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Being a consultant in the Big Four can be a nightmare

If you're thinking of working for a Big Four firm, I would like to offer you some words of caution: steer clear of their advisory divisions and stick to audit. Or maybe tax.

The advisory divisions of Big Four firms are all about advising clients. You might be working on M&A deals, management and strategy consulting, or risk consulting, but the client will be your boss. Herein lies the problem.

If you work in the tax or the audit divisions of a Big Four firm, you will have your busy season. It will be no fun, but it will end.

In consulting, it is endless. It is 24/7/365. Like most Big Four firms, mine talks a lot about work-life balance initiatives, but I don't participate. Now that COVID's over I'm on the road again, at clients' sites. Once a year, I attend the in-house business school in a backwater, and share a room with a colleague. This will be the extent of my awesome team building experiences.

My audit and tax colleagues get a lot more perks. They use the company's suite for concerts and sports matches. When I take paid time off (PTO), I take your cell phone and laptop too. I have no time for online courses. I have no time for extra training or professional development.

Because I travel I also find it hard to move to other positions at the firm.  The people in tax and audit play the corporate game in the home office and get face time with the leaders. There are better places to be.

John Burgos is a pseudonym

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Photo by Mohamad Ilham Fauzan on Unsplash

AUTHORJohn Burgos Insider Comment
  • Ma
    1 November 2021

    Your view is very narrow minded if you think this is only in the advisory group of Big 4. These issues exist in Tax as well. I cannot speak to Audit but Tax was very time intensive. In fact, we rarely had a break and I typically worked at trainings and on holidays (yes, taking my laptop on vacation too). Cell phones and laptops are expected to always be on your person. It has been this way for decades but I just recently left public to go to industry. Depending on where you work, it can be just as time intensive in industry and expectations to be on all hours of the night and weekends exist here too.

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