Working at EQ in a qualified role – Kirstin Stark

Category: Experienced ProfessionalPeople - Posted On: Oct 9 2020

At EQ, our people are at the heart of what we do. As a modern, energetic accounting, tax and business advisory practice, we understand how important it is to have the right people in the right roles to be able to provide the high-quality services our clients expect.

We are currently on the lookout for talented individuals to join our team so we asked Kirstin Stark from our Dundee office to share her experiences of working at EQ in a qualified role.

How long have you been with EQ and what made you choose to work here?

Kirstin Stark, Assistant Manager in our Dundee office

My story is a bit different in that I’ve chosen to work for EQ twice…I loved it so much, I came back!

Initially in 2016 I moved to the firm after completing my training contract with no particular long term aspirations other than to spend a bit of time as a qualified accountant. EQ allowed me to explore more of what a general accountancy practice could offer than the primarily audit focused role I had just left. I stayed for just over two years however the lure of an industry position within a large corporate environment where I had worked before retraining as a CA led me away from the firm for a very short period in early 2019.

I returned after a four month hiatus, having gained a little perspective and a lot of appreciation for how much EQ had changed me. I hadn’t been sure practice was for me, but EQ helped me realise it was and thankfully they welcomed my return.

What opportunities have been available to you to develop and how does this differ to where you worked before?

At my previous firm, and likely because of my training status at the time, I’d not been so involved in the end to end management of engagements. As a controller at EQ, there was instantly more responsibility, but equally, more opportunity to develop relationships with clients, learn more about their businesses and experience the satisfaction of seeing work through to completion.

Part of my decision in returning to EQ was based on the firm’s willingness to help me carve out a more audit focused role going forward as I realised that’s ultimately what I wanted. My client list reflects this preference and I’m now involved in reviewing, training and supporting my colleagues with a specialism in audit. I’ve also been exploring new software for data analytics and joined the EQ audit committee. I do, however,  still retain involvement in a good chunk of accounting and tax work to provide variety and further develop my understanding of our clients’ businesses.

There are no closed doors in EQ, literally and metaphorically. If you’re interested in a specific sector or type of work, the opportunity is there for you to pursue it, you just need to speak up, show some initiative and demonstrate your enthusiasm.

What support was in place for you to make the transition to EQ and the way that we work?

Walking into a new job is an intimidating experience but EQ was different. Everyone was so nice when I arrived, I just worried I wouldn’t fit in!

I was given a ‘buddy’ at my level who helped me with EQ specific policies and procedures. I started with a very straight forward job to help me concentrate on grasping the change in systems. I was invited to join internal EQ training to help bolster my fledgling tax skills and reassured when my client list reflected an appreciation of the experience I brought with me, but with a manageable amount of new challenges to help develop additional skills.

What would you say is a typical day for you?

There is no typical day in practice at EQ. I think the key is having the adaptability to change and willingness to take a step back, look at your to-do-list and prioritise!

How have you had to adapt to working remotely?

Some aspects of it have been very easy because of the systems we use – our audits were already completed online and we’re making more use of our data analytics portal as a means of sharing and gathering information. I also like wearing my slippers to work!

I have, however, had to get a bit creative with some testing we would normally need to visit our clients to complete, so video calling and screen sharing have become the norm in the short term but I doubt it will ever be my preferred way of working.

Communication has probably been the biggest challenge. There’s no substitute for being able to pop over to a colleague’s desk to ask a question, or catch up while you’re making a cuppa in the kitchen, but we’ve made it work – everyone at EQ is just a video call away.

Can you give us an example of some of the things you’ve been working on recently?

I have a few things I’m working on at the moment including a couple of audits to finish off with an increased focus on reviewing going concern as a direct result of the pandemic; I’m carrying out some research on a group reorganisation proposal for a new client; reviewing and completing regular compliance accounts and tax work; submitting grant claims  and exploring existing client systems to recommend improved processes and management reporting

Having also recently been promoted to assistant manager at the beginning of lockdown, I’ve been helping to organise workloads, supporting our recent intake of new trainees and involved in interim appraisals. Never a dull moment!

What would you say is your favourite thing about working at EQ?

The partners all take their turn at making the tea. I think this demonstrates just how down to earth our firm is!

What advice would you give to someone considering applying to EQ?

Have a look at the profiles of existing EQ staff, find someone performing the role you’d be interested in and drop them an email. We’re more than willing to answer any questions you might have, and we want to make sure EQ is the right fit for you.

You can read more on what you can expect working in a qualified role with us here.

If EQ sounds like somewhere you would like to be part of, you can take a look at our current vacancies here. We encourage you to apply or get in touch for more information; even if your skills aren’t a perfect match to the roles advertised, we’d still love to hear from you as we are always on the lookout for talented individuals. For a confidential, informal chat, get in touch with our HR team on