Big 4 vs. MBB Job Offers

So I worked for Accenture over this summer, and during full time recruiting I got offers from two of MBB and two of the Big 4 (E&Y, KPMG, PwC, and Deloitte). Right now, I'm leaning towards one of the Big 4 firms because I liked the people I met there, and from what my interviewers said it seems like the exit opps are pretty similar from all of these places (top MBA and Fortune 500 companies, some into finance). What are some things you guys would consider?

Choosing Between Consulting Big 4

Regardless of what the Big 4 HR teams will say, our users feel that MBB jobs will provide more prestige and exit opportunities. That being said, if you are more interested in accounting you should pursue the Big 4 path.

User @Riffs" shared that the easy choice was MBB:

Riffs:
MBB of course.

Work hours are very similar between MBB and Big 4 so you have no advantage there. In fact, having worked at both, I can't think of any advantage of working at a Big 4 over MBB. If you want to get into banking then Big 4 TAS may be considered more beneficial than consulting for some ibanks, but in most cases they would take the prestige of an MBB alum.

MBB has better projects, better people, better prestige, better pay and better exit opportunities. Easy choice.

User @Captain America" shared that it is a more complicated choice:

Captain America - Investment Banking Analyst:
A lot of people on here will tell you to take MBB solely on prestige, but remember that the work at these places will be fundamentally different and you should choose whichever you are more interested in (account vs. consulting) rather than which one your college friends will be impressed with.

User @Adelbert_Buffington" shared some points to consider:

Adelbert_Buffington:
There are lots of other factors that come into play in choosing a consulting offer to accept. The lazy answer is choose MBB indiscriminately. But if you're rational, consider a few of the following:
  1. Your relationship with the manager or senior manager who's recruiting you. A good relationship will get you far more interesting assignments, faster promotions, and better letters of recommendation two years down the line.
  2. Hours. At MBB you'll work 60-80; Big Four, probably 55-65. It depends on your own preferences, but if you're going to BSchool after, you can get to any school from either choice, so your quality of life is worth considering (I hope the bankers don't read that).
  3. Work flow. What division would you work with? Are you going to be doing bull shit compliance work? Are you being recruited to help the Gov't of Pennsylvania's sanitation department on a 15 year IT implementation project, or analyzing the pre-merger synergies of F500 companies?

Check out a video below of an industry professional explaining what they consider to be the "best big 4" to work at.

Big 4 and MBB Business School Acceptance Chances

Our users denoted that it is easier to go from MBB to a top MBA program if that is the path you are pursuing.

.... - Consulting Associate:
Let me put this into perspective for you. Here are some numbers from Harvard Business School, in the Class of 2013.
  • There are 100 McKinsey alumni.
  • There are 42 BCG alumni.
  • There are 41 Bain alumni
  • There are 22 Deloitte alumni, mix of audit, tax & consulting
  • There are 9 PWC alumni - 6 consultants and 3 auditors.
  • There is 1 Ernst/Young alumni. ONE. He did auditing and was a 2+2 guy, so he got into HBS regardless of his work at E&Y.
  • There are 0 KPMG alumni.

Now I know what you're thinking - these things aren't the same size! McKinsey is about double the size of BCG. BCG is a little bigger than Bain, but Bain has way more undergrads. Deloitte is huge, I'm not even sure about the other 3 of the Big-4. If you do the math, the rough lesson is that McK > BCG > Bain > Deloitte > PWC > E&Y = KPMG. At least when it comes to top MBA admission.

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Comments (19)

Oct 31, 2011 - 7:06pm

A lot of people on here will tell you to take MBB solely on prestige, but remember that the work at these places will be fundamentally different and you should choose whichever you are more interested in (account vs. consulting) rather than which one your college friends will be impressed with.

Best Response
Oct 31, 2011 - 7:38pm

There are lots of other factors that come into play in choosing a consulting offer to accept. The lazy answer is choose MBB indiscriminately. But if you're rational, consider a few of the following:

1) Your relationship with the manager or senior manager who's recruiting you. A good relationship will get you far more interesting assignments, faster promotions, and better letters of recommendation two years down the line.
2) Hours. At MBB you'll work 60-80; Big Four, probably 55-65. It depends on your own preferences, but if you're going to BSchool after, you can get to any school from either choice, so your quality of life is worth considering (I hope the bankers don't read that).
3) Work flow. What division would you work with? Are you going to be doing bull shit compliance work? Are you being recruited to help the Gov't of Pennsylvania's sanitation department on a 15 year IT implementation project, or analyzing the pre-merger synergies of F500 companies?

All that's important. Hope it helps.

It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong - JMK
  • 4
Oct 31, 2011 - 7:56pm

MBB every day and twice on Sundays.

Adelbert_Buffington:
There are lots of other factors that come into play in choosing a consulting offer to accept. The lazy answer is choose MBB indiscriminately. But if you're rational, consider a few of the following:

1) Your relationship with the manager or senior manager who's recruiting you. A good relationship will get you far more interesting assignments, faster promotions, and better letters of recommendation two years down the line.
2) Hours. At MBB you'll work 60-80; Big Four, probably 55-65. It depends on your own preferences, but if you're going to BSchool after, you can get to any school from either choice, so your quality of life is worth considering (I hope the bankers don't read that).
3) Work flow. What division would you work with? Are you going to be doing bull shit compliance work? Are you being recruited to help the Gov't of Pennsylvania's sanitation department on a 15 year IT implementation project, or analyzing the pre-merger synergies of F500 companies?

