Is Audit the best way in?


Hi there,

First of all just wanted to thank everyone on here for all the help and advice provided. It’s all really useful and appreciated, keep it up!

I’m trying to get into restructuring from the accounting route. Unfortunately I decided I wanted to do this pretty late so I missed most of the vacancies in the top 20 accounting firms. I managed to get through to the assessment day stage at PwC but failed it, and after passing KPMG’s tests I was informed that the spots had all been filled.

The plan is to reapply for the 2017 intakes as soon as they open this summer. However, I was just wondering if it would be better to apply for audit, rather than restructuring/transactions/etc., since audit is probably a vastly bigger intake in most cases. I’ve heard there’s pretty good mobility within the Big 4 especially, and some people have advised me to apply for audit and basically try to transfer to the scheme I’m actually interested in.

Is this a good idea? On the one hand, I can see why it’s probably “easier” to get a spot on an audit scheme, but on the other I’m really not that interested in audit in itself, and I feel like I run the risk of displaying that to recruiters and ultimately hurting my chances… Not to mention I’d be banking pretty heavily on the possibility of transferring.

My gut right now is telling me to apply to the scheme I actually want.

If anyone has any thoughts on this I’d really appreciate some advice.



You are correct that it would be easier to secure a place in an Audit grad scheme compared with the others. Sometimes the Big4 are even left with unfilled vacancies in their audit departments. It is possible to transfer internally from an Audit scheme to a Corporate Finance/Transactions scheme, although it wouldn’t be the easiest thing to do as the former is usually short-staffed and they need more people there. You could also stay 3 years in Audit, get ACA qualified and then find your way in Corporate Finance, or even in Investment Banking/Equities to another firm. Of course, that requires an extreme effort on your behalf, not only in the means of hard work but also networking etc. Timing and luck would also be needed as there are many people who will be looking forward to that transition as well.

I am in a pretty similar condition to yours, applied for a Big4 Advisory/Consulting grad scheme but failed the AC and it has crossed my mind to try applying to Audit and go the other route. However, I have seen that Audit is mentioned to be probably the most boring thing to do, and by the looks of it I don’t think I would enjoy that job as well. Also, I haven’t studied anything finance-related so there isn’t anything attracting me to Audit anyways. I would say go with your instict, but my view on things is that if you are not sure that you want it, don’t go with Audit. You may find yourself stuck in a position that you hate and unfortunately there might not be any exit for the foreseeable future.


Thanks for the input! Yeah I was told during my feedback from PwC that it might even be worth applying to this year’s audit intake as there may still be spots. It’s quite a tempting prospect to be honest… I’m inclined to agree with you about going with my instinct, but then again, being stuck in audit is better than being stuck without a job!


In my opinion, it’s the same difficulty for audit, consulting, and tax. I would say the quality of candidates in these stream are similar if not the same. CF is difficult as even big four don’t hire that many. I’m going to join Audit and transfer to CF after a year or two. I personally know people who have done it but am not sure how difficult it would be. I applied for Audit because obtaining a work visa is a priority for me tho. PS: I only applied to investment banks and Audit at one of the big fours. Failed all my IB interviews and got the job at Audit so it shouldn;t be difficult at all if they think you are a good candidate.


3 years are too long if OP’s goal is to transfer to CF/IBD. The longer you stay, the longer you’d find yourself stuck in audit


You can’t get the ACA in less than 3 years though, and the only chance they’ll get to move is for an internal transfer to another department. Doubt there will be another firm willing to hire a Big4 auditor to do CF/IB work with 1 year of experience.


Hi Haoyela, thanks for the response.
My goal isn’t to get into CF or IB, I’m really just interested in restructuring/recovery/insolvency. So the question of how difficult it would be to transfer is directed more towards a lateral transfer from a Big 4 (or other) accounting firm’s audit department to its restructuring department. As I understand it, there is a degree of lateral mobility within these firms (especially the Big 4), but I have no idea to what extent.
Essentially I’m asking the following: assuming it is easier to get a place on a Big 4 audit grad scheme than a Big 4 restructuring grad scheme, would it be more difficult to (option A) transfer from audit to restructuring, or (option B) get a place in restructuring?
Thanks again.


You can always start from scratch as a graduate. Lots of people start from scratch as an analyst after 2-3 years at big four.


My bad. I missed the restructuring bit. I’m not too sure about restructuring but the only way to transfer internally is to build connection AND show them how you can add value to the other department. Transferring internally will be easier if you show your worth, NOT by just doing audit work, but by say introducing your audit clients to the department. However, do apply for both audit and restructuring. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Get a foot in the door. When you’re in, you’re in.


No worries, transferring into IB is quite a common ambition I think, so your comments are definitely useful here! I’m just wondering what you mean when you say apply for both, since you can typically only do one application at a time. If you’re suggesting applying for restructuring at some firms and for audit at others, that might be a good strategy!


It is a common ambition but actually not a lot of people do it. That;s what I’ve been told by people who transferred anyways. I think majority of people go into audit not knowing what they want to do with their life.


Are you fixed on a particular location i.e. London? I haven’t found regional transactions schemes to be exceedingly competitive so if you’re flexible on location that could be a good route to get on the scheme you want.


No, unfortunately I’m not flexible at all on location. I’m settled in London and have commitments here!