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Training To Become An Accountant As A Mature Student



  • Posts: 61 ✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Sorry to hear that. Instead of applying directly to companies have you gone to a few recruitment agencies?

  • Posts: 61 ✭✭ [Deleted User]

    You might have some joy going through recruitment agencies rather than applying directly.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,183 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    Agencies are hired by employers to filter out unsuitable candidates not include unusual candidates. I doubt the OP would even get past the agency filtering interview never mind get presented to the employer unless the employer had already specified that they wanted a mature trainee.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,868 ✭✭✭Deeec

    I think you might have more luck with the smaller accountancy practices but the pay starting off would be extemely poor. A mature candidate that would be willing to grow with the practice would be an advantage.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,386 ✭✭✭olestoepoke

    I'm aware that the starting salary is poor and I'm fine with that, wife works so we are covered financially. I have tried smaller practices too but unfortunately no calls for interview. Regarding a suggestion from an earlier poster to hide my age on the CV, I haven't tried that yet, not sure I feel comfortable with that TBH. If I do get called for interview they'll immediately know I'm in my 40s lol.

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  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,183 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    You probably need a different approach - networking. Certainly if it were me I try to build up some contacts with firms outside of the interview circle. You can use services like LinkedIn etc... to identify people and try to find some local events where you might gain an introduction to them. Also consider reaching out directly to people on linkedin etc... join a forum conversation, compliment someone on an article they write, ask a question etc.... just get yourself noticed and involved.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,326 ✭✭✭MartyMcFly84

    I am a qualified accountant with ACCA. I did the mature student route also, a long time ago I did a couple years of European studies when I went to college after school and didn't see any direction, was struggling mentally and I dropped out. I worked in bars and the service industry for a long time.

    After many years of working nights I wanted to work during the day and ended up getting some admin jobs. These entailed some invoicing, from there I got a credit control job and saw all the heads in the finance dept were accountants. I looked into the ACCA and for industry based operational finance jobs looking for employee who are studying or interested in studying professional accountancy exams. I got an industry role which was invoice to cash. I started my ACCA exams there, as as I progressed I became involved almost all areas of the income statement and balance sheet.

    I never even heard of milk rounds until I found this forum. Having never done finance in university I didn't even look at the typical route for student accountants. Just what was on the ACCA website.

    Long story short, there are many ways to skin a cat. Just because the university, or big 4 route didn't work, doesn't mean that there are not other ways to become a qualified accountant. I have never worked in practice, but have gained lots of knowledge working in the tech industry while doing my exams.

    My advice to older students would be to just try and get a finance related job, which will count towards your work experience while you complete your exams. There are many people of all ages in operational finance roles and you wont stand out for being older. You will likely get promoted within industry as you gain experience and pass your exams also. The starting off the salary for a Credit controller, Accounts payable, treasury, payroll admin, etc is much higher than a student accountant, so again a more livable wage than taking a student salary.

    Personally I did not find any blockers due my age. However I can see if you are going for roles that are typically taken by 22 year olds it might be more of an issue.

    Dont give up, it you want it bad enough you will find a way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13 broccoli123

    Its important to gather connections along the way. I graduated this year BA in Accounting at the age of 32 and after applying to well above 100 job ads(within a year) for entry positions in the accounting field I received 0 call backs and not a single invite for an interview. I have my age listed on my CV, but on top of that i am a foreigner with a foreign name. The user above me is right - if you want it bad enough you will find a way, however obviously some people will have much easier ways than others due to their age and other factors mentioned. This is like Henry Cavill saying - "if you like a girl ask her out for dinner. Works every time for me" :)

    I now got a job within the company i worked with, just in the accounting department, so you may want to try applying internally or speak to your friends who work in the industry to vouch for you, offer to do unpaid work if need be for some time, but you will eventually get a position. Best of luck.

  • Registered Users Posts: 55 ✭✭relevanc

    I think this post is 100% great advice.

    milk rounds are for young university students, if you are any way outside of the norm you don’t stand a chance as the Big4 business model is based on eager young worker bees.

    Best advice is to get a role in industry with some finance related tasks and where there is scope to take on more.

    Or alternatively ask to get work experience in a small firm. Either a few weeks or a day a week etc as this will end up as a job offer if they like you and at a minimum a good reference/experience to build the CV. Most job requirements require some prior experience, so this method would enable you to get around that obstacle.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,078 ✭✭✭hawaii501

    Hi all, I'm thinking of starting the ACCA's.

    Just wondering I'm going to apply for taxation fundamental paper in City college for december exam(completed ATI technician about 6/7 years ago).

    Do I have to register for ACCA before I apply? Luckily I'm currently working in accounts but not qualified therefore not in the position as some of you.

