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big four audit - what next

Hi

I have just finished a placement year in Audit at one of the Big Four. I have always been unsure of what I want to do and although I didn't hate audit, I doubt it's something I want to do forever, and I am not sure either whether finance in general is something I will stay in.

For these reasons, I am not sure whether to return to the job next year (I have been offered a graduate job).

Pros of returning: I like the company, I know what to expect out of the job, I know what the colleagues and teams are like. People always say how valuable the ACA, especially from Big Four is. And how you can "do anything" with it? How true is this- what could I go into after the ACA?

Cons of returning: the job was quite dull (but as I said I liked my teams, which made it bearable and overall I had a very positive year) and the ACA is obviously stressful at times. I am not sure whether I want to go through that stress if I will end up outside of finance?

Also, my degree is not in a relevant discipline at all. It is not business/ finance/ economics/ management or anything related. I don't know if this will hold me back with career progression in the future.

My question is- is it worth going back to my job to finish the ACA? I have about a year left of exams and several more months to become time qualified. I am not ruling out working in finance in the future, but I am very unsure about what I would like to go into. Do you think I'd need a masters in business etc. for good finance career progression? Having looked at various senior roles out of interest online, some of them do seem to specify a business/ finance degree and I wonder if this will be even more common in the future.

Various other areas I'm insterested in include public health, health strategy, general management, business, banking, consulting/ business analysis.

So basically my question is, is the ACA useful in various industries? Seeing as I'm not 100% set on a career path, would it be best to go back. Would there be opportunities for me to branch out later? Or will I be stuck in audit?

Thank you!
Just to check - how many exams do you have left and which ones? If you sign a contract how long do you have to stay and how long until time qualified?

What is your degree subject by the way?
Wow, big 4.
Original post by ajj2000
Just to check - how many exams do you have left and which ones? If you sign a contract how long do you have to stay and how long until time qualified?

What is your degree subject by the way?

Hi thanks for your reply.
I have 8 exams left. I have completed certificate level (except one exam). I have completed FAR and AA, but have the remaining professional level and advanced level exams left.
My degree is in Biomedical Science.

I don't believe you have to stay, I know people who have left part way through the ACA. I am not entirely sure how long it takes to become time qualified- I think it will be under 2 years from when I go back. So really after graduation, all the exams and hours should be completed within 2 years.
Original post by toxicgamage56
Wow, big 4.


What does this mean?
Original post by Elise1234567
What does this mean?

Bruh, I wrote 2 words and a number. Not a morse code message.
Original post by Elise1234567
Hi thanks for your reply.
I have 8 exams left. I have completed certificate level (except one exam). I have completed FAR and AA, but have the remaining professional level and advanced level exams left.
My degree is in Biomedical Science.

I don't believe you have to stay, I know people who have left part way through the ACA. I am not entirely sure how long it takes to become time qualified- I think it will be under 2 years from when I go back. So really after graduation, all the exams and hours should be completed within 2 years.


I think it being only 2 years and not having to sit all the exams makes a load of difference! Looking at your initial post, the sorts of fields you might be interested in and the fact you are not fixed on any of them completing ACA would have some benefits. Notably you have a big name on your CV and a valuable qualification. The downsides are that there are lots of exams to sit and the job can be frustrating, especially so if you don't have a clear objective once you've qualified.

I think if unsure of what you want to do in the future the big accounting route is pretty good for opening doors and keeping options open.

Just to pick up on some of your original post:

Also, my degree is not in a relevant discipline at all. It is not business/ finance/ economics/ management or anything related. I don't know if this will hold me back with career progression in the future.

It won't make any difference at all to your career progression. I don't think most business or management degrees at undergrad level are of any value once you've completed ACA. Likewise finance degrees at most English universities (LSE may be an exception). Economics at a big name university might add something, but more for the data analysis and statistical skills than anything else. If anything mathematical STEM degrees and language courses are of much more added value.

Do you think I'd need a masters in business etc. for good finance career progression?

No - I've never heard of anyone doing one or recommending anyone to do one. MBAs on the other hand can be very valuable.

Having looked at various senior roles out of interest online, some of them do seem to specify a business/ finance degree and I wonder if this will be even more common in the future.

I'm a bit surprised. I've very rarely seen that as a requirement. Could you post some links to clarify? In any case if you do think you need a masters you could look at the UCL Applied Accounting distance learning course which is relatively cheap and doesn't look excessively onerous.

You certainly wouldn't be stuck in audit. There are lots of other routes one can take. My guess is that its quite a small minority of people who train in audit who still work in audit 7 years after starting.

@MindMax2000 , @Fehzan Mehdi - any thoughts?
Original post by Elise1234567
Hi

I have just finished a placement year in Audit at one of the Big Four. I have always been unsure of what I want to do and although I didn't hate audit, I doubt it's something I want to do forever, and I am not sure either whether finance in general is something I will stay in.

