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    I notice most of the debate in this forum concentrates on big 4 grad schemes and ACA. I would just like to say to people that it is not the only way, or indeed the best way.

    There are disadvantages of working for PWC, KPMG, EY and Deloittes.

    1. Apart from corp finance, the work of Tax and Audit is extremely dull.

    2. ACA focuses on technical accounting. If you decide to work in industry after qualifiying you wont have the commercial awarness of somebody that has qualified in industry.

    3. The salaries in practice are low compared with industry and commerce.

    4. Industry and commerce jobs are much more interesting. Project Accounting, Management Accounting, Financial Accounting and Financial Planning and Analysis are much more interesting that Tax and Audit.

    5. If you plan to leave the big 4 to work for Coca Cola or IBM why not work for them in the first place? They offer grad schemes that will throw you in at the deep end doing real accounting and analysis. Not like a big 4 scheme where you will be doing grunt jobs to begin with.

    6. Once you are qualified its not about what body you qualified with ACA/CIMA/ACCA. It matters more what experience and personality you have. So why not get a 3 year head start and qualify in the industry you expect to move to eventually?

    Qualifying with CIMA and 3 years experience in a Technology company (IBM, HP, Siemens) would be much more beneficial than 3 years experience at KPMG and applying to be a finance manager at IBM, HP, Siemens etc...

    Just something to think about. Big 4 is good if you want to stay in practice, but I think there are better ways of qualifying if you intend on being senior management in a FTSE100 company.
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    (Original post by Meatball1)
    There are disadvantages of working for PWC, KPMG, EY and Deloittes.

    1. Apart from corp finance, the work of Tax and Audit is extremely dull.
    How do you know? Do you have experience in all three?

    2. ACA focuses on technical accounting. If you decide to work in industry after qualifiying you wont have the commercial awarness of somebody that has qualified in industry.
    Audit gives you perfect real world experience as you have to totally understand all of the systems across a range of businesses, hence why many auditors get head hunted.

    3. The salaries in practice are low compared with industry and commerce.
    Maybe, but the experience and support you gain will be worth it.

    4. Industry and commerce jobs are much more interesting. Project Accounting, Management Accounting, Financial Accounting and Financial Planning and Analysis are much more interesting that Tax and Audit.
    See point 1

    5. If you plan to leave the big 4 to work for Coca Cola or IBM why not work for them in the first place? They offer grad schemes that will throw you in at the deep end doing real accounting and analysis. Not like a big 4 scheme where you will be doing grunt jobs to begin with.
    You'll only have experience with one business. Again, do you have experience with the big four? How do you know what jobs they get?

    6. Once you are qualified its not about what body you qualified with ACA/CIMA/ACCA. It matters more what experience and personality you have. So why not get a 3 year head start and qualify in the industry you expect to move to eventually?
    A lot of CEO's/FD's have CA/ACA qualifications. Again, the range of experience across businesses give a major benefit.

    Qualifying with CIMA and 3 years experience in a Technology company (IBM, HP, Siemens) would be much more beneficial than 3 years experience at KPMG and applying to be a finance manager at IBM, HP, Siemens etc...
    Why?

    65% of Senior Positions in the FTSE 100 are held by ACA qualified people. (http://www.insidecareers.co.uk/__802...eaturedarticle)
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    (Original post by Kemik)

    65% of Senior Positions in the FTSE 100 are held by ACA qualified people. (http://www.insidecareers.co.uk/__802...eaturedarticle)
    because he's talking about tech specifically...
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    As I've never worked in industry, I can't comment on that aspect - well I did for 6 months on a temp contract but wouldn't think that really gives any detailed insight.

    My observations on working at a big 4:

    - Exposure to a much wider variety of clients. You get to see how clients use different systems - how some clients are all over their compliance requirements and how others haven't got a clue. Every industry is abound with acronyms and terminologies - working across industries gives you a more general understanding of the key concepts keeping your future career options open.

    - Client delivery - pretty good exposure to senior management, actively participating in interviews with executive level directors - CTO, CFO, FD, COO, etc. Also get to work directly for people who are recognised as the pre-eminent experts in their fields. That's a very rewarding experience and you get to learn a lot quickly.

    - Promotion opportunities - You get promoted relatively quickly in practice because it's in their interests to whore you out at the highest possible rate. While this is to a certain extent depend on the business you've entered, I expect that you will also quickly reach the point in industry (middle management) when you are waiting for someone to quit / retire / sacked / sidelined before you're up for their job. If you're good enough can make it all the way to director / partner without waiting more than a couple of years at each grade.

