Comments (78)

Best Response
Oct 7, 2014

Do you have any tips on how to get through each day without shooting yourself in the temple?

    • 4
Oct 7, 2014
Big4TaxIdiot:

Do you have any tips on how to get through each day without shooting yourself in the temple?

Don't carry bullets.

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Oct 7, 2014

Do you work with valuation often? If so, what is your internal process is like? Does it get messy?

Oct 7, 2014

I've only been involved with valuation related to an acquisition (The company we audit was purchased by another company). The internal process is that we reach out, get staffing, set expectations for deliverables and they execute. I don't know of any messy situations, yet.

Oct 7, 2014

Thanks for doing this!

How often do you come across guys coming from boutique/regional firms? Are they usually designated by the time they join? I missed the big 4 boat and work in a regional. Trynna get some insight on how I can move into the big 4/mid-sized firms with only a year's experience in a local firm.

Thanks!

Oct 7, 2014
Bay Street Fool:

Thanks for doing this!

How often do you come across guys coming from boutique/regional firms? Are they usually designated by the time they join? I missed the big 4 boat and work in a regional. Trynna get some insight on how I can move into the big 4/mid-sized firms with only a year's experience in a local firm.

Thanks!

Find someone in a Big 4 to refer you. There's always demand for associates and seniors, especially in Audit. My firm's got a $10G referral bonus for Audit Seniors at the moment.

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Oct 7, 2014

Definitely agree, experienced associates are in high demand. I would reach out to your friends who are in big 4 who you knew from school. I recently went through my linkedin and tried to recruit people because of the recruiting bonus. Some were from Mcgladrey/BDO ect. I would say you probably won't have trouble getting a job, but you may get set back a year (ie: if you have 1 year of experience you may have to go back to staff 1). Big 4 to Big 4 is typically 1 for 1 experience.

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Oct 7, 2014

Can you talk about salary progression + hours worked. Vacation time (you accounting and audit folks find ways to guilt trap those under 30 to take time off ... can not verify this as I never worked Big4 ... but it's something I hear qualms about every once in a while).

Oct 7, 2014

Salary: I have a free ebook which details staff to senior manager for 3 different locations at http://big4bound.com/free-big-4-bound-e-book/ but to give you a high level for an average cost of living area, and PWC does it slightly different but comes out the same in the end

Start at 53k, after 2 years you make senior, which is ~63k + 5k bonus, 3 more years you make manager which is ~75-80 plus a few bonuses between 3-10k.

Hours: Very dependent on the city and the teams you are on. In general it will be 60-75 Jan-March and average of 55 the rest of the year, picking back up some at quarters in October-December when you're getting things ready for year end audit work.

You could also get put on clients that are not 12/31 year end, and actually end up rolling from busy season to busy season, which is rare, but there are a few 6/30 clients that make your summers suck.

You will also probably have some downtime where you are doing nothing but facebook/Netflix because you are unassigned or the client doesn't have stuff ready for you to work on.

Vacation: 3-5 weeks depending on the firm. The only time I see it tough to take vacation is at the senior and manager level. It's not that people guilt trip you into not going on vacation, its just that the work doesn't decrease when you get back.

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Oct 7, 2014

I'm a new associate about to begin my first engagement and was just wondering if you have any advice on what to do while at a client (besides don't be an idiot). My main concern is that I really don't know anything and even though we went through training, I still don't feel confident about anything I've learned, especially since real world cases are likely to be complex. Is this normal and how tolerant are managers, seniors, etc. about this?

The second question I was wondering about is how easy is it to switch offices? Since I recruited for my office, things have changed and I may need to move closer to home ASAP to help out a bit. It's even worse for me because I'm on the opposite coast. How responsive are the Big 4 to office shift requests? I've heard there can be some red-tape because the office is investing in you and doesn't want to give you up, but sometimes life gets in the way and I'd hate to leave a firm I otherwise like a lot just because of this. Additionally, in case my firm doesn't grant it, are other Big 4s open to poaching experienced associates (I will definitely stick it out till my lease expires next summer) from another or are they only looking for seniors/manager-level people for transfers?

Thanks!

Oct 7, 2014

This should help to start http://big4bound.com/keys-to-being-a-top-rated-1st...

