Public accounting and international travel – two topics I did not expect to go with each other. However, this past winter, I was able to travel to London for a two-month secondment (which is like an exchange program) with Buzzacott, a PrimeGlobal firm in London.
While working in London, I was able to utilize my control knowledge and help on an internal project that related to controls. I also worked with several prestigious clients, including a few in the financial services industry. There are many similarities between how an engagement works in the USA and in the UK. Engagements follow an almost identical structure in regards to planning, fieldwork, review and wrap-up. Thankfully, UK GAAP and US GAAP are very similar, so I maintained my good understanding of accounting principles. I did learn quite a lot about FRS 102, which refers to new guidelines for reporting and audit engagements in the UK. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge of work was learning the ins and outs of using new software. It took a few days to get used to the software differences when moving workpapers around.
Along with acquiring new work skills, I also acquired new cultural skills. Buzzacott has a very open office space. There was a lot of interaction at work, which made for a very friendly and lively work environment. I now consider myself an expert at making tea runs and properly using a kettle. Tea runs happen five to six times per day and consist of replenishing three to four of your coworkers “cuppa.” A proper “cuppa” includes milk and sometimes sugar. Believe me, it is harder than it sounds. Pouring the right amount of milk according to each person’s preferences was sometimes the hardest thing I did each day!
Everyone at Buzzacott was extremely gracious, friendly and inviting. There were many firm-sponsored social gatherings including a team catch-up once a month and a table tennis social event. I made many friends at Buzzacott who guided me around the city. They took me to “football” matches (I will never get used to referring to soccer as football), the cycling world championship, and an ice hockey match. I was invited to special events such as Burns night, which is an annual event where the poet Robert Burns is celebrated. At Burns night, I was forced to try haggis (a type of dish containing sheep’s innards that has been banned in the U.S.), which I realized was actually delicious. I made many friends in Buzzacott and am looking forward to catching up with them again the next time I’m in London.
Staying right in central London meant that there was always excitement nearby. I stayed in a lovely apartment in central London and was within walking distance to many famous landmarks, including the London Bridge and Tower of London. I was able to see famous sights such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. I became an experienced “tube” rider, as I had to navigate my way through the maze of the underground subway system. I explored the many different neighborhoods of London and recognized locations from famous films like Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and James Bond.
The two months in London were a time I will never forget. I obtained international work experience, expanded my cultural understanding and made great new friends. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
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