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Recruiting Season: Is Inter-Big 4 Romance a Relationship Killer?

This week's Recruiting Season post is brought to you by the letters C, P, A and by numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. Have a question about accounting careers? Email us at [email protected].  

All right, boys and girls, this is the last recruiting season post before we spill all the salary details on you. We're getting lots of questions about which firm to choose, so it's obviously crunch time. If you didn't get your question answered, hopefully you found some other accounting gossip website that was willing to lay some tough love on you. 

If you have received an offer, we want to know all the gory details including your firm, city, signing bonus, etc. etc. Email them to [email protected] with "Starting Salary Details" in the subject line.

Now, this week's letters.


My questions are only tangentially related to accounting, but I have to ask somebody. I recently accepted a full time audit position with Deloitte to begin in Fall 2013. My girlfriend has been working in PwC tax for a few months. Is the rivalry going to destroy our relationship, or will it be hotter because it’s naughty? Also, her starting salary with PwC was 10% higher than mine will be, and she has an extra year on me to boot. Yet she tells me I still have to pay for everything. What. The. Heck. It’s bad enough that my lower pay makes me feel inadequate and my apartment is a hole compared to hers, but now I have to comp Ms. Moneybag’s Caesar salad and movie theatre popcorn?! This is to say nothing of her taste for fine wine and jewelry and exotic vacations. So, how do I get her to pay for everything? Alternatively, should I just break up with her, lower my expectations, and settle for a plain girl from KPMG?

To answer the initial question, the so-called rivalry you asked about will not destroy your relationship nor will it make it hotter. If I am wrong (it's been known to happen) and your relationship ends because your respective employers are rivals, then this relationship is even more shallow then you let on. If I am wrong and the flame of love is reignited, then this relationship is even more shallow then you let on.

The only real benefit that I see to this dual firm relationship is that you have access to far more tchotchkes than the average Big 4 employee. Most Big 4 romantic relationships occur within one firm, thereby only allowing to hoard the Nalgene bottles, Post-It notes, pens, polo shirts, golf hats et al. from one organization. By transcending the Big 4 divide, not only will you double your tchtochke riches, it will diversify your holdings. This will ultimately give you a better chance to cash in BIG TIME when one of the firms fails in spectacular fashion.

As for your relationship trouble, I don't know what to tell you, man. Sounds like she's bossing you into paying for stuff. Either get a pair and tell her to chip in every once in a while or she can subsidize her own pricey taste. And you're wrong to think that the girls at KPMG are "plain." You probably just need to date outside the accounting pool. 


I have FT offers from EY in their FSO – BAP in NYC as well as an offer for PwC – Core Assurance in NYC. 
My dilemma is audit v. advisory. I have been actively talking to PwC about possibilities there, but Core Assurance seems to be the only spot open for now. I am very open to working in audit, I just don't know if I could do it for a career, and I would eventually want to transfer into either advisory or a more finance – facing role. When joining PwC, I would want to work in their Financial Services division, so getting experience in the industry wouldn't be a problem. 
EY on paper seems like the best opportunity. I would get paid more and it is the area I think I would want to work in eventually. Getting my CPA and CFA wouldn't be looked down upon as well at EY, and actually encouraged. (I have been warned that getting your CFA while in audit may be looked down upon, that I shouldn't mention it, and I wouldn't be reimbursed. Despite that, I have read that getting a CFA will definitely help me transfer over to advisory, I should do it, and once completed, it is seen to be as good as an MBA). 
My internal conflict if that though the people at EY are great, and would be fine to work with, I naturally like PwC better and think their people are awesome. 
So the question is, do I go with my gut and do PwC, or should I go with my brain and do the easiest track with EY advisory? 
Your decision depends entirely on what kind of success rate your gut has. If your gut has consistently told you that chasing a Jager shot with a pitcher of light beer is a good idea or that arguing with a traffic cop is the best way to get out of a speeding ticket, then you should definitely go with Ernst & Young.
I recently accepted an offer with one of the big 4. The day after emailing my contract back, I got a confirmation that they had received my acceptance, and a few emails from people I interviewed with congratulating me on accepting. My college was a small college, and we had very few people go into public accounting at all, let alone big 4. I was wondering if you could tell me what communications to expect- start date, specifics, etc. and the general time period to expect them.
Look friend, you've got the job; try to relax. You have nothing to worry about, these firms LOVE to hand-hold. In fact, they count on your feelings of angst. You'll hear from them in due time and every question you have will be addressed.
Long story short, I have offers from both [GT and KPMG] and I am having a ridiculously hard time deciding between the two.  At this point in my career, I am aiming to make partner but I understand there is a big chance this might not happen.  Is the Big 4 name really that important?  Will my career still be worthwhile if I go to GT?
You would have a fine career at Grant Thornton, but yes, a Big 4 name on your résumé will garner more notice and open more doors than a firm that is one-quarter its size.
Concerned Candidate:

I have an offer with one of the Big 4 for Tax, I want to work in Audit.  Should I accept the offer for Tax and after one year see if I can switch to Audit; or should I speak to the recruiter before accepting and see if I can be switched to Audit.? If I speak to the recruiter and tell them I would prefer audit, do I run the risk of losing my tax offer?

The first question that pops into my mind is this – why would you interview with tax if you wanted to work in audit? You interviewed for a specific position in the tax practice, soooooo they are going to want you to work in tax. It's a bullshit move, IMHO, for you to accept a position on the false pretense that you want to work in tax and then turn around and request to work in audit. You will steal that spot from a little tax elf that would give their left arm for that spot. If you want to work at a Big 4 firm, then accept the offer and learn to love tax; otherwise, do the right thing, don't sign and go find an auditing job.
I have offers for Audit Winter Internships from PwC and KPMG in the NJ/NY area, and am having a very difficult time choosing. Here are some factors that are in play:
1) KPMG is paying $4000 (annualized) more than PwC
2) I liked the people at KPMG better than the engagement team at PwC I interviewed with.
3) I'm concerned about the slave driver portrayal of PwC.
3) I feel like PwC has a better client base, and am concerned (after reading through your website) about KPMG as a going concern when it comes to the Big 4.
4) I am worried that winter internships are seasonal hires for busy season help and that I will not be equally considered for a full time position when compared to summer interns.
I have to choose by Monday, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Well, it's Tuesday, so I hope you didn't do something stupid like choosing PwC. I kid, I kid. But seriously, based on your message it sounds like KPMG is the right choice for you – they offered you more money, you liked the people better, and PwC is big and scary and mean. 
Don't worry about winter versus summer internships. If you work hard, don't piss anyone off, and show up to work with pants on EVERY DAY (no exceptions), you should receive a full-time offer.
Good luck, everyone.