Life at Deloitte

Caity Foster

Assistant Manager, Corporate Finance Advisory Bristol

I studied Music at the University of Bristol, and on graduating moved straight into a career in magazine journalism as a sub-editor. Four years later, I felt that I needed a more academically challenging job and, having always loved numbers, began investigating graduate roles that would provide me with an opportunity to retrain as an accountant. I was drawn to Deloitte as a firm that would value my existing experience and allow me to be creative in a different setting. I’ve now been working in the firm’s corporate finance advisory service line for just over two years, having begun the graduate training scheme in September 2012. We advise companies and individuals through transaction processes (mergers, acquisitions and disposals), strategic option reviews, refinancing and more. I’m also working towards the ACA qualification, with my final exam in November 2014.

What work do you get involved in on a day to day basis?

My day-to-day role is unpredictable and very varied! The majority of my time is taken up with research and analysis tasks, including profiling companies as part of buyer or target research, undertaking valuation exercises, helping to put together marketing  and pitch documents, analysing financial or company information, and completing market research on a given sector. 

 

What do you like most about the office and region that you work in?

I have been based in Bristol since coming to uni here 9 years ago, and I can see myself staying here for a while yet! There are many things I love about the city – the music scene, the numerous incredible places to eat, the friendliness of the people who live here – but most of all, I enjoy the off-beat, bohemian atmosphere. It’s a place where streets are transformed into waterslides, hills get turned into giant snowboarding ramps, and ugly concrete buildings are livened up with eight-storey-high graffiti murals. There is a freedom to express yourself and be creative.

The wider region is also a great place to be based as there is easy access to the lovely beaches and countryside of South Wales and the South West, and excellent transport links with London.

The Deloitte office itself is in a prime spot next to the train station, with a weekly food market taking place in a nearby square and a couple of pop-up venues that serve great food and drink. I also appreciate the free fruit, coffee and milk that we can take advantage of every day.

 

Why your industry?

I applied to corporate finance advisory because I thought working on mergers and acquisitions sounded both exciting and challenging. I also guessed that producing attractive marketing documents and working through a deal process successfully would require creativity, good presentational skills and a lot of people management as well as the analytical and numerical skills more typically associated with a role at a big 4 accountancy firm.

With my somewhat atypical background, I thought that this combination would provide the challenge I was looking for without completely stifling my creative spirit. Happily, I seem to have been right so far.

 

What differentiates your industry from other industries?

Working in corporate finance advisory provides an opportunity to think both creatively (presentation, copy, colours) and technically at the same time, which is pretty rare in a job I think! The devil is in the detail: both the technical content and the presentation of a document have to be correct. If they’re not, an opportunity might not appeal to the right parties, or a deal might fall through. I think this requirement to think with both sides of your brain at once makes CFA stand out from other service lines at the firm.

 

Which personality traits or skills aid success in your industry?

People skills are really important in advisory. A deal will often materially affect somebody’s life, so the client really cares about the work that you’re doing. I think that it’s important to be able to skilfully advise the client so that in the end, not only do they take the route of action that you think will lead to the best outcome, they are also happy to do so.

We also spend a lot of time convincing people that they want to hire us, and so good people skills are important here too. If you’re not personable – as well as technically very competent and well-prepared, of course – then the firm stands a lower chance of winning the work.

In addition, a good eye for detail is essential. We put together lots of presentations and documents that end up in circulation in the wider business world, so ensuring that they’re free from errors is crucial.

 

What do you enjoy most about your industry?

I enjoy its unpredictability! We don’t have a defined busy season like audit, and an opportunity can come from nowhere. I can go into work expecting the day to deliver one thing and then four hours later find myself working on another project entirely. Having spent nearly five years working with strict print cycles where I could have told you almost exactly what I’d be doing on any given day in six months’ time, it’s refreshing to have to keep on my toes and react to whatever the day throws at me.

 

Talk us through the most exciting project that you have worked on.

The most exciting project I’ve worked on is still in progress, and as a result it is confidential. The reason that I’ve found it to be the most exciting is because it’s the project that I’ve been the most involved with during my time with the team.

My team and I spent a couple of weeks working long days in order to put together a marketing document for the business back in June, and since then I’ve been involved in buyer research, market testing the business and working through NDA negotiations with potential buyers. It’s a huge buzz when you hear that somebody is interested in the opportunity you’re working on, especially if it was you that identified the potential buyer in the first place. I’m looking forward to helping with the next stage of the project, which will involve assessing offers as they’re received, and hopefully advising our client to a successful completion.

 

What social, society and corporate responsibility activities have you been involved with at Deloitte?

The Bristol office works with a local primary school, and I volunteer as a Numbers Buddy once a week during term time. We lead a lunchtime activity based on maths for the children who are the highest achieving in their year, the idea being to give them some extra attention and hopefully a boost in their ability. It’s been really rewarding getting to know the pupils and helping them to learn over the last year – and as we don’t get to see that week’s activity before we arrive at school, it’s definitely been a chance to practise quick thinking in a leadership situation!

I’ve also participated in the Community Impact week, which happens once a year in September and is packed with local projects to help out with. Last year I played a part in refurbishing the premises of the charity Young Bristol. I really appreciate the chance to get involved in projects like these through work and think the numerous opportunities to do so speak volumes about the firm’s attitude to its wider community.

 

How has Deloitte played a role in your long term career goals?

My role with Deloitte has overhauled my long-term career goals and widened them considerably. Gaining the ACA qualification will provide me with numerous options for the future, and the great training I receive from the firm means that I feel confident with the technical aspects of my role, and as a result would not shy away from a more technical career path. There are also opportunities to go on secondment with the firm, whether overseas or into industry. All of this together creates the impression of an almost limitless choice for my career in the long term.

What advice would you share to others considering a career in your industry?

Don’t be put off if your degree isn’t a “traditional” subject or if you’ve worked in another industry since graduating. Instead, use that experience to your advantage and consider how the skills you’ve gained elsewhere can be put to good use in this new field. Just be ready to learn fast and work hard!

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