Bidding the Big 4 Farewell


Breaking up is hard to do.... 

You did it.  You went to a great school.  You were picked up immediately by a large public accounting firm.  You worked your way up to Audit Senior and you did three or four busy seasons.   You’re still not making 100k a year.  You are good enough with numbers to know that you can likely make more if you take your experience and go in house. Or maybe you should go to a boutique CPA firm?  A consulting firm?  Finance?  Accounting?  Analytics? Suddenly another busy season looks like an easier prospect than navigating the job market. 

 

You are a great candidate, and you know it.  You have a good school, a Big 4 pedigree, and enough longevity at your firm to show that you will be able to commit to your next job.  You know you’re a good candidate because every recruiter that can do a Boolean search has found you, somehow, and called you.  But what does that mean?  Does it mean you can demand a higher salary, or make a pivot into industry?  Let’s lay out some of your options. 

 

Partner Track-  First, there is no reason to discount the possibility of taking the partner track at your current CPA firm. Being a partner can be a rewarding path. As a partner, you can use more skills than your analytical ones including Management, Business Development, and also Mentoring.  Is it what you want to do?  Make it known to your Senior Manager and begin taking on more responsibility. 

Another Firm-  Are you still paying off student loans, or do you want to buy your first house?  Sometimes, lesser known CPA and Consulting firms will pay up to 30% increase on your current salary because they want to entice talent from the Big 4 on to their teams.  There is no shame in this game.  It’s a win-win— you are able to build wealth during your critical saving years, and they can bring on more new clients because of the quality of their staff.  These have the added benefit of allowing you to get diverse industry experience before you go in-house.  

Going In-House- You may want to go to the finance and accounting department of a company with your Big 4 experience.  This is also a great way to begin to move up the corporate ladder.  Many people with your background have done this and risen to CFO.  One hurdle you will face is getting the in house experience.  It is likely that there will be people with a Big 4 background and1-2 years relevant experience applying to the same jobs as you are.  My advice is be patient, find a recruiter you trust who you know will get you seen for the opportunities, and keep at the job search.  The right opportunity will come to you!

If you are thinking about making a move from the Big 4, please feel free to contact me directly and discuss your options.