Relaxed, friendly and supportive: A day in the life of a Business Advisory graduate at BDO

Jasmine Barker, Business Advisory Services (Agri Team), BDO Christchurch

I’ve been at BDO almost a year now, working as a Business Advisory Services (BAS) grad in BDO Christchurch’s specialist Agri team. I grew up on a sheep and beef farm and studied a Bachelor of Commerce in Agribusiness and Accounting, so this job is a perfect mix for my skillset!

A typical day can see me doing a wide variety of work, from preparing annual accounts to going out to farms around the region and meeting with clients. I also prepare a lot of tax and GST returns for different businesses.

Annual accounts form the bulk of my work at this point. This involves using work papers to pull numbers together and find where money is coming from, checking everything adds up, reconciling GST, and ensuring the amount in a client’s bank account agrees with what the bank says they’ve got. Depending on the size of the client, a set of financial statements can take anything from a couple of days to complete to up to a week. Everything goes to my manager for a final review – it’s handy having an expert pair of eyes double checking my client work is of a high standard.

Currently I have been attending client meetings every few weeks, but that’s increasing as I learn more. I really enjoy meeting clients. Coming from a farming background myself, I like seeing how other people’s farms work and building strong relationships with clients. It’s great that BDO trusts us to start seeing clients face-to-face from early on in our careers. It also means I get to see new parts of Canterbury.   We are lucky in the Christchurch office to be able to work closely with farming businesses and families  helping them achieve their goals .  I already know after my first year that having a solid accounting base will help me be more effective as my role grows in the future.

Training in an open, relaxed culture

We have BAS training once a week for all the grads and second years. This is always a really useful session where we’ll go through different aspects of what we do in BAS. The person leading it is a senior or a manager and will always use an example so we can see how what we’re learning about works in practice. There’s always a lot of training at BDO which I love, and the first few weeks as a grad was pretty much all training. This was great to get us up to speed quickly and give us confidence around the work we carry out.

I’m currently studying to become a Chartered Accountant and BDO has been so supportive. We get 15 study days in total and can pick and choose which courses we think will be most useful for our jobs. If I have questions, I can ask anyone for help – a lot of us are sitting the same papers at the moment so we often bounce ideas off each other which is great. I also ask my manager a lot of questions which has been super useful.

People are so approachable in the office – it’s one of the best parts of the culture here. Whenever I have questions all I need to do is pop up from my desk and ask and someone will always know the answer and help me out. The Partners especially are really approachable – they always make time to chat to us and say hello, and I feel really comfortable asking them for help.

The culture here is quite relaxed which I like. We have a dress for your day policy which means we can match our dress depending on if we’re seeing clients or just staying in the office. Everyone is super chatty and there are a lot of team-building exercises, so we get to know one another really well. We’ve done some pretty interesting team-building days in the Agri team, including learning how to shear sheep at a local farm! It’s also nice how flexible everything is – we have flexi work times depending on what we’ve got going on in our personal lives, and we can easily go to appointments during work hours if we need to.

Long-term I’m really looking forward to finishing my CA and expanding my BAS knowledge – it will be great to build up a solid client base of Agri businesses and get to know them as they evolve their business.

If you’d like to learn more about working as a grad in Business Advisory at BDO, or any of our other service lines, visit our graduate careers website today.