How I Did It: Secured Articles Training with Big 4 Accounting Firm - EY

The Finance Story

  • Want to apply to a Big 4 accounting firm for your articles? But how to do it? Don’t panic!
  • In today’s article, Yashgopal Vaishnav is sharing the tested strategy that helped him to get an opportunity at EY as an article assistant. Yash cleared CA IPCC in his second attempt and then applied to Ernst and Young (EY) as an intern in the Assurance Team.
  • In fact, he had already started his articles in a small firm and then took a transfer to EY. He makes it clear that the selection at EY is on QUALITY and not the number of attempts, references, etc.

Deciding to Pursue CA 

I will not say that I always wanted to be a Chartered Accountant because that would be a false statement. I was very confused as to which field to pursue, so I went with the flow and decided to become a CA as everyone in my friend circle everyone was pursuing CA!

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.

CPT. I registered for CA - CPT after my class 12 and started my preparation. I cleared CPT easily in my first attempt...most students do!

IPCC, the next level. I gave my best but I failed IPCC Group 2 in my first attempt and cleared only IPCC Group 1 in that attempt.

I was a good student all through my school life and failing in IPCC was my first academic failure. I was obviously let down, but I was determined to complete the CA course.

Starting with my Articles after only one group in IPCC. Articles can be started after you clear IPCC both groups or either of them. I decided to start my internship immediately instead of waiting to clear both groups.

If I delayed my articles, my CA final exam attempt would also get delayed (only after completing 2.5 years of articles one can give CA Final exams). So, I applied to a small CA firm and started my articleship.

Now I had to work and study for IPCC Group 2. It was not easy to manage IPCC Group 2 studies along with articles and college. But I managed and cleared my group 2 in the second attempt. After almost one year of interning at a small firm, I got into EY and completed the rest of my articles from there. 

Here are a few FAQs.

"I want to apply to EY for my articles. What should I do?"

There are a number of ways to apply for an internship in EY:

  1. Direct Application (where you can go to the website and directly send your CV/ Physically drop your CV at the office of EY),
  2. Reference
  3. Placement Cells of various colleges
  4. Linkedin

I had applied through the placement cell of my college HR College, Mumbai and was lucky to get selected. Generally, all the Big 4 accounting firms in Mumbai visit some of the commerce colleges viz. H.R. College, NM College, Poddar College, etc.

Big 4’s generally visit these colleges before the declaration of the IPCC (2nd level CA exam) results. During my attempt, EY was the first one to visit our college to select article trainees.

My IPCC 2nd group exams were in the month of Nov’16 and the results came in the last week of January 2017. However, all the Big 4s conducted their placement in my college before the declaration of the results and it was completed in the month of December 2016. We were given conditional offers, i.e. subject to the clearing of IPCC exams (I had still had IPCC group 2 to clear).

"How many rounds does the interview consist of?"

Their interview process is bifurcated into 3 parts:

  • Written Test (Covering Aptitude, Accountancy, General affairs, etc.): It covers an aptitude test, general affairs, standards, etc.
  • HR Round: General discussion about the qualifications and firm’s policies, regulations, etc. and securing agreement on the same from the candidate.
  • Technical Round: It is the most important round and is also the deciding factor. It covers all the knowledge gained in IPCC (2nd level CA exam) such as Accounting Standards, Taxation, and recent trends and changes or expected changes in the Accounting framework.

And the best part about the selection process at EY which I experienced was that the entire process was completed in one day itself.

I received the offer letter by the end of the day.

"What interview tips should you keep in mind?" 

  • Dress properly for the interview. Your appearance leaves a lasting impact on the interviewer.
  • Always reach before the time for the interview, as you should keep some buffer time for any exigencies.
  • If you don’t know about something asked during the interview, be honest and accept the fact. Avoid bluffing. The person taking the interview will be experienced enough to know that your bluffing.
  • Honestly, I had actually not done some extra work for the interview, since the interview is wholly based on the knowledge gained till CA IPCC and hence it went smoothly.

Misconceptions about applying to Big 4 Chartered Accountant Firms

There are a few misconceptions regarding getting into Big 4s for articles, namely:

  1. Candidate should have a reference from an employee or partner in the firm.
  2. Candidate should clear secure a rank or at least clear both the groups in the first attempt itself.
  3. Candidates should not be a Transfer Case (Transfers means a CA trainee is shifting from one CA firm to another. Usually transfers are allowed in the 1st year of articles only).

In fact, in my case, I did not fulfill any of the above. 

