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So my university and big 4 firms in general act like working in audit at a Big 4 is so prestigious, so I bought into it...

BW also ranked Big 4 as having top internship programs, best places to start your career, and etc, so I was even more convinced.

I always wanted to work Big 4 couple years, get my CPA then move on to something else like Corporate finance (possibly get my MBA?) but the more and more I research...

I don't see what's the big deal. I havent even heard true Big 4 success stories where one becomes CFO, VP, CEO or any other top positions. Plus, audit seems like the firms work your butts off for 80+hr weeks but you only get paid like $60k. Sure, you meet these clients, develop relationships, and might learn a lot, but is it really worth it in the future/end?

So does the big 4 really look that good on my resume if I do it? Like I said I'd end up working so much (and studying my ass off to pass the CPA exam) but I'll never end up making that much $ anyways. Are the exit opportunities worth it (if any)?

Some feedback would be appreciated...

Comments (9)

  • randombetch's picture

    From what I've heard, the exit opportunities are limited and it is rare to break into i-banking or PE from big 4. I don't think they work 80 hours a week though - actually, I highly doubt it... I could be wrong, but why would anyone work 80 hours a week to make $60k a year with few exit opportunities when they could just work somewhere else (like in almost any field) for 40 hours a week and make $50k a year.

  • Al Bundy's picture

    Vut? Big 4 people REGULARLY become CFOs/Corporate Finance execs. That's basically their only exit opp lulz. The only thing is that they get less into the strategy or corp dev side and more on the FP&A, reporting, tax and maybe treasury side compared to bankers/consultants. Big 4 is great for corporate finance, but you'll be limited in your roles and you won't have PE/HF exits like bankers, and it'll be a tougher sell to CEO/product management positions than strat consultants.

    WallStreetCFO wrote:
    So my university and big 4 firms in general act like working in audit at a Big 4 is so prestigious, so I bought into it...

    BW also ranked Big 4 as having top internship programs, best places to start your career, and etc, so I was even more convinced.

    I always wanted to work Big 4 couple years, get my CPA then move on to something else like Corporate finance (possibly get my MBA?) but the more and more I research...

    I don't see what's the big deal. I havent even heard true Big 4 success stories where one becomes CFO, VP, CEO or any other top positions. Plus, audit seems like the firms work your butts off for 80+hr weeks but you only get paid like $60k. Sure, you meet these clients, develop relationships, and might learn a lot, but is it really worth it in the future/end?

    So does the big 4 really look that good on my resume if I do it? Like I said I'd end up working so much (and studying my ass off to pass the CPA exam) but I'll never end up making that much $ anyways. Are the exit opportunities worth it (if any)?

    Some feedback would be appreciated...

    Pretty women make us BUY beer. Ugly women make us DRINK beer.

  • karypto's picture

    I work (intern) at a multi-national healthcare company in their tax group, and all I can say ex-Big 4 employees fill all of our top positions, in tax and in finance. Personally, the exit opportunities are limited towards banking ... but, not towards law. If you become a tax attorney, you could advise clients on M&A deals, or a VC attorney. HF and PE shops certainly have a need for experienced tax attorneys as well. But that sounds easier than done with the over saturated market. I suggest you network, network, network if you want to get in to banking.

  • DCmoney's picture

    I know this is a forum for those who want to / are in / have been in banking but I didnt necessarily say I wanted to break into banking. What do you think of someone if, they didn't work in public accounting, but got their CPA (assuming the state doesnt have strict work exp requirements?)

  • Babyj18777's picture

    WallStreetCFO wrote:
    So my university and big 4 firms in general act like working in audit at a Big 4 is so prestigious, so I bought into it...

    BW also ranked Big 4 as having top internship programs, best places to start your career, and etc, so I was even more convinced.

    I always wanted to work Big 4 couple years, get my CPA then move on to something else like Corporate finance (possibly get my MBA?) but the more and more I research...

    I don't see what's the big deal. I havent even heard true Big 4 success stories where one becomes CFO, VP, CEO or any other top positions. Plus, audit seems like the firms work your butts off for 80+hr weeks but you only get paid like $60k. Sure, you meet these clients, develop relationships, and might learn a lot, but is it really worth it in the future/end?

