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Banks VS Big 4 Audit

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Old 05-11-2013, 12:32 AM
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Default Banks VS Big 4 Audit

I'm currently studying accountancy in one of the local universities.

What I realise is that many of my peers try as much as possible to avoid the big 4s. Most would instead aim to secure a job in one of the banks.

Personally, I feel that the banks are over-hyped. I understand that the starting salaries of the banks are much higher (~1k higher) than the big 4s. But when we consider the salaries in the long run, those in big 4s would earn just as much, if not higher, than the average of those who work in the banks. The biggest plus is that the jobs in Big 4s are much, much more stable.

I'm referring to those mid/back office roles in the banks (e.g. risk, compliance, ops&tech, consumer, retail, finance, corporate, etc.), and not the front-office roles (i.e. S&T and investment banking).

However, despite that fact, the number of people trying to get into banks is just too many. Does anyone know why it is so? Or am I too pessimistic about the outlook/prospect of banks?

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Old 05-11-2013, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Jobs View Post
The biggest plus is that the jobs in Big 4s are much, much more stable.
However, despite that fact, the number of people trying to get into banks is just too many. Does anyone know why it is so? Or am I too pessimistic about the outlook/prospect of banks?

Because they work you like a dog in big 4, clocking in till 2-3am when on assignments every so often and despite the higher pay (after working a few years) you have almost no life.

Also career options are limited, not everyone gets to be partner so for most you will just stay at senior manager level. If you are lucky maybe can find job outside as CFO or something if not just stuck as a senior mgr in big 4 drawing a somewhat high pay.

I have a friend from big 4, she decided to join a bank after 2 years before her pay surged to high and she would have to take a pay cut to join a bank cos dun have much related experience. She decided to join a bank to be a corporate credit analyst then continue being a big 4 auditor.

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Old 05-11-2013, 11:30 AM
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That's interesting. Thanks for the reply.

How about when I divide the attractiveness of a job into the following two factors:
i) Salary(includes career progression, etc.)
ii) Work environment (includes work-life balance, work politics, etc.)

i) Salary
There's a popular saying that: "In big 4s, you will progress unless you're in the bottom 10% in performance. In banks, you will not progress unless you're in the top 10% in performance level."

It seems that an average auditor in big 4s would have a better salary over the long run, as they have many opportunities for progression (outside of big 4s, and to a certain extent, in the big 4). Their progression (and salary) would also correspondingly have more room for growth.

For an average banker, if he performs only average, it seems that his progression (and salary) would not progress as fast as the average auditor since only the top performers will rise up the ranks. Yes, an average performer may rise too, but probably not as fast as an average performing auditor.

ii) Work Environment
I've heard that the hours in banks may actually be worse than that of big 4s. This is because big 4s have their peak and non-peak periods. On the other hand, banks peak throughout the year. I've also heard that the average "unofficial normal working hours" for banks is 830am to 9pm. When we average the hours out, it seems that the hours in big 4s and banks are quite similar.

In addition, due to the nature of the progression (i.e. big 4s almost guaranteed progression, as opposed to banks) and the competitiveness of the people (e.g. on average, those in banks are known to be more competitive due to the higher entrance cut-off), the office politics in banks are rumoured to be much more toxic.



With the above, would big 4s seem to be a better choice than banks? Thanks for reading!


Last edited by Jobs; 05-11-2013 at 11:31 AM. Reason: Enhanced readability
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Old 05-11-2013, 11:49 AM
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That's interesting. Thanks for the reply.

How about when I divide the attractiveness of a job into the following two factors:
i) Salary(includes career progression, etc.)
ii) Work environment (includes work-life balance, work politics, etc.)

With the above, would big 4s seem to be a better choice than banks? Thanks for reading!
Again, big 4 is quite standard in terms of salary / work environment. For banks it differs from bank to bank. If you go into MAS directory, there are over a hundred banks in Singapore, Ang mo banks, European banks, Chinese banks, Japanese banks, Middle Eastern banks, Korean banks, you name it they probably got a branch in Singapore.

Salary:

Bank salary depends on your field, usually FO>middle office>back office. An average say MO salary usually will not be as high as your average big4 worker most of the time. So you are correct in saying an average auditor probably has a higher pay then your average bank worker.

Work Enviroment:

This depends heavily on what bank and what role you are in. Hours in banks maybe worst then big 4 but that usually refers to your local banks and major foreign banks like Citi, SCB, HSBC. Due to their large SIngapore operations, you can expect alot of work around to do
Also investment banking, private banking, FO roles tend to be busier etc as well.

But if you compare to smaller banks / regional branches, most people don't work very late. I have experience in 2 jap banks and other smaller outfits and majority >70% of staff leave office by 6+, latest 7 + abit. Heck i can leave my office at 5.30pm now from time to time.
So not everyone works crazy hours in banks. Again office politics are more in bigger setups, my dbs fren complains about it all the time, but my jap bank frens say there is hardly any office politics there.

Career progression in places like Jap banks are quite consistent, etc work 2-3 years and get auto promoted as long as no screw up etc.


So whether a bank job is better then your auditor job depends on what you are doing and which bank you are working for.
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
Again, big 4 is quite standard in terms of salary / work environment. For banks it differs from bank to bank. If you go into MAS directory, there are over a hundred banks in Singapore, Ang mo banks, European banks, Chinese banks, Japanese banks, Middle Eastern banks, Korean banks, you name it they probably got a branch in Singapore.

Salary:

Bank salary depends on your field, usually FO>middle office>back office. An average say MO salary usually will not be as high as your average big4 worker most of the time. So you are correct in saying an average auditor probably has a higher pay then your average bank worker.

Work Enviroment:

This depends heavily on what bank and what role you are in. Hours in banks maybe worst then big 4 but that usually refers to your local banks and major foreign banks like Citi, SCB, HSBC. Due to their large SIngapore operations, you can expect alot of work around to do
Also investment banking, private banking, FO roles tend to be busier etc as well.

But if you compare to smaller banks / regional branches, most people don't work very late. I have experience in 2 jap banks and other smaller outfits and majority >70% of staff leave office by 6+, latest 7 + abit. Heck i can leave my office at 5.30pm now from time to time.
So not everyone works crazy hours in banks. Again office politics are more in bigger setups, my dbs fren complains about it all the time, but my jap bank frens say there is hardly any office politics there.

Career progression in places like Jap banks are quite consistent, etc work 2-3 years and get auto promoted as long as no screw up etc.


So whether a bank job is better then your auditor job depends on what you are doing and which bank you are working for.

I see.. so in short:

1) Work Environment
- Banks tend to have a more political environment than Big 4.
- However, smaller banks/regional branches may be better.
- Big 4 Auditors generally work longer hours than bankers (mid/back).

2) Remuneration
- Big 4 Auditors' salaries generally exceed the average banker (mid/back) over the long term (>10 years).

3) Exceptions
- Banks FO.

Thank you!

Oh btw, does anyone know about other companies such as:
1) SWF: GIC & Temasek
2) Those with established career programmes, such as Shell and GE
3) Any others?
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:02 AM
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Salary:

Bank salary depends on your field, usually FO>middle office>back office. An average say MO salary usually will not be as high as your average big4 worker most of the time. So you are correct in saying an average auditor probably has a higher pay then your average bank worker.
What would be your estimation for the average FO, MO, BO and big4 salaries for a 30-year-old?
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