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Is Big Four ACA just too common?

#1 Is Big Four ACA just too common?
11/04/2011 09:54


Are Big Four ACA qualifieds just too common? Before I joined one of them on the grad scheme, the recruiters made it sound like the world is literally your oyster if you go into it with Big Four experience and the ACA in your BB holster.

But is it really that easy? Can you just waltz into any job you wish? (consulting, equity research)? I dont want to end up in a finance role in 'industry', doing reconciliations all day.....

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#2 RE: Is Big Four ACA just too common?
11/04/2011 10:36

Mr Cool to BigFourDisilluionee (#1)

It's not "too common", but its perhaps similar to an Oxbridge degree of an MBA from a top ten B-school. I don't mean they are the same level of academic award, or interchangeable, but they are all "serious" CV enancers. No certificate will allow you to walk into any job these days, but conversely there are certain firms that will be closed to you unless you have certain qualifications.

It is very unlikely to turn out to be a waste of time, but what you do/achieve with it depends on your perfromance and attitude once you have it. Can't rest on your laurels...

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#3 RE: Is Big Four ACA just too common?
11/04/2011 13:36

Mars A Day to BigFourDisilluionee (#1)

I second waht Mr Cool has told you OP.

And what makes you think they are too common by the way? 4 Firms, one ACA qualification per person (discounting those not doing ACA) and you dont have a big pool of people anyway. As Mr Cool has said, it's what you do next that will really count. A few years ago IB would have been a closed shop for you except maybe product control with FO looking down on you (as MO). And guess what? good ACAs with a proven calibre (take it as read Big 4 provides this assurance) are like hen's teeth. The product controllers are being chased and courted and all those average Joes with average PnL in the FO are being given tarted up deferred bonuses or zeros. Consulting too - the demand for qualifieds from Big 4 is hotting up especially across risk management, so if you get some internal audit or controls experience under your belt you will have a raft of options. And so it goes on.

The world won't be your oyster - it's not for anyone. But you will be in demand, and surely if the recession has taught us nothing about global economics it has taught us its nice to be wanted?

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#4 RE: Is Big Four ACA just too common?
11/04/2011 13:39

Mars A Day to BigFourDisilluionee (#1)

One other thing OP. Don't fret about your next career step just yet. If you haven't yet qualfied focus entirely and single mindedly on first time passes.

The rest will fall into place.

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#5 RE: Is Big Four ACA just too common?
11/04/2011 19:21

Ned Flanders to Mars A Day (#4)


I second all comments above, especially the lateral use of the qualification and to focus your attention on passing - you'll get very frustrated if you start thinking too much about your next step.

The new syllabus was introduced 3/4 years ago with a few major changes: more international focus, more business focus and much harder to pass.

The Big4 have become even more cut throat in firing grads who fail an exam (with different thresholds) - even if they are smart candidates or good performers at work (the stats of grads starting and grads finishing are quite an eye opener...)

This has made it an even more competitive qualification, and if you wanted to use it as "leverage" it will be well respected in financial and business circles.

It certainly isn't a golden ticket to anything, nothing much is. But it will give you a very solid backbone to finance/business, and capable of cutting through a lot of chat that many people peddle as financial insight...

Final note, a lot of ACAs have gone on to do all sorts of things from VC work, hedge funds management or interesting roles in industry (no reconciliations!) so I'd certainly recommend it.

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#6 RE: Is Big Four ACA just too common?
11/04/2011 19:49

CIMA to Ned Flanders (#5)

A lot of blue chip MNCs look for qualified accountants for strategic planning or corporate development roles, with ACAs prob having an advantage over ppl, like myself, with CIMA/ACCA.

If you can get a strategic role in an industry you are interested in, you're laughing (depending on your interests, of course).

If you managed to move internally into TAS or M&A, assuming you've started in Audit, you're chances of moving into a role like this would quadruple.

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