You aren't really expected to know much, but have a positive attitude and try and write down as much as possible. Lean on your peers rather than asking the senior over and over. There will likely be an internal chat function, so you can bounce questions off of other staff before being a pest.

Across the country is a little tougher than in the same business unit, and I would think you would need about a 9 months to a year to make the switch. If the firm doesn't allow the transfer, it will be very easy to move firms across the country (after 1 year).

Oct 7, 2014

Thank you for the link, I will read through that. We do have an internal chat function and that's what I have been utilizing. Mainly, I've been targeting experienced associates who seem willing to help out, so I guess I'll continue with this plan and all ask seniors when absolutely necessary.

As for moving, this is partially what I was concerned about. By the time I'm done, I'll have close to a year of experience, so hopefully it won't be too difficult to make the switch then. I've heard that the Big 4 is generally flexible when it comes to changing, but I also understand that they (as in our particular office) are investing a ton in us, and it's kind of a slap in the face to leave without them getting all of the return they want to squeeze out of us.

Oct 7, 2014

Yes, they do make investments in staff, but keep in mind that if the roles were reversed and they didn't need you - they wouldn't hesitate to cut you. Do good work and be someone the firm wants to keep around, and do what you have to do. Even if that means switching firms or threatening to do so.

Oct 7, 2014

What is your motivation to work 55-80 hour work weeks for 80k having 5+ year of experience?

Oct 7, 2014

The job you leave for after that 5th year where you're making 120k working 45 hours on a solid upward career path to Controller/CFO/VP Finance. There aren't many careers where you can get to 100k before you're 30 as an employee. Obviously finance is one, and I'm not saying accounting is better than finance, but it's not that bad of a gig either.

Oct 7, 2014

1.Why did you choose audit over tax?

Audit allows you to move to finance type jobs and gives you a well rounded base for your career. In my opinion tax leads you to careers where you do more tax, and I hated tax in college/cpa exam. I don't want to be an accountant for very long.

2.How do you balance work life and personal life, especially during busy season?

In certain cases there isn't much balancing, it's just grind out audit work night and day. The focus when it gets bad isn't work/life but rather staying healthy and sleeping enough. In a lot of cases you can work from home after dinner, but will be up to the team especially at the staff level. At higher levels (manager and above) you have significant flexibility to work at home, but you still have a lot of work to do. Flex arrangements where you work like 3 days a week and take pay cut are getting popular for new parents.

3.How do you suggest someone get to the 150 units needed for CPA eligibility (masters in accounting or minor in finance particularly)

Depends on your ability to secure a job. If you're doing an internship and they would give an offer out without you doing a masters, then do that. If you don't have a job, doing a masters in accounting will give you another shot at recruiting. A masters in accounting won't be more or less beneficial, if you have secured a job. For example a big 4 CPA of 2 years experience vs a big 4 CPA with 2 years and a masters degree is basically identical.

4.What are your future career aspirations?

1) leave immediately for entry level private equity in a small shop around me (lol)
2) leave after manager to be a manager of FP&A in a private firm
3) In my area things are actually moving in the right direction from a work/life balance and we have started to get our shit together with regard to what the PCAOB is requesting, so it's possible I could stay here for the long term, or leave for a mid tier firm and stick out there.

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Oct 7, 2014
Big4Bound:

1.Why did you choose audit over tax?

Audit allows you to move to finance type jobs and gives you a well rounded base for your career. In my opinion tax leads you to careers where you do more tax, and I hated tax in college/cpa exam. I don't want to be an accountant for very long.

This is true to a certain extent. I would like to state, however, that I'm personally making the move from Big 4 Tax to a Mid Tier MC firm after just about a year. Another dude I know that started at the same time as me, made the jump to a (pretty small) PE firm as an analyst.

There's opportunities, you just have to keep your head on a swivel and make sure you have attributes that will help convince people that you're not just a geeky tax guy (or girl). Also, it helps if you move quickly, before you're pigeonholed as a "Tax Person".

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Oct 7, 2014

That is nice to hear @Big4TaxIdiot

I am starting out in Big 4 Tax in January and like many, I don't have a passion for tax but being at a non-target school I ran with the opportunity presented.

