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

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    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
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    Not sure if relevant but did you work with Headstart people?
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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
    what is good being auditor? better join commercial or auditor as fresh grad? I don't think I can learn much about business as auditor
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    Was it easy to settle into the job? I.e. was it easy making friends? If so do audit people socialise with other auditors or do you make friends with people from different departments as well?

    In terms of studying for the ACA were PWC very supportive in this? And also if you don't mind me asking what was your degree in? And how difficult did you find the ACA course?

    Finally what has been the highlight of the past 3 years for you? I.e your favourite moment, and now that your ACA qualified do you have the opportunity to take on a management role?

    Kind Regards,
    LostTactic
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    I've just got an offer with PwC... heard some bad things about audit... what's your take on it?
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    (Original post by Chunkeymonkey62)
    Not sure if relevant but did you work with Headstart people?
    No I didn't sorry.


    (Original post by Materazzi)
    what is good being auditor? better join commercial or auditor as fresh grad? I don't think I can learn much about business as auditor
    I agree I learnt little about business being an auditor (other than the accounting aspect of it, which you do learn a lot, but in terms of the strategies of the business you don't really get much exposure to this). The two main good aspects I'd say are:

    - my intake (had about 35 in my intake) were all very friendly and nice people. I wasn't particularly interested in the social aspect of it, but nevertheless everyone I got to know were fun people. A few senior managers and above weren't so friendly but that's to be expected I guess at any company.

    - I'd be comfortable being given any set of financial accounts and being able to read them and identify what are the concerns, strengths etc. Whilst this is a very useful skill, I think you could be taught it in a couple of days rather than 3 years though

    I'm not sure what you mean in terms of commercial, in general I would recommend other, more specialised areas, than audit. For example something I wish I had done was business recovery (though I'd probably ended out stuck on Lehmans for all year), as there you are developing more of a niche skill. The money and likely enjoyable is having a niche skill / in depth understanding of a particular market or similar, which I think is a problem with audit.

    Having said this, one of my housemates joined the Deloitte consultancy 3-4 years ago and I doubt he can even read financial statements to any solid understanding, which is pretty concerning!


    (Original post by LostTactic)
    Was it easy to settle into the job? I.e. was it easy making friends? If so do audit people socialise with other auditors or do you make friends with people from different departments as well?

    In terms of studying for the ACA were PWC very supportive in this? And also if you don't mind me asking what was your degree in? And how difficult did you find the ACA course?

    Finally what has been the highlight of the past 3 years for you? I.e your favourite moment, and now that your ACA qualified do you have the opportunity to take on a management role?

    Kind Regards,
    LostTactic
    It's easy to settle into the job. Despite not being a big fan of audit, I thought PwC generally were a very good firm to work for (of course there were the usual problems - no overtime pay, long hours over busy season, things they could do better) but the overall culture I thought was very friendly.

    In general you socialise with your intake who you spend college time with, and then colleagues who you're working with on the same client. It's quite good in that respect that you get to meet a lot of new people all in their 20s.

    In terms of the ACA course, PwC were supportive to the extent that they gave you time off for college and they are no worse than any of the other Big 4, you also had someone available you could talk to if you were having problems. I studied Economics at St Andrews.

    However, the 6 weeks stints at college were the toughest 6 weeks spells of my life, no kidding. Going to college (which in general I found to a poor standard, they'd give you a half filled in textbook which you spent 9am-4pm filling in, then to have to go home and study it in your evenings. The last time I was taught via filling in the blanks was being taught to read and write so I found this an odd approach) was really tough. You get to college for 9am, leave at 4pm, get home say 5pm, then work through till 10pm or so with an hour off.

    In the first week or so you can not work too hard but after that it is all day every day for 30 days straight or so. The toughest part is that you never feel on top of it, and you go into an exam lasting say 2 hours, that you've spent your last 5-6 weeks devoting your life to.

    On the tube to work I'd be testing myself in my head, it really did get to that stage.

    Some people obviously claimed they weren't working very hard, but I think to pass you've got to.

    Highlight of the 3 years, I'd say looking back all the people I got to know. Had some really fun nights out (even though I probably went to only 10% of the nights out I could have done) and I was pretty lucky with the people I worked with, generally could be a good laugh. Though this doesn't mean there weren't some bad times! Certainly going up to clients to ask for a big batch of invoices then going through them in a room with a stressed manager is no fun.

    Now I'm ACA qualified, there are a lot of jobs I can now apply for that I'd prefer not to do!

    Jobs like internal audit, product control, management accountant, those are jobs I don't think I could be interested in. If you develop a passion for auditing them you can work your way up and I'm sure it would then be a rewarding career. Unfortunately I didn't really do much research before accepting the job offer (I guess which is partly why when I saw this forum I though may be worth setting up this thread to help others be a little clearer in whether audit is for them).

