The Professional Services Career Path: A Big Four Employee Perspective What is it like to work on the advisory side of a Big 4 firm? Typically, if there’s time to discuss and there’s mutual interest in the exchange, I’m immediately bombarded with a slew of follow-up questions like: What do you do exactly? I respect all of the Big Four firms, especially mine, a great deal but feel that the only way to offer up a truly unbiased perspective on the lifestyle is to provide genuinely candid insight.
Click to learn more I’m frequently asked by friends, family, clients, job candidates and random people I encounter on my travels what it’s like to work on the advisory side of a Big 4 firm. Its goal is not to solicit top talent or self-promote services offered or whatever other angles you might have running through your head right now.
It is for that main reason that such a fluid organizational structure must be in place.
When I received answers to my inquiries from people in the profession, many of whom continue to this day to be my friends, I was intrigued.Now that you understand the demand from the client side, let’s take a look at the delivery or firm side.Firms as you might expect are structured in such a way as to meet client demand.The article is structured with bold headings and key takeaway bullet points for those only interested in a quick scan.Feel free to bounce around if you already have a solid understanding of certain sections.A former colleague of mine summed it up with the following catchphrase: “What we sell is the space between these two ears.” This bit of Yoda-like wisdom was followed by a slowly pointed finger to my forehead.At its simplest form, “professional services” is an industry where firms like Ernst & Young provide clients with the right subject matter experience via resources at the right time and place and, of course, at the right price. The reason I’m so consistently willing to discuss my perspective with so many people, especially young professionals, is that I was once in their position and had many of the same questions.The primary purpose of this article is to offer a balanced perspective to those who may be interested in such a career path regardless of industry focus or subject matter area. Reaching this point has taken an immense amount of patience, hard work, resilience, ambition, and even a little luck. To be clear, this article has not been written under the guise of any Big Four recruiters. I must confess, however, that this outlook reflects how I feel today, which wasn’t always the case.