ajj2000
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#21
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(Original post by Madman11)
Oh wow nice. What things does your job mainly consist of on a day to day basis ? Also, what was your route into CA - did you always have it specifically in mind, or were you thinking of something else at one stage and then changed your mind to CA halfway through your course ? Also, what’s the salary like ? Lmao Sorry for all the questions, just that So many people write so many different things online (some of whom may not even be involved in this field), hard to know what’s right ahah
Hi. I manage an accounts department in a business. So budgeting, forecasting, reporting results etc. I joined a big 4 firm as a graduate trainee with a non relevant degree.

I had done week long courses/ introductory work experience sessions with two different firms the summer before graduating and thought it might suit me. I had been looking at a different career but decided to go for ACA as the training was all paid for even if the starting salaries were a bit lower.

I think you can find salary surveys online - major recruitment firms issue them each year. I'd say they are reliable.

By the way - for big accounting firms you really don't need a first (they ask for a 2.1 - I don't know if getting a first adds anything). Often having strong A levels helps a lot although this is reducing a bit in importance. Aptitude tests are very important so worth applying for schemes and summer placements as you get some experience of the recruitment process.
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K1NE
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(Original post by Madman11)
ACA is the ICAEW one right ? So, on average, having that particular qualification, as opposed to the others, allows you to move further up the ladder quicker ? If so, what’s different about this particular qualification ? I’ve read their exams are harder than ACCA’s, so is that why they’re looked at in a better way.
ACA exams are considered harder because of they way they are tested. The last three exams are probably the most time pressured exams I have ever sat. Speaking to others who have done ACCA and CIMA, I think the the final three ACA exams are the key differentiator between ACA (ICAEW) and ACCA/CIMA, especially the final exam you do (case study) to get your ACA. I say this because you're not always being tested on how much you know but how you apply your answer in relation to the question being set. There are other tricky exams in the ACA too, like the business planning exams which are quite tricky. But yes, tutors who I've met that teach ACA/ACCA/CIMA do say ACA exams are harder and the qualification overall is harder.

Setting that a side, do not think ACCA/CIMA aren't very well respected qualifications too. I've met plenty of seniors finance managers, directors and even management consultants (which shows you how diverse the qualifications is), who have done CIMA. The first CFO of my last company (which is a large multinational company) had done CIMA and when he left, the new CFO that came in had done the ACCA. Similarly, I've met plenty of senior and well respected professionals who have done ACCA.

So my point really is, it really does comes down to the individual. Getting an ACA/ACCA/CIMA is you earning your stripes and then afterwards where your career leads you is ultimately down to you and the effort you put in.
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Madman11
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#23
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Hi. I manage an accounts department in a business. So budgeting, forecasting, reporting results etc. I joined a big 4 firm as a graduate trainee with a non relevant degree.

I had done week long courses/ introductory work experience sessions with two different firms the summer before graduating and thought it might suit me. I had been looking at a different career but decided to go for ACA as the training was all paid for even if the starting salaries were a bit lower.

I think you can find salary surveys online - major recruitment firms issue them each year. I'd say they are reliable.

