Finished 3 year ACA with PwC Audit Dept - ask me anything Watch

Xx...Anzal...xX
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Hello...
Wanting to ask if i wanted to apply for accounting and finance course as an undergraduate
What are the A level/GCSEs requirements
Are interviews needed
is it competitive ??
Please help
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montyr
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(Original post by Xx...Anzal...xX)
Hello...
Wanting to ask if i wanted to apply for accounting and finance course as an undergraduate
What are the A level/GCSEs requirements
Are interviews needed
is it competitive ??
Please help
Would probably be better off with a new thread for this, not really relevant to the thread.

Grade requirements will depend on the uni, check ucas.

Interviews would depend on uni but I doubt it.

Is it competitive? This will also depend on the uni but don't think it's as competitive as some courses but probably not the least competitive course either.

Ask in the university courses section, you'll get a better response there.
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Rob_dob
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What kind of things did people from your intake go onto after qualification? Apparently only half or so actually continue with the firm post-qualification, so I'm just curious as to what kind of options may open up
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Samtheman1
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Rough Guides - may not be representitive of all intakes:

20% - sacked/left during exams
15% - middle office banking
5% - front office banking
10% - Industry
10% - move to different department
5% - other
35% - stay in audit
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newts2k
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(Original post by chris_harvey)
Hi all,

I started training for my 3 year ACA in Oct 2007 with PwC London in their Audit Dept and managed to qualify in Oct 2010.

If anyone has any questions feel free to ask me

Why I am doing this? I guess I might as well put my 3 years to some use! hehe (currently self employed and not using my ACA atm)

Chris
Hi Chris, congratulations and really appreciate you helping out. I am hoping to do ACCA in audit dep as well. My dilemma is I cant get onto any of the grad schemes as I got a 2.2 in Economics. I seem to have enough UCAS points though. I am also finding it difficult to locate any local accountants who are taking on and I also cant fund the exams myself. Was wondering if you have any advice on this matter?

Also, how difficult did you find the ACA qualification? I know there's a lot of work but whats the difficulty level? Do you think someone of average/reasonably good intelligence could pass it? cheers
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W-A-K_92
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Firat of all thank you chris for this Q+A session. I am just interested in the hours. It's common knowledge that auditors work long hours. I heard one say I work till 10pm mon-thurs so that i can take fri,sat + sunday off. Is it really like that? Can you do more work on some days and get the others off. And is the standard 5 days a week or 6 or 7? Thanks, I would appreciate any help you may be able to offer
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maleo88
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(Original post by Samtheman1)
Hey,

I started with Chris at PwC, so thought I would answer some of your questions whilst he is off making his millions!

I also left around the same time as him, and 100% agree with his advice and description of the role, exams, people etc.

@novadragon849

A-levels for each stream will be on the pwc careers website, and they vary between streams. I think when I applied back in 2006 it was around 300 UCAS points.

Personally, I did have work experience in a small accounting firm before I applied, as I was aware of the competition for places and wanted to have something to show that I wanted to be an accountant rather than being pushed into a 'sensible' career by parents/lecturers etc.

This is by no means a pre-requisite, many of the people we started with had no relevent work experience and got in ok. Bear in mind though, that we applied in 2006/07 during a strong economy. Now, you will have competition from people who couldn't get in to banking and other financial services companies due to the reduced headcount. As such, I would strongly advise you to get some relevent experience if you can, to set you apart.

At PwC, you don't work and study at the same time - same with most of the top 10 firms. You go to college for tuition by day and study by night and weekends. Then you take the exam. It's tough going, mainly because you put a lot of work in, and if you fail you have to re-sit out of your own time. If you fail badly (i.e 10% below the pass mark) you lose your job. This gets increasingly more pressured the more you go on as if you lose your job, none of the other big 4 will look at you either.

You get a hell of a lot of training before they send you off to meet clients, we arrived in October and didn't do any client facing work until January. It is mainly a mix of technical stuff to know about the job and softer skills when dealing with clients. Audit isn't rocket science so I would say that you do 99% of your learning on the job, so the training is tedious to say the least.

Salary (London - audit):
1st year: 26,500
2nd year: 28,000
3rd year 31,550

You get benefits on top of c10% - dont expect a bonus.

