Big Four accounting firms take far more people into their audit functions than their consulting divisions. They may be rebuilding their consulting operations now, but it wasn’t so long ago that most pulled out entirely. Audit, despite its grey reputation, seems like the safer bet and there’s even the (small) chance you could end up in a corporate finance role.
But if you’re debating between the two divisions, one factor could force your hand towards consulting – pay. There are pay discrepancies between firms, but when you start out in audit and consulting in the Big Four, consulting has its nose slightly ahead - £39k versus £37k on average, according to figures provided by pay benchmarking website Emolument.com.
After that, the gap starts to widen. If you stayed in a Big Four consulting role for ten years, you would earn £93k, suggest the figures. In audit, the comparable amount is £74k.
If you’re in the industry for 15 years or more – about the sort of time you should be making partner – then consulting pays an average of £150k. Auditors get ‘just’ £108k. It's worth bearing that in mind.