    I'm sure when I come to approaching recruitment consultants there are some interesting jobs out there for ACA qualified, though I think once I've found them, I'll work very hard in preparing for the interviews as expect they'll be very competitive.

    (Original post by keekee107)
    I've just got an offer with PwC... heard some bad things about audit... what's your take on it?
    What I've written above probably explains it, but to try more succinctly:

    - Audit itself I found repetitive. I felt from my 450 days client work I had to do, I had about 50 days worth of unique learning experiences with the other 400 just doing the same thing and not really learning much new.

    - If you go into audit as a job that you think that once qualified it will open up a wide range of interesting doors, I'd probably disagree. After all, the experience you gain is how to test financial statements and financial reporting (how annual reports are prepared, the disclosure requirements). So after the 3 years, you're coming on to the job market, and if you don't want to use these skills, then it's kinda been a bit of a waste. I think like any job decision, you should be thinking 'what do I want to do' and work out then how to get that job. So if you think 'I want to be an auditor' accept the job. If you're thinking 'I'm not sure what I want to do' then I'd think very hard whether you want to commit yourself to spending 3 years doing something you may not want to do. Having said that, it may be the best opportunity, and if you get very good feedback in your 1st year, you could like switch to tax or business recovery or another department

    - Having said that, all jobs I'm sure have downside and upsides. There are certainly some big upsides, in that PwC I thought were a great firm, after 3 years you will have picked up some valuable skills and will be a qualified accountant.

    - My advice would be if you do decide to accept they offer, really put everything into the job. It's not a good way to spend 3 years thinking 'I want out after 3 years' even before you've started, as I know a lot of people plan.

    Without hopefully not repeating myself, I'd recommend spend a lot of time deciding what you're options are, and whether you really do want to spend 3 years auditing. Having said that, it may be the best of your choices, in which case go for it.

    Being an auditor for a Big 4 firm, despite some of the downsides mentioned, will guarantee you a very good building blocks for a career. Just be prepared to work very hard and don't expert to then be able to walk into an £80k+ ibank job after it. I'd recommend becoming an auditor if you want to audit, rather than becoming an auditor because you're not sure what else to do. If you want to do something else, such as consultancy, business recovery, ibank, then work out the best way to do it (though if you can't succeed in applying to these, an option is to do very well at audit in your first year and see if there are internal opportunities to move to a different dept)

    Sorry if this has all been a bit rambly but hopefully of some help!



    Chris
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    I got a few questions to ask if that’s ok because I have set my goal to be an auditor as well

    Just being a bit curious, what grades did you get in you A-levels and degree and did you have any work experience when you applied?

    I realise on top of the 3 years “work experience” to become a chartered accountant, you need to take exams as well, how did PwC go about this? Did you have to work 9-5 everyday and then study on your time off and weekends?

    When you first started, how did you start off? Do they send you off on an audit expecting you to not know everything but at least a good proportion of what you’re going to do? This is the part that I fret the most because I got quite good grades but this is only academic, in terms of actual experience, I know nothing (I also fret the day that if I become an auditor, I have sit inside a room with grumpy managers ).

    Just another curious question, what was your salary like when you started and what is it like now? I know its not right into thinking salary should be the driving force but it should definitely play a factor.

    Sorry about the long flow of questions but just curious about all of these.
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    Hi Chris,

    I'm going to be starting on the same Grad Audit scheme in September, just would like to ask:

    1. Which business line were you allocated? And is it possible to change business lines within the three years, or will you be stuck with the same clients throughout?

    2. Touching on the salary question, as above, are there wage increases throughout the three years? If you don't mind me asking, how often and by a significant amount?

    3. Why did you decide to leave PwC - is it hard to obtain a permanent position after qualifying within the company?

    4. Do you have any idea of the career you want to follow now? What do you think the more interesting jobs are out there for ACA qualified people?

    Any feedback would be appreaciated! Thanks in advance!
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    That study pattern sounds horrible. I always did link courses with my firm where the first week at college was several months before the exams and you went back about 1 week a month, then the revision phase was the final 2 weeks before the exams.

    It's a matter of preference whether you think it's better or worse that way - I think I preferred to be under *some* study pressure for 4 months or so and being out of the office for a week ar a time only, rather than having a few months of completely free spare time and then being murdered for 6 weeks. Big firms apparently insist on the intensive route others could be more flexible or prefer a more spread out option.
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    Hi,

    Is it difficult to switch from audit to say business recovery in the first year? if so, how would you make yourself stand out so you were given this opportunity?

    Thanks
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    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!
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    Thanks Samtheman1, your post has been extremely useful!

    Were you in BCM, LTT, LMT or Insurance? - how easy is it to move between your allocated division during your three years? And after you've qualified?
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    I have to say that all of the advice is thoroughly informative and extremely useful.

