Is Big Four Training Essential for an Auditor?
It is the most common and popular trajectory for aspiring auditors, but is the Big Four the best launchpad for a career in audit? Compared with other consultancies it certainly holds stature on the job market, but does the Big Four have the edge on Tier Two firms?
The Big Four is perfectly poised for starting a career on the global stage with a client roster that includes some of the best companies in the world. In 2019 it was reported by the Financial Times that the majority of FTSE 100 companies were audited by Big Four firms. Straight off the bat candidates can be assured of an unrivalled exposure to blue-chip multinational corporations when grounding their audit career in the Big Four. Having the opportunity to work on projects for those companies, such as IPOs, due diligence projects, restructuring and key merger and acquisitions, is the type of experience that sets those auditors apart from their peers.
Working for the Big Four comes with the international name tag that is instantly recognisable and for those audit professionals looking for global mobility, that is certainly something the likes of PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY can accommodate. Innovators in technology and data analytics and privy to some of the world’s greatest resources, there’s no doubting that a career at a Big Four firm will benefit your long-term success.
The Big Four accounting firms provide a working environment designed to propel their strongest performers forward to obtain the most out of each individual. So, having that tenure noted on your CV conveys your intelligence, work ethic and ability to cope with challenging situations. You’ll have the opportunity to gain managerial experience and learn proper business etiquette from the high calibre of professionals traditionally on staff at a Big Four firm.
Though while starting out at a Big Four Firm carries the prestige and opportunity to work with some pretty impressive clients, there is more of a leaning towards specialisations which may not fit your longer term career goals.
Comparatively, while a career at a Tier Two firm may not hold the same gravitas of its Big Four rivals it presents just as good a school for training. Tier Two firms generally don’t operate on the same specialisation approach as the Big Four which inevitably means their employees gain more exposure to more areas of business. This can include but is not limited to risk, private equity and operations to corporate finance, insurance, banking and regulatory compliance.
A smaller firm also means a smaller volume of employees with whom to compete for work or client access which means a higher likelihood of getting to work on more diverse projects and audits. With less people in the way you’re also more likely to get face time with senior executives early on in your career, thus furnishing you with invaluable experience. Being thrust into situations that require you to be comfortable talking to such high-ranking personnel early in your career will instil you with confidence and invaluable experience that will make you an attractive candidate.
Ultimately, to answer the question ‘is Big Four training essential for a career in audit?’, the answer is no, but it is hugely beneficial. It offers the rigour, the training and the international mobility and brand to push you down a successful career path. However, the Tier Two firms are an equally effective school for training when it comes to working in audit. It comes down to what you want from your career in audit and the working environment that best fits you. With both Big Four and Tier Two firms offering internships and graduate schemes there are excellent opportunities available for you to discover which route of training will best service your future as an auditor.