I have been studying about this topic and I wanted to ask purely in terms of the exit opps available for big 4 audit/advisory.
I majored accounting and I didn't think twice about getting into big 4 audit... until I read and came to realize how unpopular audit is. I am not completely bummed though, because there are alternative choices that branch out somewhere down the road (maybe 3-5 years). I don't mind working intense hours for little $ as long as there is hope! With that being said, I just wanted to compare the exit opps for audit and advisory. Advisory sounds super interesting, and I would love to make the switch one day (I am aware it is difficult. Everyone wants to make that happen!). I just feel that it's important to know what options might be available and where I want to go into after big 4. Currently, I don't know what exactly I wanna do after those big 4 years.
I hear that audit often leads to jobs like controller, which I am not so interested in. I am more interested in FP&A type of position. I would also love to be a CFO of a corporation. Would advisory give you more options in the future? In big 4, advisory salary is a lot higher than audit... is this difference likely to continue even after the exit? If advisory leads to jobs in i-banking, which level in i-banking would you be promoted to?
Exit Opportunities: Big 4 Audit Vs. Advisory
Getting into the big 4, especially in audit, can make for a very promising career. Advisory careers with a company like KPMG can be extremely fruitful. A career in audit can also lead to a lucrative future with great livability, but it doesn't come without its obstacles. In the big 4 there are very exceptional professionals and very talented, motivated beginners. But, in the words of user @MistaBooks:
The problem with Big 4 is that the quality of people in the middle is very poor. Meaning there are a lot of very smart / hard working people that start as associates and then leave within two years and there are a lot of partners who are very knowledgable and great leaders. The problem is that in the middle of those two groups there is an enormous amount of people (seniors/managers/etc) who are completely clueless and are just hanging on to their job as long as they possibly can.
They also mentioned that if you are talented and can rough it out for about 18 months you will have doors to opportunity open up all around you.
User @NYU gave a less optimistic word of advise and a nod to advisory:
Hours get to be bad during busy season, and the pay is not good. It's a grind and the Partners don't make as much money as they used to, nor do they have the lifestyle they used to. If you're going to work long hours for not a lot of money you may as well do it right and go advisory, or better yet banking.
According to user @808, the typical exit opportunities in auditing are:
- Staff accountant
- Something more finance- or management-related
- Accounting manager (manager of financial reporting, internal audit manager, etc.)
- Controller/Accounting director (director of financial reporting, director of internal audit, etc.)
- VP Finance
Advisory usually gives you a little more diversity in your possible career. Because you are building a one-on-one relationship with clients you can develop a wide range of skills. You can develop more tax-heavy skills, you can consult with financial fields like hedge funds, you can develop your law skills and get a law degree to advise on legal matters and you can develop quite a few other optional skill sets. Eventually you can work your way up to partner at a firm or venture out on your own. Freelance advisors often make plenty of money while making their own hours and traveling often.
Learn More About the Big 4 and Advisory
- Big 4 Audit to Big 4 Corporate Finance
- AMA: Big 4 Consulting To Lower MM IB To MM IB (No MBA)
- Big 4- Future Career In Advisory Non Target School
- CPA Big 4 Audit > Advisory > IBD (Or Other) > Top 5 MBA Pathway
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