Let’s face it. Working in any of the big four accounting firms is like the pinnacle of success in the accounting field. It’s every accounting student’s dream. However, it isn’t that easy. We all know how fierce the competition is. Thousands of bright, talented individuals vie for limited positions in these prestigious firms.
The following blog post aims to unlock the secrets of the financial world’s powerhouses for the accounting students out there. Discover the untold stories, insider strategies, and career-transforming advice that will propel you into the elite ranks of PwC, Deloitte, EY, and KPMG.
Table of Contents
Which is the Best Accounting Firm of Them All?
There is no one specific answer to this question when it comes to identifying the best accounting firm among the Big Four (Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG),. Instead, we have highlighted each one of the big four accounting firm’s unique features and specialized industry features below:
Deloitte is known for its broad range of services, including audit, tax, consulting, and advisory. In addition, they are famous for their expertise in areas such as risk management, mergers and acquisitions, and business transformation. The firm also places a strong emphasis on innovation and technological advancements.
Deloitte, being one of the big four accounting firms, is a leader in various industries, including financial services, technology, healthcare, manufacturing, and consumer products. They leverage their deep industry knowledge to provide tailored solutions and insights to clients, helping them navigate complex challenges.
Click here to apply for work in Deloitte
PwC has a massive global reach and an extensive network of professionals, allowing them to serve clients across borders seamlessly. They excel in delivering high-quality assurance, tax, and advisory services. PwC is known for its commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility.
PwC has developed specialized industry teams in financial services, technology, entertainment and media, healthcare, and energy sectors. Their deep industry knowledge enables them to provide industry-specific insights, strategies, and solutions to their clients, helping them stay ahead in rapidly evolving markets.
Click here to apply for work in PwC.
EY (Ernst & Young):
EY gives importance to entrepreneurship and innovation. They emphasize building a better working world by supporting startups, fostering digital transformation, and promoting sustainable business practices. It is also known for its extensive thought leadership and research capabilities.
EY has expertise across various industries, including financial services, technology, life sciences, manufacturing, and energy. They help clients in these fields drive growth and navigate regulatory complexities.
Click here to apply for work in EY.
KPMG is one of the best accounting firms out there. Learn more about its leadership style from its chair and CEO here.
KPMG’s commitment to ethical practices, integrity, and transparency is remarkable. They focus on providing high-quality audit, tax, and advisory services, emphasizing risk management and compliance. KPMG also places a significant emphasis on corporate social responsibility (CSR)
The accounting firm has developed deep industry expertise in financial services, technology, healthcare, consumer and retail, and industrial manufacturing sectors.
Click here to apply for work in KPMG.
Tips to Get into the Big 4 Firms
Early Internships are Important
If you are a student it is crucial to prioritize securing an internship in the field of Accounting during the summers preceding your sophomore and junior years. This step holds immense significance. While it doesn’t necessarily have to be specifically in accounting, it should encompass areas such as analysis, law, finance, or accounting. The key is to have an internship, even if it is at a lower level.
By doing so, you will enhance your credentials when applying for the highly sought-after “Junior” internships with the prestigious Big 4 accounting firms, thereby strengthening your arsenal.
To apply for internships, utilize the on-campus recruiting (OCR) system or visit the respective websites of the organizations. Once you secure an internship opportunity, you must truly devote yourself, and ensure that your colleagues recognize you as a valuable addition to their team. By excelling in your internship, you increase your working full-time in any of the big four accounting firms.
Applying in the Big Four Firms
The first step in planning to apply for work in the big four firms is to learn about the best way to apply in them. Different firms have different application procedures. Some firms require online screening after you have applied for a job and they have shortlisted you.
Some firms require you to first submit your resume. On the other hand, there are firms that require your resume only during your interviews. So, the point here is to learn the application procedure of the firm that you are applying to.
The difference when you apply to one of the big four firms rather than any other firms is that there will be 4-6 rounds of interview discussions to decide your position level. The other firms usually only have 2-3 rounds of interviews before they hire you. So you have to be prepared for more tests, and interviews when applying to any of the big four firms.
Get your Resume Right!
Regrettably, numerous resumes end up in the rejection pile solely due to formatting errors and spacing mistakes.
The Big Four accounting firms operate in highly professional settings, and they value candidates who can seamlessly integrate into their work culture. A well-formatted resume showcases your understanding of professional norms, such as proper headings, consistent formatting, and the appropriate use of bullet points, thereby signaling your readiness to thrive in a corporate environment.
Working at the Big 4 Accounting Firms
“ Learning and Challenges in an Audit Firm: A Professional Training Experience
This document outlines my learning and challenges during my professional training with one of the big four accounting firms. Throughout my tenure, I had the privilege of engaging in various auditing and advisory engagements, which allowed me to develop essential skills and overcome significant challenges. This document aims to provide an overview of my experiences, emphasizing the importance of stakeholder management, time management, confidentiality, and building client relationships.
Integration into a Bigger Team and Engaging with Client Personnel
During the half-yearly and annual audit of a prominent oil refining company, I learned the art of integrating into a larger team and engaging with client personnel at senior levels for data collection purposes. This experience provided insights into the dynamics of working collaboratively with diverse professionals, coordinating efforts, and maintaining effective communication. However, one of the primary challenges faced was forging cordial relationships with senior client representatives while ensuring the extraction of sufficient and appropriate evidence. Convincing busy client representatives to provide necessary data often proved to be a significant challenge.
Effective time management is crucial in the audit profession, particularly during peak periods close to deadlines. There were occasions when we had to work late into the night, only to return early the next day to meet project requirements. This demanding schedule required the ability to prioritize tasks, delegate responsibilities, and remain focused under pressure. Balancing multiple engagements and adhering to strict timelines was a constant challenge that required careful planning and organization.
Maintaining confidentiality is a fundamental principle in the audit profession. Throughout my training, I recognized the importance of safeguarding sensitive client information. Handling confidential data, financial records, and strategic plans required strict adherence to professional ethics and standards. Upholding confidentiality was both a responsibility and a challenge, as it demanded a high level of integrity, trustworthiness, and discretion.
The crux of the audit experience lies in managing stakeholder expectations. Whether it was engaging with senior client representatives or working on advisory engagements sponsored by international donors, stakeholder management remained a critical aspect. Understanding the needs and requirements of various stakeholders, aligning expectations, and maintaining open lines of communication were crucial to ensuring successful project outcomes. Building rapport and trust with stakeholders was an ongoing challenge, as different individuals often had diverse perspectives and priorities.
Working on Advisory Engagements Sponsored by International Donors
In addition to auditing engagements, I had the opportunity to work on advisory projects sponsored by international donors. These engagements presented unique challenges, like those encountered in auditing. Time management continued to be a significant concern, given the complexity and diverse nature of the projects. Moreover, stakeholder management remained vital, as collaborating with individuals from different cultural backgrounds required heightened sensitivity and effective communication skills. Balancing the expectations of international donors, local stakeholders, and the organization being advised demanded tact and diplomacy.
My professional training experience with A.F. Ferguson & Co. Chartered Accountants provided valuable insights into the audit profession, presenting opportunities to develop essential skills and overcome challenges. Integrating into a larger team, engaging with client personnel, managing time efficiently, safeguarding the confidentiality, and maintaining stakeholder relationships were key learnings. Overcoming obstacles in data collection, balancing workloads, aligning diverse stakeholder expectations, and upholding confidentiality required adaptability, resilience, and effective communication. These experiences have contributed significantly to my professional growth and prepared me for future challenges in my career.