BDO graduate scheme 2017



Hi Guys,

I was wondering whether anybody had heard recently of any assessment centre dates coming up? I was told I passed the video interview a month ago now and I’ve still heard nothing back about dates for the AC. Has anyone had a similar experience?


I have an assessment centre in london on 15th June for FS Audit, anyone else? Also can someone tell me exactly what we do in FS Audit as I was transferred to this role without warning.


Hi everyone. I was recently offered a place on the BDO Corporate M and A tax Graduate scheme in London. The information on this forum was really useful in helping me land the job :slight_smile: I am currently deciding between BDO and another offer I have at the big four and I was wondering whether anyone could tell me what the Graduate scheme at BDO would be like? (Specifically about corporate M and A tax).

I know BDO has a kind of crappy reputation in the U.K. and is not anywhere as prestigious as the big 4 (I only applied as a fallback). What I need to know is first hand experience of what it is like.


Hi Nix, I’m currently on the BDO graduate program for audit in my second year. I would recommend all the graduate programs that BDO offers apart from Corporate M&A tax. I have firsthand experience of knowing people who joined the program and absolutely hated it.

The dropout rate for M&A corporate tax is the largest by far of any stream that I know of. Of the people who started the program in London with me in 2015, only around 30% are still there after two years. The program itself is brutal and it’s referred to as the service line where “fun goes to die” mainly because of the amount of work AND studying you are doing is horrendous and can be very tedious at times. You can expect to have no social life in the first and second years and I have heard it’s even worse in the third year. The pay isn’t great either; Strategy/Management consultants get paid £3k-£4k pa more at BDO and have a much better work/life balance with more interesting work.

If you have another offer from the Big Four I would strongly advise you to take it. Because of the global nature of Tax, your future career prospects in Tax are far better coming from a big four background and are pretty useless at BDO unless you get involved with the global deals that happen (they are very hard to come by, and only the best people get selected to work on them).

I strongly recommend you research the role you have applied to thoroughly and have no doubts in your head that you want to sacrifice three years of your life to do tax 7 days a week to do this. If you drop out either because it isn’t for you or because you failed an exam, it will be incredibly difficult to get into another accounting firm (nearly all accounting firms won’t take a part qualified accountant who has failed an exam) and it will reflect badly if you want to go down another career path.

Alternatively, it is possible to change your service line post offer (maybe to audit!) if you ring up HR and explain that you have reconsidered. They will most likely try to convince you to stay in tax, but switching lines is almost impossible at BDO after the two months.


Hello Nix! So actually I have never heard of Corporate M&A Tax, but I think it’s just called M&A Tax internally at BDO. Since I also am on the Graduate Scheme for Indirect Tax I can tell you a little about what everything is really like here at BDO.

I agree with everything that James has said, although I would not phrase it as badly as his reply. The dropout rate for M&A tax is phenomenally bad, even amongst normal accounting standards and actually, I would not recommend it to anyone because the work you will be doing is tedious, boring, completely useless and soul crushing but it never stops because when you get home from BDO you have to do more work studying towards two accounting qualifications (ACA and CTA).

HR know there is a big problem with this program at the moment it’s important we should be honest with you about how much extra crap you will have to go through over three years for actually very little gain. I’m lucky myself to be in a tax service line I really enjoy and I have a good work life balance in Indirect Tax but M&A Tax is completely different. The hours are much longer; you are expected to do lots of tedious administration work and you have very little (if any) exposure to actual M&A deals if you even qualify (most people quit after the first year). If you are from a legal background you might enjoy it a bit more, since most of your work will be going through books and books to find the right passage for the partner to read. After the three years are up you do not have any actual accounting, M&A or real tax experience so your prospects of going into another career are limited.

If you know you have applied for three years of absolute hell and no social life then accept the BDO offer. If not, you can always change very easily into another Tax service line at BDO (provided you ring HR up before you accept the offer and ask to be changed). One of my colleagues swapped from Audit to Indirect Tax so I know it’s possible, you just have to keep ringing up HR and asking to be changed. Once you start work in your service line it is much harder to change as resources at BDO are very limited.

(Sorry if my response is quite long, we had a chat at BDO today about this forum and I wanted to give you the firsthand view of what it is really like, not what HR sell you)


Hi Laura and James, thanks for your honesty. I originally applied to Corporate Tax but after passing my assessment centre, HR called me an informed me they’d like to swap me to Indirect Tax. I was disappointed for a very brief period of time, but I like the move they made now, especially after reading your comments. I have three questions though: 1) When my contract arrived, it said I would be part of the Business Tax department, is that part of Indirect Tax? 2) Can someone on the graduate scheme leave after just a year or two? And do you personally know anyone who has? 3) How many exams did you do in your first year at Indirect Tax? And it’s only CTA, not ACA/CTA, right? Thanks!!!


