Deloitte Promotion Structure - Big 4

I accepted an offer from Deloitte
a few days ago and was just wondering if anyone knew the exact promotion structure in terms of years etc on the audit side of things. I believe in 2 years, one can become a senior, but I may be mistaken. Does someone have the exact years needed to become senior manager etc? This can apply for any Big 4 firm I would assume as well? Thanks

Big 4 Audit Promotion Structure

In the US, the following structure is typical:

Karembeu - Corporate Finance Associate:
  • 0-2 years = Associate
  • 2-3 years = Experienced Associate
  • 3-5 years = Senior Associate
  • 6-8 years = Manager
  • 8+ years = Senior Manager (depends on sales) Partner

View a table breaking down promotion structure from Finance Walk below.

For PwC, Senior Associate can only be reached after 3 years instead and requires a CPA.

marine13910:
  • 0-3 years= Associate
  • 4-6 years= Senior Associate
  • 7-9 years = Manager
  • 10- 15+= Senior Manager Partner

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Comments (9)

Nov 22, 2012

1st Year = Associate (S1)
2nd Year = Senior Associate (S2)
3rd Year = Assistant Manager (AM1)
4th Year = Assistant Manager (AM2)
5th - 8th Year = Manager (M2)

If you're good, you will be come a Senior Manager (M4) after around 8 years and then partner after another 4ish. Bear in mind if you fail any exams or perform badly then you may be held back. This is for Deloitte UK. PwC and KPMG I know are slightly different, the US may be as well.

Nov 22, 2012
Asatar:

1st Year = Associate (S1)
2nd Year = Senior Associate (S2)
3rd Year = Assistant Manager (AM1)

4th Year = Assistant Manager (AM2)
5th - 8th Year = Manager (M2)

If you're good, you will be come a Senior Manager (M4) after around 8 years and then partner after another 4ish. Bear in mind if you fail any exams or perform badly then you may be held back. This is for Deloitte UK. PwC and KPMG I know are slightly different, the US may be as well.

My experience is slightly different, I know 2 people at DT, worked at KPMG + PwC myself so:

you cant be anything other than an associate without your ACA (or equivalent) which takes 3 years to get. After that you're slightly more free to promote, but dont expect a new grade any quicker than every 2 (average would be closer to 3) years. You do hear exceptions but they are typically for people at the right place at the right time (met a 30 yr old director who skipped a grade because there wasnt anyone in the slot above him when his department saw significant growth).

Pay structure in GBP, assuming london weighting:

30k 10% bonus
31k 10%
32k 10%
44k 10% On qualification and promotion Manager

next grade up is 70k, might see a 10k bonus Senior manager

next grade up is 90k - 120k all in,

partners start on about 250, can go as high as 800k all in, if you get into management then its often in the 7 digits, and if you're running the show its 2-4m. All figures in PS and only applies for UK.

T

Nov 22, 2012

In US it's:

1st year = Associate
2nd year = Experienced Associate
3rd year = Senior Associate
6th year = Manager

Keep in mind, the years shown above are to be taken as the beginning of Xth year. So, for example, at the beginning of the 3rd year, after which you've put in 2 full years, is when you become a Senior Associate. For Manager, you put in a full 5 years, etc.

Another way to look at it is:

First two years = Staff
Next three years = Senior
Next three-four years = Manager

This is pretty standard for career progression up to manager, unless you perform very well in which case it's possible to hit senior in your 2nd year or manager in your 4th year, etc. After manager, it really depends on your ability to bring in sales. Usually if things go well, you can expect to make Senior Manager around the 8th or 9th year. I have heard that you only make Senior Manager if they think you are on the partner track. If not, you're going to be stuck at manager.

If you're on the partner track, you'll make partner shortly after that (~3-5 years). Therefore, making partner will take about 10-12 years. The youngest partners are in their early- (rockstars) to mid-thirties.

In terms of compensation, according to the firms themselves:

Associate = 1X base (obviously)
Senior = 1.3X - 1.5X base
Manager = 2X - 3X base
Senior Manager = 4X - 5X base
Partner = 6X - 7X+ base

And by the way, you won't find an audit sub-forum here, nor any other forum having to do with Big 4 since WSO is mostly for the "high finance" careers.

Nov 22, 2012
Karembeu5163:

In US it's:

1st year = Associate
2nd year = Experienced Associate
3rd year = Senior Associate
6th year = Manager

Keep in mind, the years shown above are to be taken as the beginning of Xth year. So, for example, at the beginning of the 3rd year, after which you've put in 2 full years, is when you become a Senior Associate. For Manager, you put in a full 5 years, etc.

Another way to look at it is:

First two years = Staff
Next three years = Senior
Next three-four years = Manager

This is pretty standard for career progression up to manager, unless you perform very well in which case it's possible to hit senior in your 2nd year or manager in your 4th year, etc. After manager, it really depends on your ability to bring in sales. Usually if things go well, you can expect to make Senior Manager around the 8th or 9th year. I have heard that you only make Senior Manager if they think you are on the partner track. If not, you're going to be stuck at manager.

If you're on the partner track, you'll make partner shortly after that (~3-5 years). Therefore, making partner will take about 10-12 years. The youngest partners are in their early- (rockstars) to mid-thirties.

In terms of compensation, according to the firms themselves:

Associate = 1X base (obviously)
Senior = 1.3X - 1.5X base
Manager = 2X - 3X base
Senior Manager = 4X - 5X base
Partner = 6X - 7X+ base

And by the way, you won't find an audit sub-forum here, nor any other forum having to do with Big 4 since WSO is mostly for the "high finance" careers.

