The Professional Services Career Path: A Big Four Employee Perspective What is it like to work on the advisory side of a Big 4 firm? Typically, if there’s time to discuss and there’s mutual interest in the exchange, I’m immediately bombarded with a slew of follow-up questions like: What do you do exactly? I respect all of the Big Four firms, especially mine, a great deal but feel that the only way to offer up a truly unbiased perspective on the lifestyle is to provide genuinely candid insight.
Now that you understand the demand from the client side, let’s take a look at the delivery or firm side.
Firms as you might expect are structured in such a way as to meet client demand.
As advisors to industry, we provide a valuable benefit, since large businesses are regularly confronted with a bevy of challenges that range from the commonplace, such as not having the internal subject matter experience needed in order to execute upon critical initiatives, to the less mundane, such as perhaps a regulatory mandate to leverage independent third-party consultation.
The list in-between these two examples are vast to be sure and vary greatly in complexity.
It is for that main reason that such a fluid organizational structure must be in place.
It may not look pretty on an organizational chart (that is if you could even find one) but I assure you there is critical logic behind this labyrinth of practices.A former colleague of mine summed it up with the following catchphrase: “What we sell is the space between these two ears.” This bit of Yoda-like wisdom was followed by a slowly pointed finger to my forehead.At its simplest form, “professional services” is an industry where firms like Ernst & Young provide clients with the right subject matter experience via resources at the right time and place and, of course, at the right price. After some time contemplating the potential challenges that such a job would offer, I decided to pursue a chance opportunity to join the ranks of Ernst & Young LLP. Looking back, I feel as though the six years of professional experience I had accumulated prior to joining E&Y, although invaluable on many levels, simply did not hold a candle to the client exposure, professional networks and shear rapid-fire experiences afforded to me in my present capacity. When I received answers to my inquiries from people in the profession, many of whom continue to this day to be my friends, I was intrigued.My practice then rolls up into the “Risk Advisory Services” service line.