Big 4 or Accenture?

guo77's picture
Rank: Chimp | 14

Hey guys:

I am a senior accounting student. Recently I got an offer from Accenture Shanghai( I am a international student studying in the U.S). It is an entry-level consultant position. Accenture gave me limited time to decide whether to accept the offer or not. Since I am graduating in December and I was an intern for one of the big 4 accounting firm, I am very likely to get an full-time offer from the big 4 firm, and the position is based in the U.S.

My plan is going to graduate school in the U.S (most likely MBA program) after working full-time for several years and develop my career here in the U.S. So I cannot decide which way to go at this time. Because except for the potential big 4 accounting position, it is possible for me to find other full-time jobs in the consulting field(can't get in top-tiers, but possibly boutique consulting firms). Will people in the U.S. value full-time work experience in Accenture shanghai? Or Should I negotiate to just get an internship in Accenture and keep looking for jobs in the U.S?

Any suggestions are welcome! Thanks in advance:)

Accenture vs Big 4

Here the distinction is made between accounting and consulting practices at big 4 and Accenture.
from @johnnie.welker

Couple things that I don't agree with here.
1) I used to be in audit before getting my MBA, so I can chime on some myths:
Big 4 Audit + CPA doesn't equal upper middle class lifestyle ($100K+) on a 9-5 schedule. That's so untrue. To make $100K with an accounting degree that would require 5-7 years of experience. Also, as you move the ladder in Big 4 and in Industry, you tend to work more hours.

2) Deloitte Consulting = Accenture Consulting> PwC Advisory. Deloitte and Accenture pay 20-25% more than PwC.

3) You can't just switch to advisory from Audit in a BIG 4. This is very unlikely. You will need to be on the upper tier of ratings, and know a partner or two who wants you in Advisory.

My take is, if you want to do consulting, go with a Consulting position. If you don't know what you want, then flip a coin.

from certified user @TopDGO

Thanks to johnnie.welker for clarifying a lot of the misinformation.

Let's clarify, Big 4 Accounting = Big 4 Tax or Audit.

Big 4 Consulting = Big 4 Consulting.

Let's also clarify, Arthur Anderson consulting shut down post-Enron and we got Accenture and Deloitte Consulting. When you compare Deloitte and Accenture you have to take into account where within you are working and where in the world you are working. Consulting companies are not like a Fortune 500 manufacturing company. They are disjointed trees of partnerships. Deloitte may have an aerospace practice in their Seattle office that is better than any MBB aerospace practice in the world. But that doesn't mean that working in their Oracle implementation practice in the Cincinnati office carries the same prestige.

To me your question at this point is much more basic than prestige and brands. Do you want to do accounting? If so, go Big 4. Do you want to do consulting? If so, go Accenture.

Lastly, let's stop furthering the myth that working in Transaction Services leads to jobs in investment banking. That's like saying you can get into Harvard with a 2.0 GPA. I'm sure someone has done it before, but it's damn near impossible.


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Comments (29)

Apr 4, 2012

definitely Accenture. Higher pay and better brand.

Apr 4, 2012

ACCENTURE

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Apr 4, 2012

accenture has better brand name than deloitte? good to know

Apr 6, 2012
CaliforniaAnalyst:

accenture has better brand name than deloitte? good to know

Depends. These days Deloitte's Strategy & Ops team is doing quite well, and is better respected by a lot of people. On pretty much everything else that it does, Accenture has the edge.

Apr 4, 2012

Try to get a consulting or deals role in the Big 4. I don't think accounting would place well into MBA programs. US experience would be more valuable regardless... if you can get a US internship w/ Accenture, do that.

Apr 4, 2012

Choose accenture. better brand, better pay and better benefits. According to my cousin who works there.

Apr 4, 2012

Keep in mind that most people in Big 4 have no interest in getting a MBA. A couple years of Big 4 audit + CPA is a very easy way to live an upper middle class lifestyle working 9-5, which most people are very content with.

As far as your original question, Deloitte Consulting & PwC Advisory > Accenture for sure. Big 4 Audit is more debatable. You'll definitely be compensated better at Accenture. That said, Accenture is a lower tier consulting firm while Big 4 is top tier accounting. I personally would go Big 4 (assuming the worst and it's Audit) and just switch into Advisory after a year or two.

Best Response
Apr 4, 2012
needtodecide:

Keep in mind that most people in Big 4 have no interest in getting a MBA. A couple years of Big 4 audit + CPA is a very easy way to live an upper middle class lifestyle working 9-5, which most people are very content with.

As far as your original question, Deloitte Consulting & PwC Advisory > Accenture for sure. Big 4 Audit is more debatable. You'll definitely be compensated better at Accenture. That said, Accenture is a lower tier consulting firm while Big 4 is top tier accounting. I personally would go Big 4 (assuming the worst and it's Audit) and just switch into Advisory after a year or two.

Couple things that I don't agree with here.
1) I used to be in audit before getting my MBA, so I can chime on some myths:
Big 4 Audit + CPA doesn't equal upper middle class lifestyle ($100K+) on a 9-5 schedule. That's so untrue. To make $100K with an accounting degree that would require 5-7 years of experience. Also, as you move the ladder in Big 4 and in Industry, you tend to work more hours.

