It is an emotive subject and there are some underlying issues people have so it must be blunt but fair - not retracting statements out of guilt, knowing full well these people will not realise the dream and should perhaps wake up and smell the coffee instead of getting into debt, studying endlessly and working minimum wage jobs:
People comment on this thread without understanding that there are 2 seperate unlinked issues dependent on WHO you are - which group you fall into:
a) UK born and bred 20 - 25 graduates looking for a graduate trainee role to launch finance careers, presuming the top path is to head to audit firms then banks.
b) Foriegn students looking for trainee roles.
Overall Its WHERE you train not what qualification you do that counts for your career.
a) UK grad through UK school system wanting a high powered career transistion to banking etc.
Liverpool123 is spot on regards the ACA, it is always the preferred choice by employers - only about 4000 training contracts take place each year so it is assumed you are in the top 4000 of applicants - if you can at all persuade your trainer to give you ACA - do.
The reason why “first time passes” is used as a measure is becuase ACA exams unlike ACCA are not marked on pass marks but against percentiles. This means the bottom 25% always fail - you will be issued with a exam mark stating: pass, fail, bad fail. This indicates to your employer if you failed through virtue of being in the bottom 25% but did pass the exam technically or whether you failed for doing no work.
This is one of the reasons the banks prefer the ACA - it is the top end of a particular year group, the other far more relevant is that the Big 4 tend to only put ACA for corporate finance and capital markets jobs in London.
Obviously first time passes are NOT the be all and end all - especially if you work in capital markets for big 4.
Use your common sense - one guy on Wikijob kept getting rejected for interview - then revealed he’d explained his dodgy a-levels by saying " I suffered from ME during 6th form" - which has to be the biggest evidence of a lack of common sense or commercial awareness regards the profession.
b) Foreign non recent UK grads:
There are 2 elements here:
- I can’t get a training contract at a decent firm no matter what I do
This is because employers are looking for a TYPE of person as it is a TRAINEE ROLE - the further you evidence you are not the type - the less likely you will even get an interview - you do not fit the type - there are hundreds other applicants who and have applied of the job - they are in group a)…
You may well have to settle for doing the ACCA/CIMA in a small accounts department on very low pay - the jobs group a) candidates would rather not do.
- But I have a masters, phd and 10 years experience working in industry X in country Z- much more than a 21 year old UK student.
- A 6 month internship counts for more than a Masters, Phd or 10 years experience - the obvious point is they are looking for trainees to do the leg-work and “FIT” into the firm - someone who has already gone through the selection process of the firm or one of similar standing AND stuck out a period of employment doing the legwork job - paid/unpaid has evidenced they are a fit.
Someone who is not going to be phased by 3 years of doing mundane dogsbody work, someone who can vote in the “best graudate employers” list and other PR and brand building/marketing exercises for the firm.
There are also established social networks and schemes that further the firms interests - there is no point having a football league to network with local clients - if all your trainees are too old to play.
However you may well find a niche in a job with a company that operates in industry X or has dealings with country Y.
In fact you will see many adverts for “mandarin speaking chartered accountant” - what they mean here is a native chinese speaker, who can speak english and is a chartered accountant - therefore they will not look at people who are from group a) who did a gap year in CHina - its the mandarin fluency that is needed that only a native speaker can have.
Look for the niche that fits you - and the one where you can add more vallue than people from group a) and you stand a very good chance of getting the job over anyone else.
- The UK’s chief method of employing people is through healthcare and education.
That is why it has 1000’s of establishments which make money through SELLING PEOPLE COURSES and getting government subsidies to do so. To keep this whole charade of macro-economic financial engineering and reduced unemployment afloat -they need a never ending stream of students - so give student visas etc on top of child benefits etc.
This however does not mean that passing through this system you are then comparable to people in group a) in teh minds of recruiters.
The accountancy profession is probably the best example of how pointless a Masters or degree as you can do the whole ACA or ACCA exams in the same time for a fraction of the cost.
By putting “masters” on your CV without a clear progression from a University you have simply signalled “foreign” - especially if your name is not an English one, rather than a fit under group a) who wanted to spend anohter 2 years drinking.
- You are too old/too ethnic for a TRAINEE position (leg-work at the behest of superiors)
age - sadly the ridiculous left-wing employment laws have meant that employers must apply unspoken right-wing recruitment policies and want to avoid people who may have kids or family responsibilities for trainee roles - and consequenlty will not want to do 12 hour days in busy season or spend a month away at a client premises or cancel their plans to fit with their managers.
ethnic - some firms avoid people who are going to be problematic in office politics or worse are going to come up with stupid reasons to take time off such as “I am fasting”
Why Do I suggest teaching as a career for foriegners?
If you have no contacts, network or social skills - you will find it difficult to progress in the Uk professional environment and may be out of work somewhere down teh line - teaching is unsackable.
Many jobs advertise “ACCA exams passed accountant” £18k etc - what they want here is a group b) candidate who they can ge tto do ALL the legwork - there will not be easy progression in duties or pay - and it is generally a dead end.
When the penny drops, many foreign academics suddenly realise they are overqualified but underpaid - and that teaching offers them far higher pay and working life benefits than beign a dogsbody in a small firm - where the glass ceiling is set insultingly low and all you will do is have a chip on your shoulder and sore head.
So I would say - yes, everyone keep your chin up and “keep trying” - but be thoroughly sure you understand which group you fit into and what you are trying to do with a TRAINEE ROLE - you are more likely to secure training that way if you really want to be an accountant or achieve other goals which may well be “visa to stay in UK and £45k a year job for family”.