    - I worked on one project where we were trying to plan a $1.2bn infrastructure investment. Real creative input into solving technical problems. My work was subsequently checked by the tax department at the client so it's not always the case that being in industry means you will get first dibs on the more interesting analysis.
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    (Original post by Kemik)
    How do you know? Do you have experience in all three?



    Audit gives you perfect real world experience as you have to totally understand all of the systems across a range of businesses, hence why many auditors get head hunted.



    Maybe, but the experience and support you gain will be worth it.



    See point 1



    You'll only have experience with one business. Again, do you have experience with the big four? How do you know what jobs they get?



    A lot of CEO's/FD's have CA/ACA qualifications. Again, the range of experience across businesses give a major benefit.



    Why?

    65% of Senior Positions in the FTSE 100 are held by ACA qualified people. (http://www.insidecareers.co.uk/__802...eaturedarticle)
    Im not trying to say Big 4 is no good. But 99% of the threads in this forum are young people worried about getting into a good firm. I would like to let these people know that there are other ways to reach the top equally as quickly.

    The point you make of ACA qualified people making up 65% of management jobs in FTSE100 companies may be true. But those people would do well whatever body they chose to qualify with. Its not the qualification, its the experience, attitude, skill and workrate that gets you the job.

    How do I know tax and audit is dull? I have a finance degree, Im a CIMA finalist, I've worked for D&T and in industry. I have also worked in many finance departments.

    Tax and Audit are dull. If you want to spend your day calculating personal or corporation tax, or walking around warehouses counting stock with a clipboard then big 4 is for you.

    If you want to produce real accounts, get involved with investment decisions and analysis, access to senior management then work in industry.
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    (Original post by Meatball1)
    The point you make of ACA qualified people making up 65% of management jobs in FTSE100 companies may be true. But those people would do well whatever body they chose to qualify with. Its not the qualification, its the experience, attitude, skill and workrate that gets you the job.
    Yes, it is the experience, attitude and skill. Obviously they gained all that thanks to the job they had previously. Based off their qualifications I would imagine that's a Big Four.

    How do I know tax and audit is dull? I have a finance degree, Im a CIMA finalist, I've worked for D&T and in industry. I have also worked in many finance departments.

    Tax and Audit are dull. If you want to spend your day calculating personal or corporation tax, or walking around warehouses counting stock with a clipboard then big 4 is for you.

    If you want to produce real accounts, get involved with investment decisions and analysis, access to senior management then work in industry.
    And the auditors will be telling you what to change in those accounts. Different people like different things. Have you worked in tax for more than one year?

    I never would have worked on the projects I have and talked to the people I have if it wasn't for picking tax. It's not all compliance either. In fact, I'd say a large % of that is being pushed down and outsourced. Transfer Pricing is a good example of a department that's solely project based.

    I'm not saying the Big Four is the way to go for everyone. I'm simply punching holes in your disadvantages. You didn't once give advantages of industry, you just listed disadvantages of services.

    Out of interest, what is your experience in the Big Four? Specifically for how long?
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    This may be your opinion, but huge amounts of people in Big 4 jobs will disagree, myself included.

    Between them they don't grab the best employer awards for being boring dull places to work.

    I can see your drive to encourage others to see that the Big 4 is not the only way, and you are right, it most certainly is not the only way. Big 4 jobs are not for everyone, but these companies do not claim them to be.

    I see the anger and disappointment from countless individuals that get rejected for these places, but maybe if your focus was more positive to industry based on its own merits and not by putting down countless other roles that you have not had experience in, your comments would be a lot more useful to others.

    This is definitely the other side of the coin that individuals looking into this career need to hear on this forum though
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    (Original post by Chewwy)
    because he's talking about tech specifically...
    Audit have tech departments if you're in a bigger office. E.g. ICE or even more specific in London.
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    (Original post by Meatball1)
    Im not trying to say Big 4 is no good. But 99% of the threads in this forum are young people worried about getting into a good firm. I would like to let these people know that there are other ways to reach the top equally as quickly.

    The point you make of ACA qualified people making up 65% of management jobs in FTSE100 companies may be true. But those people would do well whatever body they chose to qualify with. Its not the qualification, its the experience, attitude, skill and workrate that gets you the job.

    How do I know tax and audit is dull? I have a finance degree, Im a CIMA finalist, I've worked for D&T and in industry. I have also worked in many finance departments.

    Tax and Audit are dull. If you want to spend your day calculating personal or corporation tax, or walking around warehouses counting stock with a clipboard then big 4 is for you.

