- Articles at ‘Big 4 Accounting Firms’ is a dream of every aspiring CA student. But how does one find an internship opportunity at a big accounting firm in India?
- In fact: In today’s article, we have Dhruv Agarwal, who did his articles with KPMG, sharing with us – how he applied for his articles at KPMG, what was the interview process like, what study leave do you get, etc.
- Dhruv has done his articles from KPMG, Delhi in the Audit Department.
- So let’s get started.
My CA Journey
I always had a great love for numbers as a kid. Also since my father is a Chartered Accountant, he did have a positive influence on my career choice.
To be a Chartered Accountant from ICAI, one needs to clear 3 levels of exams:
- CPT: First level. You have to give this exam if you register for the CA course before graduating. I registered for CPT after class 12.
- IPCC: Second level exam. This consists of 2 groups – Group 1 & 2.
- CA Final: Last level of CA exam and has again 2 group – Group 1 & 2.
- 3 years of article training: This starts after you clear IPCC, either both groups or anyone of them.
2016 CPT. After clearing class 12, I appeared for CPT (1st level CA Exam) in June 2016 and cleared it in the 1st attempt.
My CA IPCC Journey, First Attempt: Around the same time, my dad got a transfer to Delhi and we all shifted along with him. I prepared for my IPCC (2nd level CA exam consisting of 2 groups, Group 1 and Group 2) from Delhi and appeared for both groups in May 2017.
Somewhere inside of me, I knew I would clear maybe not with great marks but I was hopeful of clearing IPCC with average marks! Unfortunately, I passed CA IPCC Group 1 scoring 60 plus in all the papers and in CA IPCC Group 2, I scored 60 plus in Advanced Accounting but failed in one subject (ITSM).
So definitely I was upset with myself as I knew the reason for my failure. I blamed myself as I did not focus on ITSM as much as on other subjects. Now since I scored 60 plus in Advanced Accounting except ITSM and Audit (I did not score 60 in Audit and thus no exemption), I was exempted from attempting Advanced Accounting which means I had to appear for only 2 papers ITSM and Audit…which did make me feel better!
Note: So basically if anyone has failed but scores 60 or 60+ in any subject he gets an exemption and need not appear for those papers in which he scored 60 or 60 plus and appear only for the ones he failed in/scored less than 60.
CA IPCC Second Attempt Nov’17: Somehow, I tried to cope up with my failure and start studying but couldn’t focus. It took me a while to overcome this failure, I just felt I was so close to success and could clear in the first attempt. I have been a very meritorious student all my school life and this was my first academic failure, so dealing with it was new to me.
Till I accepted the fact and realized that I need to keep going it was Oct’17 and I was just one month away from my CA IPCC Nov’17 attempt. Now I had two problems – Not being able to focus and the other being lack of time. However, what kept me going was – I did not want to fail again.
So I gave my best in that one month and focussed again. This time I cleared my CA IPCC exams.
My Articleship Journey
Coming to my articles’ journey, as I had cleared CA IPCC Group 1, I could have easily started with my articles. (Earlier articles could be started once he/she clears IPCC both groups or just IPCC Group 1. However, recently the ICAI has announced that anyone can start with their articles once they clear both groups or just Group 1 or Group 2). However, I wanted to work in a Big 4 so I waited to clear IPCC Exams.
From my research, I knew Big 4’s prefer candidates who have cleared both groups reason being – Study Leave. If they take interns who have cleared only Group 1 then they would have to again give them study leave for their CA IPCC Group 2, so to avoid such situations they prefer (there are always exceptions) students who have cleared both groups.
Luckily I was selected by KPMG, Delhi in the Audit Department and started my articleship with them. I chose KPMG over other Big 4’s (even other Big 4’s are great, I am just stating my reason here!) as I got very positive feedback about the environment from a few senior friends at KPMG. They all said KPMG is a great learning place and at this stage of my life – Learning in a nice environment was my only motive.
Yes, I appeared for Interviews at other Big 4’s and even got an offer from one of them but after considering the above point I chose KPMG.
What stops us from applying to Big 4 Accounting firms?
- You need connections to get into a Big 4 firm: This is one of the biggest myth which stops us from applying to big accounting firms. You can just go to any website where one has to apply and apply or if you have a friend working there just send it across and they will do the needful!
- Only 1st attempt IPCC students or IPCC rank holders can join a Big 4 accounting firm: Well, I have to tell you – that it is not true! I am a simple example. I cleared IPCC in my 2nd attempt still I got through KPMG. So friends, even if it is your 2nd/3rd/4th attempt then also you can apply.
“What is the recruitment process for articles at KPMG, India?”
1. An Online Test
- Firstly, you appear for an online test on the link sent to you and based on which you will be called for a GD round in the KPMG office.
