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A career in accountancy for a third class degree?

I need some advice here, guys. Basically, I didn't have the best results throughout my education - I have finished uni with a third class honours degree in Accounting & Finance (my A-Levels weren't fantastic either). I accept I have done extremely well below my capabilities, and of course I regret it.

Now that I am on the job market, I am finding it difficult to land myself a job in accounting, and I feel that my less than satisfactory results are kinda weighing me down; I couldn't apply for any graduate schemes for a start. As a result, I thought that I may boost my chances if I started studying one of the several accountancy qualifications out there. Do you think this is the best course of action to undertake for me? What would you guys suggest? It may be a bit unrealistic, but eventually (ideally not in a very distant future) I would like to hope to be working for one of the bigger companies - perhaps not for the Big 4, but only because that's probably just a pipe dream.

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Original post by sonic_dream
I need some advice here, guys. Basically, I didn't have the best results throughout my education - I have finished uni with a third class honours degree in Accounting & Finance (my A-Levels weren't fantastic either). I accept I have done extremely well below my capabilities, and of course I regret it.

Now that I am on the job market, I am finding it difficult to land myself a job in accounting, and I feel that my less than satisfactory results are kinda weighing me down; I couldn't apply for any graduate schemes for a start. As a result, I thought that I may boost my chances if I started studying one of the several accountancy qualifications out there. Do you think this is the best course of action to undertake for me? What would you guys suggest? It may be a bit unrealistic, but eventually (ideally not in a very distant future) I would like to hope to be working for one of the bigger companies - perhaps not for the Big 4, but only because that's probably just a pipe dream.

I'd agree that starting one of the qualifications is your best option. On paper you are a massive risk and need to prove you have the dedication and ability to complete the exams.
Being totally realistic with yourself, are you actually ever going to pass chartered accountancy exams? They're incredibly hard and plenty of people with solid academic records fail them.

If you struggle with academic work, then a career which emphasises the ability to achieve academically is not for you. Find something else to do.
Original post by MancStudent098
Being totally realistic with yourself, are you actually ever going to pass chartered accountancy exams? They're incredibly hard and plenty of people with solid academic records fail them.

If you struggle with academic work, then a career which emphasises the ability to achieve academically is not for you. Find something else to do.

Not necessarily, he does need to take a realistic look at himself but academics are really not the be all and end all. You don't actually need a degree to be an accountant remember. It's not unusual to struggle with the learning environment in school/uni and prefer working and studying.
Reply 4
Tokyoround
On paper you are a massive risk and need to prove you have the dedication and ability to complete the exams.

This was what a few people I have spoken to have told me. In terms of progression, what's the hard truth for my prospects? Am I just going to be realistically stuck at a botttom/mid-tier firm, or will there be a chance down the line for me to move to a bigger company later on? Or alternatively put, once I've a few years' experience under my belt, would my grades still account for a lot of employers' decision?

MancStudent098
Being totally realistic with yourself, are you actually ever going to pass chartered accountancy exams? They're incredibly hard and plenty of people with solid academic records fail them.

If you struggle with academic work, then a career which emphasises the ability to achieve academically is not for you. Find something else to do.

There were several reasons why I didn't do well academically. I won't say all of them, but one of them isn't struggling with academic work and exams in particular. I feel like I have matured in every aspect since finishing uni, and I want to have a go at the exams if it would boost my chances at a decent career.
Original post by sonic_dream
This was what a few people I have spoken to have told me. In terms of progression, what's the hard truth for my prospects? Am I just going to be realistically stuck at a botttom/mid-tier firm, or will there be a chance down the line for me to move to a bigger company later on? Or alternatively put, once I've a few years' experience under my belt, would my grades still account for a lot of employers' decision?

Once you qualify/close to qualifying and have some experience, no one will care. Big 4 would still be within reach however, you may limited in the departments you can apply for (Some more prestigious units will have more stringent requirements). Selling you to clients may be tricky but there are always ways around that.
Reply 6
On these qualifications by the way, I have (fleetingly) read that for full qualification, e.g. ACA or I think ACCA too, you'll have to also have three years' experience in practice. Did I read that correctly? And does it matter which company you do it with, and does it have to be full time?
Original post by sonic_dream
On these qualifications by the way, I have (fleetingly) read that for full qualification, e.g. ACA or I think ACCA too, you'll have to also have three years' experience in practice. Did I read that correctly? And does it matter which company you do it with, and does it have to be full time?
All of them require 3 years of experience as well as passing the exams. As a lot of people self qualify with ACCA you can do the exams first and then find an employer who'll give you the work experience. Not sure if that's possible with ACA, definitely not possible with CA.

Original post by Tokyoround
Not necessarily, he does need to take a realistic look at himself but academics are really not the be all and end all. You don't actually need a degree to be an accountant remember. It's not unusual to struggle with the learning environment in school/uni and prefer working and studying.
You don't need a degree, you do need to be able to pass some very tough exams.