    I'm keen on attempting to get into audit too, and I've got a few questions myself!

    1. I'm graduating with a Maths degree... to what extent do PwC look at the university you've come from and the degree you've obtained? Does the recession have a major impact on this?

    2. Does a first class degree give off a good first impression, or are they just more sceptical about your social ability?
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    Hey all,

    I am new to this forum but this topic caught my interest.

    So I am doing my final year of Economics at University and I am interested in doing Audit, (However I have no prior experience so I would be flexible in doing other things like tax/corporate finance etc if they were considered better than audit). I have over 300 Ucas points and GCSE Maths B and English C

    1. Since the top 4 require me to have GCSE B in English will this completely rule me out from the selection process. If not, what is the biggest factor they look into, having work experience/internship? or other things like extra social things I do?

    2. Will it be an easier route if I applied to accountacy firms which are ranked within the top 20 but exluding top 4, since I have C in english. Also will the salary be very low in this case.

    3. I have read about applying to audit through the ICAEW website.. How different is this to the normal process of applying directly to firms.
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    (Original post by CPotter999)
    Thanks Samtheman1, your post has been extremely useful!

    Were you in BCM, LTT, LMT or Insurance? - how easy is it to move between your allocated division during your three years? And after you've qualified?
    I started in TICE-E and then moved to LMT during the re-shuffle.

    You will have a mix of clients in LMT and LTT due to the nature of resourcing if this is the area you are looking to go into.
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    (Original post by wanderlust.xx)
    I have to say that all of the advice is thoroughly informative and extremely useful.

    I'm keen on attempting to get into audit too, and I've got a few questions myself!

    1. I'm graduating with a Maths degree... to what extent do PwC look at the university you've come from and the degree you've obtained? Does the recession have a major impact on this?

    2. Does a first class degree give off a good first impression, or are they just more sceptical about your social ability?
    1) They will look at how well you have done in your uni exams to ensure you are on course for at least a 2.1. They are not too bothered about the university...not sure if this extends to a polytecnic. As long as you have the grades you will be considered regardless of the economy. What I will say tho, is that it is a first come first serve basis, so I would get the application in as early as possible to avoid competition.

    2) A first class degree will always give off a good first impression.
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    (Original post by Arsenal)
    Hey all,

    I am new to this forum but this topic caught my interest.

    So I am doing my final year of Economics at University and I am interested in doing Audit, (However I have no prior experience so I would be flexible in doing other things like tax/corporate finance etc if they were considered better than audit). I have over 300 Ucas points and GCSE Maths B and English C

    1. Since the top 4 require me to have GCSE B in English will this completely rule me out from the selection process. If not, what is the biggest factor they look into, having work experience/internship? or other things like extra social things I do?

    2. Will it be an easier route if I applied to accountacy firms which are ranked within the top 20 but exluding top 4, since I have C in english. Also will the salary be very low in this case.

    3. I have read about applying to audit through the ICAEW website.. How different is this to the normal process of applying directly to firms.
    1) I would give them a ring and explain a reason behind your english grade. Ask them whether they would still consider you.

    2) Always apply to everyone. Never restrict your options by excluding firms - I know people that have been turned away from a crappy firm only to be offered a big 4 role - you never know your luck. Salaries are likely to be lower outside the Big 4.

    3) I don't know very much about the ICAEW route - but nothing can be better than applying direct.
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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 dude,

    Firstly thanks for taking the time to come on here, much appreciated!

    I am about to embark on an internship in audit at one of the big 4 which will hopefully lead to a job on graduation.

    Although things could change massively, one thought I have had is about moving into equity research once qualified. My internship is with a regional office however, meaning I won't have experience of one particular sector. Could this be detrimental to a move into equity research as I would have thought the main strength of an application would be the experience of a particular sector as opposed to a broad spectrum? How difficult do you think it would be to move from a regional office to London if offered a graduate job?

    Many thanks,
    Ryan.
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    Hey mate,

    Shouldn't be too difficult at all. If you want London, then just mention it whilst on your internship - I'm sure they would be happy to accomodate you.

    For PwC, the statisitcs are about 96% of interns get offered a full time graduate position. I think the 4% cover people that dont want it/ are complete tools. Also, internships are statistically more competitive to get into than full time roles.

    If you balance that with the fact that London audit (for pwc) is understaffed, you will get there fine.

    For ER, just make sure you get through the ACA. You wont be sector specific anyway (as how do you know which one suits you unless you have a broad exposure to many of them) so it is probably a good thing that you will have experience of many at the start.

    As you go on, your client list drops and you will have 3-4 main clients which is likely to be the sector that you like anyway.

    Congrats on the job, and good luck.
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    Thanks for the reply, much appreciated :-)
 
 
 
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