Building a reporting solution from scratch

Sidharth Das, UK

Sidharth works in Performance Improvement within Financial Services, Consultancy in the London office. Joining EY as a Graduate trainee September 2014, Sidharth studied Mathematics and Statistics at University of Kent. Upon starting at EY, Sidharth has worked on the FIRST programme.

Can you explain the FIRST programme?

“The FACTA In-country Reporting and Submission Tool (FIRST) programme was the development of a regulatory reporting software solution for our clients. The goal of FIRST was to build a reporting solution from scratch which we could offer to our clients globally to comply with their Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) reporting responsibilities.

“FIRST was a unique project primarily because it involved EY investing the development of a tangible toolset that our clients could use to perform their FATCA reporting. Our initial focus was to support clients with their basic reporting needs. We refined our offering over the course of the past 9 months resulting in a solution used by well over a hundred clients across more than 30 countries globally. Our clients have ranged from the largest investment banks to insurers and asset managers.

“The EY teams worked across our Advisory and Tax service lines as well as teams from a number of regional offices globally. The FIRST programme began in late 2014 and will continue over the next few years.”

What was your role in the FIRST programme?

“My initial role on the project was that of a junior engineer with the primary task of supporting the build of the product. Over the next few months my role expanded to leading the engineering across the entire FIRST programme. This was a fantastic yet very challenging opportunity as we really had little to build on initially. Working on the FIRST programme often felt like being part of a start-up where I got to experience everything from the design, build and delivery to the sales and marketing of the product.

“With start-up ethos, alongside my engineering role, I was heavily involved in the sales side of things which involved presentations to over 40 clients ranging from global banks, building societies, insurers and asset managers at EY hosted client events and sales presentations.”

What challenges did you face?

“Overall, the biggest challenge was constantly being outside my comfort zone however this was an essential part of the experience as this meant I was in a constant state of learning which allowed me to develop far quicker than I would on a ‘regular’ project.”

What impact have you had on the project and how has it helped you to grow?

“My role expanded greatly over a relatively short period of time as I was given more responsibility than most, given my time at EY. This enabled me to take ownership and drive the product in a direction that contributed to the significant success of the FIRST programme both commercially and as a solution for our clients globally.

“Personally, I feel I have grown greatly both in terms of technical and soft skills. However the biggest take way for me will be the value of persistence and flexibility which I believe were qualities that were invaluable to ensure of the success of the FIRST program a whole.”

How does the FIRST programme fulfil EY’s purpose of ‘building a better working world’?

“The purpose of the FIRST programme was to help our clients comply with their FATCA reporting responsibilities. FATCA is a piece of legislation aimed at improving tax transparency globally there by reducing money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion. Through the successful execution of the program for our clients we contributed to the tax transparency agenda which indirectly affects every one of us in one way or another.”

What can you tell graduates about the EY culture?

“In my experience EY’s culture is all about diversity of experiences. What this means is that different points of view are always encouraged and we tend to build teams comprised of the right people regardless of their service line or geographic location. This is fantastic as it offers individuals the best opportunities regardless of their location within the organisation.

“Another key component of EY’s culture is building strong networks globally and this is something that truly surprised me. Over the last few months I have been able to attend networking specific events in Paris, Madrid and London. EY not only encourages but actively invests in ensuring that opportunities always exist to build these relationships for graduates across the EMEIA offices.”

Finally, what advice would you give to new graduates, looking to join EY?

“EY’s culture is all about diversity and inclusion. Everyone is welcome for the unique qualities that they bring to the table. Our approach to recruitment is focused on assessing an individual’s inherent strengths and I believe being oneself and also having a passion for the area you would like to work in will help you get the job you want at EY.

“Once here, persistence, flexibility and the willingness get out of one’s comfort zone are qualities that I found to be invaluable in my first year at EY.”

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