3/12/13

I'm currently an upper sophomore at a non target school. My major is Accounting and I do plan on eventually going to one of the Big 4 - specifically EY. I'm currently on my second corp tax internship for a bank. My first internship was also tax focused at another corp.

However, I am not sure if I want to stick with Tax in the long run. I still have a bit time to explore but I am also interested in Advisory. I am doing some research here and there to get a little more insight on it. What are some recommendations on what steps that I should take in order to land a future internship in Advisory? I know minoring in Law would benefit in working in Tax but what minors would help with Advisory? What are the different categories and their functions within Advisory at EY? Just anything I should know in making my decision in the future would be appreciated.

Comments (80)

3/13/13

finance/economics courses for valuation/TAS roles i'm guessing

Financial Modeling

3/13/13

Why the obsession with EY?

4/1/13

You could go with a transaction advisory services route: http://www.ey.com/US/en/Services/Transactions

Or just straight up advisory: http://www.ey.com/US/en/Services/Advisory

Common paths are generic M&A Advisory, Valuation and Business Modeling, and RE Transaction Advisory

Best Response
4/1/13

I think your analysis is pretty solid. If you aren't hung up on the prestige factor, Big4 provides better job security, better work-life, and you'd likely be a big fish in a little pond. Think of it as a hedge - you can gravitate toward Transaction Advisory at whichever Big4 you're talking about, and if the VC / HF / PE landscape looks good in 5-7 years, you'll have the experience and connections to make a transition. If not, you'll be an established Advisory player at one of the Big4, probably on your way to partner. Advisory partners make $1M+ so that's not a bad alternative to banking.

The caveat is, you'd have to maintain a long term view. Once you're in, they won't give a shit that you came from Harvard. You are no longer banking on pedigree; you'll have to be a stand-out in work performance, political savvy (i.e. recognizing who is valuable to get in good with), and ability to successfully navigate the different practice areas (i.e. recognizing which projects are adding the most value, which are the most profitable, which will provide the best paths to partner, etc.)

Most people here will tell you you're crazy to consider anything other than the most prestigious option on the table, but generally I think people here are hung up on that at the expense of a truly practical analysis (i.e. cost/benefit in the true sense).

4/1/13

I would imagine IBD to Big 4 could happen quite easily, however the opposite cannot be said. Your analysis is sound but once you leave the reservation it's hard to come back. *In a FO role

4/1/13
  1. Don't underestimate Big 4 hours. They work you hard, and the bonus is much lower...probably closer to the same on a per hour basis than you would think. And you have to consider (2).
  2. Keep in mind Big 4 progress is much slower, and the max salary is lower. Don't expect to go past 200k for about 10 years.
  3. Both jobs will dominate your life, but you can have some semblance of a life in the Big 4. Audit and Tax are both arguably better from a W/L balance in the long term.
  4. Big 4 fees have stayed pretty flat, and firms are realizing that the difference in quality between big 4 and non-big 4 is not too meaningful. Big 4 operates on the billable hour model, so income is inherently limited.

However, I know people that have made this choice and are happy. A rockstar accounting student I knew could have easily gotten a BB offer, but he always wanted to be an accountant. Went Big 4 audit and is, the last I heard, very happy.

4/1/13

I'll add a little to the last post:

1) Generally true - don't even factor bonus in. You might get $3-$5k. That said, hours are usually around 65 hrs in most Advisory practices. Sometimes you hit up to 80, but I don't know anyone that ever sees the kind of hours bankers talk about. However, travel is 100% which I don't think is the case for bankers. That's something to factor in.

2) Also generally true. Although, it's not unheard of to hit Senior Manager after 8 years, and in Advisory you can clear $200k as a SM. But generally, yes you're in it longer term, and for less money than where you would be 8-10 years into a banking career. It's always that trade off - how much is each incremental hour in a week worth to you? You can work 100 hours and make more money, but is that extra 20 hours worth the delta? For some it is, and that's ok. Worth noting - the Big4 are shifting comp structures to reflect the relative profitability of Advisory, i.e. consultants will start getting bigger bonuses attributable to their specific practice areas, rather than spreading it across Assurance and Tax.

