The Professional Services industry employs over 5000 graduates every year and is the biggest sponsors in the UK. Also, they hire all year round, with some companies hiring graduates for starts in April, September, and December
Learn more about this misunderstood industry which could represent your best chance of getting a Tier 2 Visa.
Who are the Big 4?
The Big 4 are the leading firms in the accounting and consulting industry: Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), Ernst & Young (EY), Deloitte, and KPMG. They dominate the industry in terms of their size, global reach, and reputation, among other factors. These four firms are at the forefront of any accounting related issues throughout the world and in doing so serve any clients who require accounting and consulting expertise. At least one of these firms counts every single Fortune 100 and 500 company as a client, while they also serve a vast array of other smaller clients such as private companies and high growth start-ups.
The accounting and consulting industry is defined by the work the Big 4 perform for their clients. This service model has evolved over time based on changing business opportunities as well as regulatory requirements. The work that the Big 4 are performing in the market currently can be broken into four primary groups: Audit, Tax, Consulting, and Transactions. These areas are often referred to as service lines within Big 4 firms. Below we provide a summary explanation of what each service line actually does.
An audit consists of an independent team of professionals from a Big 4 firm reviewing the financial statements of a company to determine whether the financials are presented fairly and accurately. To make this determination the audit team performs procedures such as reviewing supporting documentation, having in-depth discussions with employees of the client to understand how key transactions are captured in their financial statements, and reviewing the journal entries that make up the financials. After the Big 4 firm has completed all their work, they issue what is known as an opinion on the financials. The opinion expresses the degree of confidence the Big 4 firm has, based on the work they performed, that the financials are fair and accurate.
This opinion is valuable because the company can then tell investors, lenders, and owners that the financials are legitimate. Audited financial statements are required for any public company. Therefore all of the largest and most important companies in the world engage one of the Big 4 to audit their financials every single year.
You will spend almost 100% of your working time at client offices, and very little time at your firm's office, and consequently you may have to travel with the UK a fair amount. You are reimbursed your expenses.
Tax work can be any form of service that is provided in consideration of the tax laws of the local or national jurisdiction. Many companies engage the Big 4 to help them with tax avoidance strategies. Big 4 firms have the expertise to help their clients structure transactions in ways that minimize tax costs, or to create tax-advantageous structures that also help avoid paying too much in taxes, to name just two examples. Tax teams also help their clients with regulatory filings. As tax codes around the world continue to become more stringent and complex the Big 4 tax service lines are continuously provided opportunities to do more business.
The consulting service line is very important to Big 4 firms and with the expertise and talent these four firms have within their walls there is an almost limitless number of valuable services they can provide their clients. In order to avoid independence issues it is common for one of the Big 4 firms to be a company's auditor while the other three are fair game to provide consulting services. Consulting services include things like analysing a company's processes and devising ways to make them more efficient, assisting companies with their risk management by determining where potential problems could occur and then implementing a plan to fix them before these problems happen, and building entire accounting or financial reporting programs from scratch to provide clients with state-of-the-art technology. Consulting service lines not only leverage the accounting and IT expertise within the Big 4 firms, but also make use of employees with finance, economic, legal, and business administration backgrounds.
Audit, tax and consulting are undoubtedly the four primary services the Big 4 provide. These are massive companies that can do an enormous variety of work in the accounting, consulting, and financial world. Therefore in addition to the services discussed above, each firm offers a variety of other positions and skillsets in smaller and more specific areas. For example, every one of the Big 4 has a fraud investigation department. Fraud teams travel the country and the globe helping clients where fraud has either been suspected or detected. The fraud teams are trained in cutting-edge technology and methods to analyse accounting, financial, and psychological information to help uncover fraud. This is just one of many examples of some of the other things that Big 4 firms do.
We recommend reviewing each of the firm's websites and later talking with their recruiters to find out about more of the available options.
To get a job in the Big4 firms, you will need to have:
- the ability to interpret figures and information
- good maths and IT skills
- good spoken and written communication skills
- strong analytical and problem-solving ability
- good organisational and time management skills
- a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to work both independently and as part of a team
- a good understanding of business
- honesty and discretion, for dealing with sensitive business information
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