Want to go into advisory / management consulting. Which is a better stepping stone? Audit or Tax?
Hi. I'm an accounting fresh graduate who is currently trying to complete ACCA. I would like to go into advisory or management consulting but lately there are no responses from Big4 and other consulting firms. Therefore, I might have to start my career in either external audit or tax. Which of these two would be a good stepping stone to help me carve a career in consulting?
#consulting #accountant #career #business #tax
John recommends the following next steps:
Not only do you perform process walkthroughs on each cycle (Treasury, Payroll, Stock-based Comp) as a part of every financial statement/integrated audit (to gain the understanding) you then audit each of the relevant ones in detail (to ensure it is correct/compliant with accounting standards).
This will allow you to really learn from the successes/mistakes of other companies - see good practices and bad. No other position will give you this window into confidential info to show you what works and what doesn't - the best way to provide value to advisory clients. You'll develop a preference for certain ERP's, best practices, controls, etc.
I don't have any insight on PwC's recruiting process for advisory, as I believe it requires a few years of experience. But I do know that PwC allows you to move around laterally within the firm to whatever interests you. Audit not for you? Move to tax, recruiting, internal support services, or advisory. All you have to do is ask your coaching network for help and when the opportunity arises they can advocate for you.
Best of luck!
Dana - Senior Associate, PwC
1. External audit gives you direct client-facing roles and this forms a better part of what is required in consulting (speaking with management - CEO, COOs etc.). Based on personal experience and from some of my personal colleagues, tax at the lower levels don't interact face to face with clients as much and therefore you'll be limited in that regard for "client-facing experience"
2. A lot of firms (even some smaller boutique/mid-sized firms) have an advisory service line and it would make for a comfortable transition given you take the initiative to network with associates/managers in the consulting group. I would say give yourself at least 2 years of practical experience in the audit line of service before contemplating switching to build up your rep. During that time you should be initiating conversations to make the transition happen a lot more smoothly (i.e. they'll know who you are)
3. Exposure to project management skills are more transparent to attain in audit than in tax - especially in your second year. Hopefully when you become an experience associate or a senior you have the opportunity to lead an engagement (setting up client/partner kick-off meetings, leading these meetings, coordinating and delegation of work between staff, coaching, audit task management) and overall pushing the audit through. This requires a lot more work than it sounds and having the ability to satisfy all stakeholders is an invaluable skill (managing up and down). I would definitely seek out for these opportunities and be able to exemplify this in your transition to consulting
Amin recommends the following next steps:
Kathy recommends the following next steps:
I'm currently a junior at the University of Northern Iowa, pursuing my Masters in Accounting and my CPA. As a college student, I've had a lot of exposure to what firms are looking for in both incoming employees and students.
The biggest thing for consulting and advisory is that you must have a large variety of knowledge about the inner workings and businesses and different business models. Consulting and advisory takes a large amount of "general" (for lack of a better term) knowledge in order to assist your client and advise them. With this being said, it is extremely hard to get into consulting and advisory right off the bat; instead, many firms are searching for qualified individuals who have been well-rounded in things such as audit, tax, and technology and have experience under their belts.
I'm also interested in topics such as advisory and consultation, specifically forensic auditing and business valuation. I recently had an interview where I expressed that I was interested that specific market and some of the managers at that said firm gave me some advice and some of the best courses of action to get to the positions that I'm seeking.
The best thing for you to do is get experience doing a large variety of things, but also put yourself out there and see what the firms are looking for.
Try to get into advisory to start instead of going through tax or audit. Sometimes, it is difficult to transfer between lines of service especially into advisory. It is a game of balance, where you are good enough to be recommended to advisory, but not so good that your tax/audit team can't afford to lose you. The best way to transfer to advisory from tax/audit is to actually work on an advisory project and knock it out the park, but the opportunity to do so does not happen too often.
Don't get too hung on which path you start out as you can always change roles, more important is to identify the skills you want to develop and consider the connections to be made. Long term goals my also change as you get more involved in your career.