Do you have advice that would benefit someone that is trying to keep their options open beyond tax?

Oct 7, 2014

What do you know about Transaction Services at Big 4? Do they work more/less than audit? Are they paid better/worse/same as audit? Is the promotion path as fixed, faster or slower? Are they regarded highly? What are the primary areas of TS? Is the work complex/involving in TS? What are the exit opps from TS and how do they differ from audit?

Oct 8, 2014

They generally work more, due to the nature of transactions and deadlines. Our deadlines are usually more planned, where as an acquisition or IPO may come out of the blue. They are paid slightly higher, maybe 10%, definitely less than "street" pay for investment banking. Highly regarded is relative. The work is a lot of due diligence for transactions and IPOs. Exit ops are to investment banking and corporate finance.

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Oct 8, 2014

Thanks for the response Big4Bound. One other question, are there clear divisions between different groups within TS? Like purchase price allocation focus or M&A advisory focus or financial instrument valuation focus? If so, which would you recommend? Which gets the most respect? Thanks

Oct 7, 2014

How common is it to change industry groups? I got assigned to one of my last choices and really hate it.
How much time should I put in before asking to switch?
Is changing firms the best way to do this?
Would I have to move down upon switching?

Oct 8, 2014

Hey, I know I'm not the OP but I thought I might be able to give my 2 cents. I would do a couple of things. The first is I would reach out to the staffer, scheduler, or whatever your firm calls it and let them know about your interest. In my case, I was placed into the industry group I wanted, but the problem is, the non-profit/gov stuff rolls into it at my office and I've been staffed on a few of those projects, which I absolutely don't want. You may have to suck it up for the 1st go around, but if you demonstrate interest to your staffer and let them know you want to be put on tech clients, for example, they should try to match you up with your interests, even if it's quarter-end work.

These firms invest a lot in you and know that you can be poached, so they do make an effort to match you to your interests. I did the above and, even though I'm not in the tech group, I've been put on some software/tech jobs just by asking. You may have to work on crappy jobs your first busy season (I still have to despite pushing back so much), but appropriate communication will help ensure that future busy seasons will be more in line with your goals. I've been surprised how any people here are too scared to speak up and don't fight for their career/interests. The Big 4 are huge organizations, which means there are lots of opportunities but it's also equally easy to be lost in the crowd and not get your voice heard. Definitely start letting people know ASAP what your interests are but also be ready to accept that it might be difficult right away just because scheduling is a difficult task.

The second is look up who the manager/senior is a client you are interested in and see if you can talk to them. A lot of engagements seem to be understaffed and can be looking for new blood to take pressure off the senior staff. After talking to them, let them know that you are willing to help out on the project should a need arise. I am a bit fortunate in my situation because the clients I wanted to work on are in my group, but the philosophy is the same. Reach out to someone on the team, demonstrate a clear story as to why you want to be on that client, industry group, etc., and close by letting them know you're ready to help out however is possible.

Basically, both of my suggestions are based on proper networking. I haven't been at my firm long, but I strongly feel that there's lots of opportunities, but you have to be vocal about what you want (without being boorish of course). Lots of my peers seem to just take what is given and not push back at all and get taken advantage of. You will likely get have to bite some bullets as a junior member of any team, but a good attitude, networking, and a bit of good fortune go a long way.

I'm a very, very new associate, so take what I say with a grain of salt (if what I said is wrong, someone please correct me), but that's what I've done so far and it's worked out for the most part.

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Oct 8, 2014

2nd what Lester said, they should be willing to move you around to suit your needs.

Oct 7, 2014

This is actually a pretty resourceful post. I can refer a few people I know to the site..

Oct 8, 2014

SBed, thanks for doing this. For the record I know someone who did Big 4 accounting -> F500 corporate finance -> MM IBD -> IBD at Goldman. It's amazing how some people hate on accounting on this site, yet like OP said there are not many jobs where you can make 100k before hitting 30. Granted, accounting won't pay on par with banking and some other FO finance jobs but exit-opps greatly favor work life balance of 45-55 hours and you are still on track to make 200k. Also the guys who have done IBD and do not end up going to PE/HF but rather end up in F500 roles (not Corp Dev) will end up making same salaries as the ex-auditors, just some food for thought.

