1/1/11

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 (42)

1/1/11

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.

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1/1/11

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:

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...

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1/1/11

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.

1/1/11

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?)

1/1/11
WallStreetCFO:

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.

1/1/11

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...

1/1/11
WallStreetCFO:

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?

1/1/11

i think if you wanted to get into investment banking, getting an MBA from a top school afterwards should open doors,maybe not BB, but MM shops for sure

1/5/11

Currently in 2nd year of 3 year contract with Big 4 audit. Id break it down as follows:

The Pitch:
-You will work on the biggest companies in the country, alongside top executives and you will learn how business works.
-You will get a qualification that will open doors anywhere in the world and you can work in any industry...the possibilities are endless.
-We provide first class training to help you develop not only your technical skills but also the soft skills that are critical to success in your career. We are committed to our employees.

The Candidates View:
-Hmmm It would be interesting to see the inner workings of major corporations...plus knowledge of financial statements is always a valuable skill.
-Im not 100% sure what I want to do or where I want to live..Big 4 will help me keep my options open and give me a global qualification.
-Well at least they give a shit about your development and your not just being shouted at 80 hours a week.

In summary you know they are lying through their teeth but you rationalise the bullshit to yourself.

After two years:
-Just starting the audit of my 22nd CDO now (along with a medium sized stockbroking firm the only thing I have done). Ok lets start ticking the boxes and doing exactly the same boring, mind numbing, agonisingly frustrating tasks I have done for the last 21 pieces of shit that nobody cares about.
-Lets look at my exit opportunities....sure I can go "anywhere in the world" and "work in any industry"....of course I will be doing identical work no matter what inudstry Im in.
-Development?hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. I asled my manager for experience other than shitty CDO's and the whence told me it was an "impossibility, here's six more CDO's"

Seriously though I know that sounds whiny/tongue in cheek but I am actually seriously seriously down about my situation at the moment. I am currently searching for other jobs and I would advice nobody to touch audit unless you have no other options whatsoever.

The exit opportunities are far more limited than your told/con yourself into believing when you sign up and I am now seriously worried about what Im going to do.

1/5/11

I know a few people considering a similar transition, however definitely stay until August to get your CPA (and minimal bonus) in case you need to fall back on it. Auditing is a dead end road, and I still don't understand how the Big 4 sell it so well; considering the hours and menial tasks the pay/experience is garbage.

Can you post a description of the FP&A role, and do you know the group dynamics (i.e. do you report to a Sr. Analyst or Director of FP&A)?

My buddy started in a FP&A role, reported directly to the FP&A Director and had significant exposure to the CFO. Because the team was small he put together all the analysis for strategic decisions, and was able to sell his story for IB (boutique/MM) interviews.

This example may be an outlier, however I think the FP&A job would be a much better experience. You also won't be working 70hrs a week for $50k. Worst case scenario you end up liking the position and make decent money only working 50hrs a week.

Best Response
1/5/11

"and I still don't understand how the Big 4 sell it so well; considering the hours and menial tasks the pay/experience is garbage."

Do you even know what you're talking about? Stop talking out of your ass. I don't know why everyone hates on accounting here. It's not the most exciting or awesome career relatively speaking, but its not exactly garbage either.

I agree that audit is dead end and over the long run you should switch over to something more interesting that also pays you better. However, I would hardly say that the experience is garbage. You learn the technical aspects of accounting and over-time you'll be given a lot more responsibilities as far as the work goes. Obviously, during the first year you're only doing menial work.Even in investment banking, you're not really doing intellectually stimulating work during your first year. So just stick it out until you get your CPA and you'll have a lot more doors open for you (unless of course you like that FP&A job and the company, and want to make the switch now). Just my two cents.

1/5/11

^It's because accounting doesn't have teh prestige and they can't post on here saying, "you jelly of my megafund exit opportunity status?" or ask whether KKR or TPG is a better PE fund if they work at the Big 4.

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1/5/11

Thank you so much for the fast responses!

Of course, I definitely understand the importance/benefit of finishing up my CPA; however, from the research I've done, as long as I'm working under someone in this new position with their CPA, they can still sign off on it -- I don't need be working in an accounting firm per se to get this experience. Of course -- this is something I plan on investigating fully throughout the hiring process before making a decision.

