EY Midlands: The future of tax
It's an exciting time to be at EY in the Midlands. The region has an economy worth more than £200bn – that's 13% of the UK's GVA (Gross Value Added) – with the pace of growth outstripping some other regions. EY’s Midlands business has ambitions to achieve $130m in 2020.
“There's a lot of activity going on in Birmingham and the wider Midlands region.” says Linda Marston-Weston, EY’s Head of Tax in the Midlands. “The Midlands Engine is an exciting initiative for the region, and we're looking to grow our business alongside that. Our Tax team in Birmingham are planning to grow by 25%, at all grades and across all tax specialisms.”
Swapping London for the Midlands
Things have certainly changed since Linda joined EY 18 years ago, having previously worked for 14 years at another Big Four firm in London. “I finished university with a law degree and, although I decided that I didn't want to be a lawyer, I was still keen to find a career path that used my legal background. So I decided to go into accountancy and have a career in tax.
“I was based in London when I received the call from EY. They were setting up a Transaction Tax team in Birmingham, and it sounded like an exciting opportunity to set up and lead my own team. My husband and I settled really quickly into our new home in the Midlands and have never looked back. The region is a fantastic place to live and work.”
Friendly faces and closer connections to business
While time has moved on, the things that appealed to Linda about the team in the Midlands still hold true today. “EY is a very entrepreneurial environment. I think we're very good at giving people autonomy to thrive and drive their own careers.
“And Birmingham as a city has a great collegiate environment. I went to a deal-making event soon after I started and was introduced to a great network of people. The next day, I was walking down Colmore Row in the heart of the business community – where the EY office is located – and I saw a few familiar faces.
“That's very different to being in some other cities!”
Collaborative atmosphere, collaborative environment
Linda says that collegiate spirit is still present, even though the office is going through a period of rapid growth. “We're very integrated as a team. We've just had an office move where we took down furniture barriers that were separating our teams, so we're now genuinely working as one team.
“We also go to market as one Tax team. It's a more interesting way to work, because you're learning and working with other people with different skills and experiences. It definitely provides a more rounded experience.”
Support for you, support for colleagues, support for the local community
This encouraging atmosphere extends into more formal support networks too. As well as being People Leader in the Midlands, Linda is the partner sponsor of the local EY Women's Network, the largest EY network in the UK. It runs events internally and with clients, as well as providing coaching and advice and a forum to network.
“We also have something called the People Forum, which is a group of representatives from across EY’s different service lines and networks based in the Midlands. We get together once a month to talk about people development and future events, and to look at the feedback we regularly get from people in the office.
“Also at EY everyone gets two CSR days a year, when you can go off and do something for charity, either by yourself or as a group.”
There's also a very active social committee, as Linda explains: “The committee organises social and sporting events for our people. We have an annual Winter Ball in December, and more recently we've held quiz nights and cinema screenings at the UK’s oldest cinema – the Electric Cinema in Birmingham – where people could bring their families. It creates a nice atmosphere in the office and helps us to build strong teams.”
Encouraging entrepreneurial thinking
There are client networks within Tax too. An established Tax Directors' Network brings together EY tax professionals with FTSE 350 tax directors. And some of the more junior members of the tax team recently started the Future Tax Directors' Network, aimed at up and coming tax professionals.
“It's for clients who aren't yet tax directors but who are aspiring to be, and for our staff at a more junior level to network. They now they have this fantastic network for themselves, where they can get to know their peers.”
Introducing the Tax Digital Hub
More evidence of the Midlands’ entrepreneurial culture is found in EY’s Tax Digital Hub. “Digital is going to be the number one disruptor for our tax practice. When we were thinking about where we want to focus, it's an obvious place. It's going to be one of the biggest issues for our clients and us to deal with,” Linda explains.
“We already have people in the Midlands who are leading in this area so we wanted to create this hub to stand ourselves apart in the market and lead the way in this sector. We took it to EY's leadership and they loved the idea.
“Our clients will have a chance to get involved with this new Tax Digital Hub. And we're really excited about the career opportunities it offers to our people now, and those joining in the future.”
With such innovation, opportunity and support on offer, EY in the Midlands is the perfect place for self-starters who want to be involved in the future of tax and the digital space. To be part of Linda’s growing team, discover more about available roles on our website.