There was a time when everyone looking for a graduate role in accounting would go straight for the “Big 4” without even considering a smaller firm. However, now it is becoming more common for students to avoid applying to larger firms altogether in favour for small to medium sized firms (SMEs).
At a small to medium-sized firm you get the attention and support that you need whilst you are training for your ACA or ACCA qualification, as you are one of only a handful of trainees that they have. In comparison PwC, the largest accountancy firm in the UK, had 1,600 trainee positions available in 2016 according to CCH Daily. Just imagine how hard it must be to get noticed amongst 1,599 other trainees!
At a small to medium-sized firm you can experience a wide variety of tasks, as well as people, and still be on your way home (or to the pub) by 6pm.
In larger firms, trainees often spend much of their training confined to audit work because of the sheer scale of it. Audit work is just one small aspect of an assignment and in a small to medium-size firm you will benefit from having exposure to many different areas of client work. Working with a larger number of clients and on a variety of projects will give you ranging broad range of experience, along with more personal connections.
A recent presentation by Raef Gregory, Partner at Brebners, called SMEs “large enough, yet small enough”.
He went on to explain that in order to benefit you fully, SMEs are large enough to:
- Give you a variety of different sized clients to work with
- Work within a variety of industries
- Be able to offer a range of services
- Retain clients
- Be competitive within the industry
- Provide new graduates with good quality training.
However, SMEs are also small enough to:
- Allow you close involvement with clients
- Give you access to Partners and Managers (who will take a direct interest in your development and support you through your training)
- Give you the ability to work on a range of projects and therefore be continuously learning
- Give you shorter and more varied assignments
- Give you the ability to progress your career quickly, getting to Partner level much more easily than at a large firm
- Allow you the most important thing of all… a life outside work!
Smaller firms also tend to have a varied and active social calendar. They are close knit teams who work hard during working hours, but equally enjoy taking part in charity activities, sporting activities, and just generally spending time with each other outside work too.
If you are interested in applying to work at a small to medium sized firm, SWAT UK recruit on behalf of 10 small to medium sized practices. Click here to read more about the firms that SWAT UK recruit for.