Making the Move From Big 4 to Mid-tier: Genevieve Moore
Posted by Ben Hall
I sat down with Genevieve Moore, Head of Corporate Tax at Blick Rothenberg to discuss the differences between the Big 4 and Mid-Tier Accountancy Practices. Genevieve made the move from Deloitte in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. How does the culture at Blick Rothenberg compare to your time in the Big 4? I think size does lead to a different culture. We are about 325 people now, across two offices and although we are growing rapidly, there is a family feel at Blick Rothenberg and I think this comes because you form deep working relationships with people, so you understand who they are as people and what is important in their life. This helps me manage staff better and get the best out of people, by understanding what makes them “tick” and letting them get on with what they are good at and enjoy. I’ve got to know people from other departments very well and worked closely with them, rather than only operating within one large Big 4 team. Our CEO meets personally with every new member of staff, and since his appointment in the role has arranged a half hour one to one with every member of staff to get to know them better and understand more about their views on the firm, their career and what we can do better. I can’t imagine many firms where the CEO would have this much involvement with the staff, but it certainly helps improve working relationships and staff engagement. Another key difference is the hands-on partner approach at Blick Rothenberg. I have day to day contact with my clients, from the first meeting to delivering the ultimate piece of advice, and all stages in between. Work isn’t over-delegated, and the partners are still tax advisors, not salespeople. We don’t have tax technical teams in London reviewing new legislation and sending out internal communications, we are the tax technical teams! This won’t be for everyone, and when I first joined Blick Rothenberg I opened my legislation more times in six months than I had in the previous two years at Deloitte. I really valued this experience and although I’m more involved in management now, I still have daily contact with my clients and the tax legislation! How does the quality of the work and team compare to the Big 4? I have clients which range from pre-revenue tech start-ups to UK listed (full and AIM), and international groups turning over billions. It’s certainly not true that a smaller firm doesn’t have good quality clients or work. Being in a mid-tier firm in London means we are well placed to attract excellent clients, and every day is varied with a number of different and unique situations for our clients, whether this is setting up a fund, helping a client design their overseas corporate structure, transfer pricing and supply chain advice, or implementing an employee incentive plan. One of our opportunities is that we can provide the independent tax advice for businesses which are audited by one of the Big 4 and need separate tax advisors, or simply want a different view. Many of our larger listed clients are audited by the Big 4 or Top 10 firms. The quality of the team is also very high, we have less staff, so it is very important to make sure we recruit the right people and that they will be a good fit with the team and the firm's values. One of the differences I have noticed is that we are very good at allowing people to do the things they are good at, rather than trying to make everyone the same, or push people into sales/marketing if that’s really not their cup of tea. This allows us to get the best out of people and retain our staff with higher engagement. What surprised you the most after making the move? I’d been told during interviews that Blick Rothenberg had an exceptional client base, but I don’t think I really believed it until I got there and started working on these clients, from top brands to household names. I was also pleasantly surprised by the pace at which you can get things done in a smaller organisation. Shortly after I joined I suggested when we should recruit some A-level students into the team, something which I had suggested at Deloitte and then been involved in designing and implementing their A-level recruitment path. At Deloitte, it took over five years from the day I suggested it until they recruited their first A-level students. At Blick Rothenberg, it took less than three months! The same is true with new markets and business ideas, as a smaller organisation and fewer tiers of management, we can be very quick to adapt to change and access new markets and technology. Was a move into the Mid-Tier a good move for you and would you recommend it? I had worked in the Top 10/ Big 4 for 12 years, always based in the regions before taking the jump to a mid-tier firm based in London. I’d done well in the Big 4 but it was after the jump to London that my career took off. In six months, I was made Partner, and two years later Head of Corporate Tax. The mentoring I have had from our CEO (previously Head of Tax) and the support from the firm has enabled me to really grow and develop as a person and I am sure I would not have been able to achieve all this if I hadn’t made the move to Blick Rothenberg. People shouldn’t be scared to leave the Big 4 brand behind them, the mid-tier firms do attract top quality clients, work and staff, but the environment is different to the Big 4 and won’t be suited to everyone. My advice if you thinking about making the move is to go and talk to them, there is nothing lost but an hour of time and you’ll very quickly get a feel for whether or not it is for you. If after reading this, you’d like to know a bit more about what opportunities are currently out there then please do reach out. I am working exclusively with a number of mid-tier firms and as Genevieve has stated, there is nothing lost but an hour of your time to find out if this is the right career move for you.