You don’t need a degree to work for the ‘Big Four’

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One of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms, Deloitte presents a dream job for many finance professionals. Here’s why they don’t require all their staff to go to university.

Recently ranked in the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer list, Deloitte is a global provider of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services. One of the ‘Big Four’ firms, Deloitte was founded in 1845 and now employs around 415,000 people. 

Deloitte offers an earn-while-you-learn apprenticeship programme called BrightStart, which offers school leavers the chance to study for recognised professional qualifications, while gaining project experience and client exposure from day one.

BrightStart apprenticeships are available in audit and assurance; business and financial advisory; consulting; cyber; governance; risk and regulation; legal; technology; and tax consulting. 

“Our apprentices are a talented and curious group of people from diverse backgrounds, and they bring with them fresh approaches and new ideas that make a real impact for our clients and our firm,” says Jackie Henry, managing partner for people and purpose at Deloitte. “They have some exciting opportunities waiting for them and we’ll be helping them to build the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing workplace.” 

I really do recommend apprenticeships for employers as the best way to grow their talent and gain increasingly skilled staff from day one.

I’ve found some of my apprentices were able to get promoted while still learning because the work examples they developed to showcase their skills were the same competencies asked for in higher-paid roles.

No surprises there, as the Apprenticeship is designed by employers to develop the technical knowledge, skills and experience desperately needed in this day and age.

AAT President Christina Earls

“We encourage applications from talented students from a range of backgrounds and with different experiences to best serve our clients,” says Jessica Jones, Deloitte’s head of early careers recruitment. “We are proud of our apprentice scheme, which can switch on a person’s potential and help them forge a brilliant career. We want people with motivation and drive, and we’ll teach them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. Our aspiration for our apprentices is the same as our graduates – that one day they will make it to partner.” 

An alternative route to Deloitte 

Twenty-one-year-old Arthur Clark discovered Deloitte’s BrightStart apprenticeship programme during his final year of A-Levels, while Googling alternative routes into the firm. 

Originally from York, Arthur started his BrightStart apprenticeship in September 2021 as an associate in Deloitte’s audit and assurance business. He recently passed his AAT Level 3 qualification and has moved on to AAT Level 4. 

“I’ve always wanted to work in audit and Deloitte is the firm to strive for,” he says. “I’d read about the firm in the business pages of the news and wanted a successful and fulfilling career for myself.” 

He chose the apprenticeship scheme because he wanted the blend of study and hands-on work experience. 

“I also wanted to get my foot on the ladder and start networking early on to build my career,” he adds. “I didn’t get a position the first time I applied for Deloitte, but it only made me more determined. Throughout the application process Deloitte were approachable and stood out above the rest. I completed a different apprenticeship in an investment management firm in 2020 and then applied again for Deloitte. I’m glad I stuck at it and secured my dream job!” 

Arthur says being offered the position at Deloitte was a particularly proud career moment for him. 

“I had worked really hard on my application and it had been my dream for a few years – I couldn’t wait to tell my family,” he says. “More recently, I got my AAT Level 3 and have moved on to my Level 4. I was really pleased with that accomplishment and found it rewarding to see my progression in the programme.” 

Work/life balance 

Deloitte’s hybrid working policy provides Arthur with the flexibility to work from the Newcastle office or remotely depending on the tasks he’s completing. He says he found the hybrid working policy very helpful when studying for his AAT exams, often choosing to study from home. 

“This flexibility has been very beneficial to my work/life balance,” he explains. “It’s important to make sure that you maintain that balance between work and study. It can be easy to get fixed on your day job, but study is just as important for your development.”

The thing I enjoy the most is the analytical aspect of my job. I love critical thinking, getting into the details of a project and examining information to make sure it’s correct.

Arthur Clark

Arthur says he still goes into the office quite often to meet up with and work alongside his colleagues. “I work with people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities as well as levels of seniority and expertise in the firm,” he adds. 

During a typical day, Arthur gets stuck into various audit and assurance reporting tasks. 

“This primarily involves reviewing financial statements for accuracy and consistency to assist the on-site audit team,” he says. “Reviewing financial statements to ensure they meet all legal and regulatory requirements is an important aspect of my role within Deloitte and within audit. 

“The thing I enjoy the most is the analytical aspect of my job. I love critical thinking, getting into the details of a project and examining information to make sure it’s correct. Every day there is something new to learn, whether it’s about the audit process or an individual company, it never gets boring. You can definitely tell that audit is the right career for me!” 

Information overload 

Arthur says it can be challenging switching from work to study during the week. 

“At the beginning of an apprenticeship, people should avoid information overload by planning out their time for study and protecting it,” he advises. “I found that managers understand the balance apprentices face and are very accommodating. Both Deloitte and the training provider Kaplan give plenty of preparation time in advance of examinations, which really helps.” 

With aspirations to one day become a partner, Arthur says he plans on working hard to learn more and more about the companies he audits as he progresses through the firm. 

“In particular, I’d like to improve on my communication skills and get more involved with the many companies Deloitte audits,” he notes. “Everyone I work with is really encouraging and supportive of apprentice career journeys, and it’s great to see other BrightStarts complete their apprentices and move up through the firm.” 

Arthur’s advice 

“I’d recommend networking within your company as soon as you can. As an apprentice, you learn from loads of different people across different levels. It’s a great chance to speak to senior people and I’ve found that you can grab chances to get valuable advice and get your name out there within the company, something that becomes invaluable as you progress.” 

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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