Written by; Moaaz Iqbal

If you are confused about deciding what firm to join or even apply in, this article is for you.
Listed below are some of the critical points you need to work on before making your decision. Each of these points will help you in the long run and make your profile stronger.

1: Clientele

The client base of the firm, you aim to choose, is significant. Basically, if the client base of the firm is diverse, you will get to have a vast corporate exposure. A large number of clients means that over the course of your articleship, you will be sent over numerous companies for auditing or other services. The more clients you deal with, the more seasoned professional you become.
Diversity means to have a portfolio of clients relating to different industries/sectors of the market. This will open avenues of employment for your future. For example; if your firm deals mainly in the construction industry, you will be able to work with organizations from the construction industry in the future only. Similarly, only a few firms are allowed by the State Bank of Pakistan to conduct an audit of banks. So, if your firm does not audit banks, it is highly likely that a bank will not hire you for their audit department after articleship. Ultimately, the clientele of your firm is your potential employment.

2: The extent of the use of IT systems and software

The world is moving towards computerized systems more and more every day. Although we live in a third-world country, this should not mean that we overlook the conditions and expectations of foreign industries. Procedures in foreign industries are way more advanced and therefore, it is necessary to polish your skills accordingly to adapt to their corporate culture. So, make sure that the firm you join is able and willing to teach you effective use of audit software and IT in conducting the audit and providing other services, like PWC and EY Ford Rhodes.

3: Allowance for exam preparation

Each one of us has the right to and deserve adequate time to prepare for our professional exams. I would rather not compromise on this because at the end of the day, clearing my exams means more than anything to me. If you feel the same way, find out how much days do different firms allow you to prepare your exams. Also, work out on the duration of late sittings during exams' season. See which one is the most suitable for you and how much can you sacrifice without affecting your studies.
4: Overall environment and culture
The kind of environment and culture you work in today will groom your personality for tomorrow.
There are three things to look out for
1.  Attitude of Management
2.    Office politics
3.    Healthy competition

5: Secondment Opportunities:  

The firm which is reasonable in all three areas will contribute the most to your personal and professional development. Moreover, according to one of Harvard Business Review's research, soft skills like communication skills and critical thinking are important for accountants. Therefore, only a firm with proper growth culture can develop you in these aspects.
Secondment, in this context, means being temporarily transferred to a branch located outside Pakistan. Why is it important though? It is essential because you get a cross-cultural international experience in your field. International experience will help you get jobs, especially abroad. Moreover, it is a crucial factor for your overall grooming as you learn to collaborate and interact with people from another culture. If you are planning to move towards Arab or UAE after your qualification, please consider this.
Firms famous for high secondment opportunities are KPMG and EY Ford Rhodes.

6: Your area of interest: 

Most of us are not sure yet whether we want to work in advisory or assurance. A relative of mine, who is a member ACCA, told me that initially, it is essential not to limit yourself towards one service. This means that it is necessary to gain experience in advisory and audit both. Therefore he advised that choose a firm which will rotate you between both the departments. This will not only give you an insight into both the services but also tailor you.
Moreover, choose a firm which is competent in both the services, so you get an exceptional experience and training in both areas.
Last but not least, I understand that gathering all this information may quite difficult. So where do we? Well, begin with asking your seniors who are doing their articleship. Moreover, you can also discuss with your specific teachers who work in firms as well as teach CA students. Using your parents’ contacts may also benefit you.


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