Applying for a second ACA training contract - medium (top 25) vs small firm

Watch
lizzie =)
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#1
hi
Last edited by lizzie =); 3 weeks ago
0
reply
Mosaic4
Badges: 11
Rep:
?
#2
Report 4 weeks ago
#2
(Original post by lizzie =))
I would appreciate some advice as I feel that I've really messed up and lost my confidence.

I started my ACCA training at a top 25 firm in London in tax 2 years ago, a few months after graduating from a Russell group university. I wanted to work in audit but used this as a foot in the door and made the most of it. I did very well in my exams (mostly 60-76% pass scores) and am nearly part-qualified now. However despite having 19 months of work experience this counts for nil as most of the work was outsourced. I was disappointed that the work was mostly 'admin' i.e. file transfer as I am ambitious and wanted to progress my career.

I have excellent academic results and extracurricular achievements but after studying an arts degree (in hindsight a disadvantage) my shaky business acumen prevented me from securing a place at big 4. I instead accepted an internship at a mid-tier firm that led to a job offer which I was happy with and expected to stay for 3 years. Unfortunately the department culture was poor with high turnover, I left halfway through as I was unhappy and felt that I wasn't learning or developing. I made a bad career move by jumping into industry too early (partly due to burn out and unhelpful recruiters who put me forward for experienced practice roles which damaged my confidence). After a series of adverse events and ongoing financial difficulties I had no choice but to leave London not long after starting this new role.

Now I aim to apply directly for an audit role at another mid-tier firm in Manchester or London to finish ACA/ACCA. However in the meantime I'm having to accept a training contract at a small independent firm (30-50 people) near my home town (a deprived area with few opportunities) as I'm unable to secure entry-level temp work and desperately need a job. There aren't any larger firms here and without savings I'm unable to move back to a city.

I'm concerned that if I stay at home and complete my training at a small firm that it will damage my future career prospects, that I won't be able to 'upgrade' again after qualifying in another 18 months. Graduate schemes are so competitive but I don't know whether I can realistically apply to top 20/30 firms directly for an audit or accounts role.
My advice would be to get qualified and get as much experience as you can whilst qualifying. Then if you decide to move, you will be applying for jobs as a qualified accountant rather than looking for graduate schemes.

When you are qualified, it is experience (and how you can sell that experience) that matters to get the next job. So be inquisitive and make the most of whatever work experience you can get.
0
reply
lizzie =)
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#3
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#3
(Original post by Mosaic4)
My advice would be to get qualified and get as much experience as you can whilst qualifying. Then if you decide to move, you will be applying for jobs as a qualified accountant rather than looking for graduate schemes.

When you are qualified, it is experience (and how you can sell that experience) that matters to get the next job. So be inquisitive and make the most of whatever work experience you can get.
Yes I plan to make the most of whatever comes next. At least I'll step up in terms of experience even if it doesn't look as prestigious on paper.

If I'm offered a role at the second firm it would be in an audit department so perhaps that would solve the problem. Maybe training at a medium and small firm would balance out overall?
0
reply
Mosaic4
Badges: 11
Rep:
?
#4
Report 4 weeks ago
#4
(Original post by lizzie =))
Yes I plan to make the most of whatever comes next. At least I'll step up in terms of experience even if it doesn't look as prestigious on paper.

If I'm offered a role at the second firm it would be in an audit department so perhaps that would solve the problem. Maybe training at a medium and small firm would balance out overall?
Why don’t you see how you get on at the local firm and then make a decision? Sometimes smaller places mean you get to see / do more than bigger places. You just don’t know until you get there.
0
reply
lizzie =)
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#5
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#5
(Original post by Mosaic4)
Why don’t you see how you get on at the local firm and then make a decision? Sometimes smaller places mean you get to see / do more than bigger places. You just don’t know until you get there.
It's mostly that I don't want to live here and it means putting my life on hold (this was meant to be temporary) but on the other hand as a practice trainee in London I was struggling to get by so neither option is good.

