Big Four TS/TAS and Major?

Sky90's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 29

Alright so currently I am thinking about either majoring in finance or accounting, possibly a double major if I can do so. My goal right now is to try and get into Big Four TS/TAS valuations or similar.

Would just an accounting major be enough to have a shot at this or would it limit me to tax/audit there? Should I try to double major or minor in finance or economics? I've heard minors aren't so worthwhile but would like to get some more input on that topic as well.

On another note, if I do get placed directly into FT TS or the like then I am wondering, do most people still go for their CPA at that point? Does it still make sense to do so?

Thanks

Comments (23)

Jul 13, 2012

Most people I know in valuations have a finance or finance and accounting background. Not to say this is necessary though, an accounting major should be fine. Just make sure it be known you want to work in those groups, not audit/tax. Also, I think some TS/TAS positions require a CPA, so the accounting background is a must, and yes, take the CPA exam.

Jul 13, 2012

An accounting major will be enough, but a finance major or minor would improve your chances. The Big 4 do value finance minors - for many entry-level positions, it's actually listed in the preferences in the job description. In most states, to get your CPA, you need 150 credit hours anyway, which makes something extra a requirement. One common route is doing audit for a few years, then transferring. Other people come in from different backgrounds and with different degrees, but finance and accounting will be your best bet to get in straight from undergrad. CPA is preferred.

Jul 14, 2012

Make a note that there is a huge difference in my opinion between the Big 4. Deliotte and Ernst & Young will hire ANYBODY it seems to me. Frankly, I go to a major NON-TARGET and almost everyone I know from accounting likes to brag they got hired by Deliotte. PwC is probably the hardest to get into.

Here to learn and hopefully pass on some knowledge as well. SB if I helped.

Jul 14, 2012
That_Aston:

Make a note that there is a huge difference in my opinion between the Big 4. Deliotte and Ernst & Young will hire ANYBODY it seems to me. Frankly, I go to a major NON-TARGET and almost everyone I know from accounting likes to brag they got hired by Deliotte. PwC is probably the hardest to get into.

I would agree as far as audit or tax. Financial advisory roles are fewer and more competitive

Jul 14, 2012
valuationGURU:
That_Aston:

Make a note that there is a huge difference in my opinion between the Big 4. Deliotte and Ernst & Young will hire ANYBODY it seems to me. Frankly, I go to a major NON-TARGET and almost everyone I know from accounting likes to brag they got hired by Deliotte. PwC is probably the hardest to get into.

I would agree as far as audit or tax. Financial advisory roles are fewer and more competitive

Yes, consulting at PwC is elite.

Here to learn and hopefully pass on some knowledge as well. SB if I helped.

Jul 14, 2012
valuationGURU:
That_Aston:

Make a note that there is a huge difference in my opinion between the Big 4. Deliotte and Ernst & Young will hire ANYBODY it seems to me. Frankly, I go to a major NON-TARGET and almost everyone I know from accounting likes to brag they got hired by Deliotte. PwC is probably the hardest to get into.

I would agree as far as audit or tax. Financial advisory roles are fewer and more competitive

Alright thanks for the responses. I do have another question though, so say either way I end up getting my CPA, will there be much of a difference in position-progression over time in the Big Four if I am able to get directly into TAS/TS out of undergrad vs. transferring into it from audit once I make senior associate after 2 years? Like would I still be a sr associate once I move over to TAS or are the positions slightly different? Would like to know how that would affect my career path say if I move into TAS then want to leave at manager level for either F500, PE or the like, etc...

Does anybody here think it would actually be a good idea to go into audit first then transfer in just for the background, or is it best just trying to go straight into TAS seeing as a CPA would be in the plan either way?

