Life at PKF

Martin’s story – Spearheading our new Financial Services team in Leeds

Martin Watson is a Financial Services Partner based in our Leeds office. Martin joined PKF in 2021 and sought to capitalise on the region’s dominant position as the leading Financial Services hub outside of London and provide a credible alternative to the ‘Big Four’ in the region. Read on to discover Martin’s career journey and what brought him to PKF.

I’ll be honest in saying that I came back after a gap year still not really knowing what I wanted to do for a career. I was always interested in financial markets and business and someone (well, Google) told me that audit would be a good way to further my interest in these areas. Hence, on to a Big 4 graduate scheme I went!

Early responsibility and freedom

As I became more senior in my audit role, I really began to see the value in my career choice. In addition to the benefit that external audit provides to numerous stakeholders, I also personally felt the benefit in terms of the amount of responsibility placed upon me at a relatively young age, as well as the senior Board level client meetings I was regularly allowed to partake in. In addition to growing through the client facing side of my role, I also enjoyed being able to devote time to the internal facing side of the job. 

“Working in practice affords you a fantastic amount to of freedom compared to industry, meaning that I was able to organise multiple charity, social and wellbeing events or initiatives to try and create a working environment that my team could enjoy and be proud of.”

With the government consistently pushing its agenda to promote more choice in the professional services market, I was given the opportunity to join the partnership at PKF and help them to grow their audit practice outside of London. It’s been an absolutely fantastic move for me. I have been able to combine everything I enjoyed in my previous role with the added benefits of working in a less corporate environment, enjoying the additional flexibility and work-life balance that brings. I count myself as very lucky that I’m able to provide a life for my family that few people can. Plus I get 8 weeks’ holiday a year.

Simplifying the complex

I joined a financial services audit practice and to my surprise, it was the complexities of the world of insurance which peaked my interest. I began to specialise in this sector and once I had finished my ACA exams, was afforded the opportunity to undertake several secondments to FTSE listed insurance companies, as well as to one of my firm’s overseas offices.

Whilst I learned an enormous amount from all of these experiences, the greatest benefit was learning that a role in audit was something I thrived on: the variety of every day, the fast pace, plus working with a team of energised, motivated and like-minded individuals is not something you see in many organisations.

My top tips

If you are an accountancy professional looking to join a dynamic and growing practice in Leeds, please reach out to our team as we are always keen to talk to people who want to join us on our journey.