2) Deloitte Consulting = Accenture Consulting> PwC Advisory. Deloitte and Accenture pay 20-25% more than PwC.

3) You can't just switch to advisory from Audit in a BIG 4. This is very unlikely. You will need to be on the upper tier of ratings, and know a partner or two who wants you in Advisory.

My take is, if you want to do consulting, go with a Consulting position. If you don't know what you want, then flip a coin.

    • 2
Apr 6, 2012
johnnie.welker:

Couple things that I don't agree with here.
1) I used to be in audit before getting my MBA, so I can chime on some myths:
Big 4 Audit + CPA doesn't equal upper middle class lifestyle ($100K+) on a 9-5 schedule. That's so untrue. To make $100K with an accounting degree that would require 5-7 years of experience. Also, as you move the ladder in Big 4 and in Industry, you tend to work more hours.

2) Deloitte Consulting = Accenture Consulting> PwC Advisory. Deloitte and Accenture pay 20-25% more than PwC.

3) You can't just switch to advisory from Audit in a BIG 4. This is very unlikely. You will need to be on the upper tier of ratings, and know a partner or two who wants you in Advisory.

My take is, if you want to do consulting, go with a Consulting position. If you don't know what you want, then flip a coin.

  1. When I was talking about upper middle class, I was referring more to around $75K-90K. It might just be where I grew up, but that's what upper middle class has always been defined to me. Given those #s, I don't think $75K is unreasonable for a senior Big 4 with a CPA when he/she jumps into industry. I agree it's not easy making over $100K without having putting in some time though.
  2. I'm not in consulting industry, so I can't say much about that. My opinion was just based on what I've read and heard from friends in industry.
  3. As far as going from audit to advisory, not everyone can do it, but I wouldn't say it's very unlikely. I know quite a few people that have done so while I was at Big 4. I almost did so myself until I moved banking. Not sure about your office, but my office was fairly accommodating when it came to transfers if the potential of you actually leaving was high. If you just mention that you're thinking about transferring, then yeah that probably won't amount to much. But if you're adamant, they'll find a spot for you, just maybe not right away.
Apr 4, 2012

This is a tricky situation. If this was a compensation and prestige comparison, then Accenture > Big 4 Accounting. However, Big 4 TAS might be comparable, as Investment Banking is a potential exit opp. That being said, I'd still give the slight edge to Accenture. In addition, Big 4 Consulting (Deloitte, PwC) >>> Accenture. I say all this because the OP didn't specify which division he was working in.

If you're looking to get your MBA in the US, then Accenture Shanghai is your best-bet. If you're looking to get permanent residency and/or a visa, then working in the US would make a better argument to Immigration Officials. A lot of variables to consider here, can you be more specific with your long-term goals?

Apr 4, 2012

Thanks to johnnie.welker for clarifying a lot of the misinformation.

Let's clarify, Big 4 Accounting = Big 4 Tax or Audit.

Big 4 Consulting = Big 4 Consulting.

Let's also clarify, Arthur Anderson consulting shut down post-Enron and we got Accenture and Deloitte Consulting. When you compare Deloitte and Accenture you have to take into account where within you are working and where in the world you are working. Consulting companies are not like a Fortune 500 manufacturing company. They are disjointed trees of partnerships. Deloitte may have an aerospace practice in their Seattle office that is better than any MBB aerospace practice in the world. But that doesn't mean that working in their Oracle implementation practice in the Cincinnati office carries the same prestige.

To me your question at this point is much more basic than prestige and brands. Do you want to do accounting? If so, go Big 4. Do you want to do consulting? If so, go Accenture.

Lastly, let's stop furthering the myth that working in Transaction Services leads to jobs in investment banking. That's like saying you can get into Harvard with a 2.0 GPA. I'm sure someone has done it before, but it's damn near impossible.

Apr 4, 2012

Thank you all for your replies! I wasn't working in consulting division but I have been networking with people from Deloitte consulting very hard. So I can say there is possibility that I can get in. If I eventually get into big 4 consulting here in the U.S, I will just go for it undoubtedly.
My plan for future is to get a master degree for sure. Also I want a good career path on longterm aspect. At least for the first few years I start to work, I won't consider compensation as my high priority as long as I can make a living. I dont expect to be paid as much as I get paid in the us. But not a big problem to me.
And yes, personally I prefer consulting than accounting. I am not good at accounting honestly and I have no passion for it. I guess it is not a good idea to do what you are not good at, especially accounting jobs generally have less exit opp.
Thanks again everyone. All comments are very valuable and do help me to make my decision. Thank you Johnnie for clarifying something I wasn't sure about. BTW I'd rather be a man but I am female unfortunately:( LOL

Apr 4, 2012
guo77:

BTW I'd rather be a man but I am female unfortunately:( LOL

uh wut?

Did you fly over my helmet?

Apr 4, 2012

haha sorry that was very random. just because someone said "he....."

Apr 5, 2012

I think your best choice is to try joining a boutique firm or get an internship with Accenture in the US. From what I head, they do end up keeping most of their summer interns but I'm just not sure whether you can start full-time immediately (after a successful Summer internship).