3) See #1 - Most consulting practices work more than Assurance and Tax, but still aren't comparable to banking hours.

4) Audit / Tax fees, yes. However, all of the Big4 have seen huge growth in their consulting arms over the last 2 years, and that probably won't let up for a while. Companies have accumulated a ton of cash, but are reluctant to take on FTE's because of the macro uncertainty, and FTE's are hard to shed if things contract again in the near future. In lieu of that, rather than stagnate, they just pay the Big4 to do projects they would normall staff an FTE to do. When things pick up again, you'll see a shift back to replacing consultants with FTEs but for now, the Big4 are making bank. I think Deloitte hit $29B in revenue this fiscal year.

4/1/13

big 4 advisory is not work/life balance i know some groups that work just as hard as ibanking but they obviously have better culture, so long hours are not rough, but you can find that at other banking shops too.

4/1/13

What firms / groups / cities work 100, 110, 120 hours a week?

4/1/13

Thanks everybody, especially djfiii, for your detailed feedback! I just had a couple more clarifying questions:

In my internship offer, they say they'll pay overtime for time worked over 40 hours/wk; does this OT pay no longer exist if I sign on FT?

Could you maybe briefly summarize how the pay levels progress through the years? Also, is moving through all the levels pretty automatic or is there still some semblance of the "up or out" culture that dominates in banking?

Is having a CPA important to advancing through the ranks in advisory?

Lastly, it doesn't seem that many people stay in these practices for too long anyway, often lateraling to industry. Does this mean that you can reasonably expect to get paid more in industry a few years down the road?

Once again, all your feedback is much appreciated!

4/1/13

OT no longer exists as FT. You can actually make more as an intern than 1st year associates, on a per month basis.

Big4 Advisory starts at about $60k; you might be making $90k after 3 years; $120k after 6 years, $200k after 9 years. These are massive ballparks, and depend on firm / city / practice area.

There is definitely an "up or out" culture, but there is probably a little more leeway in the Big4. Turnover is extremely high, so a lot of people get promoted simply by virtue of being the last man standing. That fades a bit as you get up to the senior manager rank though - then sales becomes a larger part of your job, and if you aren't bringing in business, you're not going to be around forever.

There are plenty of partners that don't have CPA's but they can't sign any reports on behalf of the firm. It's not necessary, but most non CPA Advisory partners will tell you that it would be a "nice to have".

You can expect better pay, less hours, if you exit at or above the manager level. Otherwise, you'll probably exit at about par with where you leave. Basically, you'll want to plan for at least 6 years before jumping to industry.

4/1/13

Which group within Advisory?

4/1/13

If WL balance + job security matters a lot for you, go with the BIG 4 advisory job. 1st yr analysts from BBs are getting laid off, and you'll def be working horrible hours all year. Assuming that your offer is for financial/transaction advisory, BIG 4 advisory will not give you the pitch book experience, but it'll give you better technical skills (esp valuation).

4/1/13

Why not just go for traditional consulting if you were at a BB as a sophomore? You have a shot at M/B/B and the tier 1.5/2 firms i.e. OW, LEK, ATK, Booz, KS. The only Big 4 consulting group worth it is Deloitte S&O.

4/1/13

I did a brief (1 year) stint at a big4 (EY/PwC) Advisory practice and generally liked my time there. The work life balance was very good. I was working 60 hours most weeks and it never went more than 70. Some good weeks I was even working 40. The pay was reasonable, not amazing. I was a senior at the time, and all in was around 90. The reason I left was because despite what I was told when I joined, the place was not at all a meritocracy. People were picked to work good projects depending on how much the engagement manager liked them, not what their qualifications were. Same problem with year end reviews and promotions. The butt kissing factor is extremely high if you actually want to accelerate up the ranks. My general observation was that the young people were quite smart, but there were a lot of senior managers who didn't have a chance of making parter. Working for these people is extremely frustrating.

