Big 4 vs. Accounting at Big Bank - Big bank such as Goldman?

pitching101's picture
Rank: Chimp | 8

Where is a better place to start a career, a big bank such as Goldman, Morgan Stanley, or Deutsche in their Finance/Accounting department or working at a Big 4 firm? I assume Big 4 because you can get your CPA right? I am getting a Master's in Accounting by the way.

Comments (14)

Dec 6, 2008

Big4. No contest. But not because of the CPA - you can get your CPA no matter where you go. The difference is that most groups in Big4 sponsor your Becker Review and test, whereas I'm assuming you'd have to pony up the 3k at a bank. Anyway, you should go Big4 because you learn more and you'd have a better chance of eventually ending up in banking (if that's what you want to do) than being in the accounting department of a bank.

Dec 6, 2008

I don't think it's good to say that you should go Big 4 because it gives the OP a better shot at going into banking... This is not true! The typical exit opps after a stint in Big 4 is to become a financial analyst (back office) at a F500 company, and move up the ranks to Controller and maybe CFO.

A lot of kids that I know in Big 4 audit took the job because they couldn't get into finance/consulting, and they thought that a stint in Big 4 audit will give them a shot to lateral into the mentioned fields 3-4 yrs down the road. However a VERY small number of ppl actually are able to make the switch.

I say BB finance is better for a couple of reasons.
1. Like you said, you can get the CPA wherever you go. So if you have experience in the finance division of a BB plus a CPA, I think your exit opps are going to be quite similar to those with Big 4 experience plus a CPA.
2. Everyone says that auditing is the most monotonous, boring crap you could do. I've never met a person who says they like audit, and I've heard mixed opinions about working in finance at a BB.
3. You will get paid significantly more at the BB (especially in the beginning).
4. People with Big 4 experience are a dime a dozen these days and not many get into top business schools (this may also be from the fact that a MBA isn't MANDATORY in an accounting career). If you have the chance to do a finance rotational at the BB, this looks very good and many go into top business schools.
5. Layman's prestige. All your friends will think your hot shit if you say you work for a BB, but very few will know what the Big 4 is.

I've received offers from both a top BB and a Big 4 firm, but I'm leaning heavily towards the BB for the above reasons.

Dec 6, 2008

big4 over back office.

usually, you should strive to be in a revenue generating role over a support function.

not really sure about making it over into banking easily, although i have seen people with 2-3 years experience from valuation/tas lateral over to boutiques and PE shops.

I think with the right connections/network, you can go wherever you want.

Take the big4, also it doesn't matter if you're FO or BO at a BB, if they're doing layoffs, your department will also be getting hit.

Take for example, the kids who had FT ops offers (not prime brokerage) from Bear Stearns. Once the entire company went down, their offers were rescinded.

..although the accounting firms have laid off a large amount of people as well. but i assume you could always move to a midsize accounting firm if that occurred. And from my understanding people with tax experience are in high demand right now, since tax season is right around the corner.

We're about to enter a Great Depression.
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Dec 7, 2008

Lionheart, you're just trying to justify the decision to go BB over Big 4.

Big 4 is better without a doubt. Look at businessweek's best places to launch a career - big four took top 3 stops.

Besides you will develop a better skillset in public accounting.

Dec 7, 2008
stk123:

Lionheart, you're just trying to justify the decision to go BB over Big 4.

Big 4 is better without a doubt. Look at businessweek's best places to launch a career - big four took top 3 stops.

Besides you will develop a better skillset in public accounting.

I don't think the businessweek rankings have much credibility. They have enterprise rent a car ranked higher than Google...

Look, all I'm saying is with a good finance rotational at a top firm, plus a CPA, your not going to have that many differences in terms of exit opps with those with Big 4 audit plus CPA. Add to this fact that your going to be paid significantly more at the BB (90K with bonuses included at BB vs 60K with bonuses included at Big 4), arguably a better shot at a top MBA, and more layman's prestige, the BB would be a better choice.

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Dec 7, 2008

Definitely Big 4.

Dec 7, 2008

That 60k is probably too generous a number at the Big 4 (probably more like 55-57K).

Also, keep in mind that when I say BB is better, it is assuming that you get to take part in a rotational. Some firms put you in one area under finance and if that's the case, then Big 4 will probably be better. In my case, I was given a 3 yr rotational in Asia where I get to have 3 one year rotations in Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

So I guess it really depends on what firm/opportunity you get...

Dec 7, 2008

Like I said, whatever makes you feel better about your decision.

You are not going to make 90K in your first year BO in a BB.

My buddy got a big 4 job in NY that pays 65K +5K sign on = 70K + year end bonus, so there is not that much (33-35K) difference that you write about, more like 5K if there is any at all.

A BB BO stint will not help you get into an MBA program any better than big 4 experience. In fact I would think it is the opposite. MBA programs mostly care about your gmat score, then GPA, then they look at you essays and work experience.

It will actually be harder to get into an MBA program from back office BB than from big four, because you will be competing for the same seats against other fellow applicants from your bank that have front office jobs.

Dec 7, 2008
stk123:

Like I said, whatever makes you feel better about your decision.

You are not going to make 90K in your first year BO in a BB.

My buddy got a big 4 job in NY that pays 65K +5K sign on = 70K + year end bonus, so there is not that much (33-35K) difference that you write about, more like 5K if there is any at all.

A BB BO stint will not help you get into an MBA program any better than big 4 experience. In fact I would think it is the opposite. MBA programs mostly care about your gmat score, then GPA, then they look at you essays and work experience.

It will actually be harder to get into an MBA program from back office BB than from big four, because you will be competing for the same seats against other fellow applicants from your bank that have front office jobs.

I'm the one who actually got the offer so I think I know what I'm talking about. I received 10k sign on/relocation bonus + 61K base + year end bonus (which is going to be about 20K from the credible sources I have talked to).

I doubt that your friend got 70K and even if he did the year end bonus would be something like 5K. Most of my friends that got Big 4 offers in audit got 57K all in (including year end bonus). The number will be lower if the OP's school is in a rural area.

Also, the hours at BB finance will be much better than Big 4 audit so you will have more time to study for CPA, CFA, etc. so that will also be a plus.

And regarding MBA admissions, the top things that schools look for are work experience, demonstrated leadership, and a GMAT score that's in good range (above 700). Your GPA isn't that important. With Big 4, you will be competing against the thousands of others that also have similar experiences (A LOT of people in Big 4 audit) plus the typical bankers, consultants, etc.

Run a search for finance rotational leadership programs and you will know that they are good alternatives to your typical banking and consulting jobs.

Here I'll post one just for you.
//www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/fmp-type-programs

Dec 7, 2008

To be honnest, i would say take the place where it is right now and ask yourself the philosophy questions afterwards...
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Jun 12, 2009

i know this is an older post but lionheart you are receiving 70k with your sign on just like the guy said. You were just speculating on your bonus, which was probably 5k last year..

Jun 12, 2009

Whats the position in big 4? is it audit as everyone is assuming?

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Jun 12, 2009
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