Oct 8, 2014
B2Banker:

SBed, thanks for doing this. For the record I know someone who did Big 4 accounting -> F500 corporate finance -> MM IBD -> IBD at Goldman. It's amazing how some people hate on accounting on this site, yet like OP said there are not many jobs where you can make 100k before hitting 30. Granted, accounting won't pay on par with banking and some other FO finance jobs but exit-opps greatly favor work life balance of 45-55 hours and you are still on track to make 200k. Also the guys who have done IBD and do not end up going to PE/HF but rather end up in F500 roles (not Corp Dev) will end up making same salaries as the ex-auditors, just some food for thought.

This plus I'd like to add another thing. corporate finance won't pay as much, but we also are much less likely to live in super expensive metros and can work almost anywhere in the country (this was actually a big plus for me since my hometown isn't a finance hub and I might want to return to that area someday). 150k might not seem that special in NYC but it goes a lot further in, for example, The South than it does up in NYC/Boston/SF, etc. I'd even argue that you can live a very nice lifestyle at 100k in cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, etc. That kind of salary is very doable coming from audit and you have the potential to make more later on once you put in your time, do well, etc. and climb the ladder at a company.

Oct 8, 2014

I want to second what Lester said about Audit Big 4 into any corporate finance/Development/Accounting roles. Especially if you have the CPA (which you almost certainly will if you spend 2 years at Big 4 audit), this will go a long way to bringing you in at a good position within these corporate jobs. Then, as you look to climb the ladder, that Big 4 experience will always be a feather in your cap like a great MBA. Big companies, F100, who are serious about their corporate finance like to hire Big 4 and are willing to pay for it. Expect a bump out of big 4. Thats my 2 cents.

Oct 8, 2014

I was curious to know what's the proper way to obtain a position in PE or HF after investment banking. An do I need to reach out to firms or will I be contacted by Head Hunters.

Oct 8, 2014

1) Any advice for someone for someone with a Big 4 TAS interview coming up?

2) Are the fit questions similar among different groups at Big 4 firms? I have a friend that works in IT consulting at the same firm I have a TAS interview with but don't know if he could provide me with anything useful for an HR interview.

Oct 9, 2014

This thread will help answer your questions:
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/help-please-...

Oct 9, 2014

about to start working at big 4, interned there during undergrad - wanting to move into corporate finance

1. what is your view about purposefully putting in the extra hours that are necessary to be top-performer in the big 4? i'm a bit skeptical whether the extra hours you put is worth it because of the lack of bonus and difficulty seeing whether top-performers actually had better exit opps compared to the average performers. The only benefit I can see is that if you have a desire to transfer to another office or department (for me that would be TS), the firm is more likely to do that - although i understand that is not guaranteed as i have seen top-performers being shafted from going on secondment. I have also seen average performers who have networked their way into other departments as well. Wouldn't the extra hours you get from being an average performer be better spent say networking externally?

2. earnings wise at what stage do most people max out on their salary? which path/s would be considered most lucrative?

Thanks !

Oct 9, 2014

1) You don't have to put in extra hours to be a top performer. Additionally, putting in extra hours won't get you a top rating. If I had a staff that was working more hours than he needed to for the amount of work that needs to be completed, that will hurt the budget. Take on harder tasks and do them well. Work well with others, and try to be a leadership type figure among your peer groups. It's also a crapshoot in the first few years, because the main way to get top ratings is to get put on a shitty job where you're forced to step up, and you kill it. If you want to put in extra hours, you could spend your own time (not chargeable time) reading the company's guidance on the areas you are assigned to work, and keeping up with the internal company emails they put out (I assume all firms do this, usually a weekly newsletter) which reference recent PCAOB findings or new templates or standards that may effect the audits you will be on.

2) Do you mean with public accounting in general? Then senior manager (120-150k) until you make partner. Most lucrative financially is either stay until partner or leave for investment banking/consulting. A middle road which offers better work/life and is decent financially is leaving after senior or manager for a corporation, take a pretty nice pay bump and have a solid background to move up the ladder. This what 75% of those who enter public accounting do. 5% stay until partner, 5-10% leave for finance or consulting, and 5-10% get out of the industry and go back to be a teacher or recruiter or something.