I had NO reference or contacts inside of EY. Secondly, I did NOT clear both the CA IPCC Groups in my 1st attempt (May 2016). I had failed in ITSM and had to give Audit and ITSM again since I had an exemption in Advanced Accounting by scoring 72. I was also a transfer case! I had started my articleship in a relatively small firm and then took a transfer post clearing my CA IPCC Group 2 (Feb 2017).

So the conclusion is – The entire focus while selecting an intern is QUALITY and not the attempts, references, etc.

How was my first day as a CA Intern with EY 

I cannot forget the first day at EY as it was the beginning of my professional journey and I can never forget my first step. I was scared on the first day, nervous to an extent!

EY has a 2 days induction program for the new joiners. The best part of the induction program at EY is: It's an all-inclusive one, i.e. all the new joiners who joined that week will undergo the induction program together. So irrespective of the designation and the service line there is one common induction for all of the new joiners of that week.

#Induction: The induction program is like a gateway to the forthcoming journey at EY. The program provided a basic understanding of EY's way of working and the procedures that are to be followed at all times for official work. The facilitators conducting the program are very helpful and are always ready to help especially the interns since it is our beginning stage and we are all very young and still in college.

Lessons I Learned at EY as an Article Assistant 

I am into the Assurance service line at EY and hence I have complete exposure in carrying out Statutory Audits and Group reporting of companies. Working at EY has transformed me from an amateur to a professional.

The biggest advantage of working at a big 4 professional firm is that you will become good at managing things - You have to manage college, office, coaching, and study. You also get to visit various places during the course of audits which can be very exciting (and tiring too!).

I also got an opportunity to visit Dubai on one of my engagements and it was the most cherishing experience.  As a recently joined article, it is very rare to get involved in overseas engagements, so I was really lucky to get this exposure.

Working hours can vary from time to time. There will be days when you can leave at 6 pm and some days you will have to sit even till 3 am to meet the deadlines.

The best part of EY is that it arranges a compulsory six days residential ‘Assurance Intern School-AIS’ program every six months for all its new interns who have joined during the last six months. In this training, interns from across the country meet at one place for training and experience cannot be described in words. It is one of its kind programs across Big 4s, as per my knowledge.

Dealing with Politics 

Generally, the work environment in EY is very positive and rarely I’ll say people may have to face politics in the workplace. If a person faces politics in EY, he can easily approach the designated officials within the firm.

Also, the Partners in EY are approachable and there are no barriers while communicating with the partners.

Even a person at an intern level can freely express his views to everyone which will be appreciated and welcomed by all. EY also has a unique initiative of assigning buddy and counselor to its staff who help us in our forthcoming journey at EY.

Leave Policy in Big 4 Chartered Accountant Firms

Generally, an article at EY will get around 5 months of leave, i.e. from the month of December if the attempt is due in May next year. There will be hardly any issues that an article will face with respect to study leaves.

Interns are eligible to take leave for college exams if they are pursuing any other course along with CA. However, your leaves need to be planned well in advance so that the engagement plotting is not hindered. April and May and the months corresponding to the quarter endings are peak periods.

So applying for leaves during this period may not be entertained unless there is an emergency such as medical issues or examinations.

To Conclude…

Everything is possible and never give up.

I had NO reference or contacts inside of EY. Secondly, I did NOT clear both the CA IPCC Groups in my 1st attempt (May 2016). I had failed in ITSM and had to give Audit and ITSM again since I had an exemption in Advanced Accounting by scoring 72. I was also a transfer case! I had started my articleship in a relatively small firm and then took a transfer post clearing my CA IPCC Group 2 (Feb 2017).

So the conclusion is – The entire focus while selecting an intern is QUALITY and not the attempts, references, etc.

BONUS: Articleship Tips From Successful Chartered Accountants

Vinit Gala

“You’re LUCKY to face tough issues like office politics/ rude bosses/super strict seniors! I call them LUCKY as these experiences will prepare you for a better tomorrow! When faced with such situations, stay calm and discuss with seniors and HR first.” Articleship Tips to Perform Well at Your Accounting Firm

Bhavya Parekh

“Sometimes some guidance from your seniors may not sound logical or in favor of you but always give their advice a thought. Not because they are always right but they have experiences of being wrong.” How Was Bhavya’s Articleship Experience at Big 4  - Deloitte

Linet D’Souza

“Never simply accept things as they are. Always be assertive and curious.The quality of being curious helped me learn something new every day. Never complain about things – It will make things more difficult for you.”

Articles in Big 4 Proved a Huge Learning Experience for Her.

Now It’s Your Turn...

What is your articles experience?

How much of study leave did you get? Would you advise about doing articles at a Big 4?

Drop your views in the comment section below. You can connect to me on Linkedin –  Yashgopal Vaishnav

(Image edited by Ankit Lodhi)

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