4/1/13

I wouldnt even consider Big 4...there are two chances in life when you can get a FO BB position...target undergrad or target MBA..Big 4 on the other hand, you can basically go in and out of.

Personally, I veiw this as a no-brainer. However, if you want to lead a passive life and dont care about money, then why not?

4/1/13

i know a guy who resigned to join a banking group

4/1/13

i left to join an s&t desk. its possible, but i would not join planning on switching unless you are dying for a job. there are other positions that may be more transferable (mm ibd, etc).

4/1/13

WS67, I am currently with a Big Four consulting firm, but interested in making a similar switch, how did you go about making it?

4/1/13

When I left, I received 20% base bump, but my expected bonus went from 6% of base up to 20%. I also picked up another 10% (on top of new base) with RSUs.

My advise is to delay the compensation conversation until they fall in love with you as a candidate, then get aggressive. Feel free to start at 30% above current base.

4/1/13

Johnny, thank you! That's a good benchmark to have.
They are already in love with me.. this is not any official hiring process, basically, VP is a friend and "sold" me to the CEO. They are working on an offer this week. I think I will ask for 30% over + milestone bonuses..

4/1/13

Let us know how things turn out!

4/1/13

Congrats! Sounds like a good gig. Can you tell me more about what role you had at B4? And how similar it is to what you'll be doing at this company?

4/1/13

Emous, I'm in HIA practice, but in reality more of a jack of all trades. A good mix of strategy and execution with lots and lots of analytics.I did a 5 months project in the same industry as this potential position, and several similar type of strategic assignments.
So, it will be a little similar, but in my opinion the value of a good consultant is not any specific knowledge, but to be able to "figure it out" very quickly, and this is what they liked about me.
They send me some of their data to "take a look".. and I gave them some valuable feedback within a couple of days, i guess this is what made up their mind. (if everything goes well, as I don't have an offer in hand yet) :)

Financial Modeling

4/1/13

You need to be more specific. Big 4 advisory can be many things, eg. It could be m&a, due diligence, performance consulting, it consulting etc etc

Big 4 Accounting Guide to Getting Hired Contains interview questions, exactly how to answer, resume guide, how to make an impact and a guide to the firms and service lines.

4/1/13

Sorry about that. It is financial services advisory at EY

4/1/13

Again not specific enough. If it's doing risk consulting or some shit for financial service companies, if go the MM. But that depends on your goals, maybe you are seeking a career in risk

Big 4 Accounting Guide to Getting Hired Contains interview questions, exactly how to answer, resume guide, how to make an impact and a guide to the firms and service lines.

4/1/13

bump...

4/1/13

I'm not 100% sure, but I think you need 150 credit hours prior to obtaining your CPA. (Someone please jump in if this in incorrect) I have a few friends who are working at a Big 4 and graduated as accounting majors and are now getting their master's in accounting (all while studying for the CPA). Even if you do intend on getting your masters in accounting just make sure that you have logged enough hours for the CPA as well.

4/1/13

youngbull22:
I'm not 100% sure, but I think you need 150 credit hours prior to obtaining your CPA. (Someone please jump in if this in incorrect) I have a few friends who are working at a Big 4 and graduated as accounting majors and are now getting their master's in accounting (all while studying for the CPA). Even if you do intend on getting your masters in accounting just make sure that you have logged enough hours for the CPA as well.

I think that applies to Audit and Tax, not necessarily Advisory. For Audit, you will need to be eligible to sit for the CPA exam upon starting full-time, which as youngbull stated, requires 150 hours. If that is the route you want to take, then make sure you have the requisite hours before dropping that Accounting major. However, it doesn't sound like you are interested in Audit/Tax so I think you should be okay.

