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December 15, 2010

Study questions Big Four student popularity

The Big Four have fallen out of favour with Generation Y accountants who no longer see them as integral to career building, according to a recent study by recruitment company Marks Sattin.

Associate director of the professional services division at Marks Sattin Laura Wilson said the Big Four’s reputation had been bruised, “thanks not only to appearing to be part of the machine, but also for having clients who are perceived as being part of the machine”.

“That put many trainee accountants off working for the top firms and this has led to a rise in the number of trainee accountants seeking to begin their careers outside the Big Four,” Wilson said.

More than 60 percent of trainee accountants no longer see the Big Four as an important part of their future and more than 16 percent said they do not trust large organisations as a result of the downturn.

The research highlighted that accountants with less than three years experience are now looking towards mid-tier firms, where they believe they will get a deeper exposure to all facets of the accounting role.

However, evidence from the Big Four contradicts these findings. The Big Four are constantly nominated among the most attractive places for graduates to work and always attract more student applications than available places.

Ernst & Young UK (E&Y) recently reported a rise in demand for its graduate trainee scheme of almost 110 percent. The Big Four firm said it received over 4,500 applications for the 700 places available on its 2011 intake.

E&Y head of graduate recruitment Stephen Isherwood said that over September and October of this year, the firm had seen such high levels of interest it had to run additional events to cope with numbers.

“Applications have almost doubled from last year and we’ve already received around six submissions for every place available,” he said.


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