Comments (91)

 
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  • Associate 1 in PE - Other
Jan 11, 2021 - 12:55pm

Pretty harsh tone... I'd be pretty pissed if I got this email from a manager. 

Also having spent time in Big4, I can say the pay is god awful. This might be "ok" for IB hours and you get compensated for it, but getting a 2k bonus at the end of year and working these hours is inhumane.

Probably would've been better if he just reminded people to work the hours they need to finish tasks. Accounting is not like deals where things can come in at 9pm, when the client leaves at 5 - there's only so much you can really do. 

 

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 7:29am

 

Pretty harsh tone... I'd be pretty pissed if I got this email from a manager. 

Also having spent time in Big4, I can say the pay is god awful. This might be "ok" for IB hours and you get compensated for it, but getting a 2k bonus at the end of year and working these hours is inhumane.

Probably would've been better if he just reminded people to work the hours they need to finish tasks. Accounting is not like deals where things can come in at 9pm, when the client leaves at 5 - there's only so much you can really do. 

 

Yeah agree this is pretty crazy - for IB standards this would be bad, but I have friends who are ex-Big 4 and the pay is definitely not worth working these hours. Bonuses are non-existent - you might get $1-2k at the end of the year if you're lucky.

Plus as the above says, Big 4 firms generally aren't working on deals. I guess TAS may have tighter deadlines, but still there's no excuse for why they should be working these insane hours (when they're making $60k a year).

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 6:17pm

Yeah I've never understood the allure of the Big4 comp wise at least (never worked in it), busy season is just as bad, if not worse than banking hours wise, CPA bonus is one time, a third year IB person prob makes more on their bonus, tough clients still who often dont want you there, stupid internal politics and habits around time sheets, etc.

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 12, 2021 - 9:46pm

accounting is great if you are reasonably smart, but not THAT smart and are very risk averse. I would fucking hate it

 
Jan 13, 2021 - 1:06am

This is obviously a generalization but I'd wager that most people who wind up in the big4 didn't have the opportunity to break into IB (not saying it's for lack of talent/smarts, it may very well be they didn't have exposure to IB & finance in their network growing up or at their schools that are non-target for IB recruiting to appreciate the banking track as something to explore) 

that said, while busy season hours are bad by any objective standard, they are simply not IB bad. I say this not to macho brag about IB and dunk on Big4 (quite the opposite...) but just to highlight that the semblance of predictability in your schedule, months straight where you have a 9-5 gig for only 5 days a week, and hours of sleep between 2am - 6am during busy season are the perks that people at the Big4 get in exchange for not earning the extra ~$50k a year they'd make in IB at the jr level. Big4 salaries are still plenty to live an upper middle class lifestyle, so ultimately it comes down to priorities. 

There's a huge difference between a bad night ending at 2am in Big4 and the IB analyst who pulls an all-nighter and literally doesn't get to sleep before showering and returning to work (or doesn't even get to leave to shower - this has happened to me more than I care to admit). It's extremely uncommon for anybody in Big4 to be working 90+ hours a week, even in busy season - and if they do, it's not multiple weeks in a row. Plus, in Big4, the fact that for well over 6 months of the year you're NOT in busy season, there's a more humane culture with nicer people in general, real benefits policies in place with 25+ vacation days a year *that people are actually encouraged to take, and are not just days worked outside the office* and 4+ months of paternity / maternity standard *that people actually take* -- all things that make average tenure much longer rather than people running for the exits the first month after they hit the desk (as is the case in IB)

 
  • VP in PE - LBOs
Jan 14, 2021 - 9:24am

I spent some time as an analyst in corporate finance/M&A at Deloitte before catching a lucky break and getting into PE. We would consistently work 70-80h. When my first kid was born, I worked that same week and not from home, but from the office. Pay was so bad there that when I jumped to PE, it more than tripled overnight. Fucking hated my time there.

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 2:02am

I've always wondered why Big4 people in tax, audit or even fucking human services consulting are so pretentious. These emails from seniors just highlight where that's coming from. I hope for their sake they think $55k is good pay.