I'd ask during your internship just to make sure as well.

4/1/13

You only need 120 credit hours for Advisory, and getting the CPA is optional

"Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are" - Fearless Felix

4/1/13

Thanks guys.

I Got a dollar and a dream...

4/1/13

If you have no interest in taking the CPA, just graduate early. I did the same thing (majoring in Finance and Accounting), and am CPA eligible now, but I was shocked at how many non-Accounting people were part of the Advisory group (which I am thankful for). All of whom basically told me a CPA is completely unnecessary for the job, and I'd be better of using that time to study for the GMAT.

My firm still pays for the CPA and the materials, but you do not get a bonus for passing. I would say, unless you really want to take the CPA, I'd graduate early and save your time and money.

Hugo

4/1/13

Hugo Stiglitz:
If you have no interest in taking the CPA, just graduate early. I did the same thing (majoring in Finance and Accounting), and am CPA eligible now, but I was shocked at how many non-Accounting people were part of the Advisory group (which I am thankful for). All of whom basically told me a CPA is completely unnecessary for the job, and I'd be better of using that time to study for the GMAT.

My firm still pays for the CPA and the materials, but you do not get a bonus for passing. I would say, unless you really want to take the CPA, I'd graduate early and save your time and money.

Were you part of an entry level development program such as PwC or EY FSO type program?

I Got a dollar and a dream...

4/1/13

You won't need a CPA in Big 4 Advisory, nor is it an issue to discuss your concerns with a partner or HR once you've begun your internship. It's really going to be more of a personal decision. I doubt the firm will care much.

"Just go to the prom and get your promotion. That's the way the business world works. Come on, Keith!" - The Boss

4/1/13

In all honesty, I would just start asking for additional responsibility, and get involved with strategy as to why the project is taking so long. Make sure you're keeping a record of all of your contributions to the project. Just because it's one project doesn't mean it's not giving you a ton of professional experience in varying areas.

Staying or going is up to you; if you have offers falling off your desk, jump ship to where you are more comfortable. If you have no offers, then you'd be crazy to leave. If you REALLY want to leave, then try to network or grab coffee with a recruiter and let them know you're discretely looking for outs.

4/1/13

Is rolling off not an option at all? Just talk to your director, and explain that it's been a year, the project does not align with your intended career projection, you appreciate the experience but you want out.
In my experience at Big4, you can typically roll yourself off a project, without burning too many bridges.

4/1/13

Agree with above comments. I spent 18 mo. in Big 4 and made a very early switch to their TS group before I left. I didn't spent much time in the group, but I know on those big projects they have a million people they could pull in if you were unhappy. The worst thing to do is sit there like a drone and not say anything and wake up two years later not having learned anything.

Tell your partner / coach that you don't feel challenged and would like to start thinking about the next step. Get the convo. going now so that if nothing happens in a month you can up the pressure, etc.

4/1/13

I've been down this road to, so I can empathize.

I agree with all the above advice. What I've learned is that being silent implies that you're satisfied with your assignment/project. None of your Directors/Managers are mind readers, and very few of them actually care about your career development (as sad as that is to say). You may find a few that actually care about you getting the right experience, but most of them want to make sure that the client is satisfied and that theyre meeting their numbers.

You need to be proactive by having a chat with the Director to let them know where you stand. Either (1) ask for more responsibility or a different role in the project, or (2) try and find an agreeable date for you to roll off. Having 12+ months should be more than enough leverage. In addition, I would then contact the staffing manager to let them know of where you stand and that you had a discussion with the Director and the rolloff date that was agreed upon, so they know as well and can bring it up when the time comes in case your project tries to extend you longer.

PM me if you need anything else.

Hugo

4/1/13

They can't read your mind but they will notice any thing that may affect their project (their own arses). You sound at risk of your motivation affecting work quality which hurts your reputation, make a move before you feel run down.