The training might be good and I'll see how it goes, will try my best to make a good impression.
0
reply
ajj2000
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#6
Report 3 weeks ago
#6
How far away from qualifying are you - both in terms of exams remaining and time?
0
reply
lizzie =)
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#7
Report Thread starter 3 weeks ago
#7
(Original post by ajj2000)
How far away from qualifying are you - both in terms of exams remaining and time?
I've passed 7 out of 13 exams with strong results, nearly completed professional ethics and have 19 months of ACCA experience (17 months left). Part-qualified is 9 exam passes which I think is doable within the next 3-6 months. For ACA I would have an additional 3 exams and 2 years of experience left. This has unfortunately set me back a few months while I've tried to gain better experience and reassess my options. The offices at home offer general practice work or (fingers crossed) audit.
0
reply
Ldarboyo
Badges: 6
Rep:
?
#8
Report 3 weeks ago
#8
I'm not in contact with them anymore but i know two people from my school who went from smallish-medium firm to PwC after they became qualified. They actually jumped ship at the same time as well lol. This is in Manchester though so might be a bit different to a small town.
0
reply
lizzie =)
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#9
Report Thread starter 3 weeks ago
#9
(Original post by Ldarboyo)
I'm not in contact with them anymore but i know two people from my school who went from smallish-medium firm to PwC after they became qualified. They actually jumped ship at the same time as well lol. This is in Manchester though so might be a bit different to a small town.
Ideally I'd like to live in Manchester too. That's good to know. I'm doing my best to gain experience and do well in exams. Hopefully it will work out eventually.
0
reply
ajj2000
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#10
Report 3 weeks ago
#10
(Original post by lizzie =))
I've passed 7 out of 13 exams with strong results, nearly completed professional ethics and have 19 months of ACCA experience (17 months left). Part-qualified is 9 exam passes which I think is doable within the next 3-6 months. For ACA I would have an additional 3 exams and 2 years of experience left. This has unfortunately set me back a few months while I've tried to gain better experience and reassess my options. The offices at home offer general practice work or (fingers crossed) audit.
Sounds like you are doing great on the exams, but have had super bad luck with training environments. Honestly, I think its worth giving the local firm a really good go. You need to improve your practical skills as your training to date seems to have been very disrupted. Plus, if you are working hard for the exams its not worth as much being in a more lively environment. Get some decent skills and pass the next two exams (at least) and then consider.

By the way - are you particularly keen on audit as a job? You've mentioned it a couple of times in posts. Do you want a future of working in accountancy firms?
0
reply
accno1
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#11
Report 3 weeks ago
#11
(Original post by lizzie =))
Ideally I'd like to live in Manchester too. That's good to know. I'm doing my best to gain experience and do well in exams. Hopefully it will work out eventually.
Fyi, I went from tiny, tiny home counties firm to big4 after qualifying, it was a simple process and ended up getting 2 final interviews and 1 offer (I withdrew from the other two after receiving an offer from my preferred firm/sub-service line within audit).

Being from a small firm gives you a surprisingly well balanced profile within the big4 - they really like how you can pick up a file and do it start to finish!

Good luck and take the jobs now and move on once qualified - p.s. ACA or ACCA... it doesn't matter! Take the easiest/quickest route to qualification and move to big4 if your heart desires
0
reply
lizzie =)
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#12
Report Thread starter 3 weeks ago
#12
(Original post by accno1)
Fyi, I went from tiny, tiny home counties firm to big4 after qualifying, it was a simple process and ended up getting 2 final interviews and 1 offer (I withdrew from the other two after receiving an offer from my preferred firm/sub-service line within audit).

Being from a small firm gives you a surprisingly well balanced profile within the big4 - they really like how you can pick up a file and do it start to finish!

Good luck and take the jobs now and move on once qualified - p.s. ACA or ACCA... it doesn't matter! Take the easiest/quickest route to qualification and move to big4 if your heart desires
Thanks for this. I think I need to gain confidence and experience (related I guess), a smaller team will probably help with this. I prefer being more hands on so maybe this is for the best. Did you train in general practice or audit? I'm happy to do ACCA if it doesn't make a difference, I think both are equally as good with different pros/cons.
0
reply
lizzie =)
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#13
Report Thread starter 3 weeks ago
#13
(Original post by ajj2000)
Sounds like you are doing great on the exams, but have had super bad luck with training environments. Honestly, I think its worth giving the local firm a really good go. You need to improve your practical skills as your training to date seems to have been very disrupted. Plus, if you are working hard for the exams its not worth as much being in a more lively environment. Get some decent skills and pass the next two exams (at least) and then consider.

By the way - are you particularly keen on audit as a job? You've mentioned it a couple of times in posts. Do you want a future of working in accountancy firms?
Yes it's disappointing because I worked hard and really wanted it to go well but the circumstances were difficult. I think I'll be a stronger person after all this and have grown from the experience, at least I have clearer goals now. I think maybe it is best to just stick it out living here for 18 months, I won't have much of a life but at least I can really focus on my work and savings. It was hard to balance a social life with work anyway, just nice to have the option I guess. Yes it has been disrupted because of a bad career move and maybe the best thing to do is to stay here if only for stability.

Yes that is the direction I would like to take going forwards - audit/accounts as opposed to tax. I would consider moving to industry later on but feel that I need at least another 2-3 years in practice first because of everything that has happened. I may have to decide between a role in general practice or audit so want to make the right decision. What do you think will be more useful?
0
reply
lizzie =)
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#14
Report Thread starter 3 weeks ago
#14
Thank you for all the advice, I think I'm going to finish my training at the small firm and then look at reapplying as a qualified (or almost) applicant. I just wanted to be sure that I'm making the right decision under the circumstances.
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Regarding Ofqual's most recent update, do you think you will be given a fair grade this summer?

Yes (209)
33.49%
No (415)
66.51%

Watched Threads

View All