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RSM

  • #9 in Accounting and advisory
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Christine Trutwein

I work within the R&D Tax division as an Analyst and our key responsibilities is to provide advice to clients on the R&D Tax legislation and perform the lodgement process on their behalf.

What's your job about?

RSM provides accounting and financial services to a range of businesses, from small family owned business to multi-national companies. I work within the R&D Tax division as an Analyst and our key responsibilities is to provide advice to clients on the R&D Tax legislation and perform the lodgement process on their behalf.

A typical work week would start with checking emails to see if there any have been any client responses or queries. I then go through my client list of work and update their statuses based on the work I completed the prior week before the weekly Monday team meeting at 9am. In this meeting, we go through our current client list and update everyone on the progress/status. It is also to see if anyone has work capacity to make sure the work is distributed evenly. At the end of the meeting, the work week is basically set on what clients we will be working on.

Once the meeting is finished, it’s time for the first coffee of the day. As the day and week progresses, I would through my list of client work which mainly comprises of reviewing technical documents and writing up project descriptions, analysing financial reports to assess eligible R&D costs and keeping an eye on my email to make sure I respond to client emails promptly, and also to make sure I attend it any urgent last minute tasks that may pop up.

If I explain it to them in detail they may. I work in a very niche area of indirect tax which is not widely known. I didn’t even know what it was when I started. The R&D Tax team basically work on trying to get our clients as much cash back from the Tax Office on the money they have spent on their R&D projects, whilst complying with the Legislation of course.

What's your background?

I grew up in Perth, after migrating from Burma when I was 2 years old.

The most important stages of my life so far would be graduating university, purchasing my first house whilst I was still a student, and can’t forget my wedding day in November 2017.

I had just finished Uni mid-year in 2017 and was working at Crown Perth within the finance team. Being a recent graduate, I was applying for all jobs on Seek, and stumbled across the R&D Tax posting for RSM. Most accounting firms hire their graduates a year in advance, so I was surprised to see a graduate posting in the middle of August. I applied for it even though I had no idea what R&D Tax was, but it had the word tax in it, so I thought why not. After going for a couple interviews, I was offered the job in November and started my graduate position in Jan 2017. From then, I have been in RSM for nearly 2 years now.

I started working at a young age of 13, and have gone through working as a cashier in Woolworths, to a waitress and hostess in Crown Perth, to the finance team in Crown Perth and now, in RSM within the R&D Tax team. Each of these jobs have helped me grow personally and professionally, as I have experienced a variety of work environments and teams, and have helped grow all the necessary skills needed in a public accounting firm, which requires more people and customer service and communication skills than your back-of-house finance teams.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, R&D Tax recruits from a range of background and degrees. I am the only Accounting graduate on my team, everyone else is from a Science or a combination of Science and Commerce background. Most of my colleagues have previously worked within their respective fields, which mostly comprises of science research, before coming into R&D Tax.

Analytic skills as we are often provided with 50page technical documentation which will only have a few paragraphs of information we can utilise. Communication and people skills is also very important as you need to maintain that client relationship and ensure that you are someone they are comfortable to contact regarding anything, even if it is outside of your expertise (and this turns into BD opportunities for the firm)

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The moments when you are working on a client that is building a confusing R&D project, and you hear feedback from the client that the project description you have had to write based on the limited information you have, is written well and accurately captures their project and what they are trying to achieve. Positive client feedback and approval is always a big plus.

What are the limitations of your job?

Just in general for working in public practice, one of the main areas of the position is to maintain client relationships and build that soft skill to progress through the ranks. It is not just about how good you are technically at your job, your people and communication skills are just as important.

For R&D specifically, as the area is quite niche, and is not something you have base knowledge about in Uni, there is a lot of learning involved, and this area is not for everyone. There is also a lot of reading of technical documents and reports and technical writing involved, more so than the financial analysis side of things.

During our busy period which generally range from late Feb until July/Aug, you may be required to work longer hours and sometimes on weekend. Especially in March and April as there is an April 30 deadline.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Travel as much as you can
  • Take the advice older people give you as they have experienced your position
  • Sleep a lot because you won’t get much with full time work, CA studies and trying to have a social life.