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  • Posts: 3,505 [Deleted User]

    I knew Big4 trainees that started in their early 30s. Some struggled, some left, some seemed to get by just fine (but then, you dont always know when someone's struggling). Still, it's proof that early 30s isn't too late to get hired in Big4 (which is probably the most cookie-cutter of employers since they have such a high volume of applicants).

    I'm sure there are those who would discriminate at a relatively young age, whereas there are also those who couldn't care less about age. It all just depends on the opportunities you manage to land, and the luck of the draw when it comes to interviewers. Probably safe to say it'll get continuously more difficult the older you get, but I doubt theres any specific cut-off that you can pin down.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,183 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    Back in my day Ireland was special in terms of demographics - if you were in your 40s you were old. But the thing is that the entire population is getting older and so in your you probably won't find it as big an issue as it was for people in say the past 20 years. Here in Switzerland the work force is much older and the big concern in some areas now is try and encourage people to stay on longer than the normal pension age, encourage retired people to get back into the workforce etc...

    The biggest challenge you may face is what I consider the dumb equality rules in recruiting. Not allowing employers advertise for the exact type of person they intend employ. No amount of hiding your age etc will make an employer take on someone they don't intend to employ. It just wastes everyone's time.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,183 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    There are different ways to look at this....

    The reality is that every accounting student wants to get a contract with a big 4, very few will get to the interview and even fewer will get an offer. The fact that you got to the interview stage means that you have an interesting profile and you are ahead of a large section of potential applicants. Of course it is a disappointment, but it most certainly is not reason to give up on your dreams, it just means you have to try a little harder. There are plenty of second, third and even fourth tier firms out there that can offer you a good training position. So give it a try, I can't see you being happy with your lot, if you don't.

  • Posts: 3,505 [Deleted User]

    Like Jim2007 said above, you're doing well to get interviews.

    I wouldn't put the whole thing down to age though. I was in my late 20s starting with a Big4 and there were 3 lads in the same team as me starting in their 30s.

    You said you know one place was taking on 50% of the people being interviewed. So 50% of people who interviewed didnt get it, and god knows how many applied in the first place and didnt get a look in. It's stiff competition, and while I don't dismiss the fact that the age thing is an obstacle, there are countless other potential reasons why you didn't get an offer. It's no reason to tell other people to give up.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 22,355 CMod ✭✭✭✭Pawwed Rig

    I was a late starter in the industry aswell at 34 but luckily got a start with Big 4. Once you hit 40 alot of doors slam shut alright. There is even a reluctance to hire manager level at this age.

    What is your preferred service line?

    For what it is worth I never have my age in my CV. Nor do I have the years of my leaving cert. I have done some interviews where I absolutely nailed it (KPMG most recently) and didn't get the job which I personally think I would have gotten had I been 10 years younger.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,386 ✭✭✭olestoepoke

    I'm currently working a payables department for a decent size company, not ideal I know but as a previous poster mentioned it's a way in through the back door and will do for now. I'm signed up for ACCA and have 4 exams left, so will keep going with them. If I had it all to do again, as much as I like accounting I wouldn't choose it. My advice to mature students thinking of going the accounting route is think hard and maybe look into a profession where your age might be appreciated and not frowned upon.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 22,355 CMod ✭✭✭✭Pawwed Rig


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,183 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    Well given that the ICAEW have decided to withdraw their recognition in Ireland, it could have consequences in the future. From what I have read the ICAEW qualification will now be handled the same as any other third country qualification throughout the EU/EEA/CH. And that means there is no obligation to recognise it nor to facilitate people switching to an EU/EEA/CH alternative. In practical term at the moment that means that you need to sit some kind of exam, usually multiple choice, to be allowed practice in the EU/EEA/CH, but even though you may be allowed to practice, it does not mean that you can join the local association.

    If on the other hand you go into industry, I doubt most employers will be concerned that you have an ICAEW qualification or an EU/EEA/CH one.

  • Posts: 61 ✭✭ [Deleted User]

    I completed all the ACA exams as a flexible route student as well as having a business degree and experience working in accounts departments.

    Not one of the big 4 gave me an interview but they hired people with no accounting background at all who were 22 with no work history.

    I'm mid 30s.

    They do favour people who did internships and to be fair it does stand to them.

    There is definitely a bias against people in their 30s.

    I got one interview and got the job in a good company. That is all you need so keep applying.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,475 ✭✭✭StevenToast

    I also completed all the ACCA exams myself before applying for Big4....thought it would work to my didnt.....never even got called to interview..... im in my 30s..

    The Big4 want you to have exams so they can hold it over your head...get rid of you if you fail etc...youre on a conveyor belt in there...get you in..get you out...

    Plenty of other companies out there to train in....

