Monday, December 7, 2009

Why the Big 4?

For the past few months, I’ve been reading and writing about what’s not good in the Big 4, why people leave these auditing firms (and mid-sized auditing firms for that matter), why I (and other people) would not return to working for a big auditing firm and what (negative) things can you expect when you work for a Big 4.

But despite all these, why are accountants (CAs, CGAs, CMAs, CPAs, etc.) still flocking to these auditing firms?

Why are these firms still able to hire hundreds, if not thousands of new graduates (and even experienced people) every year?

What do these auditing firms have that people still want to work with them, despite knowing the long hours, low pay, (sometimes) @sshole bosses and not-so-good working environment?

Is it the prestige of working for a Big 4 (or if you’re in another country, an affiliate of the Big 4)? I mean let’s face it, when people hear that you are working for one of these firms, their eyes will go round, their mouths will drop open and they will exclaim that you’re so lucky to be working for one of these firms. No matter if they see you already looking pale from being cooped up inside an office for a long time; or if you have dark shadows under your eyes for lack of sleep, or if you can barely say anything coherent because you are just so damn tired and just want to lie down and sleep.

Or is it the chance to audit big, public companies or private companies with well-known names – with the hope that you will get hired by these companies later on (after the requisite cooling off period that is) and get triple (or quadruple) your current salary?

Or is it the chance to gain more experience and (free) training to boost your resume and increase your chances of getting hired by the above companies when you resign from the firm? Or perhaps you just want to have more experience when you go back to school to get your master’s degree, or law degree?

Or maybe one joins the Big 4 because this is the best way that one will get the relevant experience and knowledge in auditing and accounting? Let’s admit it. This is the major advantage of the Big 4 firms, they have an arsenal of resources, knowledge bases and expert – partners to face whatever challenges there are in the field of auditing, accounting and even taxation. With the adoption of the IFRS, the Big 4 firms in Canada are once again in the forefront of these activities and the auditors know that this is the place to be to learn IFRS and its application.

Or maybe you just don’t know what to do yet with your accounting degree and your CA/CMA/CGA license and you saw that your friends are working for the Big 4 so you want to get in as well to be with them. And then you stay longer than all the others because you found out that this is what you wanted after all.

Or, and this maybe rare but it can happen, you know that your place is with a Big 4 firm and that you want to be (and you think you are meant to be) a partner of that firm. Although I haven’t personally heard this reason, I know that there are auditors out there who have planned their lives to become partners and earn what current partners earn (or even more).

Or, is it because you honestly do not know what to expect when you go inside the Big 4 and you naively think that working in one is the same as working for a private company? I do hope not.

So which is it really? Why do you want to work for a Big 4 auditing firm? Is it because:

  1. I like the prestige that goes with working in a Big 4 firm?
  2. I want the chance to audit big companies (that may become my employer later)?
  3. I want to gain more experience and training to boost my resume?
  4. I honestly don’t know what I want to do and thought, since most of my friends are in the Big 4, I might as well join them?
  5. I want to become a partner of a Big 4 firm?
  6. I don’t know, I don’t know much about the Big 4, I guess it’s just like working for a private company?
  7. None of the above

So what is your reason for working in a Big 4?


  1. "But despite all these, why are accountants (CAs, CGAs, CMAs, CPAs, etc.) still flocking to these auditing firms? "

    Excellent marketing that targets youth in the naive university days.

    Also the comment on getting paid triple your salary when leaving, you really really shouldn't leave reckless comments like that, people do beleive that.


    1. Ánh mắt của nữ tử khi nhìn người yêu có một chút nhu thuận. Hiển nhiên, hai người là một đôi đạo lữ.

      Đằng vân giá vũ, thứ thần thông tầm thường này, đám tu sĩ bình thường cũng có thể làm được. Nhưng đằng vân mà mượn đám mây trên trời, điều khiển nó....

      dong tam
      game mu
      cho thuê phòng trọ
      cho thuê phòng trọ
      nhạc sàn cực mạnh
      tổng đài tư vấn pháp luật
      công ty luật hà nội
      số điện thoại tư vấn luật
      dịch vụ thành lập doanh nghiệp
      Thứ thần thông này chỉ có thể được xem như là cấp thấp nhất, không đáng được nhắc đến. Chẳng những tốc độ chậm chạp mà chẳng hề có pháp thuật mạnh mẽ trong đó. Chẳng qua có cảm giác tuyệt vời, lừa bịp người thường mà thôi.

      Nhưng đôi đạo lữ này hoàn toàn khác. Đám mây mà hai người đứng trên chính là Cửu tiêu tiên vân được luyện hóa mà thành. Cho dù là tại tiên giới cũng thuộc loại tiên vân hiếm thấy.

      Thần thông của đám mây này nằm ở chỗ bên trong nó có tiên lôi. Vì vậy mà uy lực không thể coi thường.

      Trước đây, mỗi một tu sĩ nhìn thấy đám tiên vân này sẽ nhận ngay ra thân phận của hai người. Bởi vì hai người có thể nhẹ nhàng đứng trên Cửu tiêu tiên vân có cảnh giới giống

  2. Their work-life-balance, obviously.

  3. You mention accountants other than CA/CPAs working at the Big 4. Are CGAs and CMAs regularly hired and if yes, in what positions?

  4. Okay. How do I reply to all of you 'Anonymous'?

    Anonymous #1, if they're targeting 'naive' university graduates, why are the experienced auditors going back to them? Also, please note that I only said 'in the hope...get triple...salary'. I don't think the readers will blindly believe what I wrote without making their own research into the matter.

    Anonymous #2, your post sounds familiar.

    Anonymous #3, please refer to this blog - Some of the comments there may give you the answer to your question.

  5. I guess I'd go with number 3. I did a co-op term with a mid-size firm during tax season and it was a hell of a lot of work. I also had some experience doing accounting with the government and large industry and realized that it's a little too comfortable of an environment for someone like me right now. I figure I may as gain a greater breadth of experience (via the trial by fire approach) while I'm still in the early stages of my career and looking for a dynamic work environment. Not sure if I can see it through till I finish CASB, but we'll see.

    Emievil, what are your thoughts on work/life balance after you finish the studies and get your designation? Did things get better or did you just find the firm suddenly giving you more responsibility to compensate?

  6. Thanks for the comment playing4keeps.

    On work/life balance, at first, it did not really get better. I was like doing overtime and overnights, etc. plus I was so busy juggling my accounts, you would literally see me live in the office during the busy season. But when I started going up the organization (I resigned when I was already a manager), I started to have more time for personal matters - mainly due to the fact that I have more control over my hours and I know my responsibilities better. And over the years, some of my tasks became easier and more manageable. Hope this helps.

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