By the way - for big accounting firms you really don't need a first (they ask for a 2.1 - I don't know if getting a first adds anything). Often having strong A levels helps a lot although this is reducing a bit in importance. Aptitude tests are very important so worth applying for schemes and summer placements as you get some experience of the recruitment process.
Thank you very much for the helpful info mate 🙂 just one quick thing - how important is the uni u go to ? I really want to go to Durham or Leeds, but that really depends on how I do in maths next month. If I don’t get the grade I need, I’ll probably be off to Manchester or Nottingham, and I know they’re both still decent uni’s, but it’s not quite at the level of the previous 2 mentioned. Would that have any negative effect later in life, when applying to jobs at a big 4 firm or anywhere else ?
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ajj2000
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(Original post by Madman11)
Thank you very much for the helpful info mate 🙂 just one quick thing - how important is the uni u go to ? I really want to go to Durham or Leeds, but that really depends on how I do in maths next month. If I don’t get the grade I need, I’ll probably be off to Manchester or Nottingham, and I know they’re both still decent uni’s, but it’s not quite at the level of the previous 2 mentioned. Would that have any negative effect later in life, when applying to jobs at a big 4 firm or anywhere else ?
The university you go to is pretty unimportant. Which course are you applying for? I'm not convinced that anyone regards Manchester or Nottingham as less good than Durham or Leeds for most courses. Durham may win for some.
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Madman11
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(Original post by ajj2000)
The university you go to is pretty unimportant. Which course are you applying for? I'm not convinced that anyone regards Manchester or Nottingham as less good than Durham or Leeds for most courses. Durham may win for some.
I was originally looking at straight economics, but it just looked too theory based for me, so I’ve moved onto Accounting and Finance. From what I’ve read online, it seems as if there’s more scope to this degree, as opposed to a straight accounting degree.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by Madman11)
I was originally looking at straight economics, but it just looked too theory based for me, so I’ve moved onto Accounting and Finance. From what I’ve read online, it seems as if there’s more scope to this degree, as opposed to a straight accounting degree.
Ok - then there is no difference in anyones perception of the courses. Have you looked into the universities and courses you have noted? They all look like good options. I don't think A+F is necessarily better than Accountancy - its just the name that is different. Some universities include the '+F' bit where they have more than one course - often signifying a less mathematical set of courses. This is not always the case - I think the PWC linked courses at Nottingham and Manchester are both called 'Accountancy' - and you should certainly have a look at these.
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K1NE
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(Original post by Madman11)
Thank you very much for the helpful info mate 🙂 just one quick thing - how important is the uni u go to ? I really want to go to Durham or Leeds, but that really depends on how I do in maths next month. If I don’t get the grade I need, I’ll probably be off to Manchester or Nottingham, and I know they’re both still decent uni’s, but it’s not quite at the level of the previous 2 mentioned. Would that have any negative effect later in life, when applying to jobs at a big 4 firm or anywhere else ?
No worries. All of the universities you've mentioned are strong universities and generally speaking none of them would be looked upon unfavourably if you had them on your C.V. For Big 4 specifically, if you applied there with a degree from a university that isn't high on those league tables, then I don't think they would look down on your application negatively. It may affect your chances in some ways if they have a large pool of candidates who have degrees from more reputable universities but you can probably nullify this if you have some solid work experience. Ultimately if you do well in the interview stages and in their assessments, they will give you the job. To get an ACA contract as long as you get a 2.1 in your degree (although I know some companies do accept 2.2's), then you should be okay. Aim for a 2.1 to keep the most doors open but if you get a 1st then obviously that stands out even more.

In terms of your maths exam, try to get the best mark you can (I am assuming this is A-level) because from what I remember Big 4 look at your UCAS points as well as your degree grade (it doesn't matter what subject your degree is in). Non-Big 4 ACA trainee schemes will also look at your UCAS points.

Getting relevant experience during university will help too. So go through the universities you've mentioned and see if you can do a placement year and then try to get yourself a role in a finance department to help your C.V stand out more, plus it's a chance to learn more about the type of work accountants do. Also, if you do really well where you work, they may send you to the final stage of a graduate scheme interview, or even better maybe offer you a job. Alternatively, you can always look for summer internships instead if you do not want to do an industrial placement. Either way I would encourage you to do get some experience when you have significant breaks at university i.e Summer holidays.

Like @ajj2000 mentioned above, Nottingham/Manchester university does a flying start programme with PwC. Worth looking into. You do your ACA exams, get a degree and some solid work experience with PwC over the course of 4 years. Think after you finish your degree it will mean you've got lots of experience and only have a couple exams left.
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Madman11
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#28
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Ok - then there is no difference in anyones perception of the courses. Have you looked into the universities and courses you have noted? They all look like good options. I don't think A+F is necessarily better than Accountancy - its just the name that is different. Some universities include the '+F' bit where they have more than one course - often signifying a less mathematical set of courses. This is not always the case - I think the PWC linked courses at Nottingham and Manchester are both called 'Accountancy' - and you should certainly have a look at these.
PWC linked ? Does that mean u get a guaranteed placement year there ? The reason I’m looking at A and F instead of just Accounting is because my primary goal (as with many I’m sure) is Investment Banking, and although no specific degree is required, I feel the Finance side in A and F degree would definitely help me out. However, I do understand how difficult it is, which is why I’ve been looking at Chartered accountancy as well - incase my initial plan doesn’t work out and I’m left with no plan B.
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Madman11
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(Original post by K1NE)
No worries. All of the universities you've mentioned are strong universities and generally speaking none of them would be looked upon unfavourably if you had them on your C.V. For Big 4 specifically, if you applied there with a degree from a university that isn't high on those league tables, then I don't think they would look down on your application negatively. It may affect your chances in some ways if they have a large pool of candidates who have degrees from more reputable universities but you can probably nullify this if you have some solid work experience. Ultimately if you do well in the interview stages and in their assessments, they will give you the job. To get an ACA contract as long as you get a 2.1 in your degree (although I know some companies do accept 2.2's), then you should be okay. Aim for a 2.1 to keep the most doors open but if you get a 1st then obviously that stands out even more.

