Deferred Gratification In The UK – And My Response

See my response and the reader’s conclusion below.


This is just one of the stories about deferred entry shenanigans both in the UK and here in the US that I have received in the last few weeks.  More and my answers later today…

Dear Francine,
On 31st of Jan. 2008, I received an email from [Big 4 firm] saying that I passed their recruitment process but they are unable to offer me a position in the office of my choice (non-London) since they already filled out the TS positions in that office. I immediately thought that could be the very first impact of credit crunch on a big4 firm since I made my application pretty early (early October for a position starting at Sep. 2008). However when I was offered to choose another office I thought maybe they are really being honest. Anyway, although a bit upset because of the fact that they told me that I have to go attend another interview with a partner from the new office,

I chose to go for London office. A day after having my interview at London office I received an email saying that I passed the interview but they are unable to offer me a position for the same reason exactly! London office was also filled out and guess what, according to them, there is no more vacancies in TS nationwide. It seems that they are gradually beginning to understand that they are, as you mentioned, as vulnerable to an economic downturn as any of their clients.

At last I chose to accept a deferred entry for 2009 but unfortunately that was an audit offer which they are claiming would be transferred to TS when they set their recruitment targets in Autumn. Now reading the shocking news of axing 90 staff in KPMG’s CF/TS makes me nervous about my future career. I think they might ultimately break their promise again and ask me to choose between staying in Audit or terminating my contract. I thought because of your knowledge of Big 4, you are in a position to be able to predict if the Big 4 is going to recruit in TS for 2009 given the recent economic climate.

Dear Reader,
How are you? Thanks for writing again.

Well, this is very interesting. So they are making students go to multiple interviews, then telling them there are no slots. Instead of not recruiting, or taking offers back, they are making deferred offers. 

Is the offer letter for September 2009 very solid?

Do you feel it is a strong commitment? What are you going to do between September 2008 and September 2009? What can you do if they change their mind before September 2009 and take the offer back? Sue them?


If you have a letter for Audit for September 2009, take it, accept it, and then keep interviewing. Check with other firms that say they are not going to have redundancies in TS. What is their practice for September 2008?

I doubt, unless something very dramatically positive happens in the economy, that you are going to be able to switch to TS either at September 2009 or within at least two years afterward. So you will have to decide if you want “a job” or want to wait for a specific  job…Sorry to be negative, but this sounds like a very unprofessional approach by [this Big 4 firm.].

Dear Francine,

Many thanks for your email. I accepted the Audit offer for 2009 with the possibility of being transferred to TS later but I doubt that would happen. The thing is I could have changed my service line and start in Audit/Tax this year but they told me in this case I have to do another interview with a partner from those service lines. I decided not to that since it would have been my fifth interview in a row for this job.  

I was confident that I can pass the interview since I did it three times before, however, I got the impression that they want to get rid of me so I thought it would be more safe to have a written formal contract signed. Having said that there is pretty much nothing that I can legally do if they take it back. Now, I am planning to take a gap year…to fill this year and hopefully get a taste of emerging markets. In terms of applying somewhere else I’d definitely keep sending out application but I am not very hopeful. 

Here’s why:
I had an interview with [and investment bank] for a position in Corporate Finance in early February.  After the interview the HR guy told me “although I am not supposed to provide immediate feedback, I have to say your answers seem pretty good and your score in our online tests is in the 90th percentile, so it is quite likely that you’d pass”.   I received an email from them last week (3.5 months after the interview!!!) saying the bank is not recruiting in CF anymore but they are happy to consider my application for Sales/Trading.  

Considering that [this investment bank]  is one of those financial institutions who are proud of the way they dealt with credit crunch, I think this is the case everywhere. Maybe, I have to forget about any deal related job and as you said get a job not waiting for a specific job.   I am a bit involved with M&A emotionally as its been a year that I am reading and reading around the topic but maybe its time to be reasonable and move on. 

The reason that I thought [the Big 4 firm] wanted to get rid of me is that as you mentioned they overhired on the basis of 2007 which was a fantastic year for M&A. The partner in London office told me that the number of deals they are working on is 50% less than the same
time last year so I’d imagine they wouldn’t mind to cut back a few of new joiners particularly those who need work permit/visa.
1 reply
  1. James
    James says:

    This hasn’t been helped by the Big4 or other firms pressure on business schools in the early 2000s to pump out as many auditors as possible to help with SOX work. I think we are seeing the wave of potential new hires hit just in time for an economic downturn.

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