Did anyone consider the Big 4 route over banking?

After pursuing banking and breaking in, I have now started to wonder if the Big 4 route would be better. Don't get me wrong being an MD or Principal in PE is super appealing, but the Big 4 partner pension and mandatory retirement age sounds pretty damn cushy. Has anyone here ever thought about pursuing the Big 4 over IB?

Comments (52)

Aug 11, 2022 - 4:48pm
BamieJimon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You're most likely never going to make it past VP at a buyside firm.

  • 1
Aug 10, 2022 - 8:56pm
lemickey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

On the contrary though, if doing management consulting at one of the Big 4, you should be in six figures by year 2. Can get up to $150k or so at the highest associate level and then into the $200s at the manager and above level.

Not amazing by any means but the hours are significantly less than IB and it seems like not many people are pushed out

Aug 12, 2022 - 8:07pm
monkey0114, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Idk about this tbh. Average partner compensation at big 4s in the UK is ~£800k so I'd imagine its a bit more in the US.

Aug 11, 2022 - 7:28am
rc23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Granted big4 outside the country does have some clout..big 4 is the states is fairly suboptimal option to banking and many other career paths. It's a decent stepping stone but the yield is simply much higher in banking: from skills learned, exit opps, network, compensation and even maybe pay/hours ratio. Put differently, the best 2nd yr accountant out of PWC will still be bested by the low to mid bucket 2nd yr banking analyst on the job market in terms of skills, opps, and comp packages.

Aug 15, 2022 - 7:47pm
AccountingPleb, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Best 2nd year accountant at PWC is a pretty skilled individual (highly sought after by companies). You're definitely right that the comp will be higher for a 2nd yr analyst, but the exit opps for a top performer at PwC are never too shabby. 

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Aug 11, 2022 - 11:19am

When I read the WSJ articles about EY and Deloitte doing a strategic review of their consulting practices, that was the ONLY time I ever thought there might be merit to this whole "Big 4" thing. The EY article mentioned multi million dollar payouts for current partners in the event of a sale.
Getting $3mm for sitting around playing ping pong for 15 years in overly-expensive company break rooms doesn't sound bad.

Aug 11, 2022 - 11:36am
breezy443, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hell fckin no. I worked at a Big4 firm before getting an MBA and going into IB. As much as people complain about IB lacking meaning and the dismal pay per hour, the Big4 is worse. The comp from staff -> senior manager given the amount you work is borderline criminal. It's basically IB's little brother - 80% of the hours with 40% of the pay and 20% of the respect.

The only scenario I can imagine the a big4 being chill is if you make audit partner. You can make in the 400-1mm range and more or less chill. You can retain the same clients for 5 consecutive years, unlike IB where you have to constantly hunt for new deals.

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 11, 2022 - 11:43am

Did he really just say "being an MD or Principal in PE is super appealing, but that Big 4 pension plan..." 

C'mon son, stop it. 

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Aug 11, 2022 - 12:32pm

Relative to PE Partner carried interest or IB MD profit sharing? No, it does not. If the question was has anyone considered the Big 4 route over janitorial services, AIDS or ass-rape I would be more receptive.  

  • VP in IB-M&A
Aug 11, 2022 - 12:00pm

Pay is pretty shitty until you reach that level (relative to IB anyway), so if someone is willing to deal with that until they're 35 to each their own. I wouldn't be able to do it for the sole fact that the work is super mundane and I would be bored out of my mind. I actually stared my IB career at a Big 4 (all the Big 4 have an IB arm) and the number of people vying for a chance to move over to the Investment Banking side from other departments was significant.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 11, 2022 - 1:41pm

lol can echo the same, interned at big 4 in their IB department + got return and the pay was significantly less with hours being a slight drop off from traditional IB, very happy I re-recruited

the one exception might be Deloitte Corporate Finance's salary in North Carolina (where McColl was HQ'd?), can check on h1b data website that they actually pay decently probably stemming from the legacy business there

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 11, 2022 - 1:48pm

Come to the UK, here Oxbridge and LSE grads with first class degrees will happily work in Big 4 audit.

Most Helpful
Aug 11, 2022 - 10:30pm
MidMarketMcLovin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This. Head count is a lot lower and they're competing with very strong candidates from target schools across the continent too. Second languages are beneficial in recruiting given most groups are EMEA coverage and candidates from the continent often have a 3 year bachelors, are in a top masters, and have several internships under their belt by the time they're recruiting for SA positions. Objectively on paper, do you want to hire the monolingual English candidate in their second year of classics at Oxford and 1-2 spring weeks, or the trilingual Swiss candidate with 2-3 internships, a bachelors from St Gallen and studying for a masters in Bocconi? 

Big 4 doesn't have the same competition from international candidates given they'll apply to local offices, so Oxbridge / LSE / Imperial / UCL etc are top of the pile. There's a limited number of seats in CF / TS, so many end up in audit. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Aug 12, 2022 - 4:25am

and what happens do the oxb/lse grads who start in big 4 as they progress with their careers? Do they lateral to IB or just stick out in big4/move to f500

  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Aug 12, 2022 - 2:57pm

Way more young a dumb hotties in big 4 than banking.

That's the only reason you'd choose Bama over Harvard

Aug 12, 2022 - 11:52pm
AnonymousMonke2, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not sure why everyone shits on Big Four, afaik accounting knowledge is highly respected in the hedge fund space, especially forensic accounting and credit analysis. My mentor at the HF I'm is a CPA from there and he's brilliant.

Aug 13, 2022 - 11:47am
NPV123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sigh. This forum is so toxic.

First of all, accounting knowledge is useful for almost all investing roles, other than maybe day traders/quants.

Many people make a great career out of Big 4. I know someone who enjoys audit at Deloitte. Works 40 hours a week during non-busy season and 55 hours during busy season. 

The partners at his branch easily clear $1M+ in comp.

Aug 13, 2022 - 8:31pm
Angus Macgyver, what's your opinion? Comment below:

 Bankers get to play and accountants keep score

Wow. This has to be one of the most hardo things I have seen on this site in a long while, and there are a lot of you hardos sitting around.

Bankers "play" about as much as car salesmen and real estate brokers do. Bankers earn a lot more because they sell businesses instead of selling cars or houses, and businesses are worth a lot more than cars or houses, but at the end of the day that's what banking comes down to. It is a job like any other.

"PE gets to play, and bankers keep score"

"LPs get to play, and GPs keep score"

"CPP senior management gets to play, and the rest of CPP keeps score"

See where this is going?

By the way, if you were wondering why I chose CPP as an example, their global PE head, overseeing direct and indirect PE investments, is Suyi Kim. Or, as she could be called in South Korea if she has kept up with her certifications and registration... Suyi Kim, CPA.

Aug 13, 2022 - 8:07pm
Angus Macgyver, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Aug 13, 2022 - 8:24pm
EBITDaddyO, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Aug 16, 2022 - 1:08pm
AccountingPleb, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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