All that's important. Hope it helps.

You're right that those factors would matter if everything else about the jobs were equal. Your 3 points imply potential advantages to the Big 4 which did not, in my experience, exist, on top of which, MBB pay far better than the Big 4, and from everything I've seen including ex-Big 4 coworkers who've gone to top MBA programs the long-term perception of the Elite 3 on your resume is far stronger.

On #1: From everything I've seen from friends at any consulting firm or bank, the ability to determine your own staffing comes from proving yourself on the job, not from any sort of relationship with a hiring manager. Good relationships with managers are a huge factor in your career, but I really doubt getting/making a good impression during the recruiting process is going to meaningfully impact that.

On #2: Big 4 Consultants in the practice I worked for and the practices we worked with worked more like 60-80 than 55-65 hours a week most of the time. There may be other groups where this isn't the case, but it's not a guarantee of fewer hours.

On #3: Is there some universe where what you're describing isn't 100 times more common at the Big 4 than at a MBB firm?

There have been many great comebacks throughout history. Jesus was dead but then came back as an all-powerful God-Zombie.
  • 3
Oct 31, 2011 - 8:32pm

Just to be clear, you're talking aboutnthe consulting branchesnof Big 4, right? Not auditnor tax?

Exit ops for post-MBAs are reasonably similar, with slight advantage to MBB because MBB work with more senior clients and can therefore snag slightly more senior exit options.

Exit ops for pre-MBA are significantly better for MBB. Eg, no one from Accenture gets offers from top PE firms. B-school acceptance rates are very similar outside the top 5 schools, but MBB have way higher acceptance rates at H/S/W. Eg, 10% of HBS's class each year are ex-McK people. E&Y definitely get people into HBS, but at a much worse rate than MBB.

Btw, hours worked are very similar across firms and are more project-dependent than company dependent.

So at least from an exit op perspective, MBB is the better option.

Hours worked are very similar.

Oct 31, 2011 - 9:51pm

Also,

Keep in mind that the people you met, (1) may not still be there when you start, or (2) you may never actually even work with them. So basing it on the few people you did meet will actually screw you in the end if thats your only basis.

Hugo

Nov 1, 2011 - 12:04pm
cp26:
Hey redninja,

how do other consultancies (Oliver Wyman, Booz & Co, etc) compare to the Big 4 in terms of HBS placement?

17 Booz alums, but some of these are BAH (not Booz & Co) and some were from Katzenbach
11 Oliver Wyman alums

gr8ng89:
Also,

Keep in mind that the people you met, (1) may not still be there when you start, or (2) you may never actually even work with them. So basing it on the few people you did meet will actually screw you in the end if thats your only basis.

I don't agree with this. If you meet enough people at a company, those people are representative of the culture of that company. As people come and go, one can reasonably expect that the culture will remain static over time as the people that come in are like the people that ultimately leave.

Nov 1, 2011 - 12:56pm
cp26:
Hey,

how do other consultancies (Oliver Wyman, Booz & Co, etc) compare to the Big 4 in terms of HBS placement?

17 Booz alums, but some of these are BAH (not Booz & Co) and some were from Katzenbach
11 Oliver Wyman alums

interesting numbers!

just wanted to add that in some firms, people are simply not as likely to apply for an MBA!
There's factors to consider outside of just size, i.e.
- OW FS or Big4 TAS might prefer a CFA
- firms which have a European core business often struggle with the "weak sauce" image MBAs suffer in continental Europe, thus preferring PhDs.

I interned at a Big4 Advisory in Europe a few years back, it was all PhDs and CFAs, not a single MBA.

Nov 1, 2011 - 1:54am

MBB of course.

Work hours are very similar between MBB and Big 4 so you have no advantage there. In fact, having worked at both, I can't think of any advantage of working at a Big 4 over MBB. If you want to get into banking then Big 4 TAS may be considered more beneficial than consulting for some ibanks, but in most cases they would take the prestige of an MBB alum.

MBB has better projects, better people, better prestige, better pay and better exit opportunities. Easy choice.

Sep 11, 2014 - 3:07am

The talent pool at the top for MBB is totally different, majority being alumni of OxRidges and HarFords. It makes a huge difference. Also look at the preference of top 10 MBA schools, most kids opt for MBB. I am quoting from Linkedin and indeed data for 2012-2014. 8/10 Top schools choose M-B-As (McK, BCG, Bain & ATK) over Big 4. In one school there is a marginal diff between MBA and One of the Big 4s (Deloitte). So for 75% of the aspirants M-B-A is more premium and preferred than Big 4. That said, in a special case/ specific practice/ domain one of the latter may be better than a few of the former. But overall M-B-A has a better talent pool, better brand value than the Big 4s. The level of difficulty in getting in also varies, M-B-A's recruitment process is more intense and challenging especially if you are applying for an analyst's or associate consultant's position. For experienced hires...background, accomplished real world projects, clients managed also counts a lot. My personal experience of dealing with Big 4 Vs MBB is that 80% of the MBB staff is a lot more polished than 80% of the big-4.

Sep 12, 2014 - 7:27pm

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