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7 Pros And Cons Of Working At KPMG

KPMG is a member of the ‘Big 4’, the most prestigious professional service firms in the world. Working there clearly comes with a whole load of kudos, but what are the real pros and cons of working at KPMG?

Some key benefits of working at KPMG include the exceptional reputation of the firm and the opportunity for rapid career advancement. Some disadvantages are the highly pressurized working atmosphere and a difficult work-life balance.

I’ve been researching the pros and cons of working at all of the ‘Big 4’, and in this post, I’ll take a look at:

  • The 7 most important advantages of working at KPMG
  • The 7 biggest disadvantages of working there
KPMG office in Chicago
The KPMG Office in Chicago

7 Pros Of Working At KPMG

1. Opportunities For Growth And Advancement

Out of all the benefits of working at KPMG, this is the one I hear the most often.

KPMG is a massive organization! They operate in 153 countries all around the globe and have 208,000 employees (according to their website).

There is a huge amount of scope for moving up the ladder quickly, subject to demonstrating an excellent ability to get results. There is also a fair chance you could be relocated to a different branch or even country.

KPMG operates across multiple industries and provides a wide range of services, so transitions between industries and services are extremely possible.

KPMG offers a variety of different career paths and provides many opportunities for continued professional development.

2. Strong Reputation

Very few firms have such a prestigious reputation as KPMG. It will give you full kudos when talking about your career at parties!

Probably more importantly, KPMG is an established global firm, that works with many of the largest and most successful corporations in the world, including many of the Fortune 500.

As an example, KPMG currently works with the following list of corporations:

CorporationSector
Deutsche BankFinance
Wells FargoFinance
AccentureConsulting
Rolls RoyceAutomotive
VisaFinance
PepsicoFood and Drink

(Source)

3. See The World!

This is a great one for all you free spirits out there!

Working at KPMG is a great way to travel!

In fairness, this could either be a major pro or a con – it kinda depends on how you look at it. But travel is going to be a big thing for the majority of KPMG employees.

One thing to realize though is this – this is business travel! There will be little sightseeing or engagement with the local culture.

Think more about living out of a suitcase, working on planes and trains, and working all the time you are in a distant location.

Having said that, for many people, this is a dream way of life.

4. Talent And Network

I hear this all the time from ex-employees of the Big 4. One of the biggest excitements about working there is that you get to meet a really outstanding set of co-workers.

KPMG will recruit only the highest level of employees, and many of these will have a real sense of palpable mission and purpose in their lives.

And KPMG employees are generally:

  • Switched on
  • Highly motivated
  • Talented
  • Engaged

5. Work Hard Play Hard!

There is a great connection between social activities and work at KPMG.

There is plenty of opportunity to socialize and interact with your fellow colleagues and clients.

This comes alongside intense and long hours. But if work hard play hard is your motto, then working at KPMG really encapsulates this in a nutshell.

6. Project Based

For many employees of KPMG, the fact that the work is project-based is a really big positive. This means you can get totally engaged and immersed in a project.

This helps you go deep into solving problems and finding solutions and also interacting with colleagues and clients over a longer timeframe.

Project-based work helps you:

  • Meet and work with new people
  • Really get fully engaged in a task
  • Learn multiple new skills in each project

7. Comprehensive Benefits Package – Particularly As You Move Up The Ladder

There is a bit of a debate over this one, to be honest.

On one hand, starting salaries at KPMG are often lower than at smaller firms. However, there is no doubt that there is an opportunity to move up the wage structure ladder through promotions and length of service.

Partners in particular at KPMG are compensated to a very high level, some earning in excess of $1 million a year.

Deloitte offers a comprehensive benefits package, including:

  • Health insurance
  • Retirement plans
  • Flexible time off
  • Partners are often paid in excess of $1,000,000 (Source)
KPMG offices

Cons of working at KPMG

Of course, working at KPMG is not all butterflies and roses, and it does come at a cost. Here are some of the most common disadvantages that employees find.

1. Limited Work-Life Balance

This is probably the biggest issue. Work is stressful, and can involve long hours. This has a detrimental effect on work-life balance.

On the Glassdoor website, I saw that a KPMG employee had (anonymously) written that ‘The biggest downside is the demanding pressures of constantly having to balance work and life. Although the firm preaches work/life balance, this is not really the case.’ (Source)

All the ‘Big 4’ do indeed preach about trying to offer a work/life balance, but let’s be real! That’s not really happening very often.

Work is intellectually engrossing, so many employees find they have depleted time and energy for:

  • Family
  • Hobbies
  • Leisure time

2. Opportunity Cost

3. Long Hours

If you’re hoping for a 9 to 5, then think again!

KPMG has a demanding work schedule, so prepare to put the hours in. Depending on what department you work in, you may find that certain times of the year are more hectic.

Pretty much all KPMG employees report:

  • Long hours
  • Weekends
  • Some holidays

3. High-Pressure Work Environment

Working at KPMG can be a real pressure cooker!

The work is fast-paced and high-intensity. There is a lot of money at stake, and the decisions you make can have a big impact. Managing stress is a key skill in working for any of the ‘Big 4’.

4. Meticulous Level Of Detail

Now for a slightly more unusual feature of life at KPMG, and maybe one you’ve not thought about.

When you work on a project and write reports, you often have to go into a lot of detail. I mean tons of detail – think ten appendices kind of stuff.

Reports are really thorough and in-depth, and I’ve heard from employees about how they sometimes feel like they are spending a lot of time on minor details rather than the real ‘meat’ of a case.

5. Bureaucracy And Slow-Decision Making

There is some debate about this, but I’ve seen a few employees say that they found KPMG slow at making decisions.

This is mainly because it is such a vast organization, with many layers and complexities. This could also mean that employees had to deal with extra paperwork and bureaucracy.

6. Competition For Promotions And Recognition

Working at KPMG is a dog-eat-dog undertaking!

Everyone that works there is a high-flier in some capacity, and everyone is trying to make career progress in some way or other.

Compensation improves dramatically as you rise up the ladder at KPMG, so competition for promotions is fierce.

Statistically, employees have about a 4% to 5% chance of one-day becoming partners (the highest position in KPMG’s structure). And there are many rungs of the ladder to be risen up first!

7. Extensive Travel

Let’s face it – this could either be a pro or a con depending on your point of view.

I’ve decided to include it as both an advantage and a disadvantage on this list. It really just depends on how you look at it!

The reality is that most employees at KPMG will be traveling extensively. Why do they travel so much?

Well, employees travel to:

  • Meet with clients at their locality
  • Assess the business systems and processes of clients at their location
  • Attend training events
  • Audit businesses

How much you actually travel depends on the sector you’re working in, but many KPMG employees will travel:

  • At least a few days each month
  • Sometimes a few days each couple of weeks
  • Or even have the majority of their working lives outside of the office

If you want to hear more firsthand information about what its like to work for KPMG, then check out this Youtube video from one of their former employees talking all about it:

Author

  • Will Bennett

    Will Bennett is a Cambridge graduate. He worked as a Consultant and Senior Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in London. Will is the Founder of The Cambridge Consultant.