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How Did I Get Here? Peter Kempster, CIOT

9th May 2005
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Continuing our How Did I Get Here? series, Peter Kempster describes how after graduating in law he qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen and from there has now become President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation.

Current job title
President of The Chartered Institute of Taxation. My 'day job' is as an adviser to City solicitors Nabarro Nathanson.

Describe your training within the profession.
After graduating in law I qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen in London and passed the ATII exams (as they then were). I joined Nabarro Nathanson intending to return to a large accounting firm after a few years of tax consulting work. Instead I found I preferred the work of a tax lawyer and requalified as a solicitor.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering the profession?
If you take the effort to develop a technical expertise in an area for which you have a genuine enthusiasm then you can take your pick of opportunities, because the true experts are in limitless demand.

What are the worst and best pieces of advice you have received?
Worst ' In 1982: 'Don't bother requalifying as a solicitor ' law firms will be multi-disciplinary soon.' Luckily I ignored it ' a quarter of a century later you still need to be a solicitor to be a partner in a law firm.

Best ' 'You should give a lecture on that!' I did (I think it was about taxation of corporate reorganisations) and I learned that preparing a lecture or writing an article on a topic is a superb way of really getting to grips with a subject.

What is your overall view of the tax profession and the people in it?
As in most professions (finance, law, medicine, science) there is year-on-year more essential knowledge to master. That leads to greater specialisation which in turn drives up the cost of advice as 'general practitioners' become rarer. We have the paradox that we make our living out of the relentless legislative complexity, which is also the main contributor to the difficulty in our professional lives.

Who most inspired you to get where you are?
Working with talented lawyers ' not just tax specialists ' who never leave you in doubt that you constantly need to raise your game to stay at the forefront.

What has been your greatest achievement?
As I have just taken on the Presidency of The Chartered Institute of Taxation I obviously regard that as a great achievement. But I have always judged people by their job performance rather than their job title, so now I have twelve months to deliver the goods!

Previous career profiles
All the previous career profiles can also be seen in the special How Did I Get Here? page.

Have you got any useful insights or cautionary tales that could provide useful pointers to aspiring accountants? If you would like to contribute to the 'How Did I Get Here' feature please email our employment correspondent: Dawn-Marie Dart

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