Considering leaving Big 4 - what next?


Hi there

I’m considering leaving my Big 4 firm a year into my training contract, cos I just don’t know if accountancy is for me. Has anyone had a similar experience? I understand that they may make me pay back some training costs, so I do have to consider that expense, but I’m not sure I would ever want to stay in accountancy after ACA so I am unsure as to what benefit it would be to me to put myself through the stress of the exams.

Has anyone done this? Or know anyone who has left part way through their training contract? Was having even just a year at a Big 4 firm advantageous to them with getting a job in a different industry?



I think it would be up to what is stated in your training contract. Usually I believe that if you leave voluntary then the firm would have the right to claim back from you whatever expenses were made on your training courses, books, materials and exam fees, maybe accommodation costs as well (if applicable). In case that you fail the exams or you are made redundant - I think you do not have to pay back anything which may put you in the absurd position to fail your exams on purpose… From my experience - at least in my company - I have not heard of any claims for pay back even if the people are leaving voluntary in the middle of their training contracts.


Thanks for your post Rayniac.

Yeh I was under the same sort of impression, I had a friend who felt the same way I did a few months ago and moved off the graduate scheme and wasn’t made to pay back any fees. I guess they put it in your contract just in case though, but maybe use their discretion when the situation arises.

are you with an accounting firm Rayniac?

Does anyone have any opinions/knowledge on how useful a part completed Big 4 training contract would be for other finance based jobs (just not in accountancy)?? It’s a year on my CV with a decent firm, but if I don’t go for an accounting specific job then will it really be of any advantage to me?




I think that in my contract it is stated that the pay back is indeed under the discretion on the firm - so I can definitely agree that it is just a mere option for the firm. However, you should be aware that given the current economic environment the company could potentially chase back some of its expenses. I am aware that some of the big 4 are cutting their training costs significantly. In any case, I would have suggested you to speak with someone from HR, but I think it would not give you a clear picture of what would happen, as the decision would probably be taken and considered in every single case and after you have given your notice for termination of the contract.

I am currently working with a big 4 company in corporate tax, but am in a somewhat similar situation to you and am exploring the options. In this regard, yes, I believe that the year spent in a good company would be very much beneficial to you and would look great on your CV, even if you do not consider pursuing and accountancy career. Your knowledge and experience would be very useful for many if not all of the financial positions that you may apply to. And not only for those! Good luck and if you want - feel free to send me a PM as well.