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.