I suspect that it's very unusual to struggle at school/uni and prefer doing the ACCA/ACA/CA exams, for starters anyone on the latter two is going to have the 300 UCAS points and 2.1 (or equivalent qual) that even mid-tiers demand, so the amount of people who seriously struggled at school/uni and even take the exams is minimal.

Far more of the ACCA student are self studying and therefore there'll be more with lower grades than that. But that probably just explains why the ACCA pass rates are so abysmal.

I'm not just being snobby about people coming into accountancy with dodgy academics (or claiming that employers will be) I am pointing out (from bitter experience) that even people who stroll through Uni and school have a majorly hard time with the exams.
Reply 8
A couple more questions for you guys if you don't mind:
- Which qualification/s do you hold?
- Which between the ACCA and the ACA are more highly regarded in the profession? And aside from that, why should I choose one over the other?
Original post by sonic_dream
A couple more questions for you guys if you don't mind:
- Which qualification/s do you hold?
- Which between the ACCA and the ACA are more highly regarded in the profession? And aside from that, why should I choose one over the other?


To echo the other answers, you have given yourself a difficult task, but if you have the motivation and commitment, becoming a chartered accountant is not out of the question. To answer your questions above:

Both ACCA and ICAEW's ACA qualification are highly respected: you will find the Big Four and top twenty firms provide both routes depending on their business needs. From an ICAEW perspective - you could join a firm on an AAT-ACA fast-track programme, which means you would start with the AAT qualification and progress to the ACA. You could also take ICAEW CFAB which is a standalone certificate of six modules, giving you a solid foundation in accountancy, finance and business. It's achievable in a year and it is also the first level of the ACA qualification, which doesn't need to be studied in conjunction with a training agreement. It would also give you the chance to see if it is a potential route....

Good luck.

Louise
Reply 10
Original post by ICAEW Advisor Louise
To echo the other answers, you have given yourself a difficult task, but if you have the motivation and commitment, becoming a chartered accountant is not out of the question. To answer your questions above:

Both ACCA and ICAEW's ACA qualification are highly respected: you will find the Big Four and top twenty firms provide both routes depending on their business needs. From an ICAEW perspective - you could join a firm on an AAT-ACA fast-track programme, which means you would start with the AAT qualification and progress to the ACA. You could also take ICAEW CFAB which is a standalone certificate of six modules, giving you a solid foundation in accountancy, finance and business. It's achievable in a year and it is also the first level of the ACA qualification, which doesn't need to be studied in conjunction with a training agreement. It would also give you the chance to see if it is a potential route....

Good luck.

Louise

Thanks for the response, Louise! It's much appreciated to get some from yourself. Having done an accountancy degree, I believe I may be eligible for some exemptions from some of the modules? I've only looked at ACCA's so far, and there're a few ones I would be exempted from. Are ACA's similar too?
Original post by sonic_dream
Thanks for the response, Louise! It's much appreciated to get some from yourself. Having done an accountancy degree, I believe I may be eligible for some exemptions from some of the modules? I've only looked at ACCA's so far, and there're a few ones I would be exempted from. Are ACA's similar too?


Hi there

You can check to see how many exemptions you have by visiting our main ICAEW website at icaew.com/cpl (credit for prior learning). You select your university from the drop down list and then your course and it will tell you what exemptions you are entitled to - simple!

Louise
Reply 12
It's totally unrealistic for OP to go for ACA, finding a training contract with low UCAS points and 3rd class honours degree will be mission impossible.

ACCA is the way to go. Once you have showed you are capable of passing exam, gaining a training contract will be much easier.

As with qualification, I am a fully qualified ACA for more than 10 years and currently working for the Big4.
Reply 13
poony
It's totally unrealistic for OP to go for ACA, finding a training contract with low UCAS points and 3rd class honours degree will be mission impossible.

ACCA is the way to go. Once you have showed you are capable of passing exam, gaining a training contract will be much easier.

As with qualification, I am a fully qualified ACA for more than 10 years and currently working for the Big4.

This was what I was worried about. I've been looking on the ACA website, and there isn't anything on the list of available training contracts that would take my current educational qualifications.

Interesting you mention the ACCA though. How does that differ with the ACA in terms of the training contract? Would I be able to secure one with them with the UCAS points and degree class I hold?
Reply 14
Original post by sonic_dream
This was what I was worried about. I've been looking on the ACA website, and there isn't anything on the list of available training contracts that would take my current educational qualifications.

Interesting you mention the ACCA though. How does that differ with the ACA in terms of the training contract? Would I be able to secure one with them with the UCAS points and degree class I hold?


You would have to go the part qualified route aka pass the first 9 papers via exemption or exam. Even then it would be very hard as they are so many graduates with higher degree classifications and ucas points. Your other option is decline any exceptions, do the first 9 papers and dissertation and get the Oxford Brooks bsc and get better than a third,
Reply 15
Original post by sonic_dream
This was what I was worried about. I've been looking on the ACA website, and there isn't anything on the list of available training contracts that would take my current educational qualifications.