4/1/13

Was in your position a few years ago. I took the plunge and left - still not sure to this day whether it was the best choice or not. In my case, I was staffed on a very long project (lots of DD) and a ton of proposal work on the side that never got anywhere. This was after I was benched for 2 months and my utilization tanked, so I stuck it out for a while to get my numbers up, but it was killing me mentally.

If the project has nothing to do with your core group, you have the right to step off without burning too many bridges. Talk to your mentor/coach and ask if you can get placed on something within your group - usually the groups prefer their own team members to stay internal instead of helping out on things beyond their scope. Case in point: I was asked to put together training documents for a merger integration project (read: copy/paste and format PPTs)... my coach got wind of that pulled me off immediately.

To be completely honest, my time at the Big 4 felt like nothing. I didn't learn anything, I didn't enjoy it, and I didn't manage to connect with anyone there because they were all workaholics and I wasn't. I learned very well how to align elements in PPT and how to scan giant documents of tiny letters for certain data... but that was it. I felt like a data entry monkey :S

The end decision is up to you. I made the choice to go for something that was a little less mind-numbing, but I did forgo a lot of monetary compensation and job stability in the process. If you really hate it where you are, start job searching for other prospects and then jump ship when you have an offer in hand.

Currently: clinical psychologist (in training)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

4/1/13

Depending on the type of advisory, but you'll probably have to do case prep.

That's of course along with your usual interview prep like knowing things about the company and being ready to answer the typical behav. questions

4/1/13

There are a few Big 4 advisory groups that will teach some skills relevant for banking, but none that I know of which lend themselves to trading. I don't think Big 4 IT will help you get where you want to be.

Back/middle office to front office is discussed to death on here, I'm sure you can find some good threads on that with a search.

There have been many great comebacks throughout history. Jesus was dead but then came back as an all-powerful God-Zombie.

4/1/13

Completely agree with Kenny Powers. If you want to get into S & T, middle office trade support puts you a lot closer to the action

I'm starting full time as a MO traders assistant at a BB this summer.. I plan on busting my ass in this role and moving to full on S & T.. Also, having talked to many in MO and in S and T at the BB, it seems that if you want it bad enough, get a litttle luck, you can move.

"Major in economics; use your economics degree to get an analyst job on Wall Street; use your analyst job to get into Harvard or Stanford Business School; and worry about the rest of your life later"

4/1/13

Thanks guys, really appreciate it. I will bust my ass this Summer if I land this MO role. Much appreciated.

4/1/13

Thanks, I only put IBD because I don't want to list my specific group title. Advisory is so broad. I also put on the final application that I would be finishing my degree in the fall. There were actually boxes to populate the dates, so the application and HR had to know I am still an undergrad before they even made the offer.

4/1/13

*My 1st question is with regards to if HR puts more weight on my professional experience than my lack of degree.

4/1/13

I didn't misrepresent anything on resume (i.e. I don't have B.A. or anything like that on it.) I would just think my ~4 years experience coupled with the 165 credit hours I have completed would be ok for an Experienced Hire position. And you are correct, not a management position.

4/1/13

Also, the actual Experienced Hire recruitment says nothing about a mandatory Bachelors degree in their hiring.

4/1/13

Congratulations on the job offer! As an aside, it usually isn't smart to use something personal such as a picture of yourself in your profile. Different strokes for different folks, but I would be nervous about broadcasting my identity on a website as there is little upside and quite a bit of downside.

"For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

4/1/13

Hey, I have a similar experience as you (also in technology), and also in top 25 MBA school.
I am switching my career a bit now, however also an advisory offer from a big4 as a Senior Associate, with a larger base and MUCH larger sign-on bonus.
I have never heard of anyone joining as manager out of MBA, although they claim they have a fast track program (1-2 years) to manager to high performers.
So I suggest you keep interviewing.

