Which Accountancy Firm has the Best Graduate Jobs?
Most graduates on a job hunt know well enough to make “research, research, and research” their employment mantra, finding out what they can about the commercial goals and growth of the company, their products and services, their working culture, as well as the general development of the industry.
However, many graduates often slip up is making their research far too employer-centric. This means that they end up spending too much time thinking about whether they are right for the employer, whether they have the necessary qualifications, or whether they can really contribute anything to the firm.
While these are certainly important factors to consider, trying too hard to impress recruiters with what you have to offer isn’t necessarily going to land you the job. Rather, you’ll have a huge advantage in the selection process if you can demonstrate that you are not just “right” for the firm, but that the firm is genuinely right for you!
Spend some time considering these following matters before you settle on your choice:
The size of the firm
It’s safe to say that most graduate accountants will, at some point or another,try to find employment with the Big Four: Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC; the four globalkey players and the most well-known employers within the international accountancy sector.
Their intakes are very popular with interns and graduates; if you’re interested in working with them, you need to start preparing your application early.
However, apart from the Big Four, Singapore’s accountancy industry is also vastly populated by other robustly-growing small and medium-sized practices (SMPs) such as BDO, RSM Chio Lim, Foo Kon Tan Grant Thornton LLP, and PKF-CAP.
Don’t be taken in by the stereotype that bigger always equals better! Different-sized firms will offer varying forms of benefits and compensation, so you need to first determine what kind of benefits that you can or cannot negotiate.
Generally, working with a smaller firm gives you the opportunity to gain a wider range of experience, as you will be asked to assist in a variety of tasks and duties – not necessarily confined to only your job description. By contrast, a large global firm may offer you more opportunity to travel overseas.
Consider also if you want to work in the public or the private sector. Just as how size will affect the kind of benefits that you get as an employee, the type of sector that you work in will also influence your remuneration, the type of exposure that you’ll get, and your working environment.
Be sure to ask plenty of questions during the job interview about company culture and the type of people you’ll be working with, as well! It’s important to genuinely be able to like your co-workers and superiors if you want to succeed in your new workplace – especially since a large portion of accountancy work requires you to work in teams.
One of the most important criteria that you should consider while applying for employment is the training and development programmes that your potential employers are offering. Gaining the necessary professional qualifications and fundamental skill sets during your first few years as an accountant is of utmost importance, as these will determine your work excellence, and subsequently, your career advancement.
Find out how much the hiring firm is willing to invest in their employees’ education.Some firms are willing to pay all your exam and tuition fees as you work towards chartered accountant qualifications.Othersmay only choose to offer partial funding support, but may compensate by granting you a significant period of study leave during exam periods.
Aside from external qualification exams, check out any on-the-job training programmes that the firm offers as well.Find out if you will get chances to pick up specific skill sets that you may be hoping to acquire, should you decide to work with this particular firm.
While larger accountancy firms tend to have the resources to offer more appealing training packages, the trade-off is that they may have higher expectations in terms of your exam results and how quickly they expect you to qualify! Most will also require you to be bonded to the company for a certain period of time.
In contrast, smaller firms may not be able to offer such attractive education benefits, but may make up for byoffering you greater flexibility with regards to tailoring your study programmesor acquiringactual industry experience to supplement your theoretical knowledge. It all depends on what you’re willing to commit yourself to!
Job fulfilment can be a rather vague notion as different people will describe the idea differently. In general, though, a fulfilling career will allow you to not only perform work that you enjoy and are good at, but will also encourage you to make positive contributions to other people – whether internally (in the office), or externally (amongst your clients and customers).
In addition to that, a fulfilling career will never let you be stagnant at a certain professional level for too long. You should be expected to grow and take on more responsibilities in the long run.
Your research into a firm’s background should give you a rough idea of the sense of job fulfilment at the company. Make it a point to speak to or network with people from a variety of firms when you get the opportunity to go to career fairs and employer presentations. This will give you a better insight into their working life, as well as the satisfaction that they derive from their jobs at their respective firms.
You could also consider drawing up a list of important benefits that are essential to you, such as the continuing education prospects, career advancement opportunities, and travel opportunities offered.Then, do the necessary research to find out more about how well each firm addresses these criteria.
Alternatively, you could also ask your interviewer during interviews. Use this as your checklist or yardstick to determine how interested you are in working with the firm over the long term.
Other questions to think about
- What sort of work do I want to do?
- Also, what kind of workload am I willing to put up with?
- What sort of clients do I want to/am I willing to work with?
- Do I want more exposure dealing with clients from a specific industry over others?
- Am I looking to specialise in a particular branch of accountancy, or do I prefer something more general where I can experience more lines of work but less intensively?
- Am I able to integrate myself with the working culture of the firm?
- What is my ultimate career objective, and can working with this firm help me fulfil it?
(With thanks to Richard Irwin, senior recruitment manager at PwC, and Richard Evans, associate director of Grant Thornton, for their help on this article.)