Big 4 ACA - wants to move to Research/IB ASAP!


I currently work for one of the Big 4 accounting firms in Audit – Corporates (a regional office) and am nearing the end of my ACA training contract.

In brief…

I’ve realised over the past 18 months that audit is not for me and have set my sights firmly on getting into Research at a large investment bank (ideally UBS, JP, Soc Gen or Nomura - all personal preference!) and am wondering what you learned folk suggest is the best way of going about achieving this feat!

Specifically, would you people advise continuing to work for my firm for X number of years to gain PQE and then apply as an ‘experienced hire’ – or would it be beneficial for me to simply cut my losses and apply as an entry level analyst (graduate) as soon as I qualify? I appreciate that applying as a graduate after being out of University for 4 years (in addition to having attained ACA accreditation) may slightly buck the trend in comparison to a typical candidate but, as you can probably tell, I’m very anxious to get out and into IB at the earliest opportunity and hence I’m willing to do whatever it takes.

If you think I should get PQE and apply as an experienced hire then do you suggest aligning myself to a distinct sector at my current firm (for example, ensuring I am booked to a number of high-profile retail audit clients) to allow me to tailor my application to a Research position exposed to this industry sector or would it be better for me to keep my options open with broader PQE audit exposure to a number of difference sectors?

I’m also looking into self-studying for CFA Level 1 once I’m done with my ACA as I’m hoping this may set me apart from my peers - again, it would be useful to gauge public opinion with respect to whether or not this is appropriate if I’m applying for an entry level graduate role (considering the bank will look to put me through this anyway).

Any help/advice you guys can offer me would be very much appreciated.