The recruiter actually presented me with a number of FP&A positions -- I've listed the description for one below:

Responsibilities:
Create and present monthly financial reporting packages to senior management, providing insights and foresights into XXX's emerging businesses.
Coordinate global processes for budgeting and planning activities. Collaborate with cross-functional teams to structure and execute strategic business initiatives, providing analytical insight and performance analysis.
Act as liaison between the core Finance team and the group or department being supported, assisting with issues related to forecasting, planning, resource prioritization and business profitability.
Collaborate with other finance teams to analyse revenue trends on emerging businesses, and benchmark them against the industry trends.
Requirements:
BA/BS in Finance or Accounting preferred, Postgraduate degree and/or CPA/CMA a plus.
At least 2 years of solid financial experience, preferably in a corporate FP&A role.
Excellent analytical and modeling skills, FP&A and/or project management experience. Superior problem solving and analysis skills, combined with impeccable business judgment and ability to communicate with management team.
Demonstrated top quartile performance in prior roles, with increasing levels of responsibility and independence.

Extensive knowledge of Excel and PowerPoint. Knowledge of Hyperion a plus.

I want a job where I'm fully engaged and challenged. Hours aren't a problem (as mentioned previously, I'm on one of the largest clients in our office here -- 80 hours work weeks weren't an issue for me) -- my main concern is that I feel challenged and am excited to go to work. I used to be passionate about my career; eager to return to that place...

Also, any thoughts on if it will be a problem I don't have experience modeling? (Since the days of college finance). I'm an extremely fast learner and anticipate no problems catching on quickly.

Thanks again for your thoughts. :)

1/5/11

Haha. Caring about prestige gets old after a while. To be honest, no one cares if you're some hotshot at a mega PE firm or a Big 4 accountant. It's important that you like what you do wherever you are and still afford a decent lifestyle while you're at it.

With that said, it seems like you (sh812) really find that job interesting and don't think audit is your cup of tea anymore. So make the switch if you think its the right decision for you right now. I don't think it will be hard to get involved in the finance side of things at the Fortune 100 once you get promoted or stick around long enough (FP&A is still accounting at the junior level). If you stuck around at the Big 4 for a few more years, you could transition to a controller type of role, or transfer to another Big 4 and work in their advisory practice (not ERS, but transactions, which is more finance related). Either way, you'll have plenty of options available to you, so don't listen to those that say your audit experience is garbage and won't get you anywhere else career wise.

1/5/11

I worked in FP&A for the largest global company in its sector for 1.5 years and was able to switch to AM easily (i had opportunities to do ER but I prefered this one for many reasons). If you do switch to FP&A and as you said there are maany roles offered to you, my advice would be to avoid the role with the routine accounting shit like closing the books, reconciling accounts, etc. Rather than that, try to chose the role that is more involved in developing the annual budget and the long-term strategic plan. Those were my roles and let me tell you, it is very rewarding and it opens tons of doors.

Even tho audit is boring, you may wanna consider sticking it out, get your CPA and get a role in advisory....that is the most fun part in the big 4s (i havent worked in them but i have a couple of friends that do)

1/5/11

"Thoughts? Do I stick it out? Is FP&A a dead-end or are there learning opportunities there?"

As someone who works in FP&A in an equivalent company to which you are searching (And it's not hard to find the job posting), I would say...it depends...

It depends:

  • On the structure of the company and the company culture
  • How patient you are at climbing the ladder
  • How well you perform & innovate your role

On the bright side, FP&A (like auditing) will never have a lack of demand, it uses skills which are transferable across all businesses, and it allows you to interact with different segments within the business.

Send me a PM if you have more questions.

1/5/11

"auditing is a dead end road, and I still don't understand how the Big 4 sell it so well; considering the hours and menial tasks the pay/experience is garbage."

everything is relative. i get that accounting is considered an inferior career relative to more prestigous, better paying front-office finance and consulting jobs, but your assessment of public accounting could not be more wrong. i have been working in big 4 audit since 2009 and will be promoted to senior in the fall. my first year total comp was $64K (including sign-on and cpa bonus) and my second year total comp will be around $60K in the end. My average # of hours worked per week since joining the firm has been around 45. I have taken roughly 7-8 full weeks of vacation since starting, not including 10 holidays a year. There are menial tasks in the beginning (are there not in finance??), but on a daily basis I have direct face-to-face interaction with my client's managers, controller, and CFO, and can 100% say I have learned more about GAAP, auditing, and my client's industries than you can imagine. Next year I will be directly repsonsible for running jobs and supervising staff. The recruiters offering me better paying jobs with even better work/life balance think my experience is pretty good.

i'm not saying it's the best job, but to shit on it without knowing the facts is dumb. like i said, it's all relative. i think a lot of people (especially on here) don't understand the reality the overwhelming majority of americans face. there are people who would kill to be making $60K a year to provide for their family, let alone be making that at 23 y/o.

to the OP: i would try to stick it out at least one more year. the job gets better as your move up. your 2nd year should be much better than your first. also, if your end goal is fp&a, you would be better off making the jump down the road at the senior or manager level. the raises from public to private get much better at those levels. i have a few friends who work in fp&a roles at F100 companies, and although they don't mind their jobs, exciting or challenging is never a way they describe it.

