Interviews – Financial – Richard Parker

Richard Parker, 21, is a trainee at KPMG having joined straight from Cambridge University, and has now been working there four months

What exactly is your role?
I’m part of the Business Foundation Programme. I will spend my first two years in four six month placements around the country, learning the different skills which are essential to my work, such as consulting, corporate finance, transaction services and assurance. After two years, I will specialise in one of the areas. Initially, it gives you a good opportunity to see the whole of the company, and it is also excellent training.

What is the applications procedure?
KPMG only accepts online applications. If your application is successful you are invited in for a first round interview where you sit numerical and verbal reasoning tests. If you are successful at this stage you attend a one-day assessment centre, involving a partner interview and group exercises etc. If you are successful in these, you get the job.

What’s the competition like to get in?
There are 600 graduate recruitment positions across the country, 30 of which are specific to my sector in London. You require a 2:1 at degree in almost all circumstances, at least 20 UCAS points, and an A in G.C.S.E. mathematics and a C in English.

What did your training consist of?
You get an initial three-week introduction and then further training at each placement, which specifically trains you in the skills required for that business. After two years you can then go on to do a professional qualification such as the securities institute diploma or an MBA. KPMG sponsors many employees to do this.

Is there a lot of client contact?
That is one of the most prevalent aspects of the job. I spend 70 – 80% of my time with clients, and it is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of my role.

Did you know what to expect when you took up the role?
When we had learnt that we had been made an offer, we are invited in for an open-day, where you got to meet people already on the programme. That was extremely useful – I had no misconceptions about what I would be doing or what was expected of me before I started work.

How many hours a day do you work?
A normal day would be from 9.30am to 5.30pm; occasionally we will work later if we have a specific deadline to meet, but that is rare.

What do you do in an average day?
As soon as I get into work, I check my e-mail. Then I am allocated specific tasks for the day. There might be a group meeting, where we will work out a strategy depending on what we are doing. We spend the rest of the day completing the tasks that we have been set.

What has been the high point of your career to date?
An operation that we did in Zurich was extremely rewarding, but it was secret so I can’t tell you what it was!

What characteristics in a person does your role require?
It is certainly essential to be friendly, sociable, have self-confidence and have good numerical and analytical skills. For 2001 all applicants for the Business Foundation Programme are required to have one year’s commercial work experience.

What skills do you think you have developed since you started?
I think my interviewing technique has improved; there has been a general improvement of my business skills – I have certainly become more analytical.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Still working for KPMG, possibly having just completed an MBA.

What advice would you give to graduates or undergraduates who are looking to find a job similar to yours?
It’s important to do research into it first – look on the internet, and go to the career advice agencies at your universities to find out as much information as possible about companies. A lot of major corporations visit universities around Britain – I was lucky enough to be at a presentation from KPMG, which led me to where I am today.

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