Big 4 FDD - Insane hours Terrible Comp

I've been working in a big 4 FDD role for just under a year now and it has gotten to the point where I continue to question what exactly it is I'm doing here on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong - the work is interesting and my team has worked on some larger sell side mandates than I believe most FDD teams would be involved in ($1B+), but none of it is really worth it.

When evaluating my compensation and hours the role is truly slave labour. I have consistently pulled 70 hour weeks and even had some north of 80, for an all in comp of $55k. I'm talking months straight of 70-80 hour weeks with multiple ongoing deals. And the best part is - no bonuses (implementing this year as turnover has been so high).

If you're wondering why I took the job in the first place it's firstly due to the strong learning opportunities in addition to the blatant lies other team members, who have all left except for one, told me about hours before joining (60Hours is a TERRIBLE week!)

I know big 4 is notoriously bad for comp vs grind pay off and wondering if anyone else has gone through this path to jump ship elsewhere? I've gained experience in modelling through the training here (25 hour course through learning plan) and also have had the opportunity to review quite a few models and CIMS, which makes me want to start trying to network and recruit my way to a potential IB position (If that's even possible). Any advice or past experience would be greatly appreciated!

Comments (5)

Most Helpful
Oct 16, 2021 - 12:07am

I worked in FDD and totally understand where you're coming from. While I didn't do it at a Big 4 (did it at smaller, but reputable non-audit shops - more on that in a second), the job certainly felt at times like the same bullshit MBB folks have to deal with without the pay, exits, or perks. This is kind of an aside, but are you really being paid $55K with $0 bonus out there? Unless you're in a tiny market, that's worse than what I was paid as an AUDITOR many moons ago. The Big 4 are very slowly stepping up comp because they're finally realizing that nobody wants to be a CPA anymore when they can work half the hours and make double the comp in tech or finance (not so much the hours in finance, but you get my point). Also, 70-80 hours nonstop for FDD is insane. I don't think your team was lying to you that 60-65 is a bad week with 70-80 being reserved for those nightmare deals. While FDD isn't perfect, your situation sounds really fucked from multiple perspectives, but especially comp. Hours have been brutal across the board for all teams because of this COVID crap, so hopefully that will normalize now that there's more certainty and headcount.

Now as for your options. IB is 100% a possibility. You probably won't get the GS TMT or whatever the fuck people on this site jerk off to nowadays, but solid boutiques/MM firms will 100% take a chance on you if you can show you're quick with Excel and understand finance. From there, you can probably lateral to a more prestigious bank if you need to for whatever reason. It'll take some networking and applying, but you can do it and I myself was offered an opp to do this after FDD, but turned it down because I don't like M&A and didn't want to keep sacrificing my personal life for a paycheck. 

In addition to IB, the more traditional paths in FP&A or Financial Reporting, if you want that, are certainly available. I'd really sell the strategic initiatives you're probably doing on your $1B+ deals. I got really frustrated in FDD because there's tons of shitty little sub-$30M companies we had to diligence where the work basically just consisted of stupid payroll accruals and bullshit like that. If you're really doing deep dives into revenue, cost drivers, etc., on these deals, sell to companies the fact that you're lightening fast at analyzing data in Excel (hopefully you are), can pick apart and understand a company's business models and explain the story of a company to an Executive faster than the CFO can, and have a lot of accounting knowledge, without being too bogged down in details on GAAP nuances that don't materially really drive decision-making in a business. Restructuring Consulting is another really cool field that doesn't get mentioned a lot, but could be a move from FDD.

If all that fails, I'd honestly look into lateraling somewhere else within FDD. The Big 4 are going to suck and underpay their employees, but they have the best brand name recognition for when you leave for industry/IB and are currently giving BIG raises to people with relevant experience to join their practices because they're so short-staffed. If you really want to make money in FDD though, apply to Alvarez and Marsal. I've heard they can be a tricky place to navigate politically/culturally and you'll have less training/support out there than you would at any Big 4, but you'll make BANK if you're utilized. If I'm not mistaken, FDD gets at least a cut of their charged hours like many of their other groups. At least if you're working a lot, you'll get paid a lot and might even out-earn some peeps in MBB. FTI Consulting also has a utilization-based comp model, but it's much less generous. 

Oct 21, 2021 - 12:14am

Thanks for the advice, this is super helpful and good to know someone has been in a similar boat.

You're spot on with the turnover as it has been brutal since I got here and I think it's only going to get worse. As hard as it is to believe yes that is legit my comp. While I've gotten very small performance bonuses for killing it on certain deals this is what I'm getting paid.

Really appreciate the advice and have been working on fine tuning the resume to begin prepping for a shot at IB!

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Oct 17, 2021 - 8:15pm

That is awful. Get out ASAP.

IB market is on absolute fire right now. Start applying, don't even bother with networking unless you go a month or two and don't get anything. If you are a warm body that knows the acronym CIM you will get first rounds at the very least

Don't think you quite have the experience for BB/EB but certainly MM or boutique would chance you. Just make sure your story is straight, 3 days worth of online training and reviewing models isn't really modeling experience TBH and they'll call you on it.  FDD probably gives you insane attention to detail, aware of financial/accounting concepts and language, and very careful tracking/auditing/commenting, which is very helpful. Figure out what else is readily transferable and get out there.

  • Consultant in Consulting
Oct 20, 2021 - 6:31am

Brother get an offer from another competitor right now, the market is red hot. Im a first year Consultant (did two years as an Analyst) making double your base and am feeling underpaid. I am in the M&A group at D which includes FDD but isn't my niche. Honestly, Im feeling underpaid and my hours are way better than yours (your hours are on par with our FDD group though). Reach out to all of the B4, Tier 2s, FTI (if you have restructuring experience), etc. You should be making way more than this and you are getting straight up fucked. Get a new offer this week. With all internships in IB I have recruiters from all top banks and consulting firms blowing up my linkedin and phone 24/7. Lateral now for at least 2x your salary. 

Oct 20, 2021 - 7:57am

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