Jul 14, 2012
That_Aston:

Make a note that there is a huge difference in my opinion between the Big 4. Deliotte and Ernst & Young will hire ANYBODY it seems to me. Frankly, I go to a major NON-TARGET and almost everyone I know from accounting likes to brag they got hired by Deliotte. PwC is probably the hardest to get into.

blatantly false. Deloitte and touche may be more likely to hire in their transaction related teams more than other firms, largely because there audit/tax/finance is the weakest amongst the big 4, but to say anybody will be hired because of this is completely false. in fact, EY's TAS groups are probably the hardest to get into of the 4. EY has transaction infrastructure groups, TAS tax groups that have very good talent. most of the people i have meet were ivy league grads and lawyers.

Jul 18, 2012
mashed potatoes:
That_Aston:

Make a note that there is a huge difference in my opinion between the Big 4. Deliotte and Ernst & Young will hire ANYBODY it seems to me. Frankly, I go to a major NON-TARGET and almost everyone I know from accounting likes to brag they got hired by Deliotte. PwC is probably the hardest to get into.

blatantly false. Deloitte and touche may be more likely to hire in their transaction related teams more than other firms, largely because there audit/tax/finance is the weakest amongst the big 4, but to say anybody will be hired because of this is completely false. in fact, EY's TAS groups are probably the hardest to get into of the 4. EY has transaction infrastructure groups, TAS tax groups that have very good talent. most of the people i have meet were ivy league grads and lawyers.

How hard it is to get into a particular Big 4 firm has very little to do with the quality of the company and everything to do with the size of that firm's practice in the market you're looking at. PwC is generally strongest in audit, which limits its consulting reach. As a result, it obviously needs to hire fewer consultants. On the other hand, Deloitte and E&Y have much larger consulting practices vs. PwC as compared to their audit practices, so it's going to be easier to get into consulting.

Jul 14, 2012

Valuations is pretty dead-end compared to some of the other groups in the Big 4 TS and you won't learn as much as you would in, say, their M&A groups.

Jul 14, 2012

If you are able to get an advisory position at any big 4 then I am pretty sure you wouldn't need to worry about the CPA, or being discounted for not having it. Audit/Tax do Maccs and do CPAs but I think advisory only has to have 4 year degree and no grad degree. If you are a cert seeker go for at least level 1 CFA. It can't hurt (although your wallet) but it's good tech skills. If you are at a school that has a great recruiting for advisory then absolutely go for that, but otherwise talk to your career services bc you may want to have a fallback in audit.

Jul 17, 2012

You need to think about what group you want to get into within TS. Obviously, with some groups, a CPA is not needed, nor is an Accounting major. Finance would be fine.

Jul 18, 2012
CREInvestors:

You need to think about what group you want to get into within TS. Obviously, with some groups, a CPA is not needed, nor is an Accounting major. Finance would be fine.

Alright thank you. I'm no expert in this at the moment so can anyone share what kinds of groups/specifics there are within TS in the Big Four (Generally among the four of them)? I know of areas like valuations, M&A, I'm assuming niether of them would need an accounting degree or a CPA? Any help is appreciated, just trying to learn as much as I can now.

Jul 18, 2012

Ignore all the discussion here about the relative order of the firms or practices. Having spent a few years in the Big 4 with access to a lot of internal financial and market metrics, much of what has been posted is objectively incorrect.

I am in business valuation. You do NOT need an accounting degree or CPA. The relevant certifications are the CFA and ASA. Valuation is part of the transaction services group in some firms, but in others it is not. For example, in KPMG, valuation is structurally aligned with the tax practice. When you talk about transaction services, the core of what you are referring to is the accounting due diligence practice. You should call valuation "business valuation", or some professionals you speak to will get confused.

Jul 19, 2012
acaden:

Ignore all the discussion here about the relative order of the firms or practices. Having spent a few years in the Big 4 with access to a lot of internal financial and market metrics, much of what has been posted is objectively incorrect.

I am in business valuation. You do NOT need an accounting degree or CPA. The relevant certifications are the CFA and ASA. Valuation is part of the transaction services group in some firms, but in others it is not. For example, in KPMG, valuation is structurally aligned with the tax practice. When you talk about transaction services, the core of what you are referring to is the accounting due diligence practice. You should call valuation "business valuation", or some professionals you speak to will get confused.

