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Would like a clarifcation: So why do most Big 4 employees depart after ~3 years

FutureCFOFutureCFO Posts: 125Registered User Junior Member
edited July 2010 in Business Major
I think I know, but not sure so I'd like a clarification. Why do most Big4 employees depart after working about 3 yrs and obtaining their CPA? How? Where? Why? Smart/Dumb? Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks
Post edited by FutureCFO on

Replies to: Would like a clarifcation: So why do most Big 4 employees depart after ~3 years

  • thesituati0nthesituati0n Posts: 28Registered User New Member
    Most leave b/c of long hours and stressful work. Having worked in the Big 4 opens up great exit opportunities. Apparently, many large companies will not typically hire accountants who do not have Big 4 experience. You can also move into a managerial role at a smaller company or firm.

    Leaving the Big 4 is the right move for most people as it often allows them to have a higher salary at more reasonable hours. Not many people can put up with the hours/stress that come with working at a Big 4 for more than a few years.

    It seems like a pretty good move because what I've gathered so far is that it's not uncommon for entry-level accountants at smaller CPA firms to actually make more per hour than a Big 4 accountant. I feel like a lot Big 4 accountants feel under-compensated for the amount of work they do.

    I guess it's only a "dumb" decision to leave a Big 4 if your main objective is to command the highest salary possible in the field of accounting, ie Big 4 partner. But it's not easy to put up with that kind of stress/hours and lack of social life/leisure time for ~15 years in order to become partner. Most accountants will decide that putting themselves through the stress required to make partner is not worth it. The biggest allure of the Big 4 for many are the exit opportunities that open up if you can throw that experience on your resume.
  • Whistleblower1Whistleblower1 Posts: 633- Member
    Big Four employees are savant-like in the strength of their GPAs, however 20 years of rigorous memorization has caused the parts of their brain responsible for critical thinking to atrophy. They are unable to leverage their strong memories into success in the workplace and lack sufficient aptitude to produce quality work due to IQs averaging well under 120. They move on to work for public companies that are impossible to get fired from. Once they get into management, competence is no longer an issue and they can coast.
  • ProtheroProthero Posts: 237Registered User Junior Member
    I'd go with Wb1 in saying that the world is turning into zombies.
  • FutureCFOFutureCFO Posts: 125Registered User Junior Member
    great answer thesituation. Do these exit opportunities come from your clients and other companies contacting you? or do you have to make the effort to find job openings on your own? Also, what kind of jobs are available in what industry (give specific job titles)? For what kind of industries and companies? For ex: if my client base was mostly financial banks, does that mean I got a shot at working at banks like JPMC, Goldman Sachs, etc?

    Also I was wondering: how many CPAs in this kind of situation pursue an MBA? Thanks

    PS: Sorry, but if you could please discuss the salary of these jobs you say will pay more w/ less stressful hrs. Thanks!
  • DawgieDawgie Posts: 1,576Registered User Senior Member
    FutureCFO, no auditing banks doesn't mean you have a shot at being an IBanker. But pursuing a TOP MBA with that experience might.
  • thesituati0nthesituati0n Posts: 28Registered User New Member
    FutureCFO, I'm just a college student so I don't have any actual experience being recruited/leaving the Big 4. I imagine that you fill out the online applications and contact them for these positions yourself. I suppose you can hire a headhunter and they will find companies that would be interested in you.

    Opportunities available for those with Big 4 experience including moving into internal audit for Fortune 500 companies or become a financial controller. A quick job search displanys many openings that require/strongly prefer those with Big 4 experience: Financial Controller - Big 4 Experience jobs in New York, NY - washingtonpost.com

    It seems like a lot of those jobs are paying in the 80-110K range. Some of them even advertise leaving the stress/hours of the Big 4 behind explicitly.

    I don't know how many accountants in this situation pursue an MBA but I've been told by family members who work in business that accountant/auditing --> financial controller experience + MBA degree is a pretty decent route to become a CFO if that is your ultimate goal.

    Also becoming an accountant is not a typical route to get into IBanking, it would be difficult to break into. Also, I've read that Big 4 experience is often times not the type of work experience that the most elite MBA programs are looking for... idk if that's true or not but that's what I've heard. Basically, accounting is not the career path for you if you want to be an IBanker at a bulge bracket bank...
  • FutureCFOFutureCFO Posts: 125Registered User Junior Member
    thanks for another great answer. just wanted to point out that i am in fact doing a double major in accounting AND finance, so if I did want to do IB, maybe that'll be an option someday? Nevertheless, if I could make 80-110k as a financial controller after getting big4 experience and CPA I can't really ask for more than that. Maybe somewhere down the road after that I can pursue a job as CFO
  • DawgieDawgie Posts: 1,576Registered User Senior Member
    Top MBA = IB, unless you are from a undergrad target school.
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