- The online test is more inclined towards the general aptitude and general awareness of the subjects.
- You can find various papers on the internet that will give you a brief about the pattern.
- The test can be given via the link provided in the mail.
2. A Group Discussion (GD) round
- In the GD round from around 10 candidates, 4 to 5 candidates are selected for the next round on the basis of your performance (this is what happened in my situation, it surely could differ!)
- The topic of GD is generally a common topic ranging from GST to social media etc. It may vary from a general topic gaining popularity at that point in time to high school topics.
3. An HR round
- HR mainly discusses your personal and educational details.
- This is more of a conversation rather than an interview.
- HR tries to understand your expectations and the firm’s expectations.
4. The Partner Round
- The partner round is basically a ‘Technical round’ and you can expect questions relating to Accounting Standards (AS), Ind AS, etc.
- They expect you to have the basic knowledge of the AS etc.
- The questions are majorly based on the CA IPCC portion and are easy to answer if you have your basics in place.
“What should I wear for an Interview?”
- As far as the attire is concerned, I would prefer if one can present themselves in a complete formal attire (talking about boys here!)
- This really works well and it also helps the team see you as a future team member which definitely increases your chances of being selected.
- I wore a complete business suit. It gave me so much confidence.
“What is the working environment at KPMG? Will I get study leave?”
- My first day (12 March’18) as an Article in KPMG, Delhi: I was not sure what to expect on the first day so I was definitely a little nervous but as taught in our profession I couldn’t let it take over me and worked on appearing all cool and calm! However, my 1st day was all about training and formalities, etc and on my 2nd day itself, I got allocated to a client’s place in Noida.
- This transformation from school life to corporate life is quite exciting and at the same time challenging. Its better you experience it yourself, my only advice would be – To be AWARE of what’s happening around you and this quality would help you a lot.
- It has been only a few months since I am in KPMG and I know I have a long way to go but still since I joined I have learned a lot of things and I can see this journey being a very learning and exciting one.
- To be honest, when one joins a Big organization we all have aspirations to learn everything in one day, even I had the same. In the beginning when I joined I was given very basic work which I did not expect as I felt I could handle more complex stuff. But gradually I understood that I need to learn the basics first to move upwards. The basic work that was allotted to me helped me to understand the basis of the audit techniques and procedures.
- Talking about the working environment, well I can’t say about other big 4’s but at KPMG you will enjoy working to the fullest. The people here and the environment as a whole is very accepting, one won’t have any issues adapting to it.
- About study leave, KPMG gives the maximum nos of leaves which is good enough for anyone to prepare for CA Final or for any other college exams. My suggestion is: If you want any study leave/recreational leave – PLAN IN ADVANCE, INFORM YOUR SENIORS AND GET IT APPROVED.
- For instance, April to June is the busy season for an Audit professional, I had my B.Com(H) exams in May’18 and still, I got enough study leave and a lot of support from my manager and colleagues to prepare for my exams. So, I would say study leave is not an issue when working in Big 4 as they all have an amazing – Intern Policy.
- Articles in KPMG join as Staff Accountants and the levels are SA-1, SA-2, and SA-3. The stipend in Big 4 varies from firm to firm varying from 8k to 15k in the first year.
“What are the drawbacks of working at a Big 4 Accounting Firm?”
- Well if you really want to learn and develop as a professional you need to give in a lot of your HARD WORK – One has to be prepared to work long hours and under strict deadlines.
- What they expect from you is ‘Quality’ and especially at KPMG, the focus is on Quality and so to deliver that high standard of quality you got to work hard.
- Sometimes you might feel frustrated about the long working hours and deadlines but that’s what helps you transform, it is all good for you in the long run. But it is not like you have to work late every day, there are days you get free at 5 PM and there are days when you will have to sit back till 1 am also! But on an average 7 – 7.30 pm is something I finish from work. So, for a dedicated individual it this should not be a big problem!
- Also, some people have this issue with the limited range of experience they provide – That means many feel that they get stuck in Audit for 3 years. However, they provide you with enough exposure in varied sectors in those 3 years!
- Especially KPMG provides various training to help you upgrade yourself with the latest professional developments and to groom you as a professional.
- In the end, YOUR CAREER DEPENDS ON YOUR DECISIONS. You choose the firm and the profile depending on where you want to be after these 3 years.
NOW IT IS YOUR TURN…
Have you done your internship in KPMG or any big 4? What you have to say about your experience?
Anything tip you would like to share with our readers? Do you feel there is a big difference between articles at Big 4 and other mid-sized firms?
Or do you have any question for me? Pls, let us know. Waiting for your comments!
(Image Edited by Ankit Lodhi)