    If you want to produce real accounts, get involved with investment decisions and analysis, access to senior management then work in industry.
    In my opinion the ACA is certainly the way forward, It gives you access to a far wider choice of careers post qualification, were as CIMA pigeon holes you and I would go as far to day the ACA is more respected as a qualification in comparison to CIMA and the ACCA, although they are all excellent professional qualification.

    Your point about, it's not all about the big four is very valid, but your point on audit and tax is based on what you have heard and think. It is similar to me saying all you do in industry is prepare budgets constantly?
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    Then again you're less likely to put up with some bull**** delivery deadline arbitrarily set by a partner trying to please their client but without actually having to deliver that work himself to the aforementioned ridiculous deadline. Only kidding. Sort of.

    You make a totally valid point that big 4 isn't the only way to go, it isn't of course - but you also get to make (and at the risk of sounding like a bit of a ****) a fantastic network. These people will appear in all sorts of different jobs in different industries / practices and you might even get the opportunity to use some of that network later on. The mere fact that you join in a massive intake brings with it a shared experience that is more likely to persist as you move on.

    You also don't have to nail your career choice quite so early on. It's great if you only ever want to work in oil & gas but what happens if you find out it's not for you and you'd rather work in TMT? Arguably the breadth of experience at a big 4 will always place you in a better position than someone whose trained in a totally different industry?

    What if you want to go into banking or investment management later on? The CIMA won't get you far that way and the lack of direct client exposure will also put you at a disadvantage. Despite the obvious bias of this post, I think given the choice I'd still go the same way into practice first and complete my training here then think about where I really want to go.
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    (Original post by Meatball1)
    Im not trying to say Big 4 is no good. But 99% of the threads in this forum are young people worried about getting into a good firm. I would like to let these people know that there are other ways to reach the top equally as quickly.
    It's a well known, respected and proven career path. At the end of the day it's attractive for a reason. This forum is less Big 4 focused that it was when I first joined. You're completely right that there are other career paths but given the sheer number and the smaller size of them it's hardly surprisingly they get less time devoted to them. Most people are here seeking advice and if you're not asking about the Big 4 it's a long shot that you'll get much specific help.

    [quote]The point you make of ACA qualified people making up 65% of management jobs in FTSE100 companies may be true. But those people would do well whatever body they chose to qualify with. Its not the qualification, its the experience, attitude, skill and workrate that gets you the job.[quote]

    All skills that I think the Big 4 are very good at helping you develop personally. I actually think that your qualification can make a small amount of difference, though I agree it's small. But the other skills the Big 4 give you are equally important. I got exposure to executives within a couple of months of joining, I was doing projects on my own within 6 months (and not admin projects!), I've been taking on lots of responsibility but at the same time developing my teamworking skills with new teams each week.

    How do I know tax and audit is dull? I have a finance degree, Im a CIMA finalist, I've worked for D&T and in industry. I have also worked in many finance departments.
    But you haven't actually done tax or audit from what I can see. I don't think audit is at all dull. Last week I was reviewing US loans grants for a variety of universities and then writing reports to eventually be sent to the Education Department in America. First week back after Christmas I am reviewing the performance reporting of a quango and then after that I'm going to do an interim audit (where we review management controls) at a foundation trust followed by a government organisation. A lot of variety in that job, no ticking of invoices or any of the cliche that is an auditor. I can honestly say that I really enjoy my work.

    Tax and Audit are dull. If you want to spend your day calculating personal or corporation tax, or walking around warehouses counting stock with a clipboard then big 4 is for you.
    See above. This is a completely out of date stereotype. Auditing is for a certain person, don't get me wrong, but at the same time it's not right to put people with such an out of date view. In 16 months I've done 2 stock counts.

    If you want to produce real accounts, get involved with investment decisions and analysis, access to senior management then work in industry.
    I agree to an extent. I think management accounting could be a really interesting area to work in. But actually the big 4 give you a lot of access to senior management, a wider variety of work, far more people to network with and often the training conditions they provide are much more generous because they're so heavily geared to getting people to qualify.

    I'm glad you enjoy your career, I'm sure it's very rewarding and it's right for you to want to let people know how good it can be. But don't do it by knocking careers a lot of us have and enjoy and which many people are passionate about getting into.
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    Incredible that some of you people think that audit isn't dull. Audit is a retrospective service which only exists as the Leech of government legislation. Everything you do has already happened, you have no say in the future direction of a company other than forcing them to change some back-end system which they see as a chore. Where as, working in industry, you are on the front-line of some company, making decisions which affect the future of that company, and actually have a non-trivial part to play in its success.
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    (Original post by barnisaurusrex)
    Incredible that some of you people think that audit isn't dull. Audit is a retrospective service which only exists as the Leech of government legislation. Everything you do has already happened, you have no say in the future direction of a company other than forcing them to change some back-end system which they see as a chore. Where as, working in industry, you are on the front-line of some company, making decisions which affect the future of that company, and actually have a non-trivial part to play in its success.
    I wouldn't deny that audit is dull, but you've implied that it has little part to play in a company's success.

