Why train with a medium sized accountancy firm?


brebners-220x102A perk of my job as a careers consultant at City is that occasionally, I am wined and dined in very nice settings. My latest foray was to the Annual Lunch for APA (Association of Practising Accountants) at the Chartered Accountants Hall in the City where I learned what it is like to train with a medium-sized firm. APA is a consortium of 15 medium-sized accountancy firms and I visited one of the firms beforehand. The list of member firms can be found here: http://www.apa-uk.co.uk/  I went to Brebners, on Shaftesbury Avenue and met the training partner and a trainee. Brebners offer an excellent opportunity for able students of any degree discipline. They have expertise in audit, accounting, taxation, financial services, insolvency, corporate and forensic work, solicitors accounts rules and expert witness.Be aware that just because the firms are smaller and less well-known than ‘the Big Four’ does not mean that entry requirements are low.  Guideline UCAS  points needed: 280-300 UCAS points, but check for each firm.

 What type of student would suit Brebners?

 Someone who wants  

  • a more personal approach to their training. Trainees will feel  that they are known  from day 1 in the firm, rather than a cog in the system. Trainees will be seen, known and appreciated. Trainees will be able to chat to partners in the kitchen, etc.
  • plenty of opportunity to work with clients and to work with a range of clients including small businesses and large with over 20m turnover per year.

  • to work for a are very wide range of industries – including media, theatre and post production companies (because of the firm’s location  in the West End) start-ups and larger firms, bars, clubs and restaurants etc ). Some clients FCA registered (such as small banks and brokers), so there is also opportunity for financial reporting.
  • to  provide a personal service and to have  quite a close relationship with clients. Many of Brebner’s clients are long-standing. There is a strong sense of continuity and  employees will be regarded as a ‘trusted adviser’.
  • early responsibility including a wider range of tasks than you would get in a larger firm.
  • a good work-life balance.

What is required?

  • A graduate of any discipline. Most trainees at Brebners do not have a degree in Accountancy. Usually with APA firms, a 2:1 is expected. Recruitment methods vary for each firm.
  • Brebners advertise in Inside Careers. They recruit via SWAT so applicants will be directed straight to SWAT. SWAT administer a verbal and numerical reasoning test. Candidates must pass 18/20 questions.  If failed, applicants can re-apply after 6 months. SWAT sends applicants a list of the firms they work with. SWAT  then matches applicants to a suitable firm for the next stage of the selection process which includes an assessment centre. At  Brebners, candidates do 2 more psychometric tests (McQuaig http://www.mcquaig.co.uk/) , have a 1-1interview with a partner, do 2 group exercises and have  lunch with current trainees at Brebners. Brebners have 11 trainees at the moment and recruit around 4 a year.
  • Strong communication skills are required for working more closely with clients in a firm this size.
  • An interest in giving general business advice is important. Brebners promote themselves as Accountants and Business Advisers. So good problem-solving skills are required. You will be asked questions such as ‘How can I restructure the business?’, etc

When to apply?

Varies from firm to firm, but Brebners recruit in September and January.




Antonia Clark

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