Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Big 4: 6 Reasons Why I Stayed As Long as I Did

A few days ago, I published a blog on how you’ll know you’re meant to work for a Big 4 firm. One of the comments / questions I received from that blog is why I stayed for 8 years. Hmmm, good question. Why did I stay for 8 years?

Before I answer this question, let me give a bit of a background first. “8 years” is not really a precise phrase to describe how long I stayed within the firm. I first entered the Big 4 in 1998. After barely 7 months, I resigned. Yes, resigned (due to personal reasons that I will not reveal). More than 14 months later, I came back. Needless to say, I was accepted with open arms =) and I stayed for that 8 years. And we go back to the same question of why I stayed for another 8 years. Here are my reasons:

1. The continuing education – being in the Big 4 meant that you get to learn new things and update yourself with new developments every now and then. These updates are free. I never realized how I valued these free updates until I went out and I had to shell out my own money just to attend these seminars / updates, whatever you want to call them. Also, the degree of information found when you are within the Big 4 is much, much more than what you will find outside. Sure, there’s always the Internet but you have to search on your own and wade through a lot of information before you can get the stuff that you will really need. Within the Big 4, you have everything (or almost everything) at the tip of your fingers. And again, they’re all free.

2. The presence of “experts” – by experts, I mean partners and managers who have studied and gained experience and expertise about anything and everything related to audit and accounting standards. This is what we call “consultation”. In these cases, you don’t have to do a lot of thinking, they will do the thinking for you. This is quite different when you strike out on your own. Once you’re outside, you will have to do your own research and to think things through (can get quite tiresome, I tell you).

3. The culture – I love the culture within the Big 4. I feel that I’m talking to people who think and act the same as I do. The camaraderie I experienced there is really something that I do not often see when I get out of the firm. When you have good working relationships with your peers (and your teammates), the busy season (and your time in the firm) seem to just pass by (Holy cow, did I spend 9 busy seasons in the firm, didn’t notice. LOL).

4. The chance to teach – not everybody who work for the Big 4 can experience this, but if you reach manager level (and sometimes even the senior level), there’s a big possibility that you will get to teach the junior staff about the new things I was talking about in number 1. And don’t worry about it, the firm will provide you the teaching materials, you’ll just have to decide how to deliver them to the “class”. Working in the Big 4 gave me the idea that maybe I can teach when I get out.

5. Meeting people a.k.a. networking – by people I mean the people working for your clients. I liked the fact that I can talk to the managers, vice-presidents, even the presidents of my clients. And they called me by my first name, too. After I went out, one or two actually offered me a job in their companies (I’m not allowed though, there’s such a thing as “cooling off period” when you get out of the firm).

6. It’s great for my resume. The longer I stayed, the more premium I earned from working that long. Not that I’m putting down those who worked only for 1 or 2 years but you have to admit, seeing the number “8” instead of “1” or “2” in one’s resume kind of up things a little bit for me.

These are my 6 reasons. Do I sound like a nerd now? LOL But seriously speaking, I really enjoyed my time there. There were a lot of negative things but there were a lot of positive things as well, and the latter (at least for me) far exceeded the former. Hope you enjoyed my 6 reasons. Feel free to leave me a note on what you think and don’t forget to check out The Accountant’s Blog entitled “Things I do Love About Working at a Big Four”.


  1. [quote]I first entered the Big 4 in 2008.[/quote] started in 2008, and worked for 8 years? Something is not right here :o

  2. LOL. Sorry about that. Was writing this in the middle of the night. That was supposed to be 1998. Already edited it. Thanks for the comment.

  3. That's quite a journey, it seems. I commend you for sticking it out that long. I suppose audit is for some people and not for others. Myself included. I spent a summer as an internal audit intern, and vowed to never to get involved in audit, ever. I'm curious though, what keeps you attracted to audit? to me it seems like a "meaningless" job in the sense that you don't actually create anything or have anything to show for your work. I dont mean to offend you in any way, but to me it appears that after auditing a company, all you have really to show is some tickmarks and then some errors or problems you might've found. Nothing substantiative that you can really step back and admire as your creation. That's just my thought on it.

  4. Big Tuna, I think I once called auditing a "necessary evil" for some of my clients. I mean, let's face it, if not for the fact that having an audit report is required, some of them would not hire an external auditor in the first place. On the other hand, I like audit because it gave me a chance to provide good services to the clients. There were times when we saw errors in their accounting and these clients showed that they really appreciated us for seeing those errors. Those clients are one of the reason why I stayed in audit for 8 years.