    "Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining." - Fletcher

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 22,355 CMod ✭✭✭✭Pawwed Rig

    There is a lot of auto rejection in Big 4. I was rejected for 3 of them based on my leaving cert results (16 years previously despite having just completed a 1st class honours degree in A&F). This was all done by a computer without a human looking at it. For the 4th I left the points section blank and someone from HR followed up. Was told initially that because I didn't have 425+ they wouldn't be progressing my application but I sent a long email in response stating my case and they relented and I ended up getting the job.

    They do not deal with non standard applicants very well and if you are not hitting exactly what they want quite often 'computer says No'.

    The training contract itself was hellish and the managers and partners were not able to deal with a mature adult as a subordinate as they couldn't semi bully me throughout the contract as they did with the others who started at the same time. I found a lot of very senior people to be very poorly balanced human beings quite honestly. Very good at their jobs but lacking in many other aspects especially empathy with no idea of how a decent person treats another.

    Was absolutely awful but it got me where I wanted to be and got all exams sorted.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,183 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    @StevenToast, @9214,

    Just because you are over 30 and did not get an interview with a big 4 does not mean there is a bias against the over 30s, if I recall correctly the OP did… Lots of people from Donegal, Kerry or Mayo will also not get an interview either, does that mean there is a bias there too? I know of one big 4 who favor taking on a few Irish speakers each year because they have a large block of Irish speaking clients but that is it as far as I have heard.

    The big 4 have very exacting standards and they are in the position to be able to enforce those standards in their selection process. It is along time ago since I recruited for one of the big 4, but I doubt the basic requirement has changed much over the years - smart people with a consistent track record of academic achievement. Extra exams don’t empress nor does a first class honors degree built an average LC and random performance year on year throughout your college years. The reality is that most people won’t make the cut simply because they are not good enough.

    But here is the thing you don’t have to get into a big four to build a great career nor does having trained at a big four mean you’ll have a great career. Yes having a big 4 on your resume will get you interviews you might not otherwise get, but it takes a lot more to build a great career including a large portion of luck.

    I view an accounting qualification as a very good first step, but where it takes you will very much depend on other things: your people skills, your ability to play office politics, your ability to recognize and take advantage of opportunities when they are presented, flexibility to consider possibilities outside of accounting and above all the people you meet along the way.

    My advice is get your accounting qualifications where ever you can, it’s not an end, but a first step and where it will take you is very much up to you.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 22,355 CMod ✭✭✭✭Pawwed Rig

    Having worked in both Big 4 and more general practice there is nothing special about those that work in Big 4 as compared to elsewhere so I don't know where you get that most people 'are not good enough'. Big 4 favour a certain type of person. Typically their trainees will be early 20s Trinity, UCD/C/G, UL graduate from a middle class background. There are some token exceptions of course so they can tick the diversity boxes.

  • Posts: 61 ✭✭ [Deleted User]

    I have my ACA exams completed and a couple of years remaining on my audit training contract to be qualified.

    I trying to figure out what I could do over these two years to maximize my chances of making a good transition to industry in 2 years.

    Would you have any advice in this area? What skills are valued in the first step into industry that would not be a core part of the job in an audit practice?

  • Registered Users Posts: 94 ✭✭someyoke

    @9214 Industry Jobs advertised now place huge emphasis on internal processes and controls. So auditing background really suits from that perspective.

    Additionally you will be assessed on communication skills dealing with non finance staff as you probably don't have extensive experience here. From this perspective just talk up your communication skills generally.

    Influencing skills and being able to deal with office politics probably will likely be assessed as well, but if it's just first job from practice this might not be a big issue.

    There are loads of jobs advertised for those recently qualified looking for first position in industry, you should have a decent chance of getting interviews.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,183 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    You left out the part where they are also people with a high consistent academic record year on year and that is definitely not the norm, regardless of what you may think.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Home & Garden Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 22,355 CMod ✭✭✭✭Pawwed Rig

    There are many parameters they use to ensure they get their preferred demographic. Results of irrelevant exams is one of them.

    There was one partner I recall who would only hire from Blackrock college. This ensured he would not have to deal with peskie foreigners or other undesirable Irish untermenschen.

  • Registered Users Posts: 346 ✭✭in2dark

    Another mature recently qualified here.

    In my mid 40s, finished acca on self study, working in the finance dept of a big company.

    I dont know if the big4 advisory roles are any good. Money seems to be great however I dont know what the small print is. Do they drain you like during training? Do they get rid of you once mid 50s

    Anyone with real life experience?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,386 ✭✭✭olestoepoke

    For any of the posters that completed ACCA, would you recommend studying it yourself or enrolling with an approved educational partner like Griffith college. For context I have 4 exams left and am working full time. Thanks

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  • Registered Users Posts: 346 ✭✭in2dark

    Finished it all with self study (opentuition) while working full time