I was wondering what people thought were the main advantages/disadvantages of working at a Big4 in London over a regional office (I'm thinking a big city one such as Manchester/B'ham).
How do the hours compare?
Do you get better work in London?
DO you get fast promotions in London?
Do you get better pay/perks in London?
Also I've heard in London you have to specialise a lot sooner- how do people pick their specialism? And is this a good or a bad thing?
I know this is a lot of Qs but all advice/wisdom/anecdotal evidence would be much appreciated!
Big 4: London or Regional Office? Watch
- Thread Starter
Last edited by Jenii; 27-08-2010 at 18:51.
- 02-08-2009 20:55
- 02-08-2009 22:29
The hours will likely be longer in London as you will work on larger clients, however their are also more people working in London so more people to spread the load. The hours will still be substantial at busy periods in other offices, though tax hours are better than audit hours
Most of the listed companies/financial services companies have their HQ's in London so you would get that experience, you will work with a wider mix of companies outside of London
Probably not as their are a lot more people employed/competition
You get paid a few thousand more but the cost of living is substantially higher
In regional offices people tend to work in general tax areas, in london you apply for the same areas but when you work they usually put you into a more specific role
If you definately want the London experience go for it, but their will be a lot more people competing for vacancies
If you are happy to qualify in Leeds and maybe do London later go for it
I don't think their would be much difference between Leeds and Manchester
Also best to start applying now
- 04-08-2009 19:37
I imagine a lot of the best qualified people go to london so fighting for promotion will probably be quite intense
- 04-08-2009 20:15
You get more responsibility sooner at regional offices as there are less staff per positions. I've been told it's better training at a regional. I do want to move to London for a few years at some point though, even if it's just a London regional such as Reading.
- 11-08-2009 03:21
I work in a large regional office but also have worked in London departments - in tax. I think the feel of departments can be influenced greatly by the individuals, in particular the partners (now and historically) who lead the office.
1. How do the hours compare? Our office is empty at 5.30pm, in London meetings can start at 5.30pm! I reckon you work 7hrs + more a week in London, plus your commute... I was in the gym/pub/etc every night by 5.30pm as a regional trainee.
2. Do you get better work in London? My regional clients include my firm's biggest insurance client, one of the largest banks in the UK and some huge engineering household names. Excellent for my CV and gives me exposure to some complex issues, especially as I get more senior. However as a new grad you actual work on big glam clients will be more admin related. On my smaller clients I lead the client relationships in my second/third trainee year e.g. doing client visits alone, negotiating fees, being the key contact the client picks up the phone to, delegating work down to junior trainees. You would not get this exposure so quickly on the Big Bank Plc tax team. Even now I'm more senior my hands are tied on big clients as the partners want to manage the relationships more themselves.
3. DO you get fast promotions in London? No. Early in your career promotions are more automatic is you are performing, later on it's more about there being a business case / vacancy which will be very department specific (you can always move!). e.g. to get promoted from trainee to the next level you need to demonstrate you're starting to lead jobs, coach junior staff - all of which I demonstrated with ease given the work I had been able to do, and I picked up the best performance rating (and bonus!) as a result when measured against my London colleagues. The level of responsibility you get given will also depend on you and the ability/appetite you demonstrate.
4. Do you get better pay/perks in London? Pay, yes, probably depends on role/office but it's a substantial percentage as in London they are having to compete to attract grads with big bank salary (not sure of recession impact on this). Perks are usually the same firmwide with bonuses being a % of base salary dependent on department results, your performance. Interestingly I think the pay differential stays about the same in absolute terms (i.e. decreaees as a % after you get pay rises), but that's from the limited salaries of mates I know. And I am not sure it compensates for the cost of living and lifestyle choice - that depends on what you value in life I guess.
5. Also I've heard in London you have to specialise a lot sooner- how do people pick their specialism? And is this a good or a bad thing? Definitely. In London departments are split by type of client (e.g. banks only, oil companies only, entertainment companies only) as well as by type of work (compliance or the different types of advisory). In a regional office you will do all types of clients, learn your trade on compliance work and get exposure to all manner of advisory projects at the same time. Plus I regularly liaise with VAT colleagues, private client, audit, etc as they are in the same building. I think is a huge plus. You get to see what you enjoy and shape your career / specialise accordingly. You don't always get much say in a specialism when you start in my experience and some areas can be so niche it limits your career. As you progress one factor in peformance and bonuses is cross-selling for which you need to have a broad understanding of the business/all departments. You work with and learn from a broad range of people.
I think also people have more time for you in a regional office and things, deadlines, people's careers etcc are a bit more laid back. Our partners are the last off the dancefloor on a night out, and know everyone in the department personally. Leeds still has a financial services sector, Birmingham a lot of defence contractors, etc, so it's not like the offices you have picked are dusty backwaters with limited clients and calibre of staff. Most of all you can switch to London when you want, armed with 3 years or so of living it up in a city you love and firm career ideas. I'm obviaouyl biased on this one, but start out regional! Plus people in London wear suits to work every day which is expensive and stuffy to wear :-)Last edited by noisla; 11-08-2009 at 03:25.
- 17-07-2010 11:16
I just wanted to say thank you. I know that was written a while ago now but those are exactly the questions I needed answering. I'm currently doing an internship in a regional office very close to London and was wondering whether it would be better for me to move to the London office; in terms of prospects and career development, as well as enjoyment doing my job. Thanks
- 17-07-2010 11:47
Whenever I do grad recruitment events, everyone I speak to seems to want to do advisory in London - none of them really know why. The conclusion is London must have more people applying there!
There are advantages and disadvantages to working in the regions and working in London. Personally, I think London is a great city, which is why I wouldn't mind working there one day, but all London jobs come with the same downsides: high cost of living, long commute, longer hours due to the London culture...
You get paid less in the regions, but you also get to do a bit of everything, which is ideal when you enter accountancy for the first time. It will take you a while to figure out what you want to do - tax is pretty wide. Even within corporate tax there are lots of niche areas.
I've enjoyed working in a smaller office - it's nice to know everyone and have a bit of banter with the partner. My commute is 15 minutes door to door and I have flexibility with my hours when I need it. I think the only downside is the pay - the Big 4 seem to think the further north you are, the lower the cost of living is - but that's not actually true.