A common question among accounting graduates is whether to choose Accenture or the Big 4 firms to begin their consulting career. I’ve been researching the answer to this query for a while and found some differences that might help you with your decision.
Accenture generally offers a higher starting salary than the ‘Big 4.’ However, the client base and work-life balance are better at EY, PwC, Deloitte, and KPMG.
The key 6 differences between working as a consultant at Accenture or the ‘Big 4’ are:
- Salary range
- Size and scale of the organizations
- Work-life balance
- Exposure to technology projects
- Client base
- Diversity and inclusion
In this post, I’ll deeply examine these 6 significant differences between Accenture and the ‘Big 4.’
1. Accenture Offers Higher Salaries For Entry-level Consultant Positions
Accenture generally offers 20% higher salaries than any of the ‘Big 4’ companies for entry-level and mid-level consultant positions.
However, the compensation for consultants can vary depending on factors such as:
- Years of experience
- Your location
- Your specific job role
Here is a quick table that demonstrates the starting salary for a consultant at each firm.
|Company Name||Entry-level Consultant Salary/ Per Year|
2. Size And Scale of Accenture VS The ‘Big 4’
None of the firms in the ‘Big 4’ compete with Accenture’s current number of employees. It has 738,000 workers, including consultants across 49 African, Asia Pacific (APAC), European, and Middle Eastern countries.
However, this is not the case regarding the number of locations these firms serve. Each company in the ‘Big 4’ (Deloitte, PwC, EY, KPMG) is present in 150+ countries worldwide.
In the US, most states have at least one of their branches, and some have may multiple.
The following table gives you a detailed breakdown of the number of employees and locations each company serves.
|Company Name||Number of countries they serve in||Employee count|
|Ernst & Young||150||300,000|
3. Work-life Balance
Accenture has ranked as the 6th best employer globally by Fortune Magazine due to maintaining the perfect work-life balance for its employees.
Fortune Magazine says, ‘Accenture is among the top 10 best companies to work for, partly attributed to its innovative strategies in supporting its 60,000 employees in the United States and recruiting the upcoming generation of talent.’
On the other hand, the ‘Big 4’ firms have a significant presence in numerous countries worldwide but a smaller workforce. This unbalanced ratio may lead their employees to feel stressed due to a heavier workload.
I’ve also found that they may often need to travel because of the company’s existence in multiple localities.
4. Innovation and Technology
Accenture seems to be the best firm based on the information I’ve found while looking to get into technology consulting.
This company offers specialized IT services in emerging fields such as:
- Artificial intelligence
- Metaverse continuum
- Cloud computing
While Deloitte and EY from the ‘Big 4’ also provide technology services, it often relies more on its complementary consulting groups, S&O and Human Capital.
Furthermore, I’ve encountered some IT projects Accenture has performed in collaboration with tech giants that may pique your curiosity. Those are:
i). Accenture Collaborates With Microsoft And Unilever
Accenture, Microsoft, and Unilever have completed one of the largest cloud migrations in the consumer goods industry.
This transformation has made Unilever a cloud-only enterprise, enabling it to accelerate product launches, enhance customer service, and improve operational efficiency.
Accenture has made this migration possible with assistance from Microsoft in just 18 months, with minimal disruption to business operations.
ii). Accenture, Ocean Race, And Virtual Regatta Launch Metaverse Experience
The Ocean Race has partnered with Virtual Regatta and Accenture to launch a metaverse experience.
This technology enables gamers and enthusiasts to participate in exclusive online events and interact with other fans.
Moreover, the metaverse environment offers e-commerce opportunities for brands to showcase their products and services virtually, enhancing the customer buying experience without being onsite.
5. Client Base And Exposure
The ‘Big 4’ consultancy firms primarily serve thousands of large corporations, including most Fortune 500 companies that are the largest US corporations by revenue.
These may also include government entities with complex needs and require a wide range of services such as:
- Tax planning
- Auditing services
- Advisory and consultancy
However, the ‘Big 4’ are not included in the Fortune 500 list as they do not publicly disclose their revenues.
Here are some Fortune 500 companies that ‘Big 4’ audits:
|Deloitte||PwC||Ernst & Young||KPMG|
|Best Buy||Activision Blizzard||AbbVie||Adobe Systems|
In contrast, Accenture has only served around 9,000 clients so far. Their customers are typically from the technology side of the business, specializing in providing IT implementation and services.
6. Accenture Recognized as No. 1 on DiversityInc
Another critical difference between Accenture and the ‘Big 4’ accounting firms is their gender diversity.
According to an analysis of the Diversity and Inclusion Index, Accenture has been at the top from recent three years, having the most racially diverse workforce among its peers.
While the ‘Big 4’ have made some progress in enhancing gender diversity, females still comprise less than 45% of their workforce.
In contrast, Accenture has made a concerted effort to close its gender gap and has achieved nearly women making up 46% of its regular employees and 25% of its executive leadership team.
Moreover, the company has set ambitious diversity and inclusion goals of achieving gender parity by 2025.
If you are looking for high initial compensation and are interested in working on technology projects, Accenture could be a good fit for you. Otherwise, the ‘Big 4’ accounting firms (Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG) are better in case you prioritize versatility and exposure to projects from different fields.