1/5/11

As I mentioned earlier and yellow ranger reiterated, if you transition to FP&A make sure it is more focused on strategy / analysis of business units / revenue streams etc and not supporting the accounting department.

The job looks like a good opportunity, I would definitely consider it after you get your CPA and the bonus that comes along.

bird.... You are embellishing so much it is scary. I have 4 very good friends in auditing/tax here in Boston at the various Big 4, yes I understand the job. My word choice may have been a little harsh, however every single individual I know in Big 4 (including the OP) is trying to transition out of the industry, what does this say? Auditing in itself may be a great job/fit for some individuals, however those who want to move into a more front-office type position in finance (like the OP) will have more difficulty the longer they stay in auditing.

1/5/11
BSTN05:

bird.... You are embellishing so much it is scary. I have 4 very good friends in auditing/tax here in Boston at the various Big 4, yes I understand the job. My word choice may have been a little harsh, however every single individual I know in Big 4 (including the OP) is trying to transition out of the industry, what does this say? Auditing in itself may be a great job/fit for some individuals, however those who want to move into a more front-office type position in finance (like the OP) will have more difficulty the longer they stay in auditing.

I'm on the same page with you. I'm trying to make the same moves as your buddies and the op. It's the only reason I follow this site. Just wanted to add some perspective, and make clear that all things considered, there are much worse situations to be in relative to working in big 4 accounting. If I could land something better I would be gone tomorrow. back to the OP, if you really want to get out of accounting (as i do), start getting your things in order for a top mba program.

1/5/11

I actually went Big 4 > Corporate Fin Consulting > F200 FP&A. and now I'm at the same F200 in a non-FP&A finance role.

You have gotten some very good advice on this board, but you never said what interests you or where you may want to end up. FP&A is very good experience and critical experience for many corporate finance positions. But, to some people it isn't the path they want.

Another thing that is stupid, but could set you back is title. The title of this position is SFA or something similar, correct? I would not take any position that is only titled Financial Analyst. While it shouldn't matter, it often does. If your goal is to be Director in X years, you have an extra promotion to achieve coming from FA instead of SFA. On that note, some people recommend staying in audit until you earn the Manager title, to speed up your promotional track.

PM me if you want to discuss in more detail.

1/5/11

"My word choice may have been a little harsh, however every single individual I know in Big 4 (including the OP) is trying to transition out of the industry, what does this say? Auditing in itself may be a great job/fit for some individuals, however those who want to move into a more front-office type position in finance (like the OP) will have more difficulty the longer they stay in auditing."

Well, you can say the same thing about individuals in banking. The majority of us want to transition out of the industry into something "better" and supposedly less stressful, such as PE or HF's. You don't go into banking intending to make a long term career out of it. Likewise, for the majority of people don't go into Big 4 Auditing intending to make a career out of it. You go in to go out, just like in banking (don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say both are equal careers as I do believe if given the opportunity between the two, go for banking). All I'm saying is that just because most people want to leave the Big 4, doesn't mean it gives you a crap experience. You work there for a few years, get the experience, and move on to a more lucrative career, just like you would in banking.

1/5/11

Just out of curiosity, since I'm more interested in corp finance positions myself actually, if my goal is to one day become a higher up on the finance side within the company (i.e. either become VP of Finance, or possibly CFO of a division or something), what kinds of job duties should I look for to end up in those roles? Also, I'm quite interested in corp dev, and while I know they typically want M&A bank experience, do you guys know of people who went from traditional industry finance => corp dev (and yes, I've read harvardgrad's post, I'm just curious about others' experiences with this)?

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1/5/11
Al Bundy:

Just out of curiosity, since I'm more interested in corp finance positions myself actually, if my goal is to one day become a higher up on the finance side within the company (i.e. either become VP of Finance, or possibly CFO of a division or something), what kinds of job duties should I look for to end up in those roles? Also, I'm quite interested in corp dev, and while I know they typically want M&A bank experience, do you guys know of people who went from traditional industry finance => corp dev (and yes, I've read harvardgrad's post, I'm just curious about others' experiences with this)?

almost every one of the senior leaders have had significant experience in FP&A. i'm in an FP&A role now within HQ, working directly for CFO.