In terms of your maths exam, try to get the best mark you can (I am assuming this is A-level) because from what I remember Big 4 look at your UCAS points as well as your degree grade (it doesn't matter what subject your degree is in). Non-Big 4 ACA trainee schemes will also look at your UCAS points.

Getting relevant experience during university will help too. So go through the universities you've mentioned and see if you can do a placement year and then try to get yourself a role in a finance department to help your C.V stand out more, plus it's a chance to learn more about the type of work accountants do. Also, if you do really well where you work, they may send you to the final stage of a graduate scheme interview, or even better maybe offer you a job. Alternatively, you can always look for summer internships instead if you do not want to do an industrial placement. Either way I would encourage you to do get some experience when you have significant breaks at university i.e Summer holidays.

Like @ajj2000 mentioned above, Nottingham/Manchester university does a flying start programme with PwC. Worth looking into. You do your ACA exams, get a degree and some solid work experience with PwC over the course of 4 years. Think after you finish your degree it will mean you've got lots of experience and only have a couple exams left.
Yep, CAG’s didn’t pan out well for my Maths grade 😅😂 so hopefully I’ll do well next month and then apply in December. In your opinion, do u reckon it’s worth going to a uni with a placement year, or just getting a summer internship ? Because on paper, A Summer Internship definitely seems to have more pro’s; Don’t waste a whole year and in some cases you’re still guaranteed a job at the end of it, and, even if ur not, you’ve still got a whole Summer’s worth of experience under your belt, which would look good on ur CV. Unless I’m missing out on key facts (which I may well be lol), a summer internship just seems like a no brained when compared to a placement year.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by Madman11)
PWC linked ? Does that mean u get a guaranteed placement year there ? The reason I’m looking at A and F instead of just Accounting is because my primary goal (as with many I’m sure) is Investment Banking, and although no specific degree is required, I feel the Finance side in A and F degree would definitely help me out. However, I do understand how difficult it is, which is why I’ve been looking at Chartered accountancy as well - incase my initial plan doesn’t work out and I’m left with no plan B.
For the Flying Start degree with PWC (there are threads about it on this forum) you take a degree over 4 years, with 3 periods of working with PWC for 3 months or do. Then when you have passed your degree you join them and spend about another year or so to qualify. Its far more linked to completing ACA than most degrees, and you get a load of experience at the same time.
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K1NE
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(Original post by Madman11)
Yep, CAG’s didn’t pan out well for my Maths grade 😅😂 so hopefully I’ll do well next month and then apply in December. In your opinion, do u reckon it’s worth going to a uni with a placement year, or just getting a summer internship ? Because on paper, A Summer Internship definitely seems to have more pro’s; Don’t waste a whole year and in some cases you’re still guaranteed a job at the end of it, and, even if ur not, you’ve still got a whole Summer’s worth of experience under your belt, which would look good on ur CV. Unless I’m missing out on key facts (which I may well be lol), a summer internship just seems like a no brained when compared to a placement year.
Oh okay, well good luck for your maths exam ! I'm sure you will do well.

When I was applying to university, I used to think placements years were a waste of time but as I've started working, I clearly realised I was wrong. Placements give you more to talk about on your C.V in interviews and will help you stand out more as you've had some actual real work experience, as opposed to giving examples of university group projects, which is still credible but not the same as saying you did something in an actual full time job etc...Also, If you did a placement year at Big 4 or any other company, you're most likely to be doing what a first year trainee will be doing. Employers value experience a lot. It goes to show that you know what you're getting yourself in for. For accounting roles, employers are making an investment in you to get your ACA and can cost maybe £15,000 per trainee. They wouldn't want hire someone just to find out half way through their training contract they realise it's not for them and they leave. This does happen.

I know some people who did placement years at a Big 4 and they were funded to do their ACA exams that year too by the respective Big 4 company they worked for. So they pretty much got around 9 months of experience but also got quite a few exams done as well (I think around 7/8 exams out of the 15 exams). Even if you didn't do a placement at a Big 4 and did it somewhere else in finance, there are a lot of practical skills you can get and general accounting skills that will also help in your studies. So I wouldn't think placements are a waste of time. Summer internships do add a lot of value too. There's pros and cons to both. If you did a summer placement it's less experience you're getting but it's less of a commitment too in comparison to a industrial placement. You can go back to university and continue with your cohort and you can still talk about your summer internship experience in interviews after you graduate and it will be valued by interviewers. The only real difference is that placements are longer and therefore gives you more time to learn and more time to network and build relationships in that company if you wanted to come back and secure a job. This however also means it takes longer to finish your degree because as you said it's a year you're taking out.
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