As with anything, there are pros and cons to every decision you make about your career. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preferences and needs.
When diving into a new career, you want to arm yourself with knowledge so you can make the best decision to fit your life.
What are the Big Four?
The Big Four is a nickname for the four largest accounting firms in Canada: KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young. These four firms employ around 1.1 million people worldwide and have tens of thousands of partners.
Mid-sized firms generally employ 20-100 people and serve a variety of clients. They may have offices in several cities, but aren’t international companies like the Big Four.
Here’s what you need to know about working for a mid-sized firm vs one of the Big Four.
When you’re working for the Big Four, you will have more opportunities to move geographically than you would with a mid-sized firm. There are frequent out-of-town and international job postings, and if you decide to move there’s a chance you could find a job with the same firm in a new location.
Oftentimes, when working for one of the Big Four, you’ll have a longer working week. You’ll have to work hard due to the size of the clientele and the high expectations working with larger clients brings, so don’t expect to work a 40 hour week.
Working for a mid-sized firm, you’ll usually work fewer hours and many firms compensate you for any overtime hours you work.
Relationship with clients
When working for a mid-sized firm, you will get the opportunity to work with your client from start to finish, which means you have the opportunity to build closer relationships with them.
Working for the Big Four, you are working with much larger clients and usually only working on a couple of parts of the project, so you’re not getting the same amount of interaction. The relationship with the client often feels more transactional than personal.
If you’re working at a larger firm, you’ll likely end up spending the majority of your time on a single client, which means there isn’t much room for exploration.
At a mid-sized firm, you often have the chance to work on numerous facets of your client’s needs, which means your work won’t be as specialized, but you will be learning different things.
In terms of advancement, working for one of the Big Four will often afford you opportunities for advancement. Because the firm is so much larger, there are more partners admitted every year.
There are also established advancement goals so you can plan your future advancement in a more structured way.
However, when working with a mid-sized firm you will be learning in a variety of sectors sooner than you would in a larger firm, which means you get to see the full picture sooner while also getting more experience. As well, there will likely be less competition for management positions, so you could actually have more opportunities to grow than at a larger firm.
The largest part of compensation is the salary. In both Big Four and mid-sized firms, salaries are based on experience and the needs of the firms at the time. It is a misconception that larger firms always pay more.
Taking the time to review the compensation package as a whole is an important step in making an informed decision.
Benefits like easy transfers around the world are great but so are RRSP contribution matchings, approved leave, office location, work from home options and health spending accounts.
Approved leave is a very important consideration. Whether it is sick leave, vacation or maternity, mid-sized firms can have more flexibility due to the personal connections you make with the firm’s ownership group.
Mid-sized firms are often a close knit group of people with similar goals for work life balance. Not just being a “number” to the ownership group translates into a working environment that is unique and personalised.
Want to live the mid-sized firm lifestyle?
Like the sound of working at a mid-sized firm? Learn how to start a career worth talking about with RHN today.
This post has been prepared for general information purposes. It is not advice. The information presented may not fit your unique situation, please consult one of our trusted business advisors at RHN CPA for further clarification and interpretation of your circumstances.