    So does the big 4 really look that good on my resume if I do it? Like I said I'd end up working so much (and studying my ass off to pass the CPA exam) but I'll never end up making that much $ anyways. Are the exit opportunities worth it (if any)?

    Some feedback would be appreciated...

    OK I think I can help you. Sorry I didn't separate them properly but I'm lazy.

    So my university and big 4 firms in general act like working in audit at a Big 4 is so prestigious, so I bought into it...

    As far as accounting jobs go, working at one of the Big 4 is as prestigious as you can get. If you're trying to compare prestige across professions, you're gonna lose. Generally speaking, accountant is not considered a prestigious job title.

    That said, trying to play the prestige game is a losing proposition; there is always going to be someone more "prestigious."

    BW also ranked Big 4 as having top internship programs, best places to start your career, and etc, so I was even more convinced.

    BusinessWeek might be on to something....

    I always wanted to work Big 4 couple years, get my CPA then move on to something else like Corporate finance (possibly get my MBA?).

    Sounds like a plan to me.

    I don't see what's the big deal. I havent even heard true Big 4 success stories where one becomes CFO, VP, CEO or any other top positions.

    The majority of fortune 500 hundred CFO's are ex-Big 4. The CFO of KKR is a former Deloitte and Touche employee. The CFO of Brookside Capital (part of Bain Capital) is a former PWC employee. The CFO of DE Shaw started his career at Ernst and Young. The CEO of RIM (Blackberry) is ex-E&Y. The co-founder of Home Depot is also from E&Y. Success stories of Big 4 employees are commonplace, but like anything else, the experience is what you make it.

    Plus, audit seems like the firms work your butts off for 80+hr weeks but you only get paid like $60k.

    When you start at a Big 4 firm you will be a slave working long hours for relatively low pay... And? It's like that everywhere. If you want to make more money corporate law or investment banking are better places to be.

    Sure, you meet these clients, develop relationships, and might learn a lot, but is it really worth it in the future/end?

    That's a question you'll have to answer yourself.

    So does the big 4 really look that good on my resume if I do it? Like I said I'd end up working so much (and studying my ass off to pass the CPA exam) but I'll never end up making that much $ anyways. Are the exit opportunities worth it (if any)?

    As far as accounting related resume points go, Big 4 is the gold standard. You have to work your ass off in every field if you want to be successful.

    You don't go into accounting because you want to get rich. Accounting is the least risky of the professional services and therefore has the least upside. Furthermore, as an accountant you're in a support role, not a value creation role, and as such your earning potential is inherently limited. As an accountant you will always have a job, but you'll never get rich.

    Again, the exit opportunities will be what you make them.

  • DCmoney's picture

    babyj, thanks for an incredibly helpful answer. I guess I'm a little torn because I want to get rich (which I guess is only possible if I make CFO?) but at the same time do have an interest in going Big 4. Would you say one needs a Top school MBA to get an executive level position (i.e. get rich, have a value creation role, and increase other earning potentials, etc...

  • In reply to DCmoney
    Babyj18777's picture

    WallStreetCFO wrote:
    babyj, thanks for an incredibly helpful answer. I guess I'm a little torn because I want to get rich (which I guess is only possible if I make CFO?) but at the same time do have an interest in going Big 4. Would you say one needs a Top school MBA to get an executive level position (i.e. get rich, have a value creation role, and increase other earning potentials, etc...

    Hmmm let me see if I can answer this without being too opinionated.

    If you're interested in doing Big 4, go ahead and do it. It's a great place to start a career and you will learn a lot about how large corporations work.

    No, you do not need a top school MBA to get an executive level position. C-suite executives (I will examine CEO's exclusively to avoid confusion) can come from any educational background. The CEO of Google is an engineer. The CEO of Sony has an MA in History. The CEO of Goldman Sachs is a lawyer.

    No, you do not need to become a CFO to get rich coming from an accounting background. All of the very rich people that I know (several of them CPA's) have started their own businesses. Realize that "rich" is a subjective term. What is your definition of rich?