Business Information Systems

Second edition

by Paul Beynon-Davies

Case study 3 - Nadine

Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m 22 and I’m studying Business with Law. I have completed two years at university, and am now on a 12-month work placement, returning to university in September to complete my final year.

Tell us a bit about your job
I work for Grant Thornton UK LLP, which provides personalised assurance, tax and specialist advisory services to over 40,000 individuals, privately-held businesses and public interest entities. We're a member firm within Grant Thornton International, one of the world’s leading international organisations of independently owned and managed accounting and consulting firms. Grant Thornton UK LLP has offices in 29 locations nationwide. I work in the Gatwick office, within our Corporate Finance team. Working alongside entrepreneurial businesses, their owners and management teams, we provide an integrated service offering, which includes advice on acquisitions, disposals, mergers and strategic alliances, fundraising, and management buy-outs. I hold the position of Corporate Finance Assistant and my role varies in relation to the particular assignments the team is working on. I have held this position for 11 months.

Describe an average day at the office

An average day at the office begins at 9.00am.

I am often required to carry out research, which could involve researching a specific company or director, or preparing research reports on particular markets or industries (gathering data, analysing and summarising it). This is to ensure that the team is fully informed of past events or developments that could affect our clients. Most often I research specific companies, in preparation for a potential buyers list which I collate, as part of the process of selling a client's business. I regularly use Mint, a database which provides me with access to a wide range of high quality information covering companies, news, directors and market research on around 2.4 million companies throughout the UK. I also have access to similar databases such as Fame, Hemscott and Bloomberg. On a daily basis I also use Zephyr, an information solution containing mergers and acquisitions (M&A), initial private offering (IPO) and venture capital deals with links to detailed financial company information. The database contains information on around 600,000 transactions (June 2008), and per year up to 100,000 new deals are added. Essentially my role involves collecting together research from a number of sources and using various programs within the Microsoft Office suite to create deliverables that the team can use, such as spreadsheets, proposals or presentations.

On an average day I could be involved with drafting proposal documents to help the team win new work and, once the client is engaged, I will assist with the preparation of related sale documents. These sale documents assist the team in taking the clients business to market and are presented to potential purchasers, to enable them to make an informed decision as to whether to acquire the business.

I also help with valuation exercises, which involve researching valuation multiples and price-earnings (PE) ratios of comparable public limited companies using the database Hemscott. I collate this information into a spreadsheet, apply valuation formulae and draw up a valuation figure which helps ensure our clients are buying or selling at the right price. I also keep on top of filing, which is an important Financial Services Authority requirement.

On a day to day basis I will update the Grant Thornton's internal customer relationship database on behalf of my director. This database manages key relationships between contacts such as intermediaries and members of Grant Thornton.

My day ends at 5.30pm.

How has your knowledge of information systems helped you in your job?
I regularly use databases, and I prepare various documents in Excel – some simple spreadsheets and others requiring me to use formulae. I have also had to create documents in Word, which have included client letters, and my previous knowledge of Word and Excel has enabled me to do this successfully.
On a number of occasions I have assisted in preparing proposal documents to present to potential clients using PowerPoint. My previous knowledge and experience of Microsoft PowerPoint has enabled me to make a positive contribution to these marketing documents. My previous experience of using the university intranet and various internet search engines has helped me to quickly adapt to using the firm's intranet and enabled me to effectively carry out internet research for the team.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known as an information systems student?
I think the most important point is that when studying at university it is difficult to put the information studied into context until you are in the workplace. Once within the workplace it gives the information one has learnt a purpose, particularly when you can see how it is applied within a real life business environment.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?
The biggest challenge has been becoming knowledgeable in the area of accounting and in particular corporate finance. I began this job having studied a basic accounting module and had no previous corporate finance knowledge or any experience of working within a fast moving accounting and consulting firm. I have enjoyed the challenges that this has presented me with, and as a result have learnt a considerable amount along the way.

What do you like best about your job?
I enjoy working as a part of a team, I find corporate finance interesting and I enjoy learning and becoming more knowledgeable in the areas of accounting and corporate finance. We have had a fantastic year and it's great to feel that the work that I have put in is part of this success.