 
  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Jan 11, 2021 - 1:09pm

Seems pretty crappy. Tax and audit firms do have the problem of uneven demand and so it is difficult to manage resources (hire too many and there is no work for lots of the year, too few and you get this). If demand were more even throughout the year then it becomes easier to manage. 

That being said, I would think the firms would work on having a better system to deal with (more flexible resources, better management of longer term engagements,  etc), which I'm sure they have thought about. 

As someone else pointed out, the pay wouldn't make this tradeoff worth it for me. I work many weekends because I enjoy this work, but on my schedule. I think you run the risk of creating a poor environment and college grads have many options for their career nowadays, you are risking hurting your talent pipeline. 

 
  • VP in IB - Gen
Jan 11, 2021 - 1:14pm

Some of the biggest hardos are found in Big 4.  Now throw add Asia to the picture, where hardos are the norm, and you get Moelis level expectations for hours I'm sure.  (I'm Asian so I can make this generalization before the PC police come after me).

 
  • Analyst 2 in Consulting
Jan 12, 2021 - 10:22am

Big 4 Japan or Korea.

I work in a non-Singapore Big 4 office and we have several Japanese/Korean folks here. They never want to go back. Expat salary & benefits? Check. Kids sent to international school? Check. Work 9-5? Check. "Work" consists of lunches, dinners, and golf sessions with Japanese/Korean firms to "foster relationship"? Check.

 
  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jan 13, 2021 - 1:01pm

Try tier 2 consulting firms in these markets - LEK / OW, pay is somewhat better, but regular 3 am nights and bloody entitled wankers, I mean, partners

 
Jan 13, 2021 - 12:32am

What could be more exciting than counting chickens on a remote Malaysian farm on New Year's Eve? 

Source: friend of a friend who was in Big 4 in Malaysia

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  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Jan 11, 2021 - 1:39pm

Imaging talking to fully qualified accountants (auditors, idk) like they're little 12 year olds.

Busy period or not, could never be my VP.

 
  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jan 13, 2021 - 1:02pm

Double* promotion. Pls fix, thanks, and also specify that he is now a partner

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jan 11, 2021 - 2:22pm

Honestly seen a lot "worse" in banking these past 7 months - this isn't bad at all. Definitely, wouldn't put up with that kind of b.s. for the $55k Big 4 salary.

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 1:07am

And pay for B4 in Hong Kong isn't even 55k for recent grads lol, think the number's more like 23k when rent in HK is equally if not more expensive than that of tier 1 cities in states.

80 hour weeks for literally half the minimum wage? Damn

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 3:31pm

Yeah, I hear you, but to be fair to EY, each of the Big 4 fuck up audits all the time. As someone who worked in that industry, the problem with the field in general is investors/regulators want more and more detailed work and investigation of findings, but clients don't see it as value-add and want to pay less and less. On top of that, the Big 4 try to undercut each other on price, since there's frankly little distinction between the four and any one of them can get it done, to improve revenues but the budgets for the jobs are tiny in comparison. 

In order to have some semblance of engagement profit, the firms then try to squeeze the lower level staff, who frankly have no clue what's going on due to inexperience, or pressure them to not book time to the engagement (i.e. if a task really took 55 hours but the budget only allots 45, you end up "eating" those 10 hours and nobody will know how much you really worked), which hurts their utilization and causes issues with retention, etc.

It's a really broken system with many problems and facets to it, but the long story short is issues with financial fraud aren't limited to just EY - it's honestly kind of bound to happen given the engagement economics of auditing large companies. 

 
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Jan 12, 2021 - 9:26am

I came from Big 4 Advisory/TAS at a PwC/DT. I'll say my hours were similar to what I'm doing now in banking. And we received a similar verbal message to that from a particular MD/Prinicipal in regards to what time we were expected to come in and what was considered "late", one min past that and he'll have a talk with you. Weekends weren't required 1 day out of every weekend though we ended up working 1 or 2 weekend days/per month. We were staffed on deals so our work was usually time-sensitive.

 
  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 12, 2021 - 9:55am

I mean, I don't think this is that outrageous. The email noted that this is likely only for reporting season. The rest of the year probably isn't too bad.

