Big 4 (Scotland) Vs Big 4 (Germany)

Hello All,

I need your help to choose between two offers. I am an international candidate with work experience in Strategy and Deals Advisory in a Big 4.

I need advice on which location to choose. I am more concerned about starting for an MBA in 2 years' time, and also moving on to Corporate Finance/Development, Investment Banking, and Private Equity roles in Europe within the next 2 - 5 years. The options are: 

Big 4 (Scotland) Transaction Services - Senior Associate 2 

Compensation - 45k plus (GBP) role with a possibility of making Manager next year

Big 4 (Germany) Transaction Diligence - Senior Associate 1 

Compensation - 60K plus (EUR) role with a possibility of making Manager two years

Comments (4)

Most Helpful
May 15, 2022 - 6:52am
DrApeman, what's your opinion? Comment below:


I was waiting to see if you'd get any answers, but seeing how quiet it is, I might try to give you some thoughts on my experience of living and working in both the UK (7 years) and in Germany (6.5 years).

First off, I do not have any clue which is best for you career-wise. I don't work at a Big 4 and have only very few friends and family members who do, and most seem to like it where they are, and we don't talk much about work anyway. So, that's something where I cannot contribute even a tiny bit.

As for where to live, there are a few considerations to take (my apologies if you are already familiar with both countries, but in any case it could be useful to someone who isn't, so I hope this is somewhat useful to the community at least):

1. Language.-- unless you speak German, it will be very cumbersome (even in FFM, Munich or Berlin). Most young and educated people will speak some (or even very good) english. But in a lot of restaurants they might not, at the supermarket they definitely will not, in a bunch of stores they won't either, and navigating German administration and bureaucracy without being a highly fluent German speaker is a nightmare (or have a friend willing to tag along every time, which I did a on a few occasions when I wasn't sure my level would cut it).

2. Cost of living.-- Now, I never lived in Scotland, but I lived in Oxon, Cambs, Warcks, and Notts (granted all are in England and not Scotland), and rent is really quite cheap in Germany by comparison with the UK (unless you're talking stuff like Gloucestershire or Northern Scotland maybe). I had a very nice studio flat (35m2 + 7m2 terrace) for EUR510/month, inclusive of building management costs and utilities (called Warmmiete in Germany, or "warm rent"). And the location was amazing, I was on the 12th floor overlooking an amazing forest, and a 20mins train journey from downtown FFM. Food is very affordable too, and beer is, well, it's not expensive at all :D .

3. Compensation.-- GBP45K and EUR60K will work out to a net monthly of roughly GBP 2.9K and EUR 3K (assuming you're unmarried), so about the same figure. However, of course exchange rates and COL kick in, so that's for you to see. But in Germany (except for downtown Munich/FFM), you can have a decent place for EUR 1K a month by yourself, which in the UK fetch you a studio at best (talking of GBP 1K of course for comparison).

4. Culture.-- Actually, Germans are pretty friendly people, but super direct. Nothing against you, never mean anything by it, but they are no-nonsense and very direct. They never beat around the bush. Takes some getting used to, but at least you generally know where you stand. Younger people are the same as everywhere otherwise, just older folks I found to be... occasionally very set in their ways and inflexible. Now, Scotland I never lived in, but Brits in general are (I find) friendlier and more considerate (yes, there are tons of counter examples of course, we've all been to a drunken uni outing on a Saturday night, but by and large people are polite). Now, this is something I personally prefer, and the reason I am moving back there soon. But I very much enjoyed my time in Germany once I made a solid group of friends there and I go back regularly to visit.

May 20, 2022 - 2:18pm
Paramedic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hello Dr.

I sincerely do appreciate your detailed response to my earlier post. I went through it thrice to fully understand each point, and I must say that all were spot on.

I do hope I make the best choice for myself as I look to move over to Europe in the coming months. 

My main concerns are actually a better learning curve (personal & professional development), career growth (including earnings potential), lifestyle (new friends, I am unmarried, hopefully, I meet a nice lady, lol), education (MBA and other qualifications) and other opportunities. 

Thank you once again for the detailed feedback. Have a nice weekend.


May 20, 2022 - 2:45pm
DrApeman, what's your opinion? Comment below:


I'm glad it was helpful! Germany is a nice country, and it gets decent summers. I'd start learning German now if you're not fluent yet. It will just make life easier for everybody, trust me. Even my Chinese friends and friends from East Africa learned German (most spoke better than I did actually). It's fairly easy to pick up, except for the vocabulary which is a matter of practice. Again, if you already speak German, then completely ignore this point :)

Salary-wise, true it will be better overall (comparable in net terms, but once you account for cost of living, you are way better off in Germany). Oh and you can get quite a bit of money back in tax returns if you work from home a significant part of the week (you will need to have a dedicated room to act as an office, not just a desk in the living room), as well as for transport to/from work. I use the website because I don't speak German well enough to do it by myself and it costs like €30 (which you can claim back the following year). You just need to wait for Jan/Feb of the next year to receive your annual fiscal summary. I used to have a 45 mins driving commute to work every day, so I would get back a fair bit every year.

As for career development, I wouldn't be able to offer an opinion there. If you do choose to go for an MBA though, I'd recommend going for the best one you can get into (bit obvious, but sometimes people get nervous or overly cautious, so no harm in trying top programmes if you can and deciding once you have options).

And as for nice girls, German women are just as friendly as anywhere else, just be aware of the very strong directness of people there and that this is generally how they like to interact. No need to dance around the pot, if you like someone there, just ask her out straight up (this is one aspect of life in Germany that is easier to navigate than in some places). A pint of beer is usually around €3 to €4, so go nuts, have fun, enjoy life, and good luck in your career!

Oh one thing, this is minor, but Germans are super liberal with their use of emojis. I'm still a little weirded out by it, but dudes and dudettes will send you winking emojis all the time, and it is not a flirting technique, nor is it ironic. It is literally them saying "My text is meant to be nice and friendly". It's such a small detail, but I'm still surprised when my guy friends text me something like "Beer tonight? --Winking emoji--" .... I just.... I'd prefer it not be there, but hey ho, it's their thing, so who am I to judge?

May 21, 2022 - 4:06am
Paramedic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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