1/5/11
Al Bundy:

Just out of curiosity, since I'm more interested in corp finance positions myself actually, if my goal is to one day become a higher up on the finance side within the company (i.e. either become VP of Finance, or possibly CFO of a division or something), what kinds of job duties should I look for to end up in those roles? Also, I'm quite interested in corp dev, and while I know they typically want M&A bank experience, do you guys know of people who went from traditional industry finance => corp dev (and yes, I've read harvardgrad's post, I'm just curious about others' experiences with this)?

"To Become a VP of Finance" is ridiculously broad. At some orgainzations "VP of Finance" could be in Treasury, Tax, Audit, Planning, Commercial Finance, Leasing, Manufacturing, even Strategy, etc... As you can imagine there are different experiences required for these positions. However, most people aim to be VP of corporate finance or a business unti or commercial function. If that is your goal some FP&A is basically a requirement.

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1/5/11

That's generally accurate, although I would say, depending on whether or not you're any good, you potentially have more exit ops and / or opportunities to expand your ops. If you're just average, and you have no idea how to craft your own next steps, then yes you are probably going to get shit on with boring work for as long as you can stand it, and then you'll leave to be mediocre somewhere else.

For example, you could be doing ITRA/ERS work as a non accountant, decide to get a part time MS in Accounting, become a CPA, and lateral into one of the transaction services groups doing valuation, m&a advisory, pre and post integration work, etc. Your work on both sides of the fence will be highly valued. Or you could lateral to the financial audit side and exit to industry as a financial analyst, or controller, etc. Or you could move into one of the more strategic consulting roles (I use that term loosely), like performance improvement. Or, depending on your technical depth and how sharp you are, you could gravitate to Big Data (Data Mining, Data Analytics) or InfoSec (Attack & Pen, etc).

There really are an amazing number of permutations of opportunities at the Big4, and coming out of the Big4, it's just all about how you position yourself and the skills that you accumulate, and most Big4 staff aren't cut out for navigating all of the options. For every one that makes a move like those I described, there are 10 that wouldn't have a clue how to make it happen for themselves. You just have to decide which group you're in.

1/5/11

"For example, you could be doing ITRA/ERS work as a non accountant, decide to get a part time MS in Accounting, become a CPA, and lateral into one of the transaction services groups doing valuation, m&a advisory, pre and post integration work, etc. Your work on both sides of the fence will be highly valued."

That is simply not possible. Transactions services groups have a hard on for 1-rated external auditors. They hate ERS-type guys.

Also, never, ever get an MS Accounting if you have worked prior. Absolutely, no value unless you plan on starting your career over as an accountant. Only routes to transaction advisory positions are as follows:

BS Accounting (Top 50 Public/Private - 3.5+ GPA) -> MS Accounting (Top 10 Program - 3.5+ GPA) -> TAS Position

BS Accounting (Top 50 Public/Private - 3.5+ GPA) -> MS Accounting (OK Place - 3.8+ GPA) -> External Audit in Financial Services or Fortune 500 Companies for 2 years with at least 1 or 2 ratings each year -> TAS Position

As for the other positions listed, you'd need a speciality degree - Stats, Comp Sci.

Bang.

"Just go to the prom and get your promotion. That's the way the business world works. Come on, Keith!" - The Boss

1/5/11
The Boss:

"For example, you could be doing ITRA/ERS work as a non accountant, decide to get a part time MS in Accounting, become a CPA, and lateral into one of the transaction services groups doing valuation, m&a advisory, pre and post integration work, etc. Your work on both sides of the fence will be highly valued."

That is simply not possible. Transactions services groups have a hard on for 1-rated external auditors. They hate ERS-type guys.

Also, never, ever get an MS Accounting if you have worked prior. Absolutely, no value unless you plan on starting your career over as an accountant. Only routes to transaction advisory positions are as follows:

BS Accounting (Top 50 Public/Private - 3.5+ GPA) -> MS Accounting (Top 10 Program - 3.5+ GPA) -> TAS Position

BS Accounting (Top 50 Public/Private - 3.5+ GPA) -> MS Accounting (OK Place - 3.8+ GPA) -> External Audit in Financial Services or Fortune 500 Companies for 2 years with at least 1 or 2 ratings each year -> TAS Position

As for the other positions listed, you'd need a speciality degree - Stats, Comp Sci.

