Four Benefits of Working at a Big 4 Accounting Firm

Feb 6, 2014 -

Why You Should Work at a Big 4 Accounting Firm

Most of us are aware of the long hours that come with working at a Big 4 accounting firm especially during busy season. For those who are not aware, usually auditors work a minimum of 55 hours a week during busy season. While this is not anything to cry about, the reality is most auditors end up working closer to 65-80 hours a week. You would think if you worked that many hours you would be appropriately compensated, but the truth is auditors don't make that much. Despite all of this, there are extremely good intangible benefits one can gain from working at a Big 4 accounting firm.

Exposure to various industries and company environments
Suppose you are assigned to audit Facebook. You will likely physically be at the Facebook headquarters interacting with mid and upper management on a daily if not weekly basis. While you may not be privy to all the benefits Facebook has to offer, you have a front row seat into what it would be like working at Facebook. It is okay if you don't like it because you know in a couple months or weeks you will be on to another client. So, if you are really unsure of what you want out of a career or company, working at a Big 4 accounting firm will give you that opportunity to find out.

Accelerated learning opportunities
You may only be at Facebook for a week or a couple of months. In order for you to perform your job effectively, you will be forced to learn another company's business in a short amount of time. This involves asking questions to mid and upper management and doing a lot of research. Because you are unfamiliar with the environment the first couple days and maybe even weeks you will be doing a lot of work trying to get up to speed on how the business makes money, what drives the business, and how they account for all of the businesses' activities. The learning curve is steep and opportunities boundless.

Put yourself on the promotion fast track
Experience is what employers value most and typically measured in the number of years. They say what you learn at a Big 4 accounting firm in 2-3 year is close to an equivalent of 4-6 in industry. If you have 3-5 years of experience at a Big 4 accounting firm, you can easily land a senior accountant or senior internal auditor role. In comparison, if you work at a company in industry, you may not be promoted until a position opens or more than 3 years. The more relevant experience you have the more valuable you are to an employer.

Overcoming difficult situations and environments
Whether you are single or have a family and children to care for, there is little reason for you not to put yourself in a situation where you can learn the most in the shortest amount of time. You learn the most when you experience new things and fight through adversity. This does not mean you absolutely need to work at a Big 4 accounting firm. It just means seeking a job that will challenge you and give you the opportunity to grow professional and personal is important.

Most of the jobs out there in accounting are rather mundane and frankly boring. There are rules and guidelines you need to follow and rarely do you deviate from. Once you understand these rules, every month you'll book the same journal entries and perform the same account reconciliations. Without new challenges either from your boss or projects you give yourself, the learning curve evidently flattens out. When that happens, you need to be looking for another job that will give you more learning opportunities.
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