Grant Thornton is an accounting and business advisory firm which provides a wide range of audit, tax and advisory services to industry, private companies, charitable organizations, and other entities that require professional services.
Grant Thornton International has offices in over 130 countries. The Canadian firms, comprised of Grant Thornton LLP and Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, have about 125 offices, with locations in almost every province. On PEI, there are locations in Charlottetown, Montague, and Summerside, as well as satellite offices in O’Leary and Souris.
A great place to work
“We are very proud to say that, for the ninth year in a row, Grant Thornton has been named as one of Canada’s Best Workplaces,” says Don Love. “We go the extra mile to ensure that working for Grant Thornton is a very fulfilling experience. We try to ensure that our employees are engaged both at work and in the community.”
Together with their partner firm Raymond Chabot in Quebec, there over 4,000 employees across Canada, with about 60 employees on PEI. “We have a young, dynamic workforce, with many of our people joining us right after they graduate from university or college,” says Don.
- Senior Accountant
- Senior Manager
- Human Resources
Becoming an accountant
Grant Thornton hires university graduates who wish to earn their Certified Professional Accounting (CPA) designation, those who have already earned their CPA designation, as well as graduates of college accounting programs.
Those interested in becoming a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) must first take a university business degree with an accounting specialization. Then they join a Professional Services firm such as Grant Thornton. While working full-time, candidates take two years of CPA related courses to earn their CPA designation.
A significant number of Grant Thornton’s employees graduate from community college accounting programs. They generally work under the direction of the CPA staff doing general accounting functions for small businesses on PEI. “We try to make sure our workforce is balanced so we can address all the needs of our clients,” says Don.
Future hiring needs
“On PEI, we hire four to six Certified Professional Accounting students every year. Our campus recruitment program starts in the fall, and we go through a rigorous hiring process looking for candidates for the following fall. As well, we also have open market employment opportunities. We post our employment needs for mid-level accountants, administrative staff, human resource, and IT positions.
“Our turnover is not significant, but it is continuous. People come in, earn their professional designation, gain practical work experience, and some then decide to work in a different area of accounting or move to private industry. We have a regular flow-through of staff each year that is standard for our industry, which gives us ongoing hiring opportunities.”
On-the-job training placements
“We have a very active on-the-job training program. We bring in six to eight people every year for on-the-job training, usually through Holland College. This provides a feeder system for our non-certified stream of employees.”
Most difficult job to fill
“We have on-going needs for experienced tax specialists. It is a highly technical realm and it is very intensive. We always keep an eye out for good candidates. We develop some of our expertise in-house, but we also try to recruit and hire from outside our firm. It is a specialized role that is not for everyone.”
Transferable skills that are valuable in this field
Don says accounting work is a combination of education and experience. Previous work in the accounting world or in taxation is a good start.
Audit skills are particularly important. “Auditing is a very in-depth type of skillset. If you have a background that lends itself to the business of running a business, those skills may be transferrable.”
Best way to get your foot in the door
The best way to get your foot in the door at Grant Thornton is to first take a university business program specializing in accounting or a college accounting program.
Then you can apply to do either on-the-job training or work through the CPA education program with the firm. This gives the firm a chance to meet people who could be potential employees, and people get to find out more about what it is like to work in accounting.
“The world of accounting is not for everyone,” says Don. “It is difficult, challenging, technical, and labour intensive. It is also a rewarding and interesting career that plays an important role in the PEI business community. If you are looking for a career in accounting, and you have the educational background, come talk to us and see what we have to offer.”
How to stand out during the hiring process
“We look for fully-rounded individuals who have done well in school, have a good work ethic, and are community minded. Candidates should have a strong sense of teamwork, and have good analytical and communication skills. Accounting is very much about working in teams and sharing knowledge. It’s a profession that requires you to interact with people.”
At what point in the hiring process are wages discussed?
“Generally, when we advertise for a position, we tell candidates up front what the pay and benefits package will be.”
Future business plans
“As with most large companies, we go through regular strategic reviews. Grant Thornton is constantly looking at where we want to be in the next three to five years. It’s all about staying current with today’s business trends and keeping an eye on tomorrow’s needs.”
Visit www.grantthornton.ca/careers to find descriptions of open positions. Jobs are also advertised on all the major job board sites across the province.