Bang.

I personally know of two managers (1 EY, 1 Deloitte) that moved from ITRA/ERS to TAS just last year. It's certainly not an open door for everyone, but there are always a handful of standouts in every area and those guys are generally able to carve out whatever path they want, including transitions that you seem to think are "simply not possible".

Here's a tip: don't make such definitive claims about a population of 500k+ employees across the Big4. While you're right as a general rule, my point stands - which is that if you're very good (and only a small handful are), it doesn't matter which group you're in; you can make an opportunity for yourself to lateral.

Bang.

1/5/11

My MSc degree will be in the field of Management Information Systems (top uni),just thinking of possible career path if I wont get to management consulting

1/5/11

How bout BBA Econ Minor Accounting 3.5+ GPA (100s range) ----> MS Acct 3.5+ (BC, A&M, USC, UIUIC, Indiana) ? B.c I am thinking about MS Acct but will not go into it without a pretty good shot at TAS or Advisory b.c I have no interest in anything else Big 4 (exit opps suck in all other divisions from what I hear).

1/5/11

Another question:

For example I have 2-3 years senior consultant/jr manager work experience in ITRA/SPA/ERS and then go for a top5-10 MBA:

1) how this will affect my chances of being accepted to top MBA?

2) how my pre-MBA big4 internal audit will help to land a job in IB/MC/PE/VC or any other overachievers dream?or it will lower my chances to break in to one of these areas?

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bump?

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1) Big 4 looks good and is recognized by all types of businesses, so it will give you at least some credibility outside of accounting.
2) Similar to the first question, the QA or CPA license is also recognized and gives further credibility. It will certainly help when you're looking to change careers, but the return will likely diminish later in your career, if it is outside of accounting.
3) There are a lot of great posts on WSO about the audit to banking switch, I also just did a post about the switch on the site in my sig. I would think an actuary position would likely be easier than a banking position, but I really don't know much about the actuary route.
4) Analyst would pay more, and you can definitely pay down those student loans with the year end bonuses.

Why don't you look at FP&A roles? Some are labeled FP&A but are really more accounting focused, however there are more forward looking, analytical roles. If you are interested in this route the QA would definitely be worth sticking around for.

Big 4 Accounting Recruiting Guide Interview Questions and Answers, Networking Guide and more - Complete 50 page guide.

1/5/11

Thanks for all the great info! At the risk of sounding completely naive can you explain the following acronyms:

1. QA - is this an american term/qualification?
2. FP&A

Thanks!

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1) You mentioned qualified accountant, which I understand is the British counterpart to the CPA. I used QA under the assumption you used that acronym.
2) Financial planning and analysis. These groups usually help with forecasting and process improvements. I found a sample job post so you can see the requirements/responsibilities. http://bit.ly/12gZpZg

Big 4 Accounting Recruiting Guide Interview Questions and Answers, Networking Guide and more - Complete 50 page guide.

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Ah right, I see. Thanks a lot for the help!

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1. This has only been a waste of 2 years if you have allowed it to be and/or you cannot convincingly speak to your experiences when trying to leverage this into another position. Essentially, hopefully you have gained relevant experience and gained applicable knowledge that you can speak to. If not, hopefully you can take what skills you have developed and the experiences you have had and spin such so that it seems valuable.

2. I am assuming you are overseas and wish to remain there. I can only speak to the U.S. markets and I would advise someone here in the States to finish the exam. The knowledge gained will be limited and be of little value, however, if you do not finish the exam there really is no excuse as to why you didn't. This is especially true as you've been in the industry 2 years and this is more than enough time to finish the qualifications/examinations. Frankly, the only excuse for not completing the exam is laziness, and in my opinion this will likely be what a prospective employer may think. Again, please note this response is specific to the U.S. markets.

3. I would refer to #1 and #2 above; given the right experiences/skillset and the right qualifications, the transition should be feasible. Networking will be key and you should start reaching out to people and building a network sooner rather than later. Additionally, look into what qualifications people have in the industries in which you want to transition. Do they have certain licenses or designations? If so, you should start to look into obtaining the same. Actions speak louder than words and if you make a commitment to the industry via gaining relevant qualifications this will indicate dedication.

My advice would be to fulfill the requirements to become a qualified accountant first so that this stage of your career is complete and then move on to the other qualifications and your career transition more generally.

Please note that these are simply my views based on my experiences in Big 4 here in the U.S.; I only worked in audit for 2 years and then transitioned out of the industry.

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