    That's short sighted.

    It tends to be more trivial for owner-managed businesses that are self-funded with little debt and don't care about attracting further investment. But don't forget that for big companies and more specifically, listed companies, the audit is useful for a whole bunch of stakeholders. E.g. any significant loan or investment will require an audited set of accounts - and specifically, it must be unqualified.

    For the ignorant proportion of people that think the process is a chore and adds no value to them - quite frankly, we don't care, we're serving the public.
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    (Original post by S)
    I wouldn't deny that audit is dull, but you've implied that it has little part to play in a company's success.

    That's short sighted.

    It tends to be more trivial for owner-managed businesses that are self-funded with little debt and don't care about attracting further investment. But don't forget that for big companies and more specifically, listed companies, the audit is useful for a whole bunch of stakeholders. E.g. any significant loan or investment will require an audited set of accounts - and specifically, it must be unqualified.

    For the ignorant proportion of people that think the process is a chore and adds no value to them - quite frankly, we don't care, we're serving the public.
    Well that's all very noble and altruistic of you. An audit is nothing more than a necessary stamp that must be obtained by a company. No serious investors take audits that seriously. Hedge/pensions funds do massive amounts of their own due diligence before making an investment because audits tell you nothing about the real state of a company. You only have to look as far back as Enron and Lehman Brothers to know that. Audits are only useful as far as balance-sheet items are concerned. In the modern day, many companies are engaged in complex off-balance sheet transactions which are significantly more material than their balance sheet items. That's before we even get to the sham of mark-to-market accounting. Essentially an audit is useful for those owner-managed businesses and medium-sized enterprises which you despise so much, but for anything larger and more complex they're meaningless as an investment tool, and investors merely use audits as a tool to gain some key investment ratios (PE etc.) before deciding to investigate further and do their own research.

    Oh, and that's before mentioning the subset of hedge funds whose investment strategy relies solely on accounting ****-ups from auditors and setting up arbitrage trades. You can justify your boring job to yourself all you like, just don't make others make the same mistake and follow in your footsteps.
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    (Original post by barnisaurusrex)
    Well that's all very noble and altruistic of you. An audit is nothing more than a necessary stamp that must be obtained by a company. No serious investors take audits that seriously. Hedge/pensions funds do massive amounts of their own due diligence before making an investment because audits tell you nothing about the real state of a company. You only have to look as far back as Enron and Lehman Brothers to know that. Audits are only useful as far as balance-sheet items are concerned. In the modern day, many companies are engaged in complex off-balance sheet transactions which are significantly more material than their balance sheet items. That's before we even get to the sham of mark-to-market accounting. Essentially an audit is useful for those owner-managed businesses and medium-sized enterprises which you despise so much, but for anything larger and more complex they're meaningless as an investment tool, and investors merely use audits as a tool to gain some key investment ratios (PE etc.) before deciding to investigate further and do their own research.

    Oh, and that's before mentioning the subset of hedge funds whose investment strategy relies solely on accounting ****-ups from auditors and setting up arbitrage trades. You can justify your boring job to yourself all you like, just don't make others make the same mistake and follow in your footsteps.
    haha this guy is laughable. I sense most of the people who are saying all the bad things about the big 4 are just bitter over not getting a place.

    I'm not going to justify it as it is widely known it is one of the best places in the world to start your career.

    LOL @ The Big 4 rejects
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    (Original post by barnisaurusrex)
    Well that's all very noble and altruistic of you. An audit is nothing more than a necessary stamp that must be obtained by a company. No serious investors take audits that seriously. Hedge/pensions funds do massive amounts of their own due diligence before making an investment because audits tell you nothing about the real state of a company. You only have to look as far back as Enron and Lehman Brothers to know that. Audits are only useful as far as balance-sheet items are concerned. In the modern day, many companies are engaged in complex off-balance sheet transactions which are significantly more material than their balance sheet items. That's before we even get to the sham of mark-to-market accounting. Essentially an audit is useful for those owner-managed businesses and medium-sized enterprises which you despise so much, but for anything larger and more complex they're meaningless as an investment tool, and investors merely use audits as a tool to gain some key investment ratios (PE etc.) before deciding to investigate further and do their own research.