Karembeu, your career progression is spot on, but from what i've noticed at the Big4, getting to Senior Manager is pretty easy as long as you are willing to put in the number of years required for promotion. atleast at the Big4 that I work at, there are a ton of Senior Managers who do not make it to Partner so its hard to imagine that the firm thought that all of these Managers had "Partner potential" when promoting them to Senior Manager. I never really came across a scenario where someone was stuck at the Manager position, it seems like they all make SM after 3-4 years.

also, as far as salary goes, this is what I have seen at my Big4 (which is pretty comparable to the others):

New hire: 55k-60k (on the higher end of that scale now, i started on the lower end of it in 2010)
Senior Associate: start in the low 70's
Manager: new managers start at 90k base

there is no way that SM is 4-5X base salary. dont have hard numbers for SM salary, but my guess (based on the salaries for Managers) would be SM's start at around 110-120k

Nov 22, 2012
i hate audit:

there is no way that SM is 4-5X base salary. dont have hard numbers for SM salary, but my guess (based on the salaries for Managers) would be SM's start at around 110-120k

marine13910:

Not sure where the SM at 4-5x original base came from. That's not even close. Also at least at this firm at takes way more than 10-12 years to make partner. More like 13-16 years. Patner on the other hand is 10-15x original base

The numbers were actually pulled from Deloitte's own slides that they show in their compensation presentation. Most of the Big 4 have similar slides where they show you the expected pay structure. I think the only one I don't have is KPMG. Let me dig it up...

So EY's numbers show as the following:

Associate = 1X base
Senior = 1.5X base
Manager = 2X base
Senior Manager = 3X base
Execute, Director, Partner, Principal = 3.5X base

Quite a bit lower than DT and more in line with what people are actually reporting.

For PwC:

Associate = 1X base
Experienced Associate = 1.1X base
Senior Associate = 1.5X base
Manager = 2X base
Senior Manager/Director = 3X base
Managing Director/New Partner = 7X base

Again, numbers seem to be more reasonable compared to DT. Looks like DT might have inflated their numbers quite a bit for their compensation presentation since I doubt they are able to pay that much more than the others. Or, maybe getting to SM at DT is much harder so the comp spikes there compared to the other firms.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jun 3, 2016

I can speak as an experienced Senior Manager in the US at Deloitte; Trust me - no one makes Senior manager if they don't have partner potential. SMs, especially within M&A, are referred as 'Partners in training'.

    • 1
Nov 22, 2012

Thank you, much appreciated!

Nov 22, 2012

I can only speak for PwC audit and Transaction services in the US. PwC promotes to Senior Associate after 3 years instead of 2 like the other three, because they have a counter-intuative process. They also pay less than the other three at least in my market. Finally PwC requires a CPA for promotion to Senior, I don't believe all the other firms require this. Salary is in a Northeastern metro City (nt NYC). I believe the pay to be absolutely. horrible. Bonus can be 15% for absolute top performers in audit. Barring early promotions, making Senior manager takes 9 years. 9 years of boring work for $100-110k is pretty bad.

Audit:
0-3 years< Associate 50k-65k
4-6 years< Senior Associate 58k-78k
7-9 years< Manager $74k-$100k
10- 15+< Senior Manager $100k-125k
Partner $600k-850k (starting around $350-$400k as first year partner)

Not sure where the SM at 4-5x original base came from. That's not even close. Also at least at this firm at takes way more than 10-12 years to make partner. More like 13-16 years. Patner on the other hand is 10-15x original base.

Transaction services- bonuses at the manager and esp director level can be a good bit higher than audit as a % of base.
<Associate- we don't have any
4-6 years< Senior Associate $74k-88k
7-9 years< Manager $98-$115k
10-15 years < Director $145-165k
14- -retirement< Managing Director $200-315k (lateral to partner, not going to make partner)
15-retirement < Partner $900-$1.3 mil (keep in mind charge out rates across the board are double those of audit.

Bit of advice: decent place to learn if you like accounting. If that's the case you may still hate your job/hours/salary and find it tolerable. If you don't like accounting or aren't sure, I can tell you that you will be very unhappy. I would say 80% of people in audit are completely miserable, depressed, and despise their jobs. 50-65% of people in TS don't like their jobs at all. The business model is set up so that it's a pretty good equation financially if someone plans to try to make partner. The incremental difference between partner salary and the alternative for a similarly sucessful person (say VP at a corporation) is the benefit to working there. Probability of making partner * this incremental difference discounted to present value and spread throughout your years as staff (Associate - Senior manager) is essentially how much you are underpaid each year (call it 25% of your salary at any given time). So if you plan to try to make partner this equation makes sense. Take possibility of making partner off the plate though (due to lack of interest in accounting or any other reason) and the big 4 model becomes a very bad one in comparison to every single other business career.
I'm personally fine working whatever hours a job requires, provided either my calculated hourly salary is high enough or the job is so rewarding that the hours don't matter. Investment bankers work 80-100 hours a week, and make 2.5 - 3x a big 4 salary. Working 55-80 hours a week for half or 1/3 as much it just foolish. There is nothing worse than working the same exact hours as a middle market private equity client (and I don't believe the ability of TS group is really distinguishable from the average middle market PE deal team) and making 1/3 as much. Accounting, even in what should be the most high profile position at a Big 4 firm, is simply not valued in the business world. It's a cost center, and even in the transaction world it's often considered a check in the box.

Jun 3, 2016
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