Since you don't have a passion for accounting, I would definitiv scratch audit with Big 4 from your list. With the notoriously long working hours, you are not going to be happy selling your life away for the next few years doing accounting work.

I actually considered going back to China for a few years after graduating from undergrad but found that it's not a smart choice for non-Americans that want to build a career in the US. American students go abroad to gain some international experience which can be very useful career-wise because it shows that they can work with people from different countries. However, you already have a lot of international experience. What future employers want to know from you is that you have the communication skills necessary to work in the US.

    • 1
Apr 6, 2012

Everyone here has addressed the career side of things. I'm going to address the international side of things because it appears everyone here is an American citizen and doesn't think of things like OPT and H1B etc.

If you're an international student and you have a long term plan to do the states, I say you stay in China. THe reason for this is simple.

If you do a US firm straight out of school, you will have to apply for H1B. Lemme tell you H1B is tough and then you have to stay with that firm for a long period of time for your GC. Getting an H1B visa for IT consulting straight out of undergrad is tough. US is getting less and less foreign friendly for entry level jobs. I know several people at Big 4 / Accenture that didn't get H1B's because they didn't have a great case for why they are taking a job that an American should have. Experienced hire is something else. Entry level - tough.

Plus keep in mind, when your 22 - you really don't know exactly what you wanna do. You kind of know. So if you're H1B at 22, if you start working in the field in the states, and you hate it, you're stuck because you're bound to your H1B.

If you do Accenture China first - you do your 2 year stint, take the GMAt. Get the 740-780 that all other Chinese students get as well as a top TOEFL and then apply to a top tier MBA. You apply to 8 of them and you have a shot at each of them. Then you do MBA in the states and then you can find work in Asia or the states. It's still not easy to find work in the states, but the H1B argument will be easier to make at a masters level.

    • 1
Apr 7, 2012

For me, go for the go. Just choose what do you feel, your free to decide what is the best for you.

Apr 7, 2012

What would be the reason for you going for an MBA? What are you looking to do after.

Apr 7, 2012

I think either is fine. Try to figure out whether you prefer accountancy or consulting. I think that matters a lot. If you enjoy the work you're likely to learn more from it - and hence learn more for eventually doing an MBA. Either of those seem fine for getting into an MBA to me. Frankly, audit does not sound that exciting, at least to me. I'd probably go with Accenture. Might be an easier sell since you might get more varied experience, rather than just ploughing through tons of financial reports and checking every single detail. It might require some innovative thinking. I have not yet met anyone yet who convincingly said that auditing is exciting...

Apr 7, 2012

Either is fine.

But I'd avoid Accenture, it's a bloody sweatshop.

Apr 7, 2012

Your Accenture offer sounds like you'd just be doing the billing for clients, which won't get you anywhere (i.e., not actually doing projects for clients). Correct me if I'm wrong though. If that's the case, I'd definitely go with audit. I've looked through a handful of profiles of people that got accepted into a couple of the T10 MBA programs I was accepted into and a few, including myself, came from Big 4, including audit. Additionally, if you do audit you could always move into TAS or Advisory, which would make for an easier transition to MBA.

Let me know if you have additional questions.

Apr 7, 2012
Jeff8700:

Your Accenture offer sounds like you'd just be doing the billing for clients, which won't get you anywhere (i.e., not actually doing projects for clients). Correct me if I'm wrong though. If that's the case, I'd definitely go with audit. I've looked through a handful of profiles of people that got accepted into a couple of the T10 MBA programs I was accepted into and a few, including myself, came from Big 4, including audit. Additionally, if you do audit you could always move into TAS or Advisory, which would make for an easier transition to MBA.

Let me know if you have additional questions.

Thanks for your input. I'm interested in pursuing trading or investment management after getting an MBA, and if I can't land any of those, something in IB.

The Accenture position is a federal position and this is the job description:

"Job Summary
Client Financial Management professionals provide their services from the opportunity phase through contract completion in the areas of GAAP compliance, internal controls, budgeting/forecasting, contract profit and loss management, and advisory services to our customer leadership teams and corporate leadership.
Assisting with the preparation of engagement, project, and program reporting as well as Accenture internal financial accounting processes
Executing or assisting with tracking and reporting of third-party out-of-pocket expenses, hardware/software costs, and client time and expenses against program budget, and any other expense charges to program budget
Monitoring or advising on engagement financial status and engagement capital assets and technology rental equipment
Performing or assisting with reconciliation processes, data and report archiving, forecast management activities, and contract compliance"

So you think Big 4 Audit would be better than this position?

Apr 7, 2012

Take Big 4 and try and lateral to TAS or Consulting.

Apr 7, 2012

That Accenture position sounds exactly like what I thought it would be. Like futurectdoc said, take audit. That Accenture position will be extremely administrative and won't do you any favors in reaching your ultimate goal, whereas lateraling from audit to TAS or even investment banking pre-MBA is definitely possible.

Apr 7, 2012

Don't take CFM at ACN. It's internal accounting/billing.

Apr 7, 2012
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