Oct 9, 2014

I've always wondered why so few seem to stay with Big 4... Is it an "up or out" culture or do they mainly leave by choice? If it's choice, why? Does this mean that it's relatively less competition to be a partner at Big 4 than say VP at F100? Thanks

Oct 9, 2014

@Bankn, this is something I have wondered as well. I don't feel as though it's an up-or-out type culture per se. In fact I really do think that as you move up and gain experience, they WANT to keep you around since they try to churn and burn so much at the lower levels and need more people in the middle. This is may also be why, as others alluded to earlier, senior associates/managers are in such high demand.

However, I really think it comes down to cost/benefit analysis. Big 4 pay is comfortable, but it's nothing special either and only becomes truly lucrative at senior manager/partner level, which is a VERY long time to grind out being overworked and underpaid. It's especially difficult when you see opportunities arise for more interesting work with greater pay and better hours to boot. Plus, many people are probably like most of us on this website who want our CPA and wish to use the experience/brand name as a springboard to something more interesting.

I'm not sure if either path is necessarily more or less competitive and it likely depends on a person's unique skill-set and whether you are able to break through the politics/bureaucracy that any organization has. If one truly were significantly easier, then everyone would chose that option and nobody would chose the other (career path arbitrage anyone?).

Oct 9, 2014

I am starting as full time auditor with one of the big 4 firms in January in Dallas, TX. Although I have been living in Dallas for more than four years, I would like to transfer to Las Vegas in an year or two.

How easy or difficult is it in the big 4 firms to transfer between the cities?

Oct 10, 2014

I always maintain that there are jobs out there that are more stressful than Big 4 audit, there are jobs out there with longer hours than Big 4 audit and there are jobs out there that pay less than Big 4 audit but I have never found a job where the trade off between pay and hours worked/stress is so high.

Add in the fact that the work is mind numbingly boring and it should only be viewed as a very last resort (as it unfortunately was for me).

Oct 10, 2014

This is 100% true.

I'm leaving for more hours but along with it better pay and better exit opportunities.

Oct 10, 2014

100% true.
So glad I left Big 4, for a position I was unqualified for but somehow obtained.

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right."

-Warren Buffett

Oct 10, 2014

Is it really better to go from a big 4 -> F500 than to just go straight into an F500 through a rotational program?

Oct 10, 2014
danin650:

Is it really better to go from a big 4 -> F500 than to just go straight into an F500 through a rotational program?

Depends on your goal.
If your goal is COO, CFO; then big 4 will be more applicable.
If your goal is more strategy/development; then rotational program is probably better.
Big 4 operates extremely well in any FP&A role.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

Oct 10, 2014

I would really try to look into how well respected and taken seriously the rotation is at the given company... Some are taken very seriously and allow for promising careers, others are nothing more than annoying movement between departments every 6 months. Talk to some people who have been through the program (outside of the recruiting circle) to get truthful answers on where the rotational program will get you.

Also, Big 4 will always look good in corp fin/accounting no matter what company you want to move to. Don't underestimate the power of "name brand" on the resume...

Oct 13, 2014
Bankn:

I would really try to look into how well respected and taken seriously the rotation is at the given company... Some are taken very seriously and allow for promising careers, others are nothing more than annoying movement between departments every 6 months. Talk to some people who have been through the program (outside of the recruiting circle) to get truthful answers on where the rotational program will get you.

Also, Big 4 will always look good in corp fin/accounting no matter what company you want to move to. Don't underestimate the power of "name brand" on the resume...

Agreed. Many of the FLPD rotation programs are very highly regarded and would be better in most cases to start there, rather than big 4.

Oct 10, 2014

Oh this is a great thread. Thank you Big4Bound. I had nearly one year audit experience in one of big four (not in the US), I quited my firm this May and started my master. I'm now still looking for another big 4 position in tax as I found tax to be more interesting to me. Meet the firms will be next week. I'm not sure if big 4 experience in foreign countries will be treated differently. Now it's the recruitment season and things are passing by insanely fast...any suggestions on meet the firms and follow up emails? I'm mostly networking with some associate level staff. Hardly had chance to meet any managers, plus I found it hard to stand out from a group of people surrounded by one manager in all the networking event.

