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    To qualify, you must complete all the exams AND be time qualified, i.e. demonstrate you've met a range of competencies/work types (as filled out in your student log book) for a requisite number of hours. This is the bit that invariably takes 3 years.
    So if a person who is not working in an accountancy firm (say, in banks) and wants to be a qualified accountant by doing the exams on their own, they won't be able to because they cannot clock their hours is that right?
    In my experience if you're good enough to get a job at a big firm and you actually knuckle down, you will pass all the papers.
    Wow! But would scoring high-marks impress people more than just a mere pass. Do most of you just aim for passes or high-marks?

    Also just out of curiosity, how many papers do you all do normally in one go? 4? What is the norm and what is the max? Is 3 considered slack?
    In this way it's possible to study both CTA and ACA/CA in 2 years. Yes, it's very stressful.
    So in a way, after your work ends at 5.30, you would still need to study... Isn't it as bad as in Investment Banks, where you don't need to study?

    Your posts are very very insightful by the way! :congrats:
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    (Original post by spencer11111)
    So if a person who is not working in an accountancy firm (say, in banks) and wants to be a qualified accountant by doing the exams on their own, they won't be able to because they cannot clock their hours is that right?
    Wow! But would scoring high-marks impress people more than just a mere pass. Do most of you just aim for passes or high-marks?

    Also just out of curiosity, how many papers do you all do normally in one go? 4? What is the norm and what is the max? Is 3 considered slack?
    So in a way, after your work ends at 5.30, you would still need to study... Isn't it as bad as in Investment Banks, where you don't need to study?

    Your posts are very very insightful by the way! :congrats:
    From what i'm aware of, theres either pass or fail, and the top candidate receives a merit or something. Judging by how people refer to the exams, i think a pass will make them greatful :p:
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    To hold yourself out as an accountancy firm you have to have so many qualified accountants as partners, but you can still become a partner with CTA, you just need one or the other
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    Re exams... You might have been top of your peer group doing Maths at Cambridge, but professional exams are another thing. The papers vary in the skills required so much. There's prizes for best paper, best marks overall, etc, which of course would look impressive on a cv, but really I think your work experience counts for more as very very few people get these awards (there's about 5 awards and hundreds of candidates). Honestly, if you're the type of person with the academic requirements for a Big4 firm, and you don't go out partying every night, you'll get through the exams even if you need the odd resit. No-one is ever going to know or care whether you resat any papers, you just add the letters to your name when qualified! I know it's hard to imagine "only" aiming for a pass after going through your life wanting the best grades. In fact in the tax exams you don't even get given your marks.

    Most Big4 firms (and probably others) you're away from the office for a period of say 6-10 weeks and do nothing but study. Our days were 9-4, with odd home study days, a couple of weeks of revision (lovely lie-ins!), etc. Then when you're in the office you have no studying at all. While away studying they recommended 3 hours study a night and a day (i.e. 6-7 hours) at the weekend. I used to study hard all week and take the whole weekend off completely. In total we've had 26 weeks studying for levels 1 and 2 (spread over 2 years). For the final case study it's 3 weeks of tuition and the rest home study over the course of 2 months till the exam. I lied above - I still have this exam to go so can't tell you much time is involved on this bit. I did a maximum of 3 modules at each sitting, although there's 2 papers for each second year module, so that's actually 6 exams.

    If you worried about the studying side, research the options and flexibility of the firm you're applying to. Some of my colleagues elected to study over the course of a year instead of intensive study (i.e. those who find intensive lectures and studying very stressful). One such friend said she cut her lunch break down and so studied 4:30-6:30 every evening in the office, keeping the rest of her time free. Obviously in the couple of weeks before the exam you might up that, spend a couple of weekends studying too, say. Generally I think intensive study is better as by the time you're getting bored of studying, it's all over, and you have most of your life free.

    In comparisons with IB - don't you also have to sit various FSA exams to get approved status etc? There are very few careers that are exam-free it seems!

    And yes, you can't become an accountant by simply taking the exams yourself. In addition to lacking the requisite work experience, I believe you also need someone who is already a member of the institute to 'sponsor' you, i.e. recommend you as a member. In practice this means a partner in our office puts his signature somewhere. I don't know why you would want to take the exams without working in the field anyway... the exams are not the most exciting part of the job, and why would you be taking them anyway?

    p.s. you can get exemptions from some/all the first round of papers depending on what you studied on your degree.

    Feel free to message/email off the forum if you have any specific questions... I could even ask someone in HR or give you their contact details, they're always keen to help out prospective applicants (even if the chance of you applying is remote or non-existent)
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    Thank you noisla for the very insightful post again! :congrats: I felt like instead of answering your questions, you have instead been answering ours ... Ok need to press harder to find the answers to Corporate Finance.

    Honestly, if you're the type of person with the academic requirements for a Big4 firm, and you don't go out partying every night, you'll get through the exams even if you need the odd resit. No-one is ever going to know or care whether you resat any papers, you just add the letters to your name when qualified! I know it's hard to imagine "only" aiming for a pass after going through your life wanting the best grades. In fact in the tax exams you don't even get given your marks.
    So when people study for their accountancy exams, they would just aim to cover sufficient materials for a pass right? So they would just be essentially learning how to do the easier questions in each exam and forget about the most difficult parts (like the last part of each questions.) Yup, it is difficult to imagine for us A-levelers, because as you know AAA is better than BBBCC. At any stage a person can either opt to do the maximum amount of papers and just pass them, or do less but do well in them.

