FAQ – When to transfer from Audit to Transaction Services (TS)?

In these FAQ posts, we answer the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients and readers making their career moves out of Accounting & Audit, what else you need to be mindful of and hints & tips to ensure you give yourself the best possible chances of securing that next dream role.


In this FAQ, we’re covering when and how to transfer from Audit and Accounting to Transaction Services / Transaction Advisory Services (TS / TAS). We have touched on this topic in other posts but never explicitly spoke about the timing and some of the details we cover here.


Are you wondering:

  • When is the best time to start transferring from Audit and Accounting to Transaction Services?
  • Should I apply internally or externally to move from Audit and Accounting to Transaction Services?


Let’s get to it…


When is the best time to start transferring from Audit and Accounting to Transaction Services?


If you’ve secured a grad role in Audit or Accounting and haven’t yet started, now is the best time to request a transfer.


If you know you would prefer Transaction Services vs Audit then don’t wait until you’ve begun the Audit scheme to make a request.


It’s significantly harder to transfer once you’ve already started a scheme because your Audit HR department have already invested time and money into recruiting you and the internal Transaction Services HR team will have to respect that. The result is usually the same, a simple response from HR stating that you need to complete your scheme in Audit before they will allow you to apply to transfer internally.


If you’re already in Audit or Accounting and haven’t yet qualified, then we would normally recommend starting to show interest and actively seeking opportunities (whether this is internally or externally) 12 months before you qualify.


There are a ton of candidates looking to make the move from Audit and Accounting to Transaction Services, with much fewer roles available, so being the first in will give you many more opportunities. It can also take time to network and arrange an internal move so the sooner you’re on the case the sooner you can secure this move.


If you’re desperate to leave Audit for Transaction Services, haven’t yet qualified and have been told you have to complete your contract first, then you might want to try also applying externally (i.e. transfer from Audit to Transaction Services in a different firm entirely). I’ll explain more in the next section as to why this can be a “cleaner break” from Audit!


If you’re concerned about exam fees and the potential clause in your employment contract which allows your firm to “claw back” the exam costs if you leave before your contract is over then you can find out more about handling this in our post on leaving Audit and Accounting before finishing your qualification.


Should I apply internally or externally to move from Audit and Accounting to Transaction Services?


If you’re already working for an Accounting firm such as the Big 4 then we’ve already hinted that there can be some drawbacks of trying to move internally, and this is the case whether or not you’re still qualifying or already qualified.


We’ll go through each of these potential pitfalls you may come up against 1 by 1:

  1. Hybrid roles
  2. Lower salary
  3. Stiffer competition


Hybrid Roles

Most notably, it’s that there are many cases where your Audit HR team will collaborate with the Transaction Services HR team to create a hybrid role. The hybrid role I’m referring to tends to drag you back into Audit for busy season each year, with no clear limit on the length of this placement.


There are cases when this is proposed if you apply externally to another firm, but it tends to happen less often. The reason is because of the aforementioned respect that the different internal HR departments have to give one another but also perhaps because your Audit HR team feel they have more bargaining power of you, at least until you have an offer elsewhere…


Lower Salary

Another drawback of an internal move can be the HR teams not offering you the salary that other Transaction Services peers are on at the same level as you. Yes, in some respect they are right when they say other peers may have more Transaction Experience than you but if you transferred externally you likely will be offered the “market rate” (in reality the difference here may only be a $10k-$25k in your first year, but this can be a fair amount to some in the early stages of your career and it might not jump to market rate for some time).


Similarly, whether you apply internally or externally, there may be some debate about which staff level you should start on given that other candidates qualified whilst working in the Transaction Services department (vs you in Audit or another service line) and so they already have more experience.


However, given that it is becoming more common in some Transaction Services divisions (e.g. M&A or Restructuring) to only take on qualified accountants as their lowest level of staff, this salary and staff level negotiation should hopefully be less common as time goes on.


Stiffer Competition

You might be told you need to be one of the top candidates in your peer group to move internally. Unfortunately, even if you are there’s no guarantee you will get the role over someone else in your peer group or externally. It can quite honestly come down to networking, good timing and how well you portray yourself on your Resume / CV and throughout the recruitment process.

NOTE: Even though you are applying internally you also tend to have to go through the same process as an external candidate!


Although to some degree this is a generalisation, you can also imagine that a fair majority of the people in your peer group from Audit and Accounting backgrounds will be risk adverse and tip toe their way around change. This adversity also applies to changing jobs, offices and colleagues. As a result, more of your peers tend to apply internally than externally.


You could argue that applying externally surely doesn’t solve this issue as the firm you’re applying to will simply have all of their Audit staff also applying internally(!). Nevertheless, you’d be surprised how much firms like bringing in new people from outside their remit and the possibility of new ideas/ways of doing things they can benefit from, not to mention this is also a great way to steal good candidates from their competitors!


For a thorough review on what it takes and other watch outs, check out our post on how to move from Audit to Transaction Services.


This FAQ-series intended to give you a quick and dirty overview to some of the most frequently asked questions about making career moves after Accounting & Audit. This particular post covered when and how to transfer from Audit and Accounting to Transaction Services / Transaction Advisory Services (TS / TAS), with other articles coming soon!


Exit Options | Mapping the post-accounting & audit landscape

A lot of the clients we coach ask about moving into more strategic & commercial roles after spending time in traditional accounting & audit, but don’t know where to start or even what opportunities exist …so-much-so that we’ve put together a map of the landscape of accounting exit opportunities, which I encourage you to check out!


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