That being said, HK Big 4 hardos are legitimately the worst. Bunch of clowns who try to make up for their insecurities by hanging out in the office around the clock and by pretending they work in finance when they talk to people. Still living with their parents because they make USD$65k a year at 35 - the pay scale for HK Big 4 is genuinely astonishing. No idea why anyone would willingly do it.

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 10:06am

 

I mean, I don't think this is that outrageous. The email noted that this is likely only for reporting season. The rest of the year probably isn't too bad.

That being said, HK Big 4 hardos are legitimately the worst. Bunch of clowns who try to make up for their insecurities by hanging out in the office around the clock and by pretending they work in finance when they talk to people. Still living with their parents because they make USD$65k a year at 35 - the pay scale for HK Big 4 is genuinely astonishing. No idea why anyone would willingly do it.

You may want to take an econ 101 refresher of supply and demand.

Then apply these principals to a country that has almost a fifth of the world's population and an average national salary of 14k.

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!
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  • Associate 1 in IB-M&A
Jan 12, 2021 - 11:18am

First, "principles" pls fix. Second, HK's average annual salary is over USD$70k. Why don't you take a geography course before you apply China's average annual salary which includes tier 3-5 cities to HK? That is like applying Puerto Rico's average annual salary to the island of Manhattan because they're both in the U.S. Third, HK has fairly strict work visa / immigration restrictions for mainland Chinese to prevent them from flooding the HK job market (still a lot of Chinese working in HK, though).

Pay in professional services industries outside of finance and big law (global firms) in HK is genuinely shockingly low. People working in CRE and Big 4 in HK don't necessarily have worse profiles than those working in banking. Whereas, these are pretty good careers in the U.S. (albeit at a pay discount to finance), people in these industries in HK seem to really get the shit-end of the stick. I have not noticed a significant spread b/w audit / tax consulting fees in HK vs. the U.S., at least for the deals I've worked on. So not sure where the money is going.

 
Jan 12, 2021 - 10:44am

Was thinking the same. I know a few guys at audit. They work 80-90 hours a week during audit/reporting season (Dec-Feb) But for the rest the year, they don't even bother showing up at the office half the time.

Array

 
  • Analyst 3+ in PE - Other
Jan 12, 2021 - 11:02am

As someone worked in HK, I would like to add a few notes to provide some more context.

- Asia offices tend to have longer hours (across all industries)

- IB in HK pays higher than rest of world due to housing allowance of 2k a month. Meanwhile, entry big 4 auditors are paid 1.8k per month

- This guy is a retard for sending this in an email proudly. Those with higher IQ would grab the juniors to talk shit f2f

- Most of the hours in both IB and big 4 are wasted doing useless things or waiting your retarded seniors to "value add". I guess situation is similar in the US/UK. At an Asian fund I worked at, my boss would arrange weekly 8am internal updates and occasionally ask for 9 or 10am internal calls on Saturday to discuss on trivial stuff that can wait till Monday.

- Surprise to say but tier 2/3 European IBs in HK such as CS (actually t1), DB, Barclays, HSBC and BNP have pretty good hours except for certain teams. Quite a lot of juniors come in at 10am and hang around till 10pm for the free taxi. Things are quite different in US BBs though.

- Even more surprising to say is that exits from big 4 could be better than some IB analysts. IB work in HK is a joke mostly, data mining for ppts, collecting documents from client for client onboarding team, etc. Most juniors have poor accounting/finance knowledge unless they did loads of prep in university. Non-tech/hc companies and boutique/MM PE (less than 1b aum) in HK/China pay very little to hire (around 5-7k USD, for 3y experience, which is less than an IBD SA). Hence they have a preference to hire from big 4 who at least look more keen to join them (probably also because those bosses are more likely former CPAs + IBD analysts in Asia lack the M&A experience vs big 4 tas).

 
  • Analyst 3+ in PE - Other
Jan 13, 2021 - 2:19am

For audit maybe around 5-10% and TAS is probably higher at 20-25%. Not many decided to go to those boutique PEs because that is a matter of choice in life.