For these reasons, I am not sure whether to return to the job next year (I have been offered a graduate job).

Pros of returning: I like the company, I know what to expect out of the job, I know what the colleagues and teams are like. People always say how valuable the ACA, especially from Big Four is. And how you can "do anything" with it? How true is this- what could I go into after the ACA?

Cons of returning: the job was quite dull (but as I said I liked my teams, which made it bearable and overall I had a very positive year) and the ACA is obviously stressful at times. I am not sure whether I want to go through that stress if I will end up outside of finance?

Also, my degree is not in a relevant discipline at all. It is not business/ finance/ economics/ management or anything related. I don't know if this will hold me back with career progression in the future.

My question is- is it worth going back to my job to finish the ACA? I have about a year left of exams and several more months to become time qualified. I am not ruling out working in finance in the future, but I am very unsure about what I would like to go into. Do you think I'd need a masters in business etc. for good finance career progression? Having looked at various senior roles out of interest online, some of them do seem to specify a business/ finance degree and I wonder if this will be even more common in the future.

Various other areas I'm insterested in include public health, health strategy, general management, business, banking, consulting/ business analysis.

So basically my question is, is the ACA useful in various industries? Seeing as I'm not 100% set on a career path, would it be best to go back. Would there be opportunities for me to branch out later? Or will I be stuck in audit?

Thank you!


Original post by ajj2000
I think it being only 2 years and not having to sit all the exams makes a load of difference! Looking at your initial post, the sorts of fields you might be interested in and the fact you are not fixed on any of them completing ACA would have some benefits. Notably you have a big name on your CV and a valuable qualification. The downsides are that there are lots of exams to sit and the job can be frustrating, especially so if you don't have a clear objective once you've qualified.

I think if unsure of what you want to do in the future the big accounting route is pretty good for opening doors and keeping options open.

Just to pick up on some of your original post:

Also, my degree is not in a relevant discipline at all. It is not business/ finance/ economics/ management or anything related. I don't know if this will hold me back with career progression in the future.

It won't make any difference at all to your career progression. I don't think most business or management degrees at undergrad level are of any value once you've completed ACA. Likewise finance degrees at most English universities (LSE may be an exception). Economics at a big name university might add something, but more for the data analysis and statistical skills than anything else. If anything mathematical STEM degrees and language courses are of much more added value.

Do you think I'd need a masters in business etc. for good finance career progression?

No - I've never heard of anyone doing one or recommending anyone to do one. MBAs on the other hand can be very valuable.

Having looked at various senior roles out of interest online, some of them do seem to specify a business/ finance degree and I wonder if this will be even more common in the future.

I'm a bit surprised. I've very rarely seen that as a requirement. Could you post some links to clarify? In any case if you do think you need a masters you could look at the UCL Applied Accounting distance learning course which is relatively cheap and doesn't look excessively onerous.

You certainly wouldn't be stuck in audit. There are lots of other routes one can take. My guess is that its quite a small minority of people who train in audit who still work in audit 7 years after starting.

@MindMax2000 , @Fehzan Mehdi - any thoughts?

@ajj2000 Thanks for the mention.
@Elise1234567, I agree with AJJ in a number of areas:

Your undergrad degree has very little relevance in terms of what job you get in business and finance. Like accounting, it significantly makes more sense to have the appropriate professional qualification because they you are legally able to do the job; the degree alone usually doesn't cut it.
Public health on the other hand require specific degrees in healthcare, but saying wanting to work in public health is like saying you want a job that involves maths; it's incredibly broad and there are a variety of ways to get into the sector, depending on which specific role that you want.

I have never seen the need for a master's in business for any specific role. In particular, I have never seen a single job posting asking for a MSc, MA, or MBA in business related disciplines. The only time when I have is for applications for DBAs.
Don't get me wrong though, the information in the business degrees are valuable - you learn a lot about business (at least the theoretical side of things), but employers don't really care about theory as much as they do about application and experience. If you want to set up your own business, the master's will provide you with the theoretical knowledge (not for stuff like how to register a business, how to do VAT returns, what's the most effective means of marketing, etc.), but I would say you could easily get the relevant information and material outside of academia.

