Joining Big 4 AFTER qualifying as an accountant? Watch
Currently on an ACA training contract, at a small/medium (not sure how its classified) firm doing non-audit. I overheard some senior people today talking about how important big 4 experience is, now I'm wondering if it is worth (from a purely financial standpoint) joining a big 4 firm after I am fully qualified.
Does this seem like a good idea, or is it not worth the likely pay cut?
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Honestly it's up to you whether you want to put yourself through the hard work that comes with working in one of the big 4 firms. A lot of people I know who've moved from small/medium firms to go to one of the big 4 to follow the money regret it as the hours are much longer and much more work. Yes it does look good on your CV but I'm sure you could just as easily get a job once you're qualified going from the firm you're in.
It ultimately depends on what you want to be doing in the future, as in what area of accountancy, whether you want to work in a big firm, whether you want to work in a city etc.
(I'm not saying don't do it I'm just saying think about it - personally I aim to go to work for a big 4 firm once I qualify for a couple of years)
I trained at a small firm but wanted to move to a big4 for a few reasons, namely branding and I wanted to exhaust my audit experience. I'd done it at a small firm and now I wanted to see how the big firms did it. Independence was a huge issue at my small firm and with the big4 getting a load of flack, I was particularly intrigued as to how they did things.
I have been with my big4 London firm for 6 months now. I did not join for the money - in London, once you qualify if you're chasing money, you go for industry - I won't explain the limitations of that as this is not what OP has asked, there is plenty of info on forums like Reddit.
So, what I've noticed. Not everyone is a monster/workaholic. Your experience of big4 audit will entirely depend on your lineal hierarchical team structure. I.e. what is the expectation of partner/senior manager/manager. If the tone from the top is 'anything goes' then you could have a rough time. I have been fortunate in that my engagements have valued work/life balance. My managers either have families or commitments, e.g. sports teams and general fitness so naturally do not want to overwork unnecessarily.
But, whilst I had it good, you may not be so lucky. Busy season can be very bad for some people but it is usually only super bad for 1-2 weeks and otherwise you can work 9-7/8 during busy season. If you aren't looking for partnership or promotion but just want branding, you can just do the minimum. Ultimately it depends on the above. You need to assess whether you're in a position for that potentiality. I.e. have you got a supportive partner/are you single/are you starting a family soon etc. The move suits someone who is not yet settled.
There is a huge audit shortage at the moment as big4 beef up their ranks of qualified staff. If you have some steel and can come in and accept yourself as a qualified professional, you have nothing to fear.
Hope this helps.