Big 4 to WS - Which firm is most respected - EY vs. KPMG

Cho K.'s picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 25

Hi all, for some time I have realized that the best way for me to break into IB is to start in accounting. Since I am starting in audit, I am wondering which firm is a better starting place: EY or KPMG.

I guess the most important question I have is: Does it matter?

OP continued at end

How to Move from Big 4 to Investment Banking

Breaking into investment banking from accounting can be difficult, but it has been done by several members of the WSO forum. If your end goal is investment banking, then your position and how well you network will probably make more of a difference than which Big 4 you work for. Here are some thoughts from other WSO members.

Focus on Non-Audit Roles
From Certified Investment Banking Professional - Vice President @Bullet-Tooth Tony

More important than EY vs. KPMG is your ability to move towards a non-audit role (i.e. TAS, Valuation, etc.).

Consider Industry Exposure
From Certified Consulting Professional - Principal @spinergy

KPMG is buying out Rothstein Kass to up their HF audit client base. If you're going the audit -> banking role the important thing is going to be industry exposure so check which firm has a larger financial services client list.

Take Advantage of Big City Networking
From Certified Investment Banking Professional - 2nd Year Associate @guyfromct

Being in a big city is an advantage assuming you'll be in one with a large finance community (e.g. NYC, Chicago, SF, Dallas, Houston), however there are several big cities that have a very small finance scene.

Recommended Reading

Want to Break into Investment Banking?

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OP continued

KPMG would be in a major city, and EY would be just outside of a major city but with pretty big/reputable clients, as well. Since KPMG is in a major city, that makes me lean towards them... however, I already know people who started in EY audit and have transitioned into positions at boutique IB firms. In addition, it seems to be the general consensus that KPMG is "the worst big 4," and I don't know how much that would hurt me going forward. As far as company goes, I am leaning EY but it would be more inconvenient since KPMG is in major city.

Thanks for all of your help in advance everyone, try to keep the accountant bashing to a minimum on this post if possible! =)

Region: 
United States - Midwest
United States - South
United States - Northeast

Comments (15)

May 21, 2014

No. More important than EY vs. KPMG is your ability to move towards a non-audit role (i.e. TAS, Valuation, etc.).

    • 2
May 21, 2014

I have heard that part of it, and I will probably try and make that switch when the time comes.. but now I am at a point where I have to pick which firm and want to make the best choice.

Ultimate question: KPMG (from what I know less "prestigious" than EY) and major city VS. EY and non-major city (slightly more inconvenient for my lifestyle but still a city with very good/reputable clients)

    • 1
May 21, 2014

speed boost blaze

    • 1
May 21, 2014

Have you tried applying to a F50 rotational program or something like that that isn't Big 4?

May 21, 2014

I've worked at a couple of Big 4 firms - I think the "KPMG is worst" has always been a load of crap. To answer your question, firm name won't matter, look at the other factors.

May 21, 2014

KPMG is buying out Rothstein Kass to up their HF audit client base. If you're going the audit -> banking role the important thing is going to be industry exposure so check which firm has a larger financial services client list.

May 21, 2014

Being in a big city is an advantage assuming you'll be in one with a large finance community (e.g. NYC, Chicago, SF, Dallas, Houston), however there are several big cities that have a very small finance scene.

May 21, 2014

go KPMG, in the bigger city. You're doing audit and they're heavily involved in the capital markets industry... err but then again ICE, bought NYSE Euronext, is a big EY client, but who knows if you'd get that exposure

Either is fine to be honest, but location with KPMG has the edge

    • 1
May 21, 2014

Usually Big 4 have all the same good reputations when it comes to people outside the accounting world. Go with the group you enjoyed the most since you will be working with them a lot.

For what its worth even though KPMG has the reputation of being the bottom of the Big 4 their Advisory practice is very close to the top.

    • 1
May 21, 2014

KPMG, for sure. Froggen is probably more qualified to answer, though.

Jun 6, 2014

KPMG has a definite edge with respect to location, but I wouldn't worry about reputation too much. KPMG may get ribbed here and there for being the "worst" Big 4 but at the end of the day it's still the Big 4, not the Big 3.5. I would go to KPMG and like mentioned above- their advisory practice is pretty solid.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers

Jun 6, 2014

I'm not nor was I ever a Big 4 guy but as someone in the PE world who has hired a lot of people I never think of one big 4 being superior or inferior to another. And I've hired not only people from those firms, I've hired those firms multiple times. I don't mean that offensively but your job function is more important if you want to get to the IB/PE world. Can't give advice if you want another exit like bschool or internal corp finance at an operating company but for IB pick the best job itself.

Best Response
Jun 6, 2014
Dingdong08:

I've hired not only people from those firms

Prepare to get a lot of PMs from accountants asking if you're hiring or if you can give some specific career advice for a 'unique/unusual' situation that someone has.

    • 2
Jun 7, 2014

Can speak with KPMG in Italy, since I was there.
The corporate finance team is regarded as the best one across the other Big 4 in the country. Hence, they have sent people to Nomura (2), HSBC (1), Citi (1), MS (1, from Actuarial Services actually), JPM (1) and people are interviewed for other firms such as Lazard, Rothschild or Leonardo.
I have not seen, recently, any guy from E&Y moving to IBD from my country.

Disclaimer: this is very country based.

As stated before, I would go in the firm that would give you the best career path to the TAS/Valuation/corporate finance teams.

Aug 25, 2019
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