Okay I see what you're saying. So say I want to eventually get into due diligence in TS, would that be more on the audit-side vs how you noted business valuation to be aligned with the tax practice? Wondering if going into audit, getting my CPA and then moving into the due diligence group would be a proper route to eventually move over to banking or PE.

Jul 23, 2012
Yankees993:
acaden:

Ignore all the discussion here about the relative order of the firms or practices. Having spent a few years in the Big 4 with access to a lot of internal financial and market metrics, much of what has been posted is objectively incorrect.

I am in business valuation. You do NOT need an accounting degree or CPA. The relevant certifications are the CFA and ASA. Valuation is part of the transaction services group in some firms, but in others it is not. For example, in KPMG, valuation is structurally aligned with the tax practice. When you talk about transaction services, the core of what you are referring to is the accounting due diligence practice. You should call valuation "business valuation", or some professionals you speak to will get confused.

Okay I see what you're saying. So say I want to eventually get into due diligence in TS, would that be more on the audit-side vs how you noted business valuation to be aligned with the tax practice? Wondering if going into audit, getting my CPA and then moving into the due diligence group would be a proper route to eventually move over to banking or PE.

I was also wondering about this question. Or trying to go straight into TS/TAS would be a better option. And do I say I want to move into banking when getting interviewed or do I leave that out of it. (business valuations, m&a, etc.. is all relevant to banking, hence my interest in TS/TAS-tell them this or no?)

Jul 23, 2012

If you eventually want to be in due diligence, and you can't get it out of school, then yes your best option is to join audit. But don't make the mistake of thinking that's an easy route to finance. Transfers out of audit are competitive, generally you'll need to be highly ranked and have a bit of luck. And getting highly ranked in the first place involves some luck. Bottom line, if you have the chance to start out in finance, I would strongly encourage you to start out in finance. Moving over from accounting should only be your option if you can not get a finance job in the first place.

FutureWaller, in my personal opinion, the only way saying you wanted to be a banker eventually wouldn't be a huge negative is if you had a legit banking resume and the demeanor to pull off making the accounting firms think they're lucky to have such a talent. Very hard to do. Otherwise you're just another spoiled kid that thinks you are destined for greater things than you've earned (which at this point, is absolutely nothing).

Jul 24, 2012
acaden:

If you eventually want to be in due diligence, and you can't get it out of school, then yes your best option is to join audit. But don't make the mistake of thinking that's an easy route to finance. Transfers out of audit are competitive, generally you'll need to be highly ranked and have a bit of luck. And getting highly ranked in the first place involves some luck. Bottom line, if you have the chance to start out in finance, I would strongly encourage you to start out in finance. Moving over from accounting should only be your option if you can not get a finance job in the first place.

FutureWaller, in my personal opinion, the only way saying you wanted to be a banker eventually wouldn't be a huge negative is if you had a legit banking resume and the demeanor to pull off making the accounting firms think they're lucky to have such a talent. Very hard to do. Otherwise you're just another spoiled kid that thinks you are destined for greater things than you've earned (which at this point, is absolutely nothing).

If I am able to go directly into TS at a Big Four, do they still have them/should I still get my CPA? I've heard something about the first 12-18 months being audit-related and that they still get their CPAs even if starting out in TS..

Jul 24, 2012
Yankees993:

If I am able to go directly into TS at a Big Four, do they still have them/should I still get my CPA? I've heard something about the first 12-18 months being audit-related and that they still get their CPAs even if starting out in TS..

I heard it is still a smart idea to get your CPA even if you go directly into TS.

Jul 31, 2012

Does anyone know if the big 4 takes 1st years (Stright out of undergrad) to their corporate finance divisions?
Or do they do internships in corporate finance?

Jul 31, 2012
FutureWaller:

Does anyone know if the big 4 takes 1st years (Stright out of undergrad) to their corporate finance divisions?
Or do they do internships in corporate finance?

I know someone who got in straight out of undergrad to KPMG's CF division. Not sure if they do internships.

Currently: future psychiatrist (med school =P)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

Jul 31, 2012
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Jun 1, 2015