@ CPotter999

1) both Chris and myself were in assurance (audit). In my experience it is unlikely to move in the 3 years. It does happen, I met a few people who moved from tax to audit - never the other way round...infact never audit to any other business line. The reason being that there are always people needed to do audit work, whereas other areas i.e tax, corporate finance, business recovery tend to need specific skills or continuity iin their teams. There is however scope to move around post qualification but this is not as simple as just transferring. After 3 years you have built up relationships with clients, teams etc, coupled with resourcing issues (i.e a lot of people leave after qualification) you really have to persevere if you want to move around - but by no means impossible.

2) See above, when you qualify the salary is 42,900

3) When you join, your position is permanent. If anything, after you qualify it is them who are doing their best to keep you. I left because I wanted to move into banking.

4) I'm currently doing equity research, I think Chris is setting a business up or something. There are a range of roles available to big 4 ACA qualified people (that is not to say you will just walk into them) I think it is fair to say that many of us had a misconception that once we gained our ACA, people would be falling over themselves to give us a job. You do get a lot of calls, but they are usually for (even more boring) jobs like product control or internal audit. There are a large amount of positions that you would be in a strong position for but the competition is fierce. NB: I was looking in a recession - so maybe im not the best to give an impression of post qualified job market.

Any other questions give me a shout!
Hey, thank you very much for ur post! I have a couple of questions:
- How hard is to get in ER from a Big4?
- Is it possible, in ur opinion, to get in ER working before in the finance division of a bulge bracket IB?

Thank you!
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Samtheman1
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(Original post by maleo88)
Hey, thank you very much for ur post! I have a couple of questions:
- How hard is to get in ER from a Big4?
- Is it possible, in ur opinion, to get in ER working before in the finance division of a bulge bracket IB?

Thank you!
I think it varies really, a mixture of luck, demand and how you come across in interviews. I had colleagues that got into great places like UBS and Investec quite quickly. Others found it more difficult, mainly because there is so much competition for places. But overall, everyone (who I knew) that wanted to move from pwc audit to ER got a place.

You will find that recruitment consultants will try and talk you out of it, saying that it is not possible with an audit background (as many have suggested on here), but this isn't true - you just need to persevere.

To be honest, anything is possible, but I personally would say that is less probable. The reason being that you may tend to get pigeon holed as a management accountant in the finance team. But then saying that, if you really go for it and network well, and get lucky...its not totally out of the question.
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obstacle2
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Heya, I'm interning with a big4 this summer, and I heard about people going into industry quite a few times during my interviews- I was wondering what it means to be going into industry? Thanks!
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Crystalrose.
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Hi, was very interested to read your stats of 96% of interns being offered the job. I was considering not going further with my pwc audit internship application just because I am set on working with one of the big4 when I graduate, and was worrying about the scenario of not being offered a job on completion of the internship, and was assuming the other 3 firms are then likely to be put off if you are applying for a graduate role knowing that one of their competitors got to know you well and rejected you? Very pessimistic thinking I know haha, but your post has started to reassure me on that at least.

I also just wanted to ask if you knew anything about the graduate roles in tax? I have already studied an in depth module on audit as part of my degree and feel it would suit me, however I don't know much about the tax service line and want to be certain I'm making the right choice applying for audit rather than tax as I have heard that a lot of audit trainees regret their choice and try to transfer to tax? I would have imagined audit being a lot more interesting and a lot more varied, more time out of office etc.. did you find this the case??

And I have one other quick question if you don't mind... What was the work attire for the female graduates?? Is a full matching suit essential for the girls as well? Am desperately hoping for a reply to this one before my interview on Monday if possible haha

Thanks so much!
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Samtheman1
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(Original post by Crystalrose.)
Hi, was very interested to read your stats of 96% of interns being offered the job. I was considering not going further with my pwc audit internship application just because I am set on working with one of the big4 when I graduate, and was worrying about the scenario of not being offered a job on completion of the internship, and was assuming the other 3 firms are then likely to be put off if you are applying for a graduate role knowing that one of their competitors got to know you well and rejected you? Very pessimistic thinking I know haha, but your post has started to reassure me on that at least.

