Continuing ACA studies while changing employer?


Hi all!

First post here, but I’ve been browsing for a while and looks like a good site.

I’ve been working with a Big Four firm for about a year now doing auditing (having joined as a graduate). Trouble is, I’ve discovered I intensely dislike auditing and it’s not suited to my skills at all. I don’t like having to work with new people every few weeks (I’m fine at forming relationships but do so relatively slowly); I don’t like the itty-bitty nature of the work, and the fact that you have to concentrate on a new thing every ten minutes; I don’t like the fact I don’t have my own desk or ‘space’. I don’t like not knowing what time I’m going to finish every day – it bothers me much more than I thought it would. I could list other things but you get the picture! Worst of all, I’m generally not very good at auditing and feel I keep letting my peers/seniors down, and it’s really leaving me down in the dumps. So I’m seriously thinking of calling it a day. (FWIW, the boredom itself doesn’t bother me too much.)

As far as finding other work goes: despite being rubbish at auditing, I’d like to continue with the ACA by other means, given how well-respected it is. I’ve actually found I’m quite good at the exams and studying, so am wondering about the possibility of continuing with the ACA while working for a different employer (probably a much smaller one, where I would do things other than auditing at least some of the time). I can’t find anything on the Institute’s website about this, so is it a no-no?

As far as I can see, if I can continue with the ACA while working for a different employer, I have four options:-

  • Two more years in Practice (small/medium firm), then qualify

  • Two more years in Industry, then qualify

  • Stick it out with my current employer for two more years, then qualify (although I feel less able to do this every day!)

  • Something other than accountancy – maybe even something outside business/commerce altogether. Complete change of direction. How would it look to future employers that I pulled out of a Big Four after only a year?

Of course, the fact that the economy’s in the toilet at the moment makes everything a bit harder. I know I should really be grateful I’ve got a job at all!

Any advice would be appreciated as work is seriously getting me down at the moment!



Yeah it is extremely different to find a job at the current time so you should try to stay in this job until you have another job offer if you decide to leave.

Genereally if you look at jobs available their are some listed as part-qualified jobs for ACA/ACCA/CIMA studiers - but usually they ask for at least 2 years experience - you could try applying for one of these.

If you go to a smaller firm to practice you will probably get exposure to more areas but finding a job might be more difficult

Industry - easier to find a job but most industry firms are registered for ACCA/CIMA training not ACA

Both will also ask why you are leaving big 4 and think whether you will be committed to them or leave them too

Stay at Big 4 - By the time you finish your ACA you would be in a lot better position in seeking work and have more skills plus big 4 on your cv - you could probably go into any financial sector then

You could try asking if you could spend some time/transfer to a different division but the chances of them saying yes aren’t very high

I assume other employers will understand if you explained big 4 wasn’t for you but some might not


Have you considered a secondment to tax? We work in the office 95% of the time, you spend most of your time with the same colleagues, and I consistently leave between 5.30pm and 7pm. You can also continue to study for your ACA.


Sounds like you are in a tough position. Secondments are being but because of the recession, but it’s worth asking about it.

A Big 4 employer on your CV does look good, however, is it worth your sanity? Could you use the two years to develop the skills that you are interested in?

Could you ask to move to larger, more stable clients? When the next busy season rolls around, will you be at the same clients? The lack of routine sucks, but I’m looking forward to returning to the same clients. (I’m a first year trainee too).

If you do decide to stick it out, I’m sure there are lots of other trainees who don’t have a great love for audit either.