Can you get an accounting job in an investment bank with an ACCA?

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ACCA. Not a passport to banking. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a subject to which we return intermittently: which sort of accounting qualification will get you a job in an investment bank? Most notably, can you get an accounting job in an investment bank with no more than ACCA? Or must you have the full ACA and Big Four training programme combination in order to get in?

The answer depends upon the times. In good times, an ACCA is sufficient. In bad times, it's not. These are bad times, unfortunately.

"I haven't seen too many roles specifying ACCAs recently," says Marcus Butler, principal at recruitment firm The Cornell Partnership. "The limited number of opportunities on offer means banks are now only really interested in hiring either ACAs from the Big Four or CIMA qualified accountants who've trained as graduates elsewhere in the banking system."

James Thompson, an accountancy specialist at recruitment firm Eximius agrees with this fairly bleak assessment of the new reality for ACCAs. "You can still get into banking with an ACCA," says Thompson. "It is still possible, but it's hard. As the banking market has contracted, banks are being picky about who they hire and fewer and fewer ACCAs are being placed."

Like Butler, Thompson says banks are mostly interested in Big Four ACAs and industry-trained CIMAs. It doesn't help that ACCAs find it harder to get into now-hot accounting areas, like regulatory accounting, he says.

Thomson says it's quite common for accountants who've qualified in India to complete an ACCA so that they have an international accounting qualification. Does this enable them to get a banking job in the City? "I'm not saying it's impossible, but we place fewer people than before," he says.