October 22, 2020

What Can Big 4 Accountants Expect Come Compensation/Firings Time?

Now that we’ve covered the natural and expected attrition of the Big 4 firms this time of year, let’s talk about what to expect if and when the post-busy season ax falls again. Per a reader’s request:

“Something similar to the salaries thread, except let the people tell us what $ package they were offered upon being “laid – off”, and how that was calculated (i.e. 1 weeks pay for every year of service? PTO paid out? 1 month severance pay?). I think this would be of interest to many folk out there who are about to be let go, as they can get a rough idea of what to expect and plan accordingly.”


I don’t expect the firings to be very widespread, but rather focused on small, top-heavy sectors (random, baseless examples – state and local tax in St. Louis, followed by IT advisory services in Atlanta). The reason for this is because the firms should be accounting for many to jump ship between April and Labor Day. Those up for promotion (“It’s coming this year, we promise!”) will bail in July/August once promo’s are announced.

For those of you only sticking it out to earn the manager title this summer before you leave, my advice is to start looking now. Inform your recruiters that the title is a mere formality and they will tailor their job hunts accordingly.

So. Let’s kick the weekend off with some wild speculation:

Potential Cuts:

• Federal tax groups
• Small offices and practices that have recently lost several small clients or one large client (e.g. PwC Orlando tax)
• Further cuts “when deemed necessary” before new hires begin in the fall

Safe zones:

• Hedge fund audits
• M&A advisory (based on KPMG whispers)
• IT advisory

Were you let go in the past two years? Share your severance packages in the comments so everyone can better gauge what to expect.

Now that we’ve covered the natural and expected attrition of the Big 4 firms this time of year, let’s talk about what to expect if and when the post-busy season ax falls again. Per a reader’s request:

“Something similar to the salaries thread, except let the people tell us what $ package they were offered upon being “laid – off”, and how that was calculated (i.e. 1 weeks pay for every year of service? PTO paid out? 1 month severance pay?). I think this would be of interest to many folk out there who are about to be let go, as they can get a rough idea of what to expect and plan accordingly.”


I don’t expect the firings to be very widespread, but rather focused on small, top-heavy sectors (random, baseless examples – state and local tax in St. Louis, followed by IT advisory services in Atlanta). The reason for this is because the firms should be accounting for many to jump ship between April and Labor Day. Those up for promotion (“It’s coming this year, we promise!”) will bail in July/August once promo’s are announced.

For those of you only sticking it out to earn the manager title this summer before you leave, my advice is to start looking now. Inform your recruiters that the title is a mere formality and they will tailor their job hunts accordingly.

So. Let’s kick the weekend off with some wild speculation:

Potential Cuts:

• Federal tax groups
• Small offices and practices that have recently lost several small clients or one large client (e.g. PwC Orlando tax)
• Further cuts “when deemed necessary” before new hires begin in the fall

Safe zones:

• Hedge fund audits
• M&A advisory (based on KPMG whispers)
• IT advisory

Were you let go in the past two years? Share your severance packages in the comments so everyone can better gauge what to expect.

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