Is the Big Four the Right Firm for your Auditing Career?


Whilst the perfect job is a fictional idea, a great job is not. Yet finding this elusive great job that manages to tick both your must-have and nice-to-have boxes can take considerable searching.

For auditors, the Big Four represent a dominating portion of the industry. These four privately owned firms – KPMG, Ernst & Young (EY), Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) represent the powerhouses that many auditors work for at some point in their career.

Whether you are a recent graduate or you’re considering a company change, have delved into why one of these considered elite employers might be the right fit for you.

The benefits of working for a Big Four are plentiful. The firms offer world-class exposure that is simply unobtainable by smaller firms. Given their size, the opportunity to work in specialised industry teams is offered from the get-go. These specialised teams mean specialised knowledge and contact time with both senior management and clients starting early in your career. Conversely, some auditors have noted feeling pigeonholed by this required specialisation. Whilst on one hand you gain specialised knowledge, on the other this does limit exposure.  

The calibre of employees is also high and one will undoubtedly be surrounded by highly motivated co-workers. This quality of employees stems from the high demand to work for the Big Four which on the flipside does make landing a position highly competitive. However, roles are in abundance - the firms are growing and hire substantially annually. In 2018, Deloitte hired 77,000 globally whilst PwC hired 64,766 new employees.

The firms are also renowned for their graduate programs. Whilst each slightly tailored, the Big Four offer these graduate programs that pay for an accountant’s auditing qualifications whilst simultaneously providing industry exposure and experience. KPMG, for instance, have an Audit Graduate Programme which offers two training pathways both taking three years to complete. Graduates look to Big Four firms recognising their opportunity to gain qualifications, network, develop along with their prestige.

Career development opportunities are another drawcard of the Big Four. Promotions are typically given annually with long term career development opportunities plentiful. High level roles include consulting positions, which are a higher paid pathway than traditional auditing roles, along with the possibility to become a partner. The firms are also continuing to diversify their service offering which creates increased internal movement opportunities.

Whilst full of excellent opportunities for your Audit career, working for the Big Four is not for everyone. The most sited reason for people leaving the Big Four or choosing to work elsewhere is the high-pressure environment within the External Audit industry. Long hours can be a regularity along with extremely busy ‘busy seasons’. The work can also be monotonous at times, especially for graduates and those in their first years of their accounting and auditing careers.

Finally given the hours required of the firms, the pay can be low with very few bonuses and recognition at times. If year-round work-life balance is a top priority, the Big Four may not be the right fit for you.

Finding the best company fit should not be overlooked. Whilst full of opportunities, a Big Four firm is not the right fit for all auditors and within the Big Four each firm has a unique set of offerings. The abundance of sectors is what makes the auditing profession incredibly diverse and ensures the right role for all exists.



To browse the roles currently live on with these Big Four firms, search our Recruiter Directory here.


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