Sunday, August 30, 2009

You Know You’re Meant to Work in a Big 4 If…

Do you want to work in a Big 4? For how long? One year, two years…four years…10 years? I worked for a Big 4 for 8 years, straight out of college and a lot longer than the average number of years an auditor stays in a firm like this. When I left, a lot of people tried to stop me and a lot of people expressed their surprise when they heard about my decision. Their common comment? They though I will stay (forever?) in a Big 4 and that I was “meant” to work for a Big 4. Okay, I must admit I was flattered because they think I can go up to the partnership level (and earn all those money we’re all hearing partners earn). But then again, that comment got me thinking. How the heck did they know that I’m “meant” to work as an auditor in one of the Big 4? Is there a “benchmark” that they use to know who does and who does not belong in a Big 4?

For my first blog in IwanttobeaCA, let me enumerate how you will know you are meant to work in a Big 4. Some of these you will agree to, some you won’t. These are not meant to be all-inclusive and specific and you’re free to add on to them anytime. Some of these pertain to me personally and the others those I have observed when I was still working in the Big 4. So you know that you’re meant to work for a Big 4 if:

1. You don’t mind working long hours. The phrase “long hours” is kind of relative. For some, working until 10 pm already qualifies as “long hours”. For other people, long hours mean working until 2 or 3 in the morning!

2. You don’t mind working long hours even without overtime pay…and you’re happy still working those long hours without much of an overtime pay!

3. You don’t mind working during weekends. Enough said.

4. You are okay with the lower pay, not even when you see one of your classmates zooming by with a new car courtesy of his job in a private company. And this only after one year of working in this private company (Aarrggghhhh)!

5. You gladly lose your social life during the busy season.

6. You still go to work even when your boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you because you don’t have time for him or her anymore due to the demands of your job (read number 4). Believe me, I’ve seen this happen with some of my staff, and they worked like everything was still the same (they just looked like hell).

7. You are excited about the busy season (even if the other auditors are looking at you with dagger eyes because you are excited).

8. You turn down offers to work in private companies (or even in other countries) even if the salary is very (very!) attractive because, hey, you really like your current job.

9. You can be reached 24/7 both by your boss and by your client. Okay, not exactly 24/7 but definitely longer than the 9 to 5 job that you’re supposed to have.

10. Your laptop and your calculator are never too far from you.

11. You bring your laptop home. You instantly plug it to your internet connection and get online so that you can check your messages and email anytime.

12. You’re naturally inquisitive. You want to know everything about your client and you befriend everybody who works in your client. Okay, I may exaggerate a little bit on this one but honestly speaking, a shy person will not last for long working in a Big 4 firm. If you’re a not-so-shy person, welcome to the Big 4!

13. You’re proud that you work for a Big 4 (regardless of what other people say about it).

So there they are, how you know if you’re meant to work in a Big 4. Any of these you can relate to?


  1. I love it how points 1,3,5,6 and 9 all relate to the long hours worked. Really trying to drive home a point eh, lol

    I think its point 12 that attracts me the most towards this designation or even to work at the Big 4 (although I am sure I will get to learn a lot at the mid-sized firms and possibly the small ones as well). There is so much exposure, so much to learn and so much to absorb. I don't think there are many occupations that allow you to do this as much being a CA does.

    Oh, and welcome to the world of blogging!

  2. Thanks for the warm welcome! You noticed those points? LOL they seem to be a requirement in a Big 4 or in the world of external auditing, for that matter.

    Thought about not adding #12 but this is actually the biggest incentive for joining a Big 4, the prestige and the exposure. When I went out, my Big 4 experience seems to impress a lot of people. It's an added plus to for my resume =).

  3. nowadays at a Big 4 firm you have the opportunity to work abroad - any number of countries - it's not such a bad gig - and as far as salary - you may get a large increase to leave the Big 4 - they're paying up to get your "big 4 experience" but your increases won't be as nice going forward - trust me - I recruited for a Big 4 firm for 7 years and I've seen just about everything.

  4. by attractive job offers in other countries are you referring to dubai? :D

  5. emievil...if you don't mind..may i ask which of these characters you possessed that kept you from leaving big 4 for 8 long years?

  6. ceejclarke, I completely agree on what you wrote, including the increases. I have a friend who got a higher salary rate but when our salaries were increased, she had a lower increase than mine so in the long run, and assuming I get better evaluation results than her, our salaries were just about the same.

    Hassan, among others =). I have friends who are working there now, and in UK, and in Netherlands, and in the US. LOL they're everywhere.

    Farooq, I would say all of them LOL =).