I was in a similar position to you, so there are a few things that I would say. Like you I was told at my first interview that the April start was a possibility, but at the time was planning to go travelling if and when I secured a job. I was eventually offered the job, and have now decided to change my plans and start work next month. I had been considering the issue for a week, and finally made the decision today. I had quite a long conversation with a recruitment officer this afternoon, so the issues are still fresh in my mind.
I have to say that the main reason for the switch was my personal finances: in the end I worked out that travelling would work out as too expensive, and that I wouldn’t be able to earn enough in a short enough space of time to make a trip worthwhile. Saddling myself with a loan was unappealing, and in the end unrealistic (unsecured personal loans for travelling are not so hot with banks right now). My decision was made in part by circumstances.
On the other hand there are a few factors that may impact on your experience. The first one is that you’re limited in your choice of divisions: the reason they’re desperate for people to start in April is that their Banking and Capital Markets (BCM) division is understaffed due to all the administration work they have on at the moment. There’re no other oppotunities on the table, so you need to weigh up whether you want to go into BCM.
Personally I think it’ll be an interesting division for the next few years, but you might not… That’s an argument to do with your overall business acumen, and what you want from the job. On top of this the hours in BCM are long when things are busy, and there is less variety than in the Top (LTT) and Middle (LMT) divisions. That said, though, if you want top tier you need to remember that it’s massively competitive, and I was told that because my application was relatively late in the cycle I probably wouldn’t get into LTT in September.
In terms of ACA and studying, the recruitment officer I spoke to said she thought April starters were better placed for performance in their exams. The structure of the cycle is exactly the same so you would be sitting exams within the first month of starting there. The difference is that when you start in September your exams get going right in the middle of busy season (the few months around Christmas) which makes it harder to focus on the task in hand. By contrast April starters get going on theirs during the summer, when things are a bit more chilled out.
The places in PwC are apparently filling up quickly. They’re now in the process of closing off their September recruitment, but if you’re now through to an Assessment centre you should be OK: I was told the decisions made at that stage are not made according to supply and demand but on merit (although I took this with a pinch of salt - at some point they surely have to be…). That said if you’re good enough they’ll make the decision on the basis of your merit, and try to fit you in where possible.
I don’t think there’s a huge amount in it, you pretty much end up doing the same thing. Most of my circumstances pointed towards the decision I made, which made my choice easier. Ultimately I don’t think your should worry about affecting your chances of getting in, and more on what your circumstances are at the moment. I’m doing a shit job, not earning enough to fund my travels and have been itching to get stuck in; you might feel that you need to blow out for a few months before committing to three years of pretty hard work.
Either way I hope the information above is useful, let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.