Thanks for the honesty Laura and James! I had heard from others that the corporate M&A tax program was nasty but it’s good to have it confirmed. I think I will go for my big four offer instead.

Do you think there is any harm in accepting both job offers and then telling HR At BDO i am not coming a week or two before I am due to start?


Hi Dollar Baby,

Wow lots of questions!

I’m not sure of the business tax thing – Laura is probably better placed to answer that, but at a guess I would say that indirect tax is part of business tax. I don’t think it means much for your role – it will still be in indirect tax.

As for exams, the most useful resource I could find on the ACA/CTA joint qualification (and how it differs for indirect tax) is here:

The nature of accountancy is that lots of graduates apply to these schemes not really knowing what they are getting themselves into, so at all the large accounting firms (especially the big four) there is a large churn rate of people deciding it isn’t for them and then dropping out. This means that throughout all years of the program, people are dropping out for different reasons (it’s not for them, they didn’t understand what they were getting into, they failed an exam). Given that you don’t know what you are going to be studying on the program you are on, this is a massive red flag for me that you have applied not really knowing what you are getting yourself in for. If you do decide to leave the scheme later on after you start, it will reflect badly on your career prospects in the future and if you leave because you failed an exam then almost no accounting firm will take you, as I said previously.

Sorry to be blunt with you, but please understand I only have your best interests at heart here. Is this something you really want to do? I encountered many people on my graduate program that started out not really knowing what they were doing there and they have all since left the company. Have you got any other job offers, maybe from the big four or in different areas to accounting?




Thanks for the reply. I do know what I applied to haha … I’m just asking some of these questions because Laura is in Indirect Tax so I want to get an insight into what it’s like from her perspective. After applying to Corporate Tax and getting the offer (knowing that I’d be doing ACA/CTA), I was moved to Indirect Tax and told I would do only CTA … so I just want to find out from Laura if it’s the same for her as she’s in Indirect Tax. It wouldn’t really make a difference anyhow, I think I’m just keen. The ‘leaving the scheme later on’ enquiry is NOT at all because I think I won’t like it … I’ve just heard rumours that graduate schemes cannot be exited during the 2 or 3 years so I’m trying to find out if that’s true as the contract doesn’t explicitly state whether or not that’s the case and I’d like to know for sure what it is.

Thanks for your response though, I used to think the high churn rate was amongst experienced hires and less amongst graduates, but it turns out I was wrong. What office are you in? And do you think regional offices have different cultures? I particularly think I might like not being in London as it takes some stress away (I currently live there).


Hello, just wondering if the presentation is related to the group exercise we will be doing on the same day? Many thanks!


Yes, it is. All activities but the partner/director interview are related that day’s exercise.


Hello, thank you very much for your information! Would you mind answering how long the presentation will last and how long you have to prepare for it? Is it presented to an individual assessor or in front of every one? Do you need to use ppt or flipchart? In addition to that, could you tell me a bit more about what the individual exercise is like? Would really appreciate your help! Many thanks!


The presentation was 30 minutes at my AC but I can’t remember how long we had to prepare for it (probably was between 10 - 30 minutes); you present it individually to one assessor (in my case it was a manager); you will use a flipchart i assume - no laptops were used on the day. The presentation, although discussed together with other applicants, will be based on your own personal thoughts on the topic. Also, you will have to write an ‘email response’ to a short document. How this work varies: i wrote two whole pages and got in, and the guy next to me wrote just a paragraph and got in. So, it might be that other things like the groups exercise, presentation and director/partner interview count for more, rather than the written/email exercise.


Hello all.
Had my AC in London today for FS Audit. I got a call about an hour ago telling me I passed. I’m absolutely ecstatic. If anyone else was at the AC today feel free to pm me, would be good to catch up.


Any new updates? Anyone had a recent assessment centre recently?


Hi everyone, anyone else had an AC recently or heard back from an AC? :slight_smile:


Any BDO offer holders starting in December London office pm me, would be good to get to know each other.


When was your AC and which intake did you apply for? I had my AC 2 weeks ago and haven’t heard back since then. Not sure how long normally it takes so I am quite worried now.


What is the salary for the Graduate Internal Audit Scheme in London?


I was offered £29,000 + Benefits.