Boutique PE pays very little (not much higher/lower than fp&a or corp dev at MNCs) and the name is usually unheard of outside the boutique/MM PE industry (hence much less job security vs working at MNCs).

Most BBs in Asia (especially in HK/China) close very few M&A deals (maybe except a few of the American ones). And usually these M&A is led by the acquirers themselves, bankers are hired to do the admin process (VDR, Q&A, DD, helping on board paper for acquirer corp dev team etc.) and your model is just a reference for them to compare against their internal numbers. Few M&A deals so most juniors don't get to close more than 2 of such deals even working for a few years.

Meanwhile, when PEs doing deals even when financial advisors are not involved, they will always hire big 4 for FDD and occasionally hire consultants for CDD. A big 4 manager (in TAS) probably has more experiences on M&A process after working for 5 years, each year assisting PE or MNC to close 3-4 M&A. Boutique PE cannot afford to hire BBs or even big 4, so it is very helpful to have former big 4 who did FDD for several years and with ok accounting/financial knowledge + good excel skills so that they can just learn how to replicate models on the job.

 
  • Senior Consultant in Acct - Other
Jan 12, 2021 - 3:26pm

Is it messed up that I think this is rather common and am not at all bothered?
Currently at a Big 4 and have been in this environment before (likely a year-end audit "busy season"). From experience, things can get very hectic during this time and it almost feels like you're in a deal environment (I'm in Transactions now so can also relate to the deal experience). Although, I've never done this, and would never do this, to my team, now or in the future.
On a side note, sub-100k with 2k bonuses is all I've known, so now I'm depressed that I work a bit less hours for a lot less $$. Those of you who've transitioned to IB/PE from Big 4, help!

 
  • Associate 2 in IB - Ind
Jan 12, 2021 - 8:34pm

Complete nonsense. This guy sounds like the type of boss that takes it as validation to his personal level of toughness when his subordinates quit and lateral to other places. Wouldn't expect much less from a Big 4 HK office but fuck thaaat.

 
  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jan 13, 2021 - 1:00pm

Wtf? Nobody thinks big 4 is prestigious.... 

 

do you think a 2 is a hot chick or something?

 
Jan 14, 2021 - 2:27am

Maybe you're getting a skewed perspective by the rampant elitism in this website, but for a lot of people (especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds), working for a company like EY or Deloitte is a pretty big deal and quite respectable. It's a pretty solid job coming straight out of college, and I think these companies prey on the aforementioned exact type of new grads that are willing to work incredibly hard for the big 4 name brand.

 
  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jan 13, 2021 - 12:58pm

Truth is, big 4 ers are basically kids who couldn't get better jobs - don't kid yourself, your bosses know that, and know you're stuck with them. They also are aware turnover is high AF, and don't give a shit / have gotten numb to this fact - the only way you can prove your worth is getting a better job elsewhere.

You might think this is harsh, but it's the truth - much like any tier 2 firm. Tier 2 consulting firms are worse, but that's a separate topic..

 
  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jan 14, 2021 - 11:38am

Guys who threw MS (big 4 kids I'm looking at you lol), do you not agree or are you just mad that I'm right? 
 

Hahaha buy some tissue with that 50k salary and cry!!

 
  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Jan 15, 2021 - 12:05pm

lol ER is for kids who couldn't even get a front office job... but are so despo they cling to one that just looks like a front office role doing bs buy sell calls of templated "models" lmao

 
Jan 14, 2021 - 6:27am

I am based in HK and the story is far more than that...according to some text and voice messages sharing around around a week ago, that manager keeps texting his teammates in whatsapp for things like "hey don't shut down your phone peak season is coming!", "call me immediately when you see this!", "turn on computer and work on xxxxx now!", got screencapped and sharing around, there is even a voice msg saying that this manager sexually harass a female teammate back in Deloitte that the girl needs to visit psychiatrist, got discovered by the company and was forced to resign just a year ago, ending up in EY, and now this happened...

 
Jan 14, 2021 - 8:01pm

It's Hong Kong. This is their equivalent of 9 to 7. For perspective, IB in HK means working every single calendar day of the year, in some form. Holidays don't exist. Work well into the AM as a general rule. 

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
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