Understanding the Big 4 Accounting Firms
These companies called “The Big 4” are the top four public accounting firms worldwide:
- Ernst & Young
- PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
These firms offer a wide range of auditing and accounting services. Accounting professionals in many industries can find employment opportunities and professional development at the Big 4 firms. And a job at one of these firms can lead to other opportunities in different companies and industries. For example, you can see from this profile that the successful executive worked at Ernst & Young.
There were eight firms in the past, but only four large companies remained after mergers, acquisitions, and dissolutions that began in 1987. They have accumulated more than $100 billion in annual earnings, and they continue to grow year-over-year. It is clear that many graduates and entry-level workers are interested in accounting jobs at these companies.
The Big 4 has thousands of dedicated employees. It is a great career move to work for one of the Big 4 companies. These companies work hard to recruit and build a skilled team.
There is no denying the level of respect that comes from working with one of these large firms. For example, employees receive exposure to many other industries and companies. These opportunities can often be a catalyst for accountants to make a career change.
Because of the fast-paced environment at Big 4 companies, accounting professionals gain experience quicker than those who work in a boutique firm. Many people compare a year working at a Big 4 accounting firm to two to three years in other, smaller firms. This vast and expedited experience can help professionals move up the ladder to higher-ranking positions, increasing their earning potential and job security.
The Big 4 is also well-known for providing organizational training and funding additional certifications and credentials for its employees.
The Big 4 seek professionals who can do external audits, provide taxation and management services, and perform risk assessment and control duties. These days, these companies are particularly interested in hiring auditors. However, there is still a strong demand for finance and general accountants.
Salaries of Big 4 accountants can vary depending on education, experience, and organization. The Big 4 companies offer a generous 401k plan and extended vacation time. They also offer perks like gym memberships and free meals.
A college degree is required for any financial or accounting position in a Big 4 company, and advanced degrees, such as masters in accounting, are desired for some positions. It is important to remember that accountancy requires additional credentials and/or training. A CPA, for example, must pass the CPA exam to become licensed.
A few years’ of relevant work experience is also preferred by the Big 4 companies. You can get this by gaining real job experience, even through internships at one of these firms.
As far as long-term employment, the Big 4 have maintained steady growth — although it has been slower than other industries. The international reach of each company is one factor that has contributed to this stability.
Because of their global reach, these companies seek out applicants with experience in international accounting. They need employees who understand foreign tax laws and international financial reporting, for example.
We hope that this article has been helpful to you in learning more about the Big 4 and their employment opportunities.