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Big 4

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Is Big4 really a hell for fresh graduates? Why do so many people still want to get into hell then?

Most business major undergraduates probably heard that or already believe that Big4 is a hell. You may hear all sorts of rumor regarding the inhumane working conditions in Big4. E.g. low salary, long working hours, no prospect, highly stressed working environments…. But how many of them are true? Being a fresh graduate who has been working in Big4 for over 4 months, I have to say, things are not as bad as what people claim.

Let’s start with the salary: Low pay?

Please see the info of Big4 salary below:

Salary for A1 (fresh graduate- 1st year): 13K

Salary for A2 (2nd year) :19K

Salary for S1 (3rd year) :23K

Salary for S2 (4th year) :30-32K

Salary for S3 (5th year) :36-39K

If you compare the data with other fields, you will realize that though Big4 is not a perfect choice, it is undoubtedly a decent choice.

Comparing with…

• Commercial bank MT: despite the low starting salary, Big4 offers a more secure and stable career path. Most commercial bank MT programs these days aim to nurture talented relationship managers (salespeople). If you are a natural salesperson and work in the front office, of course you will earn more than in Big4. However, if you are not, you will be eliminated within 3 years.

• Government Job: the salary increments in Big4 are much higher and also obviously Big4 have better prospects as it is easier to move to other companies/ related fields.

• Lawyers: Law students need to spend 5 years for LLB + PCLL course + risks involving in not securing offers from magic firm or City firms (refer to International law firms). If they end up working in local law firms, the starting salary is only around 15K.

• Doctors!!! (Dream job right?): For MBBS students, they need 6 years for MBBS course and one year for internship. By the time they graduated, you are already in your 4th year with 30-32K salary, which is not much less than a junior GP. If they want to be a specialist, they have to spend 6 more years studying .... on top of all these, their working hours are worse than Big4ers!!

Besides basic salary, there are also OT payments and daily allowance for staff who are on business trips. It is true that not many teams allow their staff to claim for OT. The reason attributed to this is the budget for each project is limited, the senior management therefore have to strictly control the total expenses. However, for some projects which have sufficient budget, especially if your team is auditing financial institutions, managers will generally be quite laid back about the OT claim since there are more budgets. Also, for staff who are on business trip in Mainland, there are daily allowance of around $250, which you can hardly spend it given that the hotel rooms are provided and often the clients will pay for the meal.

What's even better is, once you get promoted to managerial grade, you will be entitled to commissions. We will talk more about this next time.

Next time, we will talk about the actual working conditions such as working hours, culture, as well as the career prospect of working in Big4.

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