Anyway, Thanks man.

Oct 12, 2014

.

Oct 13, 2014
Roxy-Chu:

Oh this is a great thread. Thank you Big4Bound. I had nearly one year audit experience in one of big four (not in the US), I quited my firm this May and started my master. I'm now still looking for another big 4 position in tax as I found tax to be more interesting to me. Meet the firms will be next week. I'm not sure if big 4 experience in foreign countries will be treated differently. Now it's the recruitment season and things are passing by insanely fast...any suggestions on meet the firms and follow up emails? I'm mostly networking with some associate level staff. Hardly had chance to meet any managers, plus I found it hard to stand out from a group of people surrounded by one manager in all the networking event.

Anyway, Thanks man.

I think experience in a big 4 abroad would be looked at favorably for sure. I wouldn't expect it to count towards what level you start at though (you will likely still be a 1st year staff).

It's a good idea to meet a mixture of people at the recruiting events, and not stand in a crowd to get a chance to talk to a manager. It is better to try and impress a few staff and seniors than to not get noticed. The feedback from the staff/seniors is taken seriously and is used to filter through the resumes and see who is going to be given interview slots. Often times, depending on the school, the seniors are the ones who actually make the decisions about who gets interviews

Nov 7, 2014
Big4Bound:
Roxy-Chu:

Oh this is a great thread. Thank you Big4Bound. I had nearly one year audit experience in one of big four (not in the US), I quited my firm this May and started my master. I'm now still looking for another big 4 position in tax as I found tax to be more interesting to me. Meet the firms will be next week. I'm not sure if big 4 experience in foreign countries will be treated differently. Now it's the recruitment season and things are passing by insanely fast...any suggestions on meet the firms and follow up emails? I'm mostly networking with some associate level staff. Hardly had chance to meet any managers, plus I found it hard to stand out from a group of people surrounded by one manager in all the networking event.

Anyway, Thanks man.

I think experience in a big 4 abroad would be looked at favorably for sure. I wouldn't expect it to count towards what level you start at though (you will likely still be a 1st year staff).

It's a good idea to meet a mixture of people at the recruiting events, and not stand in a crowd to get a chance to talk to a manager. It is better to try and impress a few staff and seniors than to not get noticed. The feedback from the staff/seniors is taken seriously and is used to filter through the resumes and see who is going to be given interview slots. Often times, depending on the school, the seniors are the ones who actually make the decisions about who gets interviews

lol thank you so much!! I just found your reply, long after the networking event, but it would still be very helpful!! I'm making it to the final interview now. Haven't really got a chance to actually connect to a manager, so I guess I can only prepare enough for the second round and hopefully leave a good impression then. Thanks again for all the suggestions :)

Oct 11, 2014

Big4Bound, again, thanks for your great post and insights. I just had a a few questions for you. a little background.. I am a first year in audit just starting on my first engagement. during recruiting I expressed my interests into working more with valuations/acquisitions/IPO's, etc,, but from all the people I've talked to they have said that you need at least 1-2 years of experience before even being considered. (talked with a tas group in major city after my summer internship and they said they only take on undergrads that have interned with them..)

Going off of that, is there a way I can work in these areas any faster? How do I go about seriously expressing my interest (as being a first year I don't have much say and feel as if i'm just another link in the chain).

Also, have you seen many 1st-2nd years move into equity research. If so, how were they able to leverage their big 4 experience into such positions? (especially leaving accounting so early, without any true experience). And would you say it would be smart to start networking this early into my big 4 job (2 months in) It seems to me my lack of experience could lead to awkward conversations on why I started their in the first place, etc..

Thanks!

Oct 13, 2014
FutureWaller:

Big4Bound, again, thanks for your great post and insights. I just had a a few questions for you. a little background.. I am a first year in audit just starting on my first engagement. during recruiting I expressed my interests into working more with valuations/acquisitions/IPO's, etc,, but from all the people I've talked to they have said that you need at least 1-2 years of experience before even being considered. (talked with a tas group in major city after my summer internship and they said they only take on undergrads that have interned with them..)

