Big4 Audit, Exit opportunities

Hello, WSO

I am currently looking for an so-called exit opportunities from BIG4. I really hope you could possibly give me a couple of thoughts upon my situation.

I am 21(this fall 22), Russian, got my bachelor degree year ago in TOP-5 Russian university(financial faculty) and now i am 1 (of 2) years from getting masters degree.
Have been working at different part-time jobs while obtaining bachelor degree and then in October 2013 i started to work for one of Big4 companies in Audit, department Financial Services Industry (Bank Audit).
I am getting really bored with audit and this job is starting to kill all my thought process (e.g. i just know something should be done this way and i check that client's paperwork is in line with it, but if you ask me why this is the way it should be done i may be stuck with your question). Yeah, of course i may think a little more while performing various tests about what am i doing and why am i doing it this way, but this is quite time-consuming which will get me into trouble by not meeting deadlines.
Next year i plan to move to UK(i will have work permit) with my family so i will have to change my occupation anyway. I am not sure if i want to continue my career in Audit i think that i may work there till i move and then start searching for a job in UK. However this could be quite a hard task. Should i try to move within my company to UK office? Should i stay in Audit? I am really interested in Investment Banking Department (that is just a thought for now), maybe i should try to transfer to Valuation department in my company's office in UK?

Any thoughts?


Comments (17)

Aug 7, 2014

Hi pipkoster. I would say that I once had similar choice as you now have. But I think if you want to pursue your career in Investment Banking or any other financial corporations, the accounting skill is definitely of importance. Maybe you cannot have an in-depth understanding of it since you are still A1/A2 staff in Big4, but I noticed that many of managers in Big4 are favored by F500, PE, VC. So if I were you, I would stay in Audit Department for a couple of years, and then carve out your way into more challenging positions.

Aug 7, 2014

Hi, Bear88. Thanks for your answer. For me it seems quite a difficult task to get into IBD and this will twice harder for me as English is not my native language.

For now what i think about is to stick to my existing knowledge(Audit) and try to get to Audit department in UK or maybe some kind of valuation(within my company). I also will keep in mind that UK Audit practice may and will differ from Russian...

Aug 7, 2014

Best bet is to tell your TAS contact what you just told us and let them know that you'd really prefer not to go to audit. It's not unusual to do some time in the audit rotation, plenty of people at my firm in TAS had to do it.

You are afraid of missing out on opportunities but you don't know what opportunities you are missing out on? You can't be lukewarm about your job, your superiors and coworkers can tell and it will affect your attitude performance if you're at your job wishing you were working somewhere else.

My advice - find a field or somewhere that you actually have an interest in and pursue it asap. Don't tread water in audit/TAS if you don't see yourself wanting to be there. Why get your CPA if you want finance? Take the CFA level 1 if you're serious about it. At the end of the day no one gives a shit about you, so you have to take your career by the horns and focus on somewhere you want to be.

Aug 7, 2014

Thanks for your feedback @TopChedder .

Your advice was to find a field or somewhere that I actually have an interest in and I know there are different industries such as IB, PE, HF, AM, ER, etc. The problem I'm having is there is no magical list of careers WITHIN those industries to pursue. I have researched all different kinds of companies, but all are vague on what careers are actually offered there.

I received my CPA because my background is in accounting and accounting is the language of finance. I have built a base of 2 years of solid public accounting experience, which has helped me in excelling in TAS. But do you really need to get a CFA to get a job in finance? Just asking a genuine question.

Aug 7, 2014

Also, it's pretty much impossible to stay in TAS (with this group) without one more busy season in audit. People before me have tried to pull that card and it backfired big time because they went back to their audit team and knew about them trying to leave so gave them lots of crappy work.

Aug 7, 2014

Go interview for an outside TAS job if that is what you want; once you haven't an offer you can leverage it for a more immediate internal teansfer. Big4 loves to drag heir feet on these things, but they (generally) hate losing people. I've seen I get pushed through for people in the past... also seen it not work, in which case they just started with the other firm.

Aug 7, 2014

Thanks for responding @bank-on-this. I just was recently told TAS wants to hire me, but can't give me a definitive offer at the moment because they haven't set up their target headcount. Most likely, unless something dramatic happens, they would extend a formal offer a month from now for me to start anywhere from 6-12 months from now.

I think I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't hurt to look around because I don't want to put "all my eggs in one basket" with TAS, but just need to determine how to do that without anyone getting suspicious. Thoughts?

Aug 7, 2014

I've met lots of post-bschool bankers and consultants who were ex-auditors

Just nail the job and keep building up your resume

Aug 7, 2014

It's completely possible as long as you keep a high-level perspective as to what you're doing and where it fits in the big scheme of things. I've seen so many people go into audit and just learn nothing about their clients while focusing on dumb shit like materiality calculations and sampling methods.

I really strongly believe that as long as you follow the markets and make a decent effort to LEARN while you have an all-access pass to a high-profile client, it shouldn't be a problem to switch over to the finance side of things.

Aug 7, 2014

Hi toby1234,

MBA programs tend to be a more common route for individuals who know they are looking to transition into a new career. One of the reasons is because traditional MBA programs have summer internship opportunities.

If you do decide to pursue an Msc in finance, you will need to emphasize in your application why you are interested in pursue business school after having already received a masters degree.

Hope this was of help.


Conrad and the Stacy Blackman Team

Aug 7, 2014

ok cheers for the replies.

I think getting into a target b-school might be hard for me as my extra-curricular is a bit weak. I guess it will depend on my GMAT results.

I actually partly want to do the Msc Finance first as a break from work (i can't stand audit) and to also boost my resume by being pro-active and to also get shots at internships.

Doesn't help that i live in Australia though.... the uni i went to isn't highly regarded.

Aug 7, 2014