Xiayang Liu has a PhD in Economics and is currently employed as an indirect tax practitioner with KPMG.
I joined the indirect tax department at KPMG in 2007 after graduating from Birmingham University with a PhD degree in Economics. I decided to move into a business environment after three years of academic research. A career in tax seemed to be an ideal choice as it provides a perfect combination of technical challenge and client facing experience.
I was recommended to join KPMG by a close friend who by then had been working for the firm for two years. I also applied to other accountancy firms but I made up my mind after the first interview with KPMG. I felt that the interviewer conveyed an ideal image of people with whom I would like to work: competent, professional, and friendly. Looking back, I think that understanding the job that I was applying for and keeping up to date with the business world helped me get the job.
I now work as an assistant consultant in a team of 20 indirect tax practitioners. The most attractive aspect of my job is the variety of work. Apart from four graduate trainees, each member of the team has expertise in different sectors such as education, health, local government, manufacturing, retail and international trade.
I have the opportunity to work with different senior managers for a variety of clients. My responsibilities range from answering a specific query on the VAT treatment of a transaction to coordinating a project that involved inputs of KPMG member firms in more than ten countries; from researching a target business to carrying out a monthly VAT review at a client site. There is no daily routine. I have to be pro-active to seek work from all sources, to quickly understand the work that I have been given and to complete the assignments satisfactorily.
Like any other taxes, indirect tax is ever changing with new legislation and new case law continuously emerging which bring challenges as well as opportunities. Commitment and ability to learn are therefore important to my role. As my career progresses, innovative thinking and client focus will be important too.
Prior knowledge and experience in tax is not essential as KPMG offers excellent training facilities to the graduate trainees. KPMG Tax Business School operates a unique dual qualification scheme where trainees can become both a chartered accountant and a chartered tax advisor.
I have recently passed all of my second stage CA exams and will soon start a ten-week training course in Edinburgh for the CTA exams. When I qualify for both qualifications next year, I see myself moving toward a more client-facing role. I will be more involved in building and managing client relationships and winning new pieces of work. I aim to develop my people skills further, as well as my technical knowledge, and be fully prepared for the next stage of my career.
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