What it does: Advises clients on business issues
Staff stats: 200
The good bits: Autonomy, travel opportunities
The not so good bits: Workload can be demanding
The McGrathNicol story
Founded in 2004 as a KPMG spin-off, independent advisory firm McGrathNicol initially provided restructuring and insolvency solutions. The company has since expanded its offering and now also provides advisory, transaction and forensic services. The firm has clients in fields such as financial services, government, community and infrastructure and helps many of Australia’s leading organisations perform better.
McGrathNicol currently has around 30 partners operating in offices throughout Australia and New Zealand. Through its association with global professional services organisation Alvarez and Marsal (A&M), it also has an international reach.
McGrathNicol is not a listed company and its financial situation is not a matter of public record. However, it has won an AFR Client Choice Awards for Best Accounting Firm (revenue $50-$500 million). In 2015, its partners were reported to be earning in excess of $2 million a year, suggesting the firm is making healthy profits.
McGrathNicol is a member of the Diversity Council of Australia and Parents@Work (“an all-inclusive parenting program for corporate Australia”.). The firm is also supportive of female staff and participates in events such as International Women's Day and the University of Technology Sydney Women in Business Networking Luncheon. While the company doesn’t trumpet it publicly, staff report being part of a diverse and gender-balanced workforce (at least at the junior level – most partners are still men). There’s plenty of workplace flexibility for those with family responsibilities.
McGrathNicol supports a range of charities and community initiatives. It provides financial and participation contributions to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Special Olympics Australia. It also supports its employees’ participation in fundraising events. Ones such as Starlight Day, Movember, Herald Sun/City Link Run for the Kids and the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge.
The recruitment process
McGrathNicol’s Graduate Program is open to candidates with majors in accounting, finance or economics. You’ll need to be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident to apply. You’ll also need to be in the final year of your degree or have graduated within the last 18 months.
Candidates are expected to demonstrate they’re motivated, rounded and interested in the work the firm does. Candidates are also required to possess strong communication and interpersonal skills, as these are crucial to interacting productively with clients. There’s a strong team culture at McGrathNicol, so candidates who can demonstrate they are team-players have an edge. The company recruits many (though not all) all its grads through its Summer Vacation Program. This runs for 3-4 weeks over the Christmas break.
The recruitment process commences with an online application. This involves completing a short form and uploading a cover letter, CV and academic transcript. The next stages are an online cognitive ability assessment and a recorded video interview. If you make the shortlist, you’ll be invited to attend a group information and interview session. This will allow you get to know the company and its people better. The final stage is face-to-face behavioural interviews with senior staff.
If you secure a spot in McGrathNicol’s grad program, you’ll acquire broad commercial skills while working in all areas of the business. You’ll be involved in major projects and be given significant autonomy and responsibility. You’ll do a four-day Graduate Development Workshop and numerous technical and soft-skills training programs. You’ll be given plentiful opportunities to hone your business writing, time management, communication and presentation skills. You’ll have both national and international secondment opportunities. Plus, you’ll be supported while undertaking the Chartered Accountants Program.
McGrathNicol offers staff a competitive remuneration package and a generous bonus scheme. It fully funds its graduates to complete its Chartered Accountants Program. It also provides financial assistance and study leave for postgraduate courses. The firm offers attractive paid parental leave benefits, career breaks for study, travel or other personal goals and access to a health and wellbeing program. Flexible work arrangements are available and extra annual leave can also be bought.
McGrathNichol is transparent about the skills and competencies it’s staff need to progress to the next level. Staff take part in regular performance and development discussions. They also receive personalised mentoring and coaching programs. The firm is a meritocracy where “promotions are based on ability”.
Staff are supported if they decide to pursue further qualifications. McGrathNicol’s employees have completed Australian Restructuring, Insolvency & Turnaround Association Advanced Certification, the Chartered Financial Analyst Program and the Masters of Business Administration.
The vibe of the place
McGrathNicol’s newish Sydney headquarters have impressive views of Martin Place and a cutting-edge design that promotes staff interaction and collaboration. You’ll be expected to dress and act professionally in the office, particularly around clients, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to let your hair down out of hours. The firm puts on regular social functions and encourages staff participation in “team sports, corporate games and sporting events”. McGrathNicol prides itself on its no-nonsense ‘tell it like it is and deliver what you promise’ philosophy. This is reflected in its dynamic, unpretentious workplace culture.
Star rating: 4.6
From the Employer:
We work with corporates, banks, law firms, private companies and government agencies across a range of industries to deliver practical solutions and improve business outcomes. We combine hands-on experience, stakeholder management, financial skill, commercial acumen and common sense to achieve the best outcomes possible for our clients.
We are a uniquely diverse business that works across a broad range of industries. Our projects vary in nature and at times involve dealing with businesses in financial distress. Increasingly, our focus is on helping non-distressed organisations reach their full potential by improving processes, systems and structures.
Graduates and Summer Vacationers at McGrathNicol have the opportunity to work across our services and gain exposure to the variety of challenges faced by Boards, CEOs and senior management.
Our people are driven, ambitious, collaborative and dedicated. Continuous development is engrained in our culture and we have robust development and reward frameworks in place to support progression and generously compensate our employees.
As a Vacationer and Graduate, you will experience formal technical and soft skills training as well as personalised mentoring on the job. Our Graduates also receive full support to complete the Chartered Accountants Program or other qualifications, as appropriate.
Summer Vacation Program
Our Summer Vacation Program is open to students in their penultimate year of a business or commerce degree, majoring in accounting, economics or finance.
Running for 3-4 weeks, commencing in either November or January, the Program will provide you with real commercial experience across a variety of different projects and industries.
You will be assigned a Buddy, Time Manager and Counselling Manager during your placement to provide you with support and guidance. Our Program is unique in the opportunities that will be available to you, including shadowing Partners and attending networking events with our clients.
High-performing Vacationers may be offered a full-time Graduate role.
Our Graduate Program is open to students in their final year, or those who have graduated within 18 months of the Program commencement date.
To join our national Accounting focussed Graduate Program, you must be a Business or Commerce student, with a major in Accounting, Economics or Finance.
Graduates generally commence in February of each year, however, midyear commencement dates are available.
Our Graduate Development Program is designed to support you through your career and we provide clear progression pathways so you can reach your potential. In addition to personalised mentoring and guidance on-the-job, you will attend soft skills and technical training from day one and receive full support to complete the Chartered Accountants Program or other qualifications, as appropriate. "