How to get a job at a Big Four firm now. In numbers

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There are several reasons to apply for a job at the Big Four. Chief among them is the fact that Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY hire more professionals globally than just about any other company. PwC hired nearly 65k people during its last fiscal year, nearly double the number of employees currently working at Goldman Sachs.  That works out to roughly one new hire every eight minutes. Of course, Big Four firms are still plenty selective, so it helps to know exactly where their priorities are currently.

To get a clearer picture of the hiring landscape, we dug through recent reports from Deloitte and PwC. Each company’s growth numbers are eerily similar and tell a similar story. Here’s what they say about the Big Four generally.

East trumps West

Asia is the biggest growth area for the Big Four and has been for several years now. As you can see in the chart below, Asian headcount at PwC increased by a massive 14% over its last fiscal year. And the firm saw the same 14% growth rate a year earlier.

On the other end of the spectrum are regions where the Big Four are more solidified. For the second year running, PwC didn’t add headcount in the Americas. This doesn’t mean it didn’t do any hiring, only that PwC added staff to match its attrition rate. Meanwhile, headcount growth was solid but unspectacular in Western Europe. The Big Four are heavily concentrating their hiring efforts in emerging markets while more or less treading water in the West.

Focus on consulting and risk advisory

While many people think of the Big Four as accounting and tax firms, consulting has become the chief revenue generator. Deloitte, for example, generated $16.5b in consulting revenue in FY18. Meanwhile, audit & assurance and tax & legal “only” generated $10.2b and $7.9b, respectively. What’s more, consulting revenue continues to grow at a faster clip than any other business area. Risk advisory contributes a smaller share of overall revenue ($5b) but has seen two consecutive years of double-digit growth. Consulting and risk advisory are the two hottest areas at the Big Four.

Specialize in financial services or niche markets

For experienced professionals, it’s all about industry fit. As you can see below, industrial and consumer-focused clients generated the most amount of revenue at Deloitte during FY18, though that sector is a large umbrella that encompasses a variety of different clients that have unique focuses. In fact, other Big Four firms separate consumer and industrial markets. At the end of the day, banks and other financial firms butter much of the Big Four’s bread. If you've spent a few years in risk or technology with a bank, they would probably very much like to hear from you.

It’s a great time to be longer in the tooth

While banks and pure consulting firms load up on fresh graduate hires every year, the Big Four may be trending in the other direction. PwC hired 7,000 more experienced professionals in FY18 than it did the year previous. Meanwhile, it hired 1,000 fewer graduates than it did the year before. If you have industry experience, now appears to be as good a time as any to knock on the door at PwC or its competitors. Like investment banks, the Big Four are increasingly looking for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates.

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