I also just wanted to ask if you knew anything about the graduate roles in tax? I have already studied an in depth module on audit as part of my degree and feel it would suit me, however I don't know much about the tax service line and want to be certain I'm making the right choice applying for audit rather than tax as I have heard that a lot of audit trainees regret their choice and try to transfer to tax? I would have imagined audit being a lot more interesting and a lot more varied, more time out of office etc.. did you find this the case??

And I have one other quick question if you don't mind... What was the work attire for the female graduates?? Is a full matching suit essential for the girls as well? Am desperately hoping for a reply to this one before my interview on Monday if possible haha

Thanks so much!
If you want to work at pwc, I would take the internship. You will be basically garunteed a graduate role as long as you don't do something drastically bad - which is v unlikely. Also they pay well, and treat you brilliantly (loads of socials, drinks, meals etc) - really good insight into the role too.

I went for audit for the variety, you meet so many different people (both pwc and clients) on each booking. You travel a lot including overseas (I went to Krakow, Holland, Asia). However on the flip side, you could end up on an industrial estate in woking or some other awful place for a while. Also being out of the office is a bit of a drag - you miss the consistancy of not having your own desk as well as constantly lugging a laptop around with you each morning and evening (you will become hated on the tube!).

I suppose I liked the fact that you change teams so often, so if you work with an idiot, you only have to put up with them for 3-4 weeks max. Similarly if you have a great team, you have to say goodbye in the same time.

With tax, you rarely get to leave the office, although this may appeal to you. The work is not hugely difficult but may get a bit samey. In audit, the companies are so diverse and it can be difficult at the start of each booking to get up to speed with all the different terminology, accounting practices etc.

At work, pwc is 'business casual' so anything smart but obviously not jeans/trainers etc. So quite relaxed really. I rarely saw a female in a suit. However, for an interview - definately wear a smartt suit - always better to be overdressed than underdressed for an interview!

Hope that helps, good luck!
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Samtheman1
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(Original post by obstacle2)
Heya, I'm interning with a big4 this summer, and I heard about people going into industry quite a few times during my interviews- I was wondering what it means to be going into industry? Thanks!

Moving into 'industry' means moving into the finance department of a company like Shell or Vodaphone.

As opposed to 'practise' which is working at an accountancy firm like pwc, kpmg etc
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Mglafas
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I will be interning in audit at a Big 4 in London this summer. However, in the time since my application, I've decided I'd much rather work in Financial Advisory (at the big 4 firm).

Given I do well on the internship, how likely is it that I can be put straight onto a graduate role in FA? I imagine I'd need to do an interview or something of course, I'm just worried they will make me apply from square one along with every other applicant.

I'm at a well regarded university studying economics and fulfill the basic entry requirements for all roles at the big 4...

Cheers for any help!
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Josh Jones
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interesting thread. attending the 3 day-insight academy with PwC this summer, first year maths student. My course has a placement year, looking at PwC - not sure which department.
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mhl
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Hi Sam

Congratulation on passing your ACA exams. I have secured my 3 years training contract with PWC last month. My joining will be London Assurance september 2011 graduate route, just wondering if you could help me decide on;

1. which assurance sub department to join (like FS etc)
2. what is the criteria to prove as an exceptional performer during training

Thanks
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Samtheman1
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(Original post by Mglafas)
I will be interning in audit at a Big 4 in London this summer. However, in the time since my application, I've decided I'd much rather work in Financial Advisory (at the big 4 firm).

Given I do well on the internship, how likely is it that I can be put straight onto a graduate role in FA? I imagine I'd need to do an interview or something of course, I'm just worried they will make me apply from square one along with every other applicant.

I'm at a well regarded university studying economics and fulfill the basic entry requirements for all roles at the big 4...

Cheers for any help!
I think it is definately do-able. Maybe you should try the internship and see how you like it. Once your offered a full time role, express your desire to move into advisory. That way you leave all your options open.

Doubt you will have to start the interview process all over again - they are quite accomodating.
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Samtheman1
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(Original post by mhl)
Hi Sam

Congratulation on passing your ACA exams. I have secured my 3 years training contract with PWC last month. My joining will be London Assurance september 2011 graduate route, just wondering if you could help me decide on;

1. which assurance sub department to join (like FS etc)
2. what is the criteria to prove as an exceptional performer during training

Thanks
Congrats on the offer.

