Why you'll love and hate life at PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG

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PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, Big 4, accounting, audit, BIg Four, professional services

When it comes to a prestigious accounting position, you've got to take the good with the bad.

The Big Four accounting and audit firms are often lumped together in the minds of candidates. All are prestigious and require travel and long hours.

But that doesn’t mean each Big Four professional services firm is the same. There are noteworthy differences between working at PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG. Below, based on employees' testimonials on Vault.com and our own interviews, are the key things you need to know when deciding which to go for.

Why you will love working for PwC

PwC employees say you’ll work on “great projects.” It has “good colleagues” who are “very smart, talented people,” and “the technology is the very best of its class.”

One current employee raved that “flexibility is very important to the firm,” while another agreed that “depending on your role, there is flexibility in location and the ability to work from home.”

PwC is a “great resume-booster” with a “good reputation and exit opportunities in the accounting field.”

Why you will not love working for PwC

The downside of working for PwC: Employees complain about “unpredictable,” “terribly long work hours,” while others agreed that “work never shuts down,” “work-life balance is bad” and “get ready to work like a dog.”

One ex-employee said the firm is “undergoing a lot of change and cost-cutting.” And according to PwC’s current employees, it doesn’t pay as well as competitors, “especially considering the hours,” although that was a common refrain for all four firms.

“If you are good, they give you more work, not more pay,” one employee said. “Do not wait around too long to become a partner, as the cost [of working long hours] to you, your health and your family can add up.”

Why you will love working for EY

EY employees say they love working there because “a lot of people are very intelligent.” There’s “interesting work and great training,” and the firm “invests in its employees,” is “team-oriented” and offers “constant opportunities to grow and learn.” Another employee agreed, citing “mobility” and “amazing learning opportunities, interactions with many companies and [the opportunity to take on] a lot of responsibility early in your career.”

Another positive is EY’s “brand recognition in the market” – “the prestige is great” but there are still “good people here” and a “people-focused culture” that is “not cliquey and layered with back-biting and fierce politics.”

Why you will not love working for EY

On the other hand, EY’s employees also say that “hours can be intense” in a “demanding environment” characterized by “high pressure from the [firm’s] management and clients – be prepared for long hours and train your resilience to stress; otherwise, it might negatively affect your mental and physical health.” One person simply said, “The hours suck.”

“There is more of an expectation to give face-time in the office instead of the flexibility to work from home,” a former employee noted. Given the “ridiculously hard work” that is necessary, the firm offers “poor pay on a per-hour basis.”

One current employee complained, “I have never heard of a company that is so understaffed,” while another revealed that “morale [has] taken a hit with [recent] austerity measures” and lamented a “lack of transparency regarding pay and bonuses.” A former employee described it as a “top-heavy organization” where rank-and-file employees are “measured on metrics outside of your control.”

Why you will love working for Deloitte

People say they love working for Deloitte because of its “dedicated workforce, dynamic and exciting work environment [with] opportunities for professional growth and advancement," as well as its “flexibility and mobility" and "interesting assignments."

One current employee said the firm is “invested in learning and development,” noting that “partners and directors are very approachable” and co-workers are “well-educated and professional.”

A former employee summed up the experience in the following way: “good money, good experience, exposure to business issues and great benefits.”

Why you will not love working for Deloitte

Less glowingly, Deloitte’s employees complained about a lack of work/life balance due to heavy travel and long hours, as well as a “convoluted” process for appraisals and earning a promotion: “Promotions are served on a silver platter to those who mingle well with their senior managers [rather] than to those who get more work done.”

One former employee accused the firm of having a “frat-boy culture,” while another said it has a stressful “hire-and-fire culture” with “no job stability irrespective of your level.”

Why you will love working for KPMG

KPMG’s employees are into their employer because it pays them well, offering good “salary, benefits and perks,” and it’s filled with “highly intelligent and motivated people [who are] the best of the best." In addition, there are good “opportunities to grow your career" and a high "level of talent.”

A current employee said, “The fact that associates can converse with partners directly as a result of our general open-door policy is tremendous.” Another said, “The training is best-in-class and the opportunities are endless.”

Others noted the “prestige” of the firm, saying “You get a good name on your CV.”

Why you will not love working for KPMG

Some of KPMG’s employees are less keen on their place of work because they say it involves long working hours, “no work/life balance” and “unpredictable schedules.” Some complained about “being underpaid [and] overworked.”

One current employee said, “The stress makes you want to reassess your life choices," while another said, “I am a cog in the wheel” and “The workload is not worth the pay.”

“You do not get to spend any time with the ones you love,” a parent lamented. “Family life is nonexistent and [working here] will cause strain in any marriage and relationships with children.”

Photo caption: Stockbyte via Thinkstock

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