Life as a Big 4 Associate

Working for the big 4 as an associate

As the Big 4 Accounting Firms blog, we wanted to provide guidance on what to expect as an associate at the Big 4. The Big 4 today is an ever changing environment. All firms are trying to cater to millennials as millennials make up most of the workforce. Therefore, as an associate you will feel like the Big 4 Accounting firms are centered around you as an associate.

The firms will be trying to show off all their shiny new toys that they have for their new staff. For PwC, it’s Google technology. For other firms, it’s flexible working arrangements.

Don’t be fooled by all of this though. At the end of the day, the Big 4 Accounting Firms still have the basic model of Rate Per Hour * Number of hours = Revenue. If you don’t take anything else away from this article take that away. This means that you will still have to work a ton of hours. The Big 4 firms try to increase the number of hours by making people work a lot of hours and hiring tons of people.

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You will have to work all these hours while people are telling you that your working arrangement is flexible. When you think of flexible, you think of working smarter and not harder. Well be careful if you think you can work less because you would defy the basic principle of increasing the number of hours worked. This means that you have to observe your superiors and learn their working styles. Then build your schedule around theirs. Don’t come in later than them and don’t leave earlier than them.

You will also have to deal with the internal politics. Internal politics means that you will be doing all the work while your senior and managers take credit for your work. Additionally, since the firms have made it seem like you matter so much, you will wonder why no one pays attention to you in the day to day hustle. The firms can be condescending and hypocritical. Understand that and get over it if you want to be successful. If you learn to set expectations before you start, you can succeed. What many of your peers will do is switch groups or switch jobs thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else. That is not always the case. Working is tough in general. Working at the Big 4 can be even tougher, but that does not mean that all workplaces are better than the Big 4. If you are motivated and hard working, then the Big 4 can be the place that you belong. You will just have to get used to the strengths and weaknesses of the Big 4. Some strengths and weaknesses are included below:


1.Many opportunities to work on different projects and different clients

2.Good raises and promotion paths

3.Young and motivated workforce

4.Partners make a lot of money compared to their industry counterparts

5.Accountants are in high demand


1. Large workforce so it is easy to feel like you don’t matter

2. Lots of admin work like billing, setting up meetings, and requesting documents

3. Commuting between different clients and workplaces

4. Lots of internal politics

5. Priorities of your firm and group change all the time as leadership changes frequently

This is a brief outline of what to expect in the Big 4 as an associate. If you manage your expectations before joining the Big 4, you can have a successful career.

2017-03-12T14:24:28+00:00 April 8th, 2016|Categories: Certified Public Accountant|Tags: , |0 Comments