Going off of that, is there a way I can work in these areas any faster? How do I go about seriously expressing my interest (as being a first year I don't have much say and feel as if i'm just another link in the chain).

Also, have you seen many 1st-2nd years move into equity research. If so, how were they able to leverage their big 4 experience into such positions? (especially leaving accounting so early, without any true experience). And would you say it would be smart to start networking this early into my big 4 job (2 months in) It seems to me my lack of experience could lead to awkward conversations on why I started their in the first place, etc..

Thanks!

The opportunities that you may be presented will be IPOs, subsequent stock issuance, debt issuance, acquisitions, and divestitures (carve out audit). The role we as auditors play in these is unfortunately not that glamorous and is mostly tying out numbers to support which we audited. To get actual valuation experience, you would need to switch to TAS. However, the experience is still valid and working on IPOs has helped some of the people I know move into finances, even if the weren't doing due diligence or valuation work. Express interest to your counselor and to the scheduler, and say that if a project comes up, you would love the opportunity, even if you have to travel.

ER is doable, slightly easier than to do audit to IB. The accounting skills as well as the level of detail of the reports and memos we are required to write helps some given the nature of ER. I think its never a bad time to start networking, and leaving after a year for a finance roll is an optimal/common time.

Oct 11, 2014

Hey,

I just went to what was a "career night" and talked to a senior manager from a Big 4 firm for a good 30 minutes. This wasn't really a Meet the Firms type of thing, but that is coming up soon. I followed up with him with a thank you email, is that what I should be doing? Does he have pull over HR in resume filtering? I transferred to my school so I'm afraid my resume getting screened out (especially in IB, my first choice).

Also, do you recommend FSO or just general external audit in a particular industry? I want to keep the best exit opps and career advancement open. I like some of the perks of tax, but audit seems like a good way to move into a finance role/controller/CFO etc. Big 4 is more of a backup for me but it is probably my most likely prospect at this point. I started doing this my first few days at school and don't have any experience. Thanks for any tips!

Oct 13, 2014
UFC:

Hey,

I just went to what was a "career night" and talked to a senior manager from a Big 4 firm for a good 30 minutes. This wasn't really a Meet the Firms type of thing, but that is coming up soon. I followed up with him with a thank you email, is that what I should be doing? Does he have pull over HR in resume filtering? I transferred to my school so I'm afraid my resume getting screened out (especially in IB, my first choice).

Also, do you recommend FSO or just general external audit in a particular industry? I want to keep the best exit opps and career advancement open. I like some of the perks of tax, but audit seems like a good way to move into a finance role/controller/CFO etc. Big 4 is more of a backup for me but it is probably my most likely prospect at this point. I started doing this my first few days at school and don't have any experience. Thanks for any tips!

Yes, you should be connecting with whoever you can from the firm. It depends on what you mean by "HR," but senior managers have pull before HR. In many offices HR isn't really involved in recruiting and the seniors/managers handle it. At other offices there are 1 or more recruiters who's sole job is campus recruiting, and you obviously want to connect with them as well.

I think FSO vs normal industries (manufacturing, consumer goods ect) is dependent on your city and what you want to do after. If you want general exit opportunities then stay away from FSO, since you don't get the true sense of auditing and understand typical business (they don't have the main processes like sales/ar, purchases/Ap, inventory/cogs.)

Oct 14, 2014

Thanks! I have made a really good connection with a Senior Manager so far and have met with him twice so far at career fairs and he told me to keep in touch. I also spoke to a partner at a different firm, as well as a recruiter, any particular way I should approach that?

I am at a huge, highly ranked public school in California (you can infer....), and the recruiter I spoke too was exactly that.

Aug 11, 2015

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Oct 13, 2014
harveyrspecter:

I'm going to be starting a Big 4 position in Audit soon and was curious as to what kind of advice you would give to someone starting out there career. Of course I am prepared for the long hours, but I'm curious in terms of relevancy of what you learn in university to what you apply on the job.

http://big4bound.com/keys-to-being-a-top-rated-1st...

