Date posted: 08/11/2022

What’s it like working for... the Big Four?

For many students, landing a job at a Big Four accounting firm is the ultimate end-goal. Read on to discover what it’s really like working for PwC.

Organisations such as Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG feature on the bucket list for many aspiring Chartered Accountants. Darryl Wilson CA from PwC tells us why with good reason.

Growing up with parents who have worked in the corporate environment, Darryl Wilson thought he was well prepared for his first day of work at PwC. But as a new graduate he was still surprised by the scale and reach of such a large organisation.

PwC is one of the largest professional services networks in the world. Along with Deloitte, EY and KPMG, it’s considered one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms.

For Darryl, the supportive environment and professional flexibility offered by a large firm has been the strong foundation of his career to date.

Darryl Wilson

A client-facing work environment

Darryl started as a graduate in Financial Assurance for PwC in Auckland and has since worked his way up to Senior Manager. With more than 1,700 people working in the New Zealand business, Darryl says getting to know so many new faces, not to mention deciphering some of the acronyms used in work conversations, was a common challenge for new recruits.

For Darryl though, the biggest surprise came via the nature of the work itself, when he discovered that at PwC ‘client-facing' literally means face-to-face.

“I thought a typical day would involve coming into the office and having a specific set of tasks to get on with every day, then rinsing and repeating week to week, month to month,” Darryl said.

“I soon learned that in financial assurance and in audit, that is very much not the case.”

Darryl said he has spent a large proportion of his time away from the office visiting clients on site. The face-to-face visits inject variety into the assurance and auditing role, but also help PwC employees build relationships and better understand the commercial realities of each client’s business.

“I've been fortunate enough to also do quite a bit of overseas travels based off the client portfolio that I've had over the last few years, which is a big perk. And I think the other cool perk is all the lunches and dinners that we do with the teams and clients.”

Darryl said working for the Big 4 had given him the opportunity to work with some of the biggest listed and private companies in New Zealand.

“That's one thing that I've always appreciated at PwC, is the level of support available to you as you navigate the challenges of your role. You are always well supported.”

Big challenges, supportive team

Understanding context, or ‘the why of work’ is important for employees, particularly when starting out. Darryl says one of the benefits of working at a Big Four firm is having the space to ask questions and being supported by senior staff as you put your learned skills into practical action.

“When I was starting out my senior colleagues always said, “We don't expect you to know everything”. They knew I’d had some training, but still had zero expectations from me on my first few engagements."

Those assurances gave Darryl the motivation and confidence he needed to settle into the role and embrace what PwC, and audit, could provide. According to Darryl, this support network has been available to him as he has progressed up the ranks in the organisation.

“That's one thing that I've always appreciated at PwC, is the level of support available to you as you navigate the challenges of your role. You are always well supported.”

Flexibility in a global network

If you're someone that doesn't want to go to the same desk, in the same position, in the same building, day in, day out, then Darryl strongly recommends you go into audit in a Big Four firm.

According to Darryl you can work remotely, in the office, or on site - you can essentially work anywhere, and audit work is key to this flexibility.

“We've been able to digitally transform our audit processes in recent years, which has given us the capability to work more flexibly,” he said.

Darryl says working for a Big Four firm means being part of a diverse and global team. For many, a strong digital foundation and greater flexibility has meant being able to work remotely, from anywhere around the world, sometimes for a month or two.

“It’s another great benefit that not a lot of organisations can give you, but the Big Four definitely can - especially in audit.”

What's it like working for...?

If you’re thinking about where to take your career, be sure to read the other articles in our ‘What’s it Like Working For...’ series and discover if a small or mid-tier business is the right fit for you.

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