The big 4 is so glorified

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  • #192916 Reply

    I've been in a big 4 firm for for the past few months and already hate it. Every day when I leave work it's likely walking out of jail. The team doesn't care about you and it just sucks. I've aged so much in 6 months. I don't think I can do this for much longer. My justification is that if you spend 65 to 70 hours a week with crappy pay you can spend that time Into your own venture and be far more successful.

    The only down fall is I've passed the exams and need experience. Is there another way to get the experience requirement for Cali? Move to a smaller firm?

    #660595 Reply

    Does internal audit count for experience in CA? I did four years in internal audit and it was great.

    #660596 Reply

    Ah yes, the Big 4 debate.

    – work unnecessarily long hours (many employees will STAY at the client and just surf the web til 11pm to appear busy)

    – over value the profession (we aren't curing diseases, we are issuing opinions)

    – justify horrible hours for “exit opportunities”


    – work in a smaller firm, have a 55-60hr busy season, enjoy your life, and leave for the same job that the big 4 robots left for. Just don't tell them they wasted 4 years of their life. Their false sense of superiority cannot handle that.

    #660597 Reply
    rp 12rp 12

    I personally feel glorified as well. And call myself as one among them to join the herd. I still remember during my school career events it was a BIG thing to get contacts of working professionals, recruiter…. But after joining you realize how some people are.

    As a former Big4 alum – my only advice is get that one year of experience and also start looking for opportunities outside of public. If you looking for higher pay in industry right after 1 yr likelihood is less. You at least need 2 to 3 busy seasons under your belt to see that jump in pay. If you still want to be in public then move to mid-size to small accounting firms.

    Also, in IA if you working under a CPA he/she can sign-off on experience form(s).

    Hang in there. I hope this help.

    AUD - NINJA in Training
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    #660598 Reply

    Definitely get your one year so you can get the experience sign-off. It'll be a pain otherwise, plus having to explain that you left a job after less than a year is never fun/good.

    #660599 Reply

    I feel that the Big4 “transaction” is pretty transparent.

    You work many hours in exchange for experience which is highly sought after in the market place. The longer you stay, the better your marketability and the higher paying and higher profile your exit opportunities become. Not to mention (while very slim) there is also the partner route. True you could have been doing your own thing where you could “spend that time Into your own venture and be far more successful” but not everyone has a “venture” to pursue.

    I've found that the longer you stay, the better you can make it. In the beginning you have to play ball with the team, but as a senior you can lead the team and can choose to run your team in a way that you like (and specifically steer away from some things you didn't like when you were a staff). For example, my teams do not fill chairs. We work the hours needed to get the job done, which means a lot of days are 8 hours but as needed some days are more; we're never sitting in the office until 7pm just to look busy (this of course is non-busy season lol).

    Self proclaimed: Highest ratio of Replies to Others v. Posts Created on A71

    California CPA - Big4 Aud Manager Alum - Private Accounting at Startups

    FAR, REG and BEC with Ninja Notes + WTB Only

    #660600 Reply

    I really feel like quitting and going to a different mid size firm. I don't have anything to fall back on yet but do you think it's wise to quit after 6 months? I'm miserable everyday and I just feel out of place and don't mesh with the team. I talked to my performance manager and she was all yeah your reviews haven't been so hot.

    My other question is because I've been there for 6 months would they legally have to sign off on my hours that I completed? What if I get push back from the managers because they're not fond of me?

    #660601 Reply

    I feel the same as you guys. The big4 in substance isn't a great experience. However when looking for a job outside, the big4 name on the resume really opens doors even though in substance that person might not have gotten much out of their experience.

    I hear that the optimal time to leave big4 is in senior manager level and then get hired as a director-ish level job outside of big4 with great pay.

    #660602 Reply

    ^I feel like leaving depends on what you want to do. If you're gung-ho about just doing accounting or whatever, then staying till manager/senior manager makes sense for sure because you'll be in great shape to land controller/director of financial reporting type roles.

    In my case, for example, accounting is more of a starting point to do something else than a career. My goal is to do more FP&A/financial analyst type work down the road. As such, staying too long past senior makes no sense because at that point, I'll start getting pigeon-holed as just an accountant. Plus, I don't think companies necessarily just want someone because they're from a Big 4. There is some value in bringing someone skilled from the inside who is familiar with the industry, the firm's processes, etc. vs training someone new, particularly at higher levels. If you don't believe me, check out this thread from a guy who is a senior in TAS (which is more prestigious than audit to begin with) and is having trouble exiting:

    #660603 Reply

    If you're having a bad experiance talk to either your counselor or scheduler. Best part about Big 4 is you can switch teams in a heartbeat. I worked 50-55 hours this busy season as well as lot of my friends. Remember that 65+ hours is the exception.

    If you don't do anything about your situation (besides leaving) then don't complain about it.

    Also if you're not leaning crazy amounts on this job something is wrong.

    #660604 Reply

    I am in agreement with bae-bae. My Big 4 experience has been awesome so far. I love my team (my Senior Manager is laugh out loud funny most of the time). My hours this last busy season never went over 55 for the week. They constantly ask me if I am getting the training/experience I am looking for. My Senior Manager even texted me the night before my last exam to give his words of encouragement.

