Work in Big Four or Multinational Banks? Part 1 – Differences in How Busy, Staff Composition and Pay

If you work in multinational banks, have you ever wondered whether it would be better to work in Big Four? How will the work life look like there? Follow the article to compare the differences in professional life in these two kinds of firms.


  • How Busy

As the entire world known, Big Four is a common to be busy, or even crazily busy, while in the multinational banks, though we definitely cannot say it relax the workload is much lighter and regular.

  • Big Four

Audit Department has peak-time and off-time with regard to being busy. During the peak-time, it is common to work until 2 a.m. or 3a.m. every day, and probably you have to sacrifice weekends too. Also, you have to flexible with travel very frequently without staying home for a single day (like the character George Clooney played in ¨Up in the Air¨) during the busiest time because you would fly directly from one city / country to the other directly. But during the off-time is very relax, sometime if you dare you could barely go to work or just sit tight and reading your favorite book in the office. Therefore, the good thing of audit department is that you could earn more money and vocation during the peak-time while relax well or improve yourself by preparing for a certificate during the off-time. However, Tax Department is busy regularly, and it is still very common to work until 11p.m. or 12 p.m.

Generally spoken, it is your destiny to be busy when working in audit firms like Big Four. But it still depends on your choice. Normally associate is the hardest worker in the whole firm because all managers and seniors can give him / her extra work. That is why in the interview of Big Four they will always ask you ¨what are you going to do if the manager and senior ask for you to do something at the same time¨! In the interview you could probably give a prioritized answer, however, in the real life, you would probably weight again all the options if you would like to become top performer and get the top pay (although the top pay does not depends on your performance rather than how busy you are).

  •  Multinational Banks

The working time is more or less 8 hours every day, which is quite normal as any other professions. You can work elegantly and quite relaxingly, compared with the fighting-like work in Big Four.

  • Staff Composition
  • Sex Ratio

Big Four and Multinational Banks are almost the same in this part, the ratio of male to female is 1:3 or 1:4. And of course, there are more male employees when it comes to higher positions. PwC has more male employees compared with the other three.

  • Age

Big Four has relatively younger staff because every year you could be given a promotion to a higher position because even managers or partners are generally around 35 years old.

Multinational Banks have a wider range of age among the staff because on one hand banks prefer the employees could stay longer and on the other employees would not prefer to leave because of the work environment with lower pressure.

  • Position

Big four normally have 4 positions: from low to high are associate, senior, manager, and partner. In Deloitte there is a ¨consultant¨ between associate and senior. And in KPMG, after 3 years as associate you could become assistant manager (like senior), then 2 or 3 years more you could be promoted to manager.  It is worth mentioned that among managers there are still differences depending on the performance and working experience, however, there is not authorized relationship between managers.

In Multinational Banks, the organization is quite hierarchic, consisting generally of staff and executives. There are different levels among staff and normally there is low possibility to have a cross-level promotion. Executives have right to authorize and make decision and there are directly jurisdiction between each other.

  • Diversity

Big Four and Multinational Banks are quite similar in this aspect. However the senior level positions have more people from the regional head quarter. Deloitte, however, has more local staff because its localization strategy.

  • Pay

Associates in Big Four and normal staff in multinational banks have similar salaries. However, there is a big difference in the higher position in both organizations.

  • Basic salary

In Big Four getting a raise is quite regular. Every year there will be a rising by from 10% to 50% (sometimes 200%), especially when you get a promotion.  However, in multinational banks the rising rate is a few percent because the promotion is less frequent.

  • Overtime Payment

Audit department of Big Four has more opportunities to over-time payment while tax department has less extra income. The overtime payment does not depend on how many extra hours you have worked, and it depends more on the client, the service fee gaining from the client, and the preference of your manager (managers decide whether to encourage the team works in overtime). In Multinational Banks, the payment usually depends on extra hours, for example, if the off time normally is 6:30pm but you have to work till 7:00pm, there will be an overtime payment in the multinational banks while in Big Four it could be barely counted a overtime.

It is worth mentioned that managers in both firms have no overtime payment.

  • Bonus

Only manager and partner in Big Four have bonus (partners have also dividends), which depends on performance.

Bonus works differently in multinational banks, for example HSBC have no while HSB yes.

  • Travel Allowance

Travel allowance is a very important income for worker from audit department in Big Four. Normally it paid by days with accommodation in 5-star hotels.

(To be continued… Work in Big Four or Multinational Banks? Part 2 – Differences in Work Content, Coworker Relationships & Evaluation of Work Performance)

Edited by Simeng Zhang

The Team

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