A-Z of employers; Coopers and Lybrand

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The Independent Culture
Age: 144

History: Originally established as Coopers Brothers in 1854, by William Cooper, the firm was then based in small offices in George Street and dealt with the accounting affairs of railways and the like. Coopers merged in the 1960s with American partner Montgomery and Lybrand, and then in 1990 with Deloitte Haskins Sells. Last September, it was announced that Coopers and Lybrand were in talks to merge with another Big Six firm, Price Waterhouse. As yet, there is no official launch date.

Address: Architect Terry Farrell designed the firm's purpose-built headquarters above Charing Cross station in London (pictured), where more than 5,000 staff have been based for four years. The company has 31 offices in the UK, and 760 offices in 142 countries worldwide.

Ambience: A C&L spokesman says the company is entrepreneurial, team-driven, diverse, energetic and task-focused. Employees must exercise "healthy cynicism - you need to as an auditor". Modern offices include an on-site doctor, dentist, travel agent and cash machines, plus squash courts, modern art and good views of the River Thames. Dress is smart at all times.

Vital statistics: Worldwide turnover last year was $7.5 billion; the UK figure was pounds 766 million. Profits were 22 per cent up on the year before. The firm has 82,000 employees, of whom 10,000 are based in the UK.

Lifestyle: With new markets opening up in South East Asia, Latin America and the Indian sub-continent, there are plenty of travel opportunities. In a profession where "the client is God", employees are expected to work until the job is done. There is a C&L team dedicated to arranging international secondments; typically, employees change position every two or three years.

Easy to get into? Although C&L take on 900 UK trainees a year, around 15,000 graduates compete for places. Communication, team and interpersonal skills are prerequisites, plus ability to show initiative. A spokesman says that while the company doesn't have a "mechanistic" recruitment policy, most graduates have an upper second degree. Nearly 50 per cent are women.

Glittering alumni: Accounting gurus Lord Benson and Sir Kenneth Cork, Yorkshire Water chief Brandon Gough, ex-Lord Mayor of London Brian Jenkins and Glaxo head Richard Giordano were all formerly with the company.

Pay: Graduate starting pay ranges from pounds 18,000 to pounds 22,000, depending on discipline. Senior pay can range from pounds 200,000 to pounds 300,000 plus packages.

Training: Each graduate gets pounds 100,000 worth of training over three years, resulting in a professional qualification. Graduates are taken on in business assurance and tax, management consultancy, corporate finance, risk management, actuarial, middle markets, public sector and insolvency work. The company has a training centre in Hertfordshire, and its own methodology software, Class Technology.

Canteen: Called The Epicentre, it seats 100 and is open for breakfast and lunch.

Who's the boss? Peter Smith is chairman, with a partnership board of ten.