whilst being both interesting and challenging so I have never considered moving out of private practice. I also find being in a client facing role provides the variety in the day to day work that I think I would struggle without!

How did your move to Singapore come about?

I am on a two-year secondment with BDO, still working part time for my team in the UK but also working for BDO Singapore 3 days a week. I asked if there were any opportunities to travel to Singapore as I wanted to do something a bit different and my team essentially made it happen for me even though it had never been done from my team before so I am definitely grateful for the opportunity.

What are the differences between working in the UK and Singapore?

Culturally there are a lot of differences – working longer hours, having to respond to emails immediately, the quiet office environment and the majority not speaking English in the office. The work is prepared in English though and there are a lot of expats in Singapore so you never feel too far from home. There are definitely some barriers for me (language being the main one) but I genuinely enjoy the work and the clients are equally, if not more interesting. I am working with a number of high profile / ultra-high net worth Asian families so there is also far greater exposure in Singapore. 

How do you feel that working in Singapore will enhance your career?

I feel that it already has to some extent. Having been in Singapore for nearly a year, I have developed so many new skills and learnt so many new things. I have also built up a profile in Singapore in the tax world as there are not many people here who can provide UK as well as Singapore tax advice! I also have so many more opportunities with BDO in Singapore because the size is so much smaller. For example; I assist with HR matters and am also heavily involved in business development and marketing such as organising and participating in events etc.

Missed our other interviews? You can read them here:

Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 5, Episode 6, Episode 7.

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