Grant Thornton vs the Mid-Tier Firms

When applying for a role as a trainee for a professional services firm, I’m sure many will apply for more than just the one firm in the hope that they will secure a position with at least one. The obvious comparison that is often made about Grant Thornton and other firms is usually up against the Big Four. However, with graduate and school leaver positions available at mid-tier firms, maybe this is a comparison which is often overlooked.

Since commencing my career in finance, I have worked for two firms. One being Grant Thornton and the other being a small, independent firm in my hometown where I completed my 15 month industrial placement.

So while I’ve no Big Four experience, I do know what it is like to work for a smaller firm. Having made the conscious decision to not accept an offer at the end of my placement, I stand strong behind my decision to train with Grant Thornton. While I can’t say what life is like at a larger firm, I can say I have no regrets with taking up a position here rather than anywhere else.

And here is why.

I don’t see Grant Thornton as the outsider of a Big Four world, or the biggest-of-the-rest firm. I see it as the most distinctively identifiable among any professional services firm. Our scale gives us international scope, world-class training and great client experience. Our modest size brings flexibility, a desire to grow and talented, levelheaded people. In short, our position in the market gives us the best of both worlds for a trainee.

A major factor for me to apply to a larger firm was the training. It’s really no secret that professional qualifications are incredibly difficult to obtain. I am humbled by the support and help I have received through the last two years to help me achieve my goals. Whilst there is a desire from everyone for me to succeed in CTA, this desire is channelled as support, and crucially not top-down pressure.

Our national scale allows us to provide this. Bradenham is home not only to our training centre and many good memories, but also specialist talent development personnel who are always happy to provide advice and support for where it is needed. In addition, with 300 trainees starting with Grant Thornton each year, there is always someone else who knows exactly what it’s like to sacrifice an evening or weekend to get some study hours in.

The client experience is also very important to me. As we strive to focus on owner-managed businesses there is immediate exposure to the whole story; the client is often the person who had an idea, who took the risk, who grew a business and who now sits in an office as Managing Director. Business interests me, and seeing how the story unravels on a personal level is, to me, far more interesting than working out how a multi-national conglomerate makes money.

Given the average size of our clients, its also commonplace that a tax adviser or auditor will be having one-to-one conversations with Managing Directors and Financial Directors within weeks of starting with the firm – something I hadn’t achieved at all in my previous role.

With any application, it is important to consider the pros and cons of each offer. I hope this will give you an insight into why I enjoy working for Grant Thornton and is able to assist you in making an informed decision about which firm might suit you best as you focus on a career in practice.

As always, any questions; feel free to comment below and I will be happy to answer your queries.

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