Choosing Between Roles


I have offers from three firms to choose between and am failing to come up with a suitable metric for their evaluation.

Firm 1:
Size: Small office (600 people)
Location: Least convenient location (20 minutes extra on daily commute)
Role: IT/assurance
Sector: General

Firm 2:
Size: Medium office (1000 people)
Location: Convenient location
Role: IT/assurance
Sector: Public sector

Firm 3:
Size: Large office (1600 people)
Location: Convenient location
Role: Assurance
Sector: General

I am likely to be geographically immobile for the next decade (settled with long-term partner) and so if I stay with the firm after qualification I’d be looking for opportunities within that office, not within the firm as a whole. This means office size is a significant factor. I do not know whether 600 is already large enough that within the medium term it would not be much worse in this regard than the largest office. IT reduces private-sector finance opportunities. Public sector IT adds to this effect. Assurance reduces private-sector IT opportunities, possibly to a greater extent than IT reducing finance opportunities. Opportunities within the firm itself do not seem to me to be reduced in any of these cases; I understand that after qualification if I demonstrated sufficient aptitude it would not be insurmountably difficult to move from assurance to IT or vice versa. My choice seems to boil down to how much more I’d enjoy IT and an IT-related career to a more financial career. This is an entirely individual subjective decision and one I’m eventually going to have to make myself. I’d love any thoughts people have on my assumptions and position though, they’d be highly appreciated.


You don’t mention what qualifications are on offer - someone who has done IT with ACA has a better chance in assurance than someone who has done CISA

You need to consider:

  1. Location 20 minutes is that one way or both ways if it is just one way then you have an extra spare hour per week to study/relax
  2. Progression it is quite possible for you to start at one of these options and then later their might be a qualified vacancy at one of the others
  3. Are you more interested in IT or pure audit? Which will you enjoy doing more on a daily basis?
  4. Public sector is very different to private so that would definately limit opportunities in terms of IT, in terms of assurance not so much

I would say if you want to do IT go for option 1 and if you want to do assurance go for 3

Once you are qualified it will be less about where you worked but on what skills you can bring to a position

Also congratulations on getting 3 offers (can I have the ones you will decline? :p)


Cheers for the quick reply. Your thoughts are appreciated. :slight_smile:

  1. They are all ACA, and hence would have pretty similar first two years.
  2. 20-30 minutes in total. My commute will be relatively long anyway as my girlfriend and I are moving out to a decidedly rural area. Options 2 and 3 have their offices right by the train station, rather than being a good 10-15 minute walk from it as in option 1.
  3. I am more interested in IT than pure audit, but I am interested in finance in general as opposed to pure audit in particular. In the audit option I would be doing something I expect to find dull (although I may be proved wrong) to give myself a wide range of financial opportunities both within practice and within industry.
  4. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I also currently have a similar conclusion to you: 1 for IT or 3 for assurance. If the offices were similar it would be a quick choice, but 1 has an office three times the size in a better location. Thus it become IT versus assurance + location. Or else a simple role versus office. I don’t have the requisite experience to know how to weight these factors. My gut choice at the moment is 3.


I hear what you’re saying about making choices based on your future career path. This is a very sensible approach and one that I advocate. But, there are other factors to consider that might just make your dilemma less difficult.

Have you considered the type of people you’ll be working with (clients & employees)? The facilities on offer to you as an employee? The ‘vibe’ you got when you turned up at each office for your interview?

I have worked for both large and small financial services firms (not accountancy-based work). The large firm was great because there were so many resources on offer. There was money and time to get projects done. It was more flexible and work-life balance was taken pretty seriously. We were encouraged to get involved with charities. There was a pretty good gym on site. There were a large number of other amenities too: on-site coffee carts, an on-site newsagents, a quiet area where staff members could chill out. A lot of thought had gone into the general athetics. But for all this, it could be pretty clinical. My team was friendly enough. But, there was a lot of competition…paticularly between eager new-starters. There was a pretty brutal performance review as well. Team-mates had to write anonymous reviews about each other and you’d be presented with the praise/bitching/accusations during monthly one-to-ones with a line-manager. Promotion usually meant moving to a different department with a different specialism altogether. I found that most people were willing to make that change.

In the smaller firm, I actually got to know people from the bosses to the receptionists. From having more face time with senior colleagues I learnt more. I worked in the same specialism, but suddenly felt as though I was making more of an impact on my firm and my clients. I was more proud of my work. But the office politics was definitely more concentrated and harder to ignore. Also, there was a distinct lack of grandeur about this smaller firm. There was no on-site gym. There were no shops within walk. Deadlines usually felt more stressful but the freedom I was given to set my own objectives generally felt like compensation enough. When staff went on holiday, the whole group really felt the added workload.

I could go on and on… but I won’t :slight_smile:

I have to say, reading your last post makes me suspect that you already have an idea of where you’d like to go. Give all of the above some thought, then ask your girlfriend…then flip a coin…then just go with your gut.