Confusion reigns over ‘golden hellos’ approached the UK’s largest accountancy firms after reports last week suggested graduate trainees at Andersen Consulting were being offered £10,000 as a ‘golden hello’.

According to AC, these big bonuses for graduates – who are yet to complete a days work – reflect the growing competition to net the best recruits. It also said its bonus will help graduates pay off student debts which are now estimated to average between £6,000 and £8,000 per student.

But accountancy firms could seem decidedly less attractive to hard-up students when they find out how much more consultancies and banks are offering.

As things stand, Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers claim they have no plans to offer ‘golden hellos’ to graduates recruits. They do, however, both offer £1,000 settling in fees to new graduates. According to one spokesperson, this is to cover things like ‘a new suit and a hair cut’, but is not deemed significant enough to be called a ‘golden hello’.

KPMG said this week it was against the practice of big handouts for its new talent and Ernst & Young refused to be drawn on whether it did or didn’t do so.

Ernst & Young said: ‘We believe that graduates place much greater importance on gaining broad experience that will then set them up for the rest of their career, by obtaining a professional qualification, being given early responsibility an having access to sophisticated personal and career development opportunities.’

Whether or not cash-strapped graduates are more interested in ‘sophisticated personal development’ or £10,000 remains to be seen.

PwC took a more phlegmatic approach. ‘We do not offer golden hellos. We offer superb training and development packages which lead to a strong qualification,’ said a spokesperson.

PwC argues that with its client list and high profile in the business and accountancy world packages such as that offered by AC are not needed to attract the best graduates.

‘We offer a £1,000 settling-in payment and £3,000 interest free loan. But the main point is that our graduates get their qualification,’ said the spokesperson.

Whatever the reasons for a graduate joining a particular big accountancy firm, they at least have the opportunity to gain a blue-chip qualification which is unlikely to ever see them worrying about forking out for a haircut again.

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