In ATT, CTA, Grant Thornton, Rob Withecombe

Leading business and financial advisers Grant Thornton have announced their latest round of results in the prestigious Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) and Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) exams. In the ATT tax exams the pass rate was 96%, beating the national average of 72%. Similarly for the CTA exam the Grant Thornton pass rate was 93% compared to a national average of just 32% – for the first time sitters of the CTA there was a 100% pass rate – clearly demonstrating Grant Thornton candidates have excelled in a very tough year.

Rob Withecombe, Head of Tax, commented. “I am very proud of what my talented trainees have achieved across the whole country. These are simply outstanding results produced by a knowledgeable and dedicated group which reflects the quality of the whole of my tax team. I am particularly impressed with the five candidates who received distinctions and of course the 13 individuals that passed their CTA at the first time of asking, in a very tough year. One of my key commitments is that Grant Thornton will not compromise on technical excellence and I will do everything in my power to cultivate our already excellent tax training and development programme to deliver on that promise”.

The study programme for the ATT and CTA has been developed and refined over the years and consists of residential training programmes, as well as a series of internal modules depending on which area of tax students work in. These modules are not intended to support the professional qualifications but help trainees to learn how to apply the taxation principles to their day jobs, back in the office. Wherever possible students undertake their professional training at Bradenham Manor, Grant Thornton’s National Training Centre in Buckinghamshire.

Rob Withecombe explains “At our dedicated centre of development in Bradenham, my students have the opportunity to concentrate solely on their studies during their residential course. Virtually without exception they tell me that this focussed and sustained period of study boosts their understanding of the technical issues that need to be understood to succeed in these qualifications. We work very closely with a hugely responsive and effective professional training provider FTC Kaplan to ensure that everything possible is done to support the students. We constantly seek feed back and we have fine tuned the training to get the maximum benefit from our investment. Clearly, the approach is working”.

Recently, in conjunction with FTC Kaplan, Grant Thornton have reviewed the ATT course for the new examination structure that has been introduced. As a result of that review extra teaching time has been added for the areas of ethics and administration which will assist with ATT studies, but will also be an invaluable foundation for CTA.

Rob Withecombe continued “I take a direct and personal interest in each individual’s performance and I am enthusiastically supported by the Office Tax Partners. There is a supportive network of tax professionals throughout the firm that students can rely on while they study. Each student also has a dedicated tax counsellor who is on hand for any problems or queries, and who will also follow the progress of their student. We work hard to ensure that the student is given every opportunity to resolve any areas of difficulty and balance their work and study commitments”.

Entering The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers Survey for the first time last year demonstrates the attraction that Grant Thornton holds for graduates due to the emphasis that the firm places on Training and Development. Typically a graduate trainee will start at Grant Thornton in September and begin their ATT studies the following February with exams scheduled for the November – 14 months after they joined the firm. It is usual for individuals to progress to take the CTA exams 12 or 18 months later.

Rob Withecombe concludes “I have absolutely no doubt that many of the successful candidates this time around will become partners in Grant Thornton. They already show relationship and problem solving skills that go way beyond passing challenging exams. We know that we have to invest in the future and that we have to continually improve the gene count. Numbers taking the ATT and CTA are increasing to reflect this commitment and usually we have between 20 and 30 people taking the ATT and CTA. In the next sitting there are 40 students scheduled to take the ATT exams and they know only too well that the standard has been set for them and it is exceptionally high. Will they be up to the challenge? Yes, of course”.

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