Nov 7, 2014

I am starting in a big 4 next year as a full-time audit graduate in financial services (major Australian City). After 2 years experience with full professional accounting qualification, would I have a good case to make move into the US market (other than overseas secondment)? e.g. lateral hire into a big 4 in the US

Nov 18, 2014

A friend of mine actually broke in from Australia to NY, so it is definitely possible. Now I think he's doing Hollywood stuff but I would focus on researching how applicable an Australian CPA or equivalent is to the US version. Is your accounting firm global? That would be the best and easiest way to get in.

Here's some info about the guy I was talking about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Crocodile%22_Dundee

  • Associate 2 in CorpFin
Nov 8, 2014

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Nov 18, 2014

Talk about the analytical procedures (trend analysis, account relationships, account flucutations). For these, it often requires communication with the client to get an understanding the business reasons for what you're seeing in your analytics testing.
Client relationships - frequently have access to some of the top management (VPs, some directors, CFO on small jobs)

Honestly, the perception that big 4 audit has is decent, so they already kind of know what you're doing (or don't care). You mentioned "deal" centric, so try and get staffed on IPOs, debt issuance and stock issuance. For the most part, none of it is relatable, except that you build "business acumen" and get very detailed understanding of the industries you work in and how they operate.

Nov 9, 2014

Hey Big4Bound, thanks for the AMA. I want to be an accountant and I'm considering getting a CPA via community college credits. My issue is I have no accounting experience. Would you recommend this over getting a masters in accounting?

Nov 9, 2014

Hey Big4Bound, thanks for the AMA. I want to be an accountant and I'm considering getting a CPA via community college credits. My issue is I have no accounting experience. Would you recommend this over getting a masters in accounting?

Nov 18, 2014

Not sure what B4B would say on this, but just to be clear, are you making sure you have enough undergraduate accounting courses in addition to the 150 hours? If so, I knocked off my last 9 credit hours doing cheap cc classes, worked just fine. Just make sure your total record will qualify you to sit in accordance with your state's rules.

Nov 18, 2014

I would recommend the masters in accounting solely for the access to recruiting. You can fill your CPA credits sure, but if you want to ensure a good job at graduation, a Macc is the way to go. If you're concerned with cost, you don't have to do a private school, just make sure that the accounting firms recruit at whatever cost effective public school you may be interested in. For example... if your plan is big 4, don't do a "cheap" Macc if they don't recruit from there.

Nov 14, 2014

Thanks for posting this AMA. Not sure if you're still checking this, but I'll take a shot.

Do you think going to campus events does you any good if you're looking to get brought on as an experience auditor? How else would you recommend networking with people in the firm?

Nov 18, 2014

I think it would be weird/ambitious, so take that as you may. How many years experience and what size firm? If you have 1+ with a regional/national you should connect with your peers at your level, because experienced hires are always in big demand - and those that refer you get great bonus (1.5-5k)

Nov 18, 2014

I am 6 months out of my undergrad (BS in Accountancy & BS in Finance) working for a large tech company doing accounting, GL work, etc., while studying for the CPA. After that I want to work for a big 4. My question is how does one go about getting recruited the non-traditional way like me? I interned at a mid size accounting firm in college as well as a boutique wealth advisory firm.

Thanks!

Nov 18, 2014

1) network with alums that went into big 4, if you can find seniors/managers, all the better. LinkedIn is a great resource 2) applying online actually does work with the Big 4, especially when it's off-peak and they're looking for warm bodies. Not 100%, but it can't hurt.

If you really, really want to go the B4 path, getting into a mid- or second-tier firm might be a good stepping stone as well.

Nov 18, 2014

Nicky, I know of people directly who have worked in industry and then gone into big 4. It's not quite as easy since they recruit from colleges mainly, but if you have a decent resume it's not impossible. What I would do is start LinkedIn messaging people you graduated with who are in big 4 (or 2nd tier) and tell them you are interested in working for their firm. You would come in as a first year staff, which means there is no referral bonus for them, just FYI. But I have found most people are helpful. Also absolutely contact the recruiters, or maybe see if the people you message can connect you with the recruiter. Recruiting is somewhat dying down now, though they may have a few people who didn't accept offers so you could get in now. You would start probably next fall, so now would definitely be a good time to make moves.

Nov 19, 2014
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