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auditing vs consulting

I was wondering if you could break down the career opportunities in auditing and consulting (in a big 4). I know that consulting pays more in a big 4 and has more interesting work, but it seems that auditing has extremely good exit opportunities (Financial controller, CFO etc). Any thoughts on which is better in the long run?

Well there's different consulting services offered by public accounting companies - the most popular being IT consulting and risk consulting. There are also other consulting services offered, but these two hire the most. Do they pay more? Yes, but not by much. Not enough for you to say: Shoot, the $$ is a huge reason for me to move over. Is the work more interesting than audit? Yes. You're actually looking over a company's processes and telling them what to do instead of what not to do (audit). Everyone I know who's made the switch likes it waay better than audit.
In the long run though, choosing audit vs consulting really depends on what you want to do. If you want to become a controller, you'd want to go into audit. Stay till at least manager year and an array of controller jobs fall on your lap for you to do. Essentially, if you think you'd want to be in charge of books and records for a company, audit is the perfect fit as a career launchpad. If you want to go into internal audit, start off in auditing and then switch to consulting. Companies love hiring people out of risk consulting to go into internal audit. An IT consulting job will be a great transition to go into consulting at firms like Accenture. Hope this helps


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the response!

I was looking more into consulting roles such as finance transformation, operations & strategy. Do you know if it is possible to move into group strategy or program manager type roles?

Also if I did CPA while working in consulting, would the more accounting related roles such as commercial manager or controller still be available?

Thanks a lot!
Anonymous said…
I've been working for ITRA for about 9 months,and something i noticed is that the turnover rates in consulting services comparatively high (2- 2.5yrs),while people into financial auditing tend to stay about 4-5 years.
Just wondering if this is just a trend in my part of the world or is it so all over?

btw although i'm into IT auditing i love this blog!
Anonymous said…

I enjoy your blog.

I'm curious if anyone can answer my question:

If you pass the UFE but leave accounting before you get all your hours, will there eventually be a point in time in which you will have to re-write your UFE if you ever return to accounting?

Also, if you get your CA designation but leave accounting and pursue non-accounting related entrepreneurial activities and do not pay the annual ICAO fee, will there be a point in time when you will have to re-write your UFE if you ever return to accounting.

Thanks a lot!
Anonymous said…
Hi there, I'm wondering if you could describe the work they do at Japanese/Chinese/French/etc Services Groups. (For example, the "Chinese Services Group" at Deloitte U.S.). Do they interact with other lines of services? What is the perception toward these groups within the firms? Thanks!!
notfordisplay said…
a) To the first commenter, probably not. Consulting is a totally different field and so a controller position would most likely be offered to auditors than consultants. You could aim higher for a CFO type position though.
b) To the second commenter, the turnover rate is pretty high been in audit, it's usually 10-15% a year. It's really part and parcel of how an accounting firm works. Read my audit factory blog for more detail.
c) To the third commenter, not sure how the ufe works to be honest. For the CPA though, you don't have to take them again. You just have to keep the license active by taking CPE credits on a yearly basis.
Kristina Royle said…
I think the two are partners. In consulting, you need to lay done budget plan and you’d be needing an auditor for that after. I agree with you that it actually depends on what you really want to do. It’s all about passion. Like Michael Geffrard, he works passionately to give a high quality level of service. if you are very much committed with your work, you’d sure become successful in life. That’s is also one thing that I like about Michael Geffrard, being committed and focus to achieve his goals.
Judith Gaston said…
So theoretically, auditing and consulting are two contrasting jobs and a person can very well figure out which one will maximize his skills or give him a better career path. Whichever choice comes in first, the main thing here is that both jobs can really grow within the company, giving it more value financially and in other areas.
arumugam said…
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Anonymous said…
Hi I have noticed there haven't been any recent comments, but I would be grateful if you could help me out.

I am an accounting graduate; as a part of my university degree I managed to complete a placement year in audit with a mid-tier firm. I am considering applying for a position in Audit advisory (Risk consulting). I know some of the Big 4 allow simultaneously study of the chartered accountancy qualification.

I was just wondering if that is the right career move and also what personal characteristics are needed to succeed in audit advisory. I presume both positions allow extensive opportunity for client contact. I suppose advisors would be more welcomed than auditors?

Thanks a lot.
notfordisplay said…
Not quite sure to be honest, don't want to lead you down the wrong path since I don't know much about advisory, and the career path it leads you to.
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Tom Leesin said…
What about ISO auditing?? I did my ISO 27001 Lead Auditor Training in Adelaide at JLB. Working as a 3rd party auditor for a CB pays pretty well, you might just need to sign up with multiple CB's , which is what all ISO auditors do anyway!
Tom Leesin said…
What about ISO auditing?? I did my ISO 27001 Lead Auditor Training in Adelaide at JLB. Working as a 3rd party auditor for a CB pays pretty well, you might just need to sign up with multiple CB's , which is what all ISO auditors do anyway!
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career progression

"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?"

Loaded question. In terms of career potential, they're both pretty potent. Audit leads you to controller/accounting manager/ VP - accounting positions at companies if you choose to quit. Tax can lead to tax manager positions at various companies/ help them minimize taxes and exploit tax loopholes. It's a pretty important position in many companies...I'm not an expert on tax careers though, so you might want to ask somebody in a tax related position.
In terms of career progression, it's the same as audit...start off as a staff associate...move to senior..manager..snr mgr..partner.
In terms of workload, my friends in the tax department seem to work two busy the fall and in the spring. So I think they work more than i…


As a big four employee, lately, I've been hearing a lot about "boomerang" employees. Those who, for some reason or another, decide that leaving work when the sun is still out is not for them and alas, return back to the firm. Yes, the grass is not always greener on the other side, however, is this trending upward or about the same as it always has been? I think, also, that the firms really do a good job in highlighting those that do choose to return to make it appear more common than reality. Can you please speak about how you've seen the trend of "boomerangs" amongst the big 4? 

Good question. A boomerang, as the commenter pointed, is one who quits a big 4 Firm and then decides to return (or boomerang) back to the Firm after getting a taste of work life in the non-public accounting world.
I have seen a few return this past summer, but didn't really notice a trend until you mentioned it. It's definitely been higher than past years, but not enough to s…