Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

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Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:40 am

Looking for an idea of what the Big 4 are paying for Summers and first year associates. Preferably in Philly or similar market. Not much luck online for J.D. compensation stats.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby lavarman84 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:48 am

From friends, I think you're looking at $105k to $145k. I think around $120k to $125k seems to be the most common I heard. That's for first years.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:54 am

Woah, much higher than I was thinking. I was crossing my fingers for $95k in Philly market.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:13 am

Comp really depends on the particular Big 4 group you are hired into. City matters a lot too. 145k is for WNT in DC. 115 to 125k (before signing bonus of 5 to 15k) is for M&A and international tax in NYC. Have heard international tax in Philly offering 120k, but have also heard less than 100k offered in secondary markets.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby lavarman84 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:15 am

Anonymous User wrote:Woah, much higher than I was thinking. I was crossing my fingers for $95k in Philly market.


I don't know about Philly. That's from friends in California and New York, mainly.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby dabigchina » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:17 am

105 in Philly seems very high, but my info is a few years old. I definitely wouldn't bank on 145.

Imo, 95 is realistic.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby lavarman84 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:26 am

dabigchina wrote:105 in Philly seems very high, but my info is a few years old. I definitely wouldn't bank on 145.

Imo, 95 is realistic.


Yeah, my bad on that. I wasn't intending to say that $145k is realistic for Philly. That's the most I've heard anywhere. That was for a friend of mine in California. IIRC, the typical salary I heard in New York was $125k.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 7:10 am

Those salaries listed are all for LLMs. A JD won’t be hired into WNTS and has no shot at ITS or M&A in NY.

Philly is probably 80-100 for a JD.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:Those salaries listed are all for LLMs. A JD won’t be hired into WNTS and has no shot at ITS or M&A in NY.

Philly is probably 80-100 for a JD.


NY ITS has a few JD-only associates, but they all summered. They also start lower at 100.

Btw, does anyone know what the NY associates this year are starting at? Rumor has it at 125 base.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:00 am

OP: Anyone know if the Big 4 negotiate compensation with SA's/first years who have relevant, substantive, non-tax experience for that tax group? (like customs agent in Int'l or municipal gov't experience in SALT as specific examples)

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Those salaries listed are all for LLMs. A JD won’t be hired into WNTS and has no shot at ITS or M&A in NY.

Philly is probably 80-100 for a JD.


NY ITS has a few JD-only associates, but they all summered. They also start lower at 100.

Btw, does anyone know what the NY associates this year are starting at? Rumor has it at 125 base.


NY M&A also has JD-only associates.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby dabigchina » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP: Anyone know if the Big 4 negotiate compensation with SA's/first years who have relevant, substantive, non-tax experience for that tax group? (like customs agent in Int'l or municipal gov't experience in SALT as specific examples)

You can try, but I doubt it. They have pretty regimented starting salaries.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Those salaries listed are all for LLMs. A JD won’t be hired into WNTS and has no shot at ITS or M&A in NY.

Philly is probably 80-100 for a JD.



You mean for Tax LLMs ???

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:47 pm

Expect less . . . Philly Big 4 for JDs is more like 73K - 83K + bar exam costs + 5K if you pass within the first year.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby lavarman84 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Those salaries listed are all for LLMs. A JD won’t be hired into WNTS and has no shot at ITS or M&A in NY.

Philly is probably 80-100 for a JD.


Yep, you're right. Total brain-farts for me last night.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:20 pm

Big 4 will also pay for you to get a Tax LLM after working there for a few months and then you will get a decent boost the next promotion cycle.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Big 4 will also pay for you to get a Tax LLM after working there for a few months and then you will get a decent boost the next promotion cycle.

Hello guys,
I know its kind of out of topic, but I do know anyone to ask for advice.

So I am an LLM, general studies, took just bar subjects and Real Estate transactions and Federal income Tax at law school in NY. I have a law degree back from my home country and Masters in Economics. I would really like to get into big 4. But I do not realize to which positions apply. If anyone can share any info, pls I would appreciate it.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Big 4 will also pay for you to get a Tax LLM after working there for a few months and then you will get a decent boost the next promotion cycle.

Hello guys,
I know its kind of out of topic, but I do know anyone to ask for advice.

So I am an LLM, general studies, took just bar subjects