Interesting you mention the ACCA though. How does that differ with the ACA in terms of the training contract? Would I be able to secure one with them with the UCAS points and degree class I hold?


You don't need to have a training contract to start sitting for ACCA exam. Once you have passed majority of the exam. you will have a much better chance of gaining a training contract.

ACA is very different, majority if not all trainees would have secured training contract, they will have to work and sit for exam. at the same time, companies are not very forgiving if you don't pass your exam..

As I assumed you are not very good at exam. try the ACCA, see if you can stomach it.

Don't give up to be an accountant because you have low UCAS points and 3rd class, you just have to take a longer path. Anything is possible, be realistic, bite the bullet, swallow you pride and go for CIMA or ACCA.
Reply 16
poony
You don't need to have a training contract to start sitting for ACCA exam. Once you have passed majority of the exam. you will have a much better chance of gaining a training contract.

ACA is very different, majority if not all trainees would have secured training contract, they will have to work and sit for exam. at the same time, companies are not very forgiving if you don't pass your exam..

As I assumed you are not very good at exam. try the ACCA, see if you can stomach it.

Don't give up to be an accountant because you have low UCAS points and 3rd class, you just have to take a longer path. Anything is possible, be realistic, bite the bullet, swallow you pride and go for CIMA or ACCA.

No, don't worry. I am determined to make it as an accountant. I was just curious as to what the difference in ACCA and ACA was with the training contract situation. I'm getting there, but not quite - so is it just generally more difficult to secure a training contract doing the ACA? Do I have to already be in training before doing the ACA? Or if otherwise, what I'm trying to understand is, if both's exams can be undertaken before training, what differentiates the two?

Sorry, I'm not trying to force myself into doing the ACA. It just genuinely confused me.

By the way, (as I understand it) I will already be exempt from all but the Tax and Audit (F6 and F8) papers of the Fundamentals module owing to my degree. It's not gonna be easy, but I am determined to make something of myself :smile:

Original post by daindian
You would have to go the part qualified route aka pass the first 9 papers via exemption or exam. Even then it would be very hard as they are so many graduates with higher degree classifications and ucas points. Your other option is decline any exceptions, do the first 9 papers and dissertation and get the Oxford Brooks bsc and get better than a third,


As mentioned in the above response to this, I will probably be holding a number of exemptions gained through my degree. This intrigues me though...

Firstly, to which does this dissertation pertain? I would guess the ACA as I remember seeing something about a case study (which I assume is what the dissertation would be?) when I was reading about it.

Secondly, about option two - this Oxford Brooks BSc is another degree? If so, does this take as long to attain as your normal honours degree? If I do end up doing better in this degree, would it override my poor result?

Thanks once again for the very informative responses, guys. I appreciate it very much! :smile:
Reply 17
Original post by sonic_dream
No, don't worry. I am determined to make it as an accountant. I was just curious as to what the difference in ACCA and ACA was with the training contract situation. I'm getting there, but not quite - so is it just generally more difficult to secure a training contract doing the ACA? Do I have to already be in training before doing the ACA? Or if otherwise, what I'm trying to understand is, if both's exams can be undertaken before training, what differentiates the two?

Sorry, I'm not trying to force myself into doing the ACA. It just genuinely confused me.

By the way, (as I understand it) I will already be exempt from all but the Tax and Audit (F6 and F8) papers of the Fundamentals module owing to my degree. It's not gonna be easy, but I am determined to make something of myself :smile:



As mentioned in the above response to this, I will probably be holding a number of exemptions gained through my degree. This intrigues me though...

Firstly, to which does this dissertation pertain? I would guess the ACA as I remember seeing something about a case study (which I assume is what the dissertation would be?) when I was reading about it.

Secondly, about option two - this Oxford Brooks BSc is another degree? If so, does this take as long to attain as your normal honours degree? If I do end up doing better in this degree, would it override my poor result?

Thanks once again for the very informative responses, guys. I appreciate it very much! :smile:

The dissertation is part of the Acca. Yes it is another degree. It takes as long as it will take you to pass the first 9 exams plus the dissertation. For you to able to do it, you need to not take the exceptions for papers f4-f9 inclusive, so could be as little as a year. It wouldn't override it per say, but you employers would look at this result over your first result, if you improve say a 2:1 or above.however one thing to note with this degree you need 10% more for each module ie paper to get that degree classification compared to uni. Eg a 2:1 is 80 in this degree compared to 70 for uni and pass is 50 instead of 40
Reply 18
I've been reading up on it (the BSc) more. If only for getting a better classification, I'd take on this straight away. I guess I now just need to decide whether to take up my exemptions or not. I have been graduated for nearly a year now, and I may need a refresher. Having to fund the whole thing myself makes it a more difficult decision, however.
Reply 19
Going back on the training contract dilemma, might it be helpful or just a waste of time if I send off some speculative applications to different companies with a covering letter asking if I can do my training with them either for free or at a greatly reduced salary? I'm guessing this will be binned straight away by the bigger companies, but what about others?

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