What’s BRS anyway?
So this is a post to share my experiences from over the last year(ish) as a new Graduate in the Business Risk Services (BRS) Team. From going online to look at the different roles and wondering what on earth Business Risk Services entailed to now, a year on, a BRS Associate.
So initially, as you probably also did, I spent a lot of time googling frantically and trying to figure out what all the different roles advertised meant and what they would entail. Eventually, after extensive scanning of the GT website and googling what the big words meant, I finally felt like I had at least a vague idea of what the different jobs were and the roles I would be interested in.
So I had a think and luckily for me I had a family friend who used to work in BRS who was able to give me a bit more information on the role as I will try to do now for you now.
Within Business Risk Services there are a few different teams. BRS splits into BRS Core and Financial Services (FS) BRS. I work in BRS Core, and we deal with all different types of clients from lot of different sectors, whereas FS BRS specialise in clients working in financial services. Furthermore, BRS Core also splits into BRS and TRS (Technology Risk Services) – they do a similar role to us but specialise in the IT side, in areas such as Data Analytics. For more information on this I would recommend having a read of my fellow grad’s blog, ‘A year in Technology Risk Services’.
BRS Core works predominantly in Internal Audit but we also work in areas such as People, Culture & Organisation, Enterprise Risk Management, SOX (Sarbanes – Oxley), and more (details on our website).
The role of internal Audit is to provide independent assurance that an organisation’s risk management, governance and internal control processes are operating effectively. In BRS this usually entails visiting the client and reviewing the controls they have in place around the area concerned. For example, if an audit of payroll were being undertaken, controls such as ensuring that employees were paid correctly and on time and that payments were not made to fraudulent accounts or previous employees etc.
The approach of the audit often depends on the subject matter, but would often include: inquiry and discussion with management, inspection and assessment of key policies and documentation, assessment of whether policies in place are being followed, and sample testing from a population (e.g. a selection of employees expenses or invoices being checked). From this we would evaluate whether the controls in place were designed effectively (i.e. if they have been properly documented and communicated within the business) & whether they were operating effectively (i.e. if they are doing what they are said to be doing within the policy and procedure documents). We would then summarise our findings on the risks and report this back to the client, making observations where required on areas which we believe leave them exposed to risk and then recommend remedial actions to minimise/mitigate these risks in the future.
Often the audits we undertake are in areas which the management of the client believes have weak controls. Therefore, they are interested in our opinion on how they are able to improve and mitigate the risks they are exposed to. This makes the work we do often very rewarding as we can add real value to our clients. Additionally, this means that we often work on a range of different types of reviews which makes every day different and our work very interesting.
As we work on many different clients, in different sectors, and different types of audit it also means we gain great experience in different types of work.
As part of my role I am also studying with the ICAEW to become ACA qualified. This will mean I am a qualified chartered accountant after passing 15 exams and collecting sufficient experience. Grant Thornton really support you and invest in you to help you get through the ACA.
This means that you get dedicated time at college (with other graduates from Grant Thornton) where you get tuition from fantastic tutors at Kaplan (Study Centre). This time really is invaluable as Kaplan have lots of experience of the qualification and insight as to which areas are the most important and they also teach in such a way that makes it easier to understand. Additionally Kaplan have online learning modules and a dedicated chat service to answer your queries which means you are really supported in this. Additionally, as you will go to college with other graduates in advisory (if you are in BRS), this means that you will all be studying together and can help each other too.
Studying the ACA on top of working can be a challenge and intense at times, but in my role in BRS I have found that the team are very supportive and understanding of the fact that you are studying as well.
As well as a great job and study support, GT offers some great social opportunities. I joined GT with one other graduate in BRS and two TRS graduates. Additionally, there are lots of other graduates throughout advisory. This meant there were many people in a similar position to me. I regularly see the graduates outside of work for fun (drinks, dinner and crazy golf!) so it’s a good place to make new friends, especially if you are moving somewhere new (like I was)!
When I joined, there was a whole host of inductions, including a whole week out of London where all grads received training, which was fantastic for getting to know people and getting into the swing of things.
Also my team has various socials (such as bowls, Christmas dinners and an upcoming shuffleboard social) which is great as you can also get to know the members of your team.
Overall, I have enjoyed my first year at Grant Thornton. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me and given me amazing exposure and experience, as well as allowing me to crack on with getting qualified (9 exams down 6 to go). The atmosphere at GT is great as everyone works together and is open and friendly which has made the transition from being at university to actually working that bit easier. I would highly recommend a role in Business Risk services, and hopefully see some of you soon!