    Most Big4 firms (and probably others) you're away from the office for a period of say 6-10 weeks and do nothing but study. Our days were 9-4, with odd home study days, a couple of weeks of revision (lovely lie-ins!), etc. Then when you're in the office you have no studying at all.
    Some of my colleagues elected to study over the course of a year instead of intensive study (i.e. those who find intensive lectures and studying very stressful).
    Just curious,
    1. Are the lectures and tutorials provided for the firm or out-sourced to external agencies?
    2. When the new people come in, the haven't cleared any papers or have studied any accountancy stuff. How are they going to contribute effectively to the firm. Say in the first year, chance are you are only at the professional level, and that may not be sufficient for Audit work, and much less Tax. Then how are the people going to contribute to the running of the firm?
    In comparisons with IB - don't you also have to sit various FSA exams to get approved status etc? There are very few careers that are exam-free it seems!
    Is it? I don't know... I know about IB stuff just by reading around here and the net. Obviously I am quite ignorant!
    I don't know why you would want to take the exams without working in the field anyway... the exams are not the most exciting part of the job, and why would you be taking them anyway?
    I was thinking of doing them during the long-breaks in university. In that way it would speed things up. Also, if at the end I get into IB, then doing exams on my own would at least equip me with some accounting knowledge which is really useful in whatever fields that deals with money.

    Feel free to message/email off the forum if you have any specific questions... I could even ask someone in HR or give you their contact details, they're always keen to help out prospective applicants (even if the chance of you applying is remote or non-existent)
    Haha I am personally impressed with your level of warmth (all the detailed replies)! I guess the environment at a Big4 firm is more humane and less hostile than at an Investment Bank. Coupled with the days-off for revisions, it just made the Big4 firms more attractive to me.
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    Ok to do some justice to the OP, I have compiled some the questions voiced and answers received. Looking at the post length, we all know that we have been giving less than desired amount of answers!

    Qn1.
    (Original post by noisla)
    I wondered if anyone could offer advice re moving into corporate finance.

    I have a great academic track record, life/work experience yadda yadda, but did an un-financey degree, had low confidence, and got warned off applying for finance roles at a graduate recruitment fair. I've therefore ended up at a Big4 accountancy firm working in tax, which is enjoyable (not least cos it's 35 hour weeks max, reading this forum!) and I'm doing well. However I've always been interested in corporate finance, I loved my last lot of finance exams, the more I understand about the job, I want to do it.

    Can anyone advise me if such a career shift is possible? Also, what would be the difference working in a CF department in my firm, compared with one at an investment bank? e.g. nature of work, type of clients, responsibility at junior levels, pay, conditions...?

    I have CA and CTA - would it be helpful if I started studying for my CFin Diploma off my own back now (I'm aware of the time commitments and costs)?

    P.S. If anyone wants any info on working at a Big4 firm, audit, tax... happy to help. I've been there 2 years (i.e. done all the exams, another 12 months till time qualified).

    Thanks for the info. I added to that post with info re corporate tax. Certainly Big4 firms do not work the hours of IB, I'm quite sure that means a sacrifice in pay, but then it's also nice to have a life :-)

    I have 12 months of waiting till I get into the institutes (accountancy and tax) but we're encouraged to second into other departments before we qualify so I thought it would be an ideal time to try CF out, especially while my charge out rates are lower and people can afford me...!
    Answers:
    (Original post by rboogie)
    The move is quite easy as there is always high demand for Accountants - they enough valuable transactional experience to make the move, so you certainly should not have a problem. It just depends on the desk, to be honest - so starts making some calls (be qualified first)
    Make your move after the 12 months when your qualified.
    Qn2:
    (Original post by noisla)
    In this way it's possible to study both CTA and ACA/CA in 2 years. Yes, it's very stressful. With hindsight I'm not convinced that it's worth it - what use is CTA when you have ACA/CA? Most people in tax have ACA/CA. I suppose it depends how devoted you are to tax. I would be interested to hear if anyone has any views on the use (careers progression wise) of having CTA in addition to CA/ACA.
    Completely ignored and no answers!!!
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    We can only speculate. None of us know. Ironically noisla has the most experience and probably the best idea out of any of us.

    My personal take would be - do you have any experience of M&A tax? If so CTA might be helpful for moving into corp finance from that stand point.
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    I have personally have never heard of the CTA, but it sounds useful. ACA is far and away the most useful. Banks of all divisions recruit accountants who are first time passed qualified - even the first time pass is flexible.

    I know accountants in Equity research, trading, and corporate finance - it's probably the best base of knowledge you can have.
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    Ive seen allot of M&A jobs advertised which specifically ask for people with M&A experience and people with ACA + transaction experience. So in that sense, one would be in a good position with ACA in the back pocket and goin forward to moving to Corporate Finance in Investment banks (provided that the markets are still good and the jobs are there!)

    One accountant I talked to told me its useless doing ACA without the technical work experience. The work experience + ACA makes the whole package much more appealing to investment banks when making a move to IBD as an associate after 3 yrs at the big four. Also going to a ****ty unkown accountancy firm will make the job harder.

    Another advantage is if you gain transaction experience that is directly related to investment banks, for example conducting due dilligence/checking books, etc. can help allot. Also if you are liasing with people in investment banks can make your CV much more appealing...

    So to sum it up, the factors to improve your move:

    1) Big Four/ACA
    2) Working in relevant department
    3) 2:1 degree from a top uni
    4) "Other stuff"
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    Cool, thanks PortfolioManager. My knowledge hits a dead end with shifting departments, as I find it hard to ask the relevant people at work without advertising the fact I want to move out my existing role (and thus not get put on the interesting teams/clients/work where I am). Add in the fact that M&A/banking work is all London-centric, I have to factor in a whole lifestyle move, so really want to do my homework first.

    Thanks everyone.
 
 
 
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