I think you should base it on what sort of companies you would like exposure to. Also an important consideration is where you see yourself after 3 years. Always plan to stay but be mindful that a lot of people move on after qualification and there must be a reason for this. So leave yourself in the best position by having experience in the area that you see yourself being most suited to (i.e if you liek banking, then it will be most useful to join FS etc).

The main areas are:

London Top Tier (all the FTSE 100 companies not including banks, insurance etc)

Good department. Get exposure to companies you see in the news every day. Hours are generally longer than LMT and the teams are much bigger. Audit engagements tend to last for 8 weeks. International travel is most likely in this department. You are more likely to have fewer clients taking up more of your. Difficult to get exposure to all of the financials as the companies are so big. So you could end up doing Debtors for 6 weeks!

London Mid Tier (companies outside FTSE 100 mentioned above)

Better hours than above. Not likely to experience international travel. Get greater exposure to the whole business. After 3 years you could be expected to manage teams which is v good for development. More clients taking less time on each. I think the people are generally nicer here too.

Insurance and investment management (I&IM)

Same as LTT above but with insurance companies

Banking and Capital Markets (B&CM)

Same as LTT, but with banks etc

Overall - just choose the area where you like the sound of the compnaies. There is a lot of overlap between LTT and LMT so don't worry if you choose one and think you are missing out on the other.

good luck
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Samtheman1
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(Original post by cruciform)
Hi.
Does an accounting degree help you a lot with the ACA exams? Can you pass it quite easily with an accounting degree?
It helps with the initial understanding of some of the terminology but not much else. I did an accounting degree and I found that after the first day in college, they had covered everything I learnt in three years - Im not exagerating.

Nobody (unless they are talking out of their a$$) can find the ACA exams easy - especially when you are doing three at a time like at pwc. They are the most pressured exams I have ever taken.
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simstar
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I'm currently at one of the other big four, I've done 2 exams, I don't mind the exams, its audit I hate. I really dislike it but think the ACA would be great to have to go somewhere else in finance, I also believe it may give me credibility should I setup business on my own. The problem is though I can't stand audit, so tedious, boring and unrewarding. I like meeting clients, talking to them etc its the documenting, recording all the details and finding out if something is material or not etc. Its just so boring. Did you ever consider quitting during your time? Did you enjoy audit?
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Samtheman1
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(Original post by simstar)
I'm currently at one of the other big four, I've done 2 exams, I don't mind the exams, its audit I hate. I really dislike it but think the ACA would be great to have to go somewhere else in finance, I also believe it may give me credibility should I setup business on my own. The problem is though I can't stand audit, so tedious, boring and unrewarding. I like meeting clients, talking to them etc its the documenting, recording all the details and finding out if something is material or not etc. Its just so boring. Did you ever consider quitting during your time? Did you enjoy audit?
You are right - it is excruciatingly boring. However, I didn't consider quitting during my 3 years because:

The ACA is such a good qualification to have, and from a big 4 is priceless.

You are in a peer group of so many people your age, which are sharing the same experiences as you...where else can you find that?

You are getting exposure, albeit in a boring way, to a variety of top businesses (as you may consider setting one up - not a bad start)

ACA is being paid for, and you are given time off to do it (a luxury not afforded to those from a smaller firm)

Where else could you go?...there is a danger that you leave, go somewhere else, and hate that too - then you are stuck.

Everyone has to start from the bottom...and the bottom is cr4p wherever you go. Best to ride it out, achieve the credibility by gaining your ACA, and go somewhere else. Always better to leave with something, than turn up somewhere else with nothing.

Accountancy, by nature, is dull...but it is the conerstone of business. Get your ACA from a big four and it will open up opportunities to do more exciting things as you will always have it to fall back on, even if you don't necessarily use it.

That is and was my opinion anyway - it is by no means correct for everyone.

People dropped out from my start group because it wasn't what they wanted to do and seemed happy enough.

If its that bad then look into the possibility of moving departments - but as I mentioned above, the grass might not be greener...
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