    Oh, and that's before mentioning the subset of hedge funds whose investment strategy relies solely on accounting ****-ups from auditors and setting up arbitrage trades. You can justify your boring job to yourself all you like, just don't make others make the same mistake and follow in your footsteps.
    You evidently don't have the slightest clue. Not that it matters but on the off-chance you might have even the most marginal affect on what people might choose to do, would you elaborate on your direct first-hand experience of audit and its application? Are you even professionally qualified?

    If the answer is negative then perhaps it might be better for all that you keep your uniformed opinions to yourself.
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    (Original post by Gohalath)
    You evidently don't have the slightest clue. Not that it matters but on the off-chance you might have even the most marginal affect on what people might choose to do, would you elaborate on your direct first-hand experience of audit and its application? Are you even professionally qualified?

    If the answer is negative then perhaps it might be better for all that you keep your uniformed opinions to yourself.


    Please tell me which statements were incorrect rather than attacking my character. Oh, and part-qualified in audit but managed to jump ship before I became a fully-blown accountant, thank god.
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    (Original post by barnisaurusrex)
    Please tell me which statements were incorrect rather than attacking my character. Oh, and part-qualified in audit but managed to jump ship before I became a fully-blown accountant, thank god.
    You're probably a failed banker..

    There is a reason the big four always land the top positions in these graduate schemes league tables. The meritocratic structure at the big 4, means if you're good you'll have a great career. Also, the big 4 is seen as a training academy for future finance professionals, and people leverage these positions by launching their careers into high paying jobs in industry.

    The classic path is: Do an ACA at the big 4, then get some low level experience in product control. Then get a top product control job paying ~60k, by the time your 30, when you'll have had 9 years of experience. And if you're really good and went to a top university, you'll be able to land a senior job in industry paying six figures by the time you're 40, when you would have had almost 20 years of experience.

    This is a fair strategy, and while the work in Audit maybe boring, for some people, it is merely a short placement in their career path. Starting off in industry (doing CIMA) is silly, and is generally the route taken by people who couldn't land a big 4 job.
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    (Original post by T.Adams VI)
    You're probably a failed banker..

    There is a reason the big four always land the top positions in these graduate schemes league tables. The meritocratic structure at the big 4, means if you're good you'll have a great career. Also, the big 4 is seen as a training academy for future finance professionals, and people leverage these positions by launching their careers into high paying jobs in industry.

    The classic path is: Do an ACA at the big 4, then get some low level experience in product control. Then get a top product control job paying ~60k, by the time your 30, when you'll have had 9 years of experience. And if you're really good and went to a top university, you'll be able to land a senior job in industry paying six figures by the time you're 40, when you would have had almost 20 years of experience.

    This is a fair strategy, and while the work in Audit maybe boring, for some people, it is merely a short placement in their career path. Starting off in industry (doing CIMA) is silly, and is generally the route taken by people who couldn't land a big 4 job.
    I believe it is possible to on a 6 figure salary by the time your 27/28 if you do well at one of the big 4. I base this on the fact I'm 22, I will hopefully be qualified by the time I'm 24. From speaking to newly qualified people the average salary is £55-60k. So you spend a few years gaining that experience, pay rise? I think you deserve it, you know industry much better now. As long as you're good at your job then you will have no problem.
    Some who ACA qualify decide to go into banking, but thats not for all, I don't want to work those hours. I would be quite happy working hard for a decent salary (6 figures) in industry. So I'm not pushing myself to the max, once you have the ACA you have so many more openings. It dicks on CIMA, the ACCA is decent but its still not recognised in the UK as well!
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    (Original post by simstar)
    I believe it is possible to on a 6 figure salary by the time your 27/28 if you do well at one of the big 4. I base this on the fact I'm 22, I will hopefully be qualified by the time I'm 24. From speaking to newly qualified people the average salary is £55-60k. So you spend a few years gaining that experience, pay rise? I think you deserve it, you know industry much better now. As long as you're good at your job then you will have no problem.
    Some who ACA qualify decide to go into banking, but thats not for all, I don't want to work those hours. I would be quite happy working hard for a decent salary (6 figures) in industry. So I'm not pushing myself to the max, once you have the ACA you have so many more openings. It dicks on CIMA, the ACCA is decent but its still not recognised in the UK as well!
    What salary do you think a newly qualified ACA from the big 4 (with a 4 year MSci in mathematics from Imperial), could command in industry?

    I'm actually quite interested in this. 55-60k seems quite a lot for a newly qualified.
 
 
 
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