One for the books: Peter Young

Peter Young

Peter Young

Tax Partner & Head of Professional Services

05 March 2020

As a firm of accountants and business advisers, you'd be forgiven for thinking we're all about numbers - but words are just as important! We caught up with Tax Partner Peter Young to chat about his favourite reads and the books he’s held on to over the years.

What's the first book you remember reading?

It was a book called ‘What Do People Do All Day?’ by Richard Scarry. It was bought for me when I was around 3 or 4 and it’s all about different occupations and what they involve. I kept hold of it and read it to my children when they were young, and in fact I still have it! It’s stored away in the loft along with all my old Ladybird books. It’s great to be able to pass on a book that you loved and see your own children enjoy it too. Funnily enough though, ‘tax adviser’ wasn’t one of the career paths Scarry included…

Is there a particular book which has really stuck with you? What stood out about it?

Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ stands out for me as it’s the only book I’ve ever read cover-to-cover in one sitting. That was in 1988 - I specifically remember because it was immediately prior to my final exams at university. I’ve always read a real mix of fiction and non-fiction, and the brilliant thing about fiction is the escapism. The story completely captivated me; I was just absorbed into this world of 1930s separatist southern USA and what was happening to these characters. "Un-putdownable" is a common claim on the back of a novel, but that one truly was for me.

Coincidentally, it was History I was studying at University and two other books which have stuck with me are a couple that I was given when I was young, about Kings and Queens of England from Alfred the Great to Queen Elizabeth II. I’ve retained quite an unbelievable number of the names and dates - so if you need an extra head for your quiz team, you know where to find me!

What book could you read over and over again?

There’s one book I read every year without fail, and that’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. I start it a few days before Christmas so that I finish on the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come on Christmas Eve. It’s become a tradition now and always gets me in the Christmas spirit!

Is there an author or character who inspires you?

One of the events I attended at the Book Festival is with Max Hastings, a journalist and author. He was previously editor of the Telegraph and the Evening Standard, but for the majority of his career was a war correspondent. While I may not agree with all of his views, it’s a very rich life that he’s lived - and a very risky one at times. I admire that commitment to the pursuit of truth; I think any foreign correspondent who puts themselves at risk in that way in order to report faithfully is to be admired. There’s a real element of nobility in it.

What does ‘putting clients front page’ mean to you?

Putting our clients front page means investing the time to really understand them so that we can help them achieve their goals. You need to put yourself in their shoes - which is one of Johnston Carmichael’s core values, and for good reason. It shouldn’t be a distant relationship where you as an adviser take the course of action you assume a client needs. It’s very important to understand who our clients are - what they do, why they do it, and what aspirations they hold. Only once you know that can you identify the expertise they really require, and thereby provide the best possible service.

JC sponsored the 2019 Edinburgh International Book Festival. What did you most enjoy about the festival?

The Book Festival is one of my favourites in the annual Edinburgh calendar. Last year I actually went to more Book Festival events than any of the others! The two events Johnston Carmichael sponsored were brilliant - ‘She’s Got A Ticket To Ride’ with Mariella Frostrup and ‘Blundering Through Asia’ with Sue Perkins. Both were very engaging speakers and it’s always great to spend an evening with clients on a more informal basis.

I attended a fantastic event with a Scottish author called Chris Brookmyre, who writes crime thrillers with a lot of humour in them. I discovered him quite recently, and was delighted to find that he’s been writing since the mid-90s so there was this fantastic back catalogue of about 20 books to explore. I’ve read five so far, and have another 10 on the bookshelf to work my way through.

Towards the end of the festival I also saw Frank Gardner, the BBC security correspondent. He was shot in Saudi Arabia in 2004 and has overcome some monumental challenges, so it was very inspiring to hear from him.

The programme was absolutely packed, with a huge amount of diversity. There's always a fantastic atmosphere around Charlotte Square at festival-time too - no matter what the weather brings!