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Becoming a Big 4 partner is often considered the pinnacle of success for any accountant or consultant, and for good reason. The title “Partner”, especially at one of the Big 4 firms, brings with it highly regarded status and undeniable financial rewards.
How Much Does A Partner At An Accounting Firm Make
While these reasons are more than enough to make many people try to become a Big 4 workout partner, most fail. Most candidates make mistakes along the way, but sometimes it’s just not the right time or there’s too much competition. To avoid making the same mistakes, here’s everything you need to know about becoming a Big 4 partner.
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When people refer to the Big 4, they are often referring to the top accounting firms, the 4 largest accounting firms in the world; KPMG, Deloitte, EY and PwC. The company we know as Accenture was actually the consulting arm of Arthur Andersen. Between 2000 and 2002, EY, PwC and KPMG sold their consulting firms to Capgemini, IBM and Baring Point.
Although the Big Four accounting firms have established strong legal and consulting departments in addition to their accounting departments, they are still very similar to mid-sized firms. In other words, they form a network sharing a similar global brand. Each member country of the Big 4 is actually a separate legal entity, which means they share many similar standards and ways of working, but each member company will do things slightly differently. This is exactly what happens in the partnership admission process. For example, if you want to become a KPMG partner in Germany, you have to complete a 2-year “entrepreneur program”. The program includes an assessment center, a leadership program and a peer pathway. This is different to KPMG in the UK where your partner journey is usually 6-9 months and there is no assessment center or leadership program required.
This is a challenge. Big 4 companies attract bright, passionate people. This means you are surrounded by good people who all want to be a Big 4 partner. Then there’s that pesky thing called leverage. Yes, because of their size, a Big 4 company may have more partners than a mid-sized company. However, the relationship between partners and non-partners in a Big 4 company is much higher than in a medium-sized company. For example:
Big 4 companies have an “up or out” culture. In other words, if you are not consistently advancing your career and progressing to the top of the company, you are often asked to leave! Take a look at our self-study courses designed to help you get focused for the ‘Partner Track’. Our self-paced courses will ensure you do what it takes to become a partner.
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I guess you think being a partner of the Big Four sounds like a tough job! It is, but with these 5 essential things, it will be a little easier.
Most people take 10-15 years to become a Big 4 partner. And we’re talking a standard 50-70 hour work week!
Check out these self-study courses designed to help you navigate the “Partner Path.” Our self-paced courses will ensure you do what it takes to become a partner.
Learn what it takes to become a partner, how long it takes and why age has anything to do with becoming a partner…
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Many senior partners will tell you that they can see tomorrow’s partners from an intern’s first day at a firm. In Chapter 7 of my book, How to Make a Partner and Still Live, I discuss these qualities in more detail. In the early years of a professional he is often known as
For the purposes of this article, and to help you answer the question “How to become a partner at a Big 4 firm?”, here are the key qualities you need to become a Big 4 partner:
If you want to see if you have what it takes to become a Big 4 partner, take our Partner Readiness Test. The results of this assessment will tell you exactly what qualities you need to work on to become a partner.
Here are 6 things you need to do to accelerate your journey to working on your career and becoming a partner at a Big 4 company.
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To qualify for a partnership, you’ll need a business case that demonstrates to partners that you’ll help them increase the profitability of the business. In other words, how do you bring the company more than your salary? (That’s what we call
(Big 4 partners are self-employed and are paid from the company’s profits.) Because the Big 4 tends to work only with large multinational companies, it is a market for a partner’s earning potential. Limits the size of So it makes sense to do research and choose an area that is experiencing strong growth over the next 3 to 10 years.
Who you know really matters if you want to be a Big 4 partner. And if you know someone influential in the partnership who decides to take you under their wing, your career will accelerate exponentially! (Learn why you need both sponsors and an influential firm mentor to accelerate your career)
First and foremost, you need to demonstrate that you can network and win business for yourself and your Big 4 business. This is exactly how to become a Big 4 partner! You must be good at marketing yourself inside and outside the company (and finding new business opportunities and winning them for yourself and others in the company). It’s not the best technologists who succeed in partnering with a Big 4 company, it’s the people who love and make time for business development.
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A business development habit is one of 12 key indicators that will show you’re ready to be a partner. Check out our self-paced Go to Expert course for easy steps to build your profile, build your reputation, differentiate yourself from the competition, and win new business.
People who leave Big 4 companies often fall into the trap of thinking that if they just put in long hours and do good work, their careers will advance. There is no such thing. People I have worked with who have progressed rapidly on their journey to becoming a Big 4 partner are those who:
If you want a structured process to build your career plan to accelerate your career, check out our Progress to Partner membership site and take the ‘How to Commit to Advance Your Career’ course.
With large partner-to-non-partner ratios at the Big Four firms, you may find that you have the flexibility to fast-track your career with a partner. For example:
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At the start of your career at a Big 4 company, your company will provide you with a number of structural developments to take you from trainee to qualified manager. However, it can cause you to depend on it to further develop your business. If you want to become a Big 4 partner, you must understand that you are responsible for your own growth!
A manager’s role to avoid pitfalls on the journey to becoming a Big 4 partner – is this the end of your career?
I have worked with the accountancy profession for over a decade and have seen the career growth that comes with changing directors. Sometimes they even change! The profession is in trouble because it doesn’t know what to do with top technicians, who are invaluable to the company, but not conducive to partnerships. As a result, companies sometimes select from among their senior executives and promote them to managers only if they feel there is potential for contribution.
On the other hand, some companies skip the director stage and move from senior executive to partner, leaving the director role to technical experts. This is the approach KPMG has taken in the past, although they are again using the manager as a potential partner.
Partner Perspective On Career Progression
It doesn’t matter what company you work for – Big 4 or mid-level – you have to find out what qualities, skills and behaviors are needed at different levels of your company and what your company needs. How does the promotion process work? . Within a Big 4 company this is usually transparent and full documentation should be available.
Working long hours is the norm at a Big 4 company. In fact, one of the people I interviewed for my book
‘ told me that the reason he left EY as a director was because he realized that if
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