EY pushes some graduate start dates back by almost a year

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EY has pushed back start dates for some new hires to its US advisory business for the second time, in another example of the pressures on professional services firms from the uncertain economy.

The Big Four firm told recent graduates who had originally expected to start work this autumn that some of them would now not be required until July or August 2024, almost a year late.

The decision was “based on emerging business conditions and our assessment of our business needs”, according to an email on Tuesday from EY’s campus recruiting department to a recruit in the EY-Parthenon business, which was seen by the Financial Times.

EY-Parthenon sits as an elite brand within the firm’s advisory arm, offering counsel to chief executives and working on restructuring and M&A deals, along with digital transformation and other consulting work. It accounts for 9,000 of EY’s global workforce of 395,000.

EY also delayed start dates for new recruits to other parts of the advisory business, according to discussion in online forums and a Wednesday email seen by the FT.

EY and its rivals have come under pressure due to a prolonged slide in M&A activity and a slowdown in broader consulting work as companies reduce or cancel projects and push for lower fees. EY said earlier this year that it was laying off 5 per cent of its US workforce, with the cuts concentrated in the advisory business.

EY-Parthenon first pushed back start dates for its 2023 recruits in the US around the same time as the lay-offs began in April, telling many of the graduates that they would not be needed until December or February 2024.

Its email this week said it was accelerating start dates for some, but further deferring start dates for others. “Your early experience in the practice is important for setting you on a strong trajectory, and we believe that you’ll have a better opportunity to grow, develop and progress in the practice with a July start date,” it told disappointed recruits.

“EY-Parthenon is heavy in strategy and transactions work,” said Namaan Mian, chief operating officer of Management Consulted, which coaches students through the recruitment process. “You combine a dealmaking slowdown with a lower utilisation rate for their current consultants, and that leads to delayed start dates.”

EY-Parthenon’s email said it would pay a $5,000 lump sum to compensate for the extra five-month delay. Another recruit facing a delay until August was told they would get $6,000.

“What sucks is delaying it twice, instead of just delaying it for a whole year initially,” said one new hire, who had already signed a lease for accommodation in anticipation of starting this autumn.

“We could have planned something entirely different, such as an extra year of school or finding a better internship or job. Instead, we have been stuck in this in-between place.”

EY declined to comment beyond the emails.

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