4/1/13

Moshenik,

I am not even changing my career in terms of the kind of work done and the work described in the Advisory position....therefore, this discrepancy is worse :)

Would you mind putting some numbers to your offer so that I have a guide to negotiate by? As you know, your identity is confidential here and in fact, we haven't even named the firms. I am speaking with the relevant Partner next week and would greatly appreciate your input.

I am aiming for 125k base, 25k signing and 10k relocation assistance.

As for the Manager position that I mentioned, I am sure it's a rare occurrence, but it did happen last year to a student from the last batch....I am certain on that count.

4/1/13

Alpha... 125+35.. i think this was a standard offer this year..
There is no relocation assistance.. as they don't care much where i live.

4/1/13

Moshenik,
Thank you very much for that insight!

4/1/13

Guys, any more input from people in MBA programs with offers from Big 4 Advisory/Consulting this year ? It will be really useful if I can have a large sample of data before negotiations next week.

4/1/13

You should be shooting for Manager with 7 years experience and a 2 year MBA under your belt. It's not rare for people to get into manager-level positions in MBB, Booz, RolandBerger, etc. post-MBA with less experience than you, I see no reason for you to sell yourself short, especially to a Big 4 firm.

As someone else mentioned, if you perform well and play the politicals games at a Big 4 you move up quickly. During my stint at a Big4, I worked with a number of managers who were well under 30. I also worked with a few 32-34 year old partners. So even if you get in at senior associate, you can move up quickly, but like I said you should aim for manager.

4/1/13

Riffs,
Thank you for your advice. I will be aiming at Manager with the Big 4 with whom I have a final round interview soon. I am 30 now and was at the Manager designation (for the last 4 years) at my previous employer, a MNC bank. However, that may not have any relevance here.

The HR seems to be lowballing me because I am an international applicant, and as you know, it's tougher for us in this job market. She even tried pushing me to the Experienced Associate level (something which I've heard they've done with internationals at another school) but there was no way I would've accepted that.

If the Manager thing with the second firm doesn't work out, Senior Associate doesn't sound too bad, but not at the offered compensation level. As Moshennik said earlier in the thread, apt compensation seems to be $125k+$35k.

This may be slightly premature but I just want to be informed in advance. If the second firm does offer me Manager, what kind of compensation should I be shooting for?

All kinds of advice regarding my present and future plans are welcome.

4/1/13

Alpha, your offer is not from Deloitte, right?

4/1/13

Moshennik,
I wouldn't really like to name names here; I hope you understand. Negotiations are still ongoing and I wouldn't like to jeopardize my chances of working for any of the firms I have interviewed or am interviewing with.

I apologize for withholding the information.

4/1/13

Would have loved a bit more advice from the knowledgeable members of this forum. I reached out to one of my first-round interviewers for the Big 4 firm I have the final interview with, and he confirmed that with my profile, I may be considered for the Manager role. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

4/1/13

Would have loved a bit more advice from the knowledgeable members of this forum. I reached out to one of my first-round interviewers for the Big 4 firm I have the final interview with, and he confirmed that with my profile, I may be considered for the Manager role. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

4/1/13

Does anyone know if Deloitte S&O offers are above the 130k range this year?
Post-MBA of course.

4/1/13
moshennik:

Does anyone know if Deloitte S&O offers are above the 130k range this year?
Post-MBA of course.

Not in Toronto. I've heard 100K - 120K base depending on the school this year. I'm a Manager and my base is 130K.

-MBP

4/1/13

Moshenik,
Considering Manbearbig's comments, you scored a sweet deal with 125k for Senior Associate, plus a 35k bonus. On a related note, I've heard of some 85k base offers for Deloitte ERS from friends for Senior...seems very low to me....

4/1/13

My offer is NOT from Deloitte.. and not even from S&O Advisory. But from what I understand my offer is standard for my big4 for post-MBA candidates.
I heard that Deloitte S&O paid on par with MBB, which is about 140 this year.
This is kinda of confusing..

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