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right time to leave the big 4?

Following is a question in the comments section on my post about my manager leaving -

"Are clients just allowed to offer auditors jobs whilst they are working on the client? Whats the etiquet[t]e with leaving Big 4, can you leave when ever you want?are employees frowned upon when they leave during certain times in the year?"

Good question. Now this relates to audit only. I believe tax and consulting services have no real barriers. Usually, as part of their "engagement letters" to clients, firms make companies sign something saying that they will not offer jobs to anyone on the current audit team. Now this could vary by engagement, but from my experience, this is really the general engagement letter condition. There's also usually a 1 year cooling off period that enables auditors to move to the other side. For example, if this manager had an inkling that he might be offered something on a particular client and he really wants to work for them, he can ask to get off the audit team for a year. He can then move on to working for them after. Another way to look at it is if the person quits the firm and then accepts the position at a client one year later. I'd say quite a few auditors move to client positions. Many move to positions on clients they've never audited but are audited by the firm they used to work for.
As far as part B goes, most people leave the firm sometime between April-November. For some reason September is a popular month for people to leave. My only theory for this occurence is that summers tend to slow down, people take vacations, enjoy time off from work, re-evaluate their lives, start looking for jobs towards the end of the summer, and are outta here a few months into the summer/ early fall. So I guess my manager didn't leave at the worst possible time (for me , it is). Ideally they should leave right after busy season. That way, we can have our planning meetings and plan for such transitions.
Firms hate it when employees leave between December-January. And a few of my friends have done so. I can completely understand where the firm is coming from, since this messes up their busy season scheduling and such. But hey, if a job you like falls into your lap, and you don't want this opportunity to dissapear, you have to take it.


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Really depends on what you'd like to do after (unless you really love auditing). If you want to a controller,etc. at a p/e firm or a hedge fund down the road, you'd want to go into financial services. The pay won't be too bad, especially if you get a share of the insane bonuses they dole out. If you want to audit industries with tangible products and want to get a better understanding of the operations of such businesses, then other industries are the way to go.In terms of mobility outside the firm, auditing other industries is the way to go since you have plenty of options when you exit the audit world. For example, in 2008, after Lehman collapsed, it was incredibly hard …

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"What can you tell me about the different possible tracks a person would take at the Big 4 in regards to tax vs. audit? Is there a difference in career progression among the two specialties? How about career potential? Workload?"

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