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Audit in Big4

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 236 ✭✭ 9214

    When you join as a graduate in Audit in the Big 4 I believe that you join as an 'Audit Junior', progress to an Audit Senior then Audit Manager.

    If you had to give a rough idea if how long it takes to progress from Junior to Senior to Manager how long is it between progression assuming all chartered accountancy Ireland exams are passed 1 year after joining?



  • 1st Year - Audit Assistant/Audit Junior

    2nd Year- Audit Junior/Semi Senior

    3rd/4th Year- Audit Senior

    After 4 years, of experience the next stage would be Audit Assistant Manager. You'd typically stay at this level for 1-2 years before being promoted to Audit Manager.

    The above is a rough guide- based on the big4 I was at. Some of the big4 are probably quicker, some slower. The other thing to note is that no promotion is guaranteed. I've seen people stuck at the Audit Senior level for 1-4 years! The big4 will promote on your ability, work ethic, internal political factors, luck/chance/likeability, right place/right clients etc. Nothing is guaranteed.

    May I ask why you want to know? While titles give some indication of salary/responsibility etc it's only part of the picture. I know Audit Seniors making more than managers in certain other firms. It's like in industry, a "Financial Accountant" could be someone earning 50k or a 100K. I know industry's that are are over liberal with "Accounting Director", "Finance Manager", "Assistant VP of Finance" and these roles are sometimes remunerated less than a Financial Accountant! I suppose my point is that titles only explain part of the picture and can be misleading!

  • Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to answer. As far as the titles go I assumed that they pretty much mean the same thing in each of the big 4 and the salaries would be much the same as they are competing for the same pool of people. Industry can have wide variations as you said.

    I'm looking to get an general idea of joining with the professional exams already done how quickly I can progress from audit junior to audit manager if I put the head down and worked hard as the work would be more interesting it seems and the pay will be better.

    *Is there a difference between audit assistant and audit junior?

    Like you say it can depend on a lot of variables in the big 4 but wondering if there was any that might be better at promoting those who put in that bit of extra work or are there some that are known to have a strict progression based on time and exams passed.

    So basically 3 or 4 years to get to audit senior and 3-5 years after that to get to audit manager?

  • Do you have experience working in Accounting and within Accounting practice? Many people go in with the intention of progressing through the ranks in practice and then jump ship to Industry ! There is no real difference between Audit Assistant/Audit Junior/Audit Associate- different titles for the same roles depending on the terminology in the firm.

    3-4 years to Audit Senior and then an additional 1-3 years to Audit Manager. Some firms won't by policy promote you quicker then say 5/6 years of experience with the firm. It's very much a carrot on a stick approach in the big4. They don't want or need every trainee to become an Audit Manager, Director or Partner. Out of intake of maybe 60 in Yr 1 as a trainee, 45 will make it to Senior, 5-10 will make it to Assistant Manager, 0-5 will make it to Manager. People leave the big4 at the various stages, trading in better paid jobs with lower hours in industry for higher hours and lower paid jobs in practice.

    I suppose my main piece of advise is don't get hung up on titles, be it big4 or Industry. You could have an Audit Senior in one firm, doing higher value work and leading bigger teams then an Audit Assistant manager in a different firm. You could have an Audit Assistant manger again, leading bigger teams, billing more, delivering higher value work to clients then a Manager in another firm. The titles are there to keep a carrot on the stick for employees in the big4- I had friends who went from Seniors to Assistant Managers, and Assistant Managers to Managers and there job roles didn't seem to change,

    On speed, I have heard at least anecdotally that PWC and KPMG promote a bit quicker than EY and Deloitte. When I look at colleagues and friends, those in PWC/KPMG often went straight from Senior to Manager and skipped Assistant Manager, or spent much less time at the Assistant Manager and Senior level than EY and Deloitte which seem a bit slower.

  • Thanks. I've worked in accounts for a few years and prepared year end accounts for the company I work for and am comfortable with that, basically did most of the duties of financial controller at this stage. Did the ACA exams and should be finished this month (doing FAE). I'm looking to get into any of the big 4 where an opportunity presents itself quickly but want to progress as fast as possible while gaining the audit experience required so that I'm in a strong position at that time to either progress in the firm or move to a good role in industry as I will have the time to focus on this as I won't have to do the exams. Might do the CTA exams as it could offer more options in 4 years.

    Basically I would like to do 3.5 years in a big 4 audit program and be in the best possible position at that stage for whatever direction I end up going then.

  • In my experience there isn't much of a benefit to having the exams done early if you're joining Big4 on a training contract. Big4 offer generous amounts of time off to sit exams, so the only difference between having the exams or not will be that you wont be taking the same amount of leave, and can potentially start on a higher salary - but you'll essentially be doing more work than other people who are getting about 6 months off over the course of their 3.5 year contract for study leave. The pay will likely even out over those first three years anyway as your colleagues who are passing rounds of exams will be receiving exam bonuses and potentially larger pay bumps than you, so that by year three you'll all be on equal standing.

    I've seen some exceptions where people were able to join Big4 on an unusual contract type which allowed them to join at a higher grade, but I've never seen anyone on a training contract progress at a different speed than anyone else. The rounds of promotions are usually at a fixed point in the year, and only ever 1 grade at a time, so once you join on a training contract, almost everyone progresses at one grade per year, until you're reaching Manager around year 5 at which point less spots are available for promotion and performance starts to become a bigger factor.

    If you already have a few years experience in accounting and are soon to be ACA qualified, I'm surprised you'd want to suddenly start a Big4 contract. Are you sure you want to work in audit? If so, would a smaller firm perhaps give you more scope to progress quickly? If you're not fixed on audit but really want Big4 experience, maybe there's a role outside audit where you could get some credit for your exams and experience and start a bit higher up than a junior?

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  • I'm not concerned about salary over the next 3 years as we are talking about small differences that mean little in the long term, I'm just concerned about what I will be doing on a daily basis and that might be linked to rank/title. There is only so many inventory counts I want to attend.

    I am looking for big 4 as in audit they will audit the big companies I want to move to as there are audit regulations that say no client fees can contribute more than X% of firm fees so big 4 firms audit the big companies. I've had enough experience of small companies for a while shall we say;)

    I'm hoping to come into a firm that might see my experience and work ethic and put me into more demanding roles quickly. The title is not for me as I couldn't care less about it from a vanity point of view, it's for 3.5 years after I start so I can leverage it when talking to a HR person in a large company that is ticking boxes of potential interview candidates and probably using some sort of point system.

  • The bigger the audit the more grunt work there is....

  • Definitely I saw a link between work ethic/quality of work and more demanding work being assigned. What I saw: first year will be true grunt work in most cases regardless, second can be a mix of things depending on the job sizes, availability of staff, etc. Third year you may get to lead on site for small-mid size jobs or get more responsibility on large jobs. Your 4th year you likely would be running your jobs on site for all but the absolutely largest PLCs. The hours can be long at any stage. I heard at the 4th year mark PWC call their staff AM, but other firms generally don't do this til 5th year. The work undertaken though from what I heard was pretty much the same regardless of title. At 5 years in you would probably be looking to be reaching AM or considering jumping ship unless things have changed. It is great on the CV in most cases, unless, let's say, you wanted in the future to own and run a small sole trader accounting practice, then it isn't the best varied training plan.

  • Hopefully I can get into one of the big 4. I'm not their typical recruit from what I've seen from the chartered accountants lectures before the lockdowns and some of the questions being asked by students of lecturers online leads me to believe that I have a good standard relative to the average FAE student that currently works there.