Alan Turner CA on the importance of networking

Edinburgh city sunset may 18
By CA Magazine

5 June 2018

Alan Turner CA, Partner, Head of Tax – Scotland, KPMG describes his role and how networking has been important to his career

How did you come to join KPMG?

I grew up on a dairy farm in the west of Scotland and saw the importance of the Chartered Accountant in that business relationship, as the all-round adviser.

I studied business law at the University of Strathclyde and joined a Big Four firm straight from university. I trained in tax, then at the end of my traineeship in 2004 I wanted to make sure I was testing this new qualification as much as possible, so I went to work for Goldman Sachs in London. It was a great experience, but I missed the variety of tax and practice so came back to Scotland and joined KPMG in Edinburgh as an assistant manager.

Where has working with KPMG taken you?

I spent three years in Edinburgh then in 2008 I got the opportunity to head up KPMG’s UK Tax Centre of Excellence in New York.

I went over there as a senior manager representing the UK firm, with responsibility for advising North American clients on tax, so it was a fantastic experience early in my career. Coming back to the UK, having built experience and relationships with clients over there, transformed my career.

One of the key reasons for me pursuing chartered accountancy was I wanted to travel and that has been realised. The CA brand is recognised around the world and opens doors.

The way we’ve been trained enables us to go into any situation and look at it through a variety of lenses

Has networking been important to your career?

Networking is critical in whatever we do. One of the best networks we have as CAs is each other. I’d encourage anyone who is coming through the CA qualification to look around at your peers and keep in touch with them as your careers progress and take you in different directions. Whether you’re working in industry or as an adviser, you’re going to need advice at some point in the future, so having that network around you is very important.

What kind of transferable skills do CAs have?

The ability to stand back, take stock and see the bigger picture is something that is instilled in us from the beginning. The way we’ve been trained enables us to go into any particular situation and look at it through a variety of lenses.

How significant is diversity in your team at KPMG?

Diversity is key, particularly in what we do, where we’re advising a range of clients across society, and it’s important that we’re as diverse as the clients we advise.

There’s a danger, when you first have the authority to recruit, that you’re inclined to look for people who are just like you. As you start to take on more responsibility and become more senior you do recognise the need for absolute diversity of thought.

What advice would you offer to newly qualified CAs?

Enjoy every experience. The CA qualification can take you in directions you didn’t even know existed.

I think it is important to actively seek out the different opportunities, embrace them and enjoy them as you’re going through. Being a CA is a hugely enriching career and it’s the qualification that allows for that.

This Q&A is based on Alan's interview as part of the ICAS Gold Dust Career Insights series.

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