No, you won't be stuck in audit should you choose not to go into it with ACA. You can do: tax, payroll, accounting/bookkeeping, business valuations, corporate finance. See the following to see what you can do in the UK: https://www.handbook.fca.org.uk/handbook/TC/App/4/1.html
If you search by "Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales", you will find that the services that you can provide come under 8(1),
15, 16, 17, 18, 19 (4). This means you can give "personal recommendations on investments in the course of corporate finance business" fully, but only partially help with "overseeing on a day to day basis operating a collective investment scheme or undertaking activities of a trustee or depositary of a collective investment scheme", "Overseeing on a day to day basis safeguarding and administering investments or holding client money", "Overseeing on a day to day basis administrative functions in relation to managing investments: (i) arranging settlement; (ii) monitoring and processing corporate actions; (iii) client account administration, liaison and reporting including valuation and performance measurement; (iv) ISA or CTF administration; (v) investment trust savings scheme administration", "Overseeing on a day to day basis administrative functions in relation to effecting or carrying out contracts of insurance which are life policies: (i) new business administration; (ii) policy alterations including surrenders and policy loans; (iii) preparing projections; (iv) processing claims, including pension payments; (v) fund switching." So yeah, quite a bit in terms of investments.
If you want the full list, ICAEW can give you an idea: https://careers.icaew.com/why-a-career-in-chartered-accountancy/the-work-you-can-do
Circle Square says you can "work in the fields of corporate finance, business recovery and insolvency, audit and assurance, financial management, forensic accounting, tax or information technology." (https://www.circlesquare.co.uk/aca-careers-career-options)
Worse case scenario, you become a CFO in any industry or work in your own accounting practice.
ACA would come in handy in general management, business, some areas of banking, and business consulting,
If you want to go into business analysis, you would be looking at a separate qualification, because ACA contains virtually nothing in terms of programming and I don't think it has that much in terms of statistical analysis. Whilst there is no legal requirement to hold any specific qualification to go into business analysis, you might benefit with the appropriate training or professional certification: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/business-analyst, https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/admin-hr-legal/job-profile/business-analyst (my preference is to do the IIBA)
Like ACCA, ACA is recognised in a number of countries, so you can work abroad should you wish. See the following: https://www.icaew.com/membership/support-throughout-your-career/working-internationally, https://www.icaew.com/about-icaew/who-we-are/who-we-work-with/accountancy-bodies/global-accounting-alliance
Having said that, if you're working for one of the Big 4, they should have international offices and you shouldn't have that much problem transferring.

If there are specific roles in banking and finance that you want to look into, you will need a specific qualification. Let me know if you want me to look into it for you. If you want to work in public health, you would need to be specific about what you want to do.
(edited 1 year ago)
Hi - I trained at one of the big 4 in audit and am ACA qualified.

Yes, it is true it opens an awful lot of doors. I had a lot of ups and downs in audit and decided it just wasn’t a career I could do long term (I had no social life as I was getting more senior and unfortunately worked with a few managers that just expected you to work 24/7).

As soon as I qualified I got in touch with 3 recruiters and within 2 weeks I had 2 job offers. I genuinely could not believe just how fast it all happened. But big 4 ACA auditors are highly desirable. I now work as a Group accountant at a FTSE 100 company and you can see why we are so desired. The amount of exposure you get in audit at the big 4 is unmatched. You don’t realise how much you’ve learnt in such a short amount of time and it teaches you so many skills that have universal appeal.

Just to list what some of the people in my year at the big 4 did after qualifying:

Group Accountant/Financial Accountant
Corporate Finance
Data & Analytics
Forensics
ESG
Internal Audit
Investment Banking
Private Equity Research
FP&A
Treasury Accountant
Finance Analyst
Finance Business Partner
Consultancy

I’m sure there are many other roles you could do!

I wouldn’t worry about doing a masters degree tbh. It’s extremely rare that anyone cares about masters degrees in the world of accounting. I’m sure there are a few places that do, but honestly it’s so rare :smile:
Original post by MarkJohnson97
Hi - I trained at one of the big 4 in audit and am ACA qualified.

Yes, it is true it opens an awful lot of doors. I had a lot of ups and downs in audit and decided it just wasn’t a career I could do long term (I had no social life as I was getting more senior and unfortunately worked with a few managers that just expected you to work 24/7).

As soon as I qualified I got in touch with 3 recruiters and within 2 weeks I had 2 job offers. I genuinely could not believe just how fast it all happened. But big 4 ACA auditors are highly desirable. I now work as a Group accountant at a FTSE 100 company and you can see why we are so desired. The amount of exposure you get in audit at the big 4 is unmatched. You don’t realise how much you’ve learnt in such a short amount of time and it teaches you so many skills that have universal appeal.

Just to list what some of the people in my year at the big 4 did after qualifying:

Group Accountant/Financial Accountant
Corporate Finance
Data & Analytics
Forensics
ESG
Internal Audit
Investment Banking
Private Equity Research
FP&A
Treasury Accountant
Finance Analyst
Finance Business Partner
Consultancy

I’m sure there are many other roles you could do!

I wouldn’t worry about doing a masters degree tbh. It’s extremely rare that anyone cares about masters degrees in the world of accounting. I’m sure there are a few places that do, but honestly it’s so rare :smile:


Just out of interest, how would an ACA would allow you to go into data and analytics?
Original post by MindMax2000
Just out of interest, how would an ACA would allow you to go into data and analytics?

A good chunk of audits at the big 4 now use some sort of data and analytics, whether it’s revenue or journals testing. They have whole departments dedicated to D&A. A lot of people second into D&A after audit and it certainly helps being a chartered accountant to understand what exactly the data is and how it all works as trust me some of the data you get from massive clients is extremely complex!
Original post by MarkJohnson97
A good chunk of audits at the big 4 now use some sort of data and analytics, whether it’s revenue or journals testing. They have whole departments dedicated to D&A. A lot of people second into D&A after audit and it certainly helps being a chartered accountant to understand what exactly the data is and how it all works as trust me some of the data you get from massive clients is extremely complex!

Oh I see. Thanks for that Mark.
Original post by ajj2000
I think it being only 2 years and not having to sit all the exams makes a load of difference! Looking at your initial post, the sorts of fields you might be interested in and the fact you are not fixed on any of them completing ACA would have some benefits. Notably you have a big name on your CV and a valuable qualification. The downsides are that there are lots of exams to sit and the job can be frustrating, especially so if you don't have a clear objective once you've qualified.

I think if unsure of what you want to do in the future the big accounting route is pretty good for opening doors and keeping options open.

Just to pick up on some of your original post:

Also, my degree is not in a relevant discipline at all. It is not business/ finance/ economics/ management or anything related. I don't know if this will hold me back with career progression in the future.

It won't make any difference at all to your career progression. I don't think most business or management degrees at undergrad level are of any value once you've completed ACA. Likewise finance degrees at most English universities (LSE may be an exception). Economics at a big name university might add something, but more for the data analysis and statistical skills than anything else. If anything mathematical STEM degrees and language courses are of much more added value.

Do you think I'd need a masters in business etc. for good finance career progression?

No - I've never heard of anyone doing one or recommending anyone to do one. MBAs on the other hand can be very valuable.

Having looked at various senior roles out of interest online, some of them do seem to specify a business/ finance degree and I wonder if this will be even more common in the future.

I'm a bit surprised. I've very rarely seen that as a requirement. Could you post some links to clarify? In any case if you do think you need a masters you could look at the UCL Applied Accounting distance learning course which is relatively cheap and doesn't look excessively onerous.

You certainly wouldn't be stuck in audit. There are lots of other routes one can take. My guess is that its quite a small minority of people who train in audit who still work in audit 7 years after starting.

@MindMax2000 , @Fehzan Mehdi - any thoughts?


Hi,

Thank you everyone for your detailed and insightful responses! I really appreciate it.

Yes, I agree that it's rare to see a finance degree specified but I have seen a few, for example this is one linked, and I've seen a few other similar ones. Obviously it isn't a huge deal at the moment because it is a minority of them which specify this, but I'm more just concerned they might be more picky about degrees in the future, when I'm more senior, as there will be more graduates to choose from, seeing as so many people have a degree these days.

https://www.google.com/search?q=business+finance+analyst+jobs&ei=uipsY4iNOP387_UPgP-cuAw&uact=5&oq=business+finance+analyst+jobs&gs_lcp=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&sclient=gws-wiz-serp&ibp=htl;jobs&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiPlojflaL7AhUx_rsIHTRLA98Qkd0GegQIDRAB#fpstate=tldetail&htivrt=jobs&htiq=business+finance+analyst+jobs&htidocid=szXqZAXJ3P4AAAAAAAAAAA%3D%3D
Original post by MarkJohnson97
Hi - I trained at one of the big 4 in audit and am ACA qualified.

Yes, it is true it opens an awful lot of doors. I had a lot of ups and downs in audit and decided it just wasn’t a career I could do long term (I had no social life as I was getting more senior and unfortunately worked with a few managers that just expected you to work 24/7).

As soon as I qualified I got in touch with 3 recruiters and within 2 weeks I had 2 job offers. I genuinely could not believe just how fast it all happened. But big 4 ACA auditors are highly desirable. I now work as a Group accountant at a FTSE 100 company and you can see why we are so desired. The amount of exposure you get in audit at the big 4 is unmatched. You don’t realise how much you’ve learnt in such a short amount of time and it teaches you so many skills that have universal appeal.

Just to list what some of the people in my year at the big 4 did after qualifying:

Group Accountant/Financial Accountant
Corporate Finance
Data & Analytics
Forensics
ESG
Internal Audit
Investment Banking
Private Equity Research
FP&A
Treasury Accountant
Finance Analyst
Finance Business Partner
Consultancy

I’m sure there are many other roles you could do!

I wouldn’t worry about doing a masters degree tbh. It’s extremely rare that anyone cares about masters degrees in the world of accounting. I’m sure there are a few places that do, but honestly it’s so rare :smile:


Hi, could you recommend some recruiters and where to find them pls?

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