    If your Big 4 experience does not reflect mine, it is a product of your team/office, not Big 4 in general.

    #660605 Reply

    Yeah. Try to stick it out a full year. You don't want to seem like a quitter. With that said recruiters are generally understanding of shorter than normal employment periods at big 4 cause they know how much the work sucks. Generally u should know what u are getting into (hours suck and they don't try to hide that during recruiting. The benefit is the career adnvancement and exit opportunities. And whoever said 65+ hours during busy season is the exception is nuts, that was absolutely not the case in my office. Also asking to change teams under a year can be risky, so be very careful how you frame that question.

    #660606 Reply

    @Mydnight: Do you work in a city that's relatively small or big? Based on my own experience and in talking to all my friends at the Big 4, it seems like larger offices are generally a lot less tight-knit while smaller offices interact with each other more and try to make auditing more fun (or at least as fun as it can be). Obviously, this can have it's drawbacks because if you don't like someone, you'll see them a lot more, but for me, I think I might try to switch to a smaller office because I prefer getting to know a few people really well rather than casually knowing lots of folks. I'm just trying to gather intelligence before making the switch formal.

    #660607 Reply

    “The only down fall is I've passed the exams and need experience. Is there another way to get the experience requirement for Cali? Move to a smaller firm?”

    Experience can be signed off in most states so long as your experience qualifies (read the board websites, but almost anything related to accounting/finance) and you are supervised by a CPA. I can't think of a situation why someone would refuse to sign. Most Big 4 firms have someone designated in each office that handles experience signing and licensing stuff, so it probably won't even be one of the people you worked for directly. You can also get this after you leave the firm by contacting HR.

    Personally, even if you have to grit your teeth a bit, I would stick around for at least 1 year. It's hard to explain leaving sooner than that, but of course if you get a good opportunity then don't stay to appease some archaic notion of “loyalty”. I would say the earliest you will have good exit opportunities is right after your second busy season. Depending on your experience and how well you interview, you could get a bump to a senior position outside the company and a signfiicant pay raise (much more significant than if you leave after 3-4 years for a similar role). It's also a good time to leave if you plan to tarnsition into something else like fp&a, financial analyst, smaller public firm, etc, since you have the basics of accounting and research and whatever, but not so specialized that it's hard to train you.

    Anyway, don't be a whiner. You found out it's not the place you want to be,a nd you realized it sooner rather than later. That's better than the senior managers who still don't know what they want!!! Get through it without getting fired, and line up something good to move onto next.

    #660608 Reply


    I work in a large city, but my firm has a separate practice for financial services (all my clients are financial service clients). This inner practice has the reputation for being more ‘close-knit' – which is one of the reasons I picked them when I was given a choice.

    #660609 Reply

    Truthfully even if you are applying now, its likely going to take a minimum of 3 months until you'd actually be starting a new job (figure taking a week or 2 after applying to get a call for an interview, another 1-2 weeks to actually interview, another week or 2 to get a decision, then give a 2 week notice at your current employer, etc.) Then figure its april right now, and hing is possible but more likely in the fall.

    So you can certainly start looking sooner than a year, but chances are you'll end up putting in your full year where you are.

    Old timer,  A71'er since 2010. Licensed since 2012-non reporting MA CPA.

    Finance manager/HR manager



    #660610 Reply

    Personally in my experience and talking to many other accounting friends, the prestige of the Big 4 is a one way street. By that I mean, people who value it in hiring are typically Big 4 alums themselves. You can gain audit experience at any level and any good hiring manager worth their salt understands Big 4 on your resume doesn't automatically make you more qualified or a better candidate. Most smaller firms allow for more experience quickly in a variety of areas and can produce a more well rounded candidate in my opinion.

    If you want to work in financial reporting for a large fortune 500 publicly traded company, then sure Big 4 experience is almost a prerequisite, but anyone who believes a Big 4 will dramatically improve you as an employee in a controller role for a small closely held company over what a small firm will give you is naive. Most companies have been around long enough to see through the BS.

    #660611 Reply

    Personally I don't think I'll have any regrets leaving because my end goal is to own my own accounting tax law firm so the industry Im in right now is of no value. Time to start looking at smaller firms. I'm hoping my current firm will sign off on the 6 months that I've been there for my cpa experience. I've definitely worked more than 500 hours. Which hours get decided that are used for licensure

    #660612 Reply

    TBH it all depends on the office and location you're in. Not all Big4 is 70+ hours. I work at PwC and worked 60+ hours only once (sign-off week). The rest of busy season was ~50 hours. Busy season only lasts from middle of January to middle of March also.

    #660613 Reply

    Topics like these make me feel so lucky. I was at a company very similar to big4 for 3 months left for a mid-size to small company. Any week I work more than 40 hours they keep track of how much I work and let me take that time off during the summer. After April it will start slowing down and I'll have 50 hours or more I can just use anytime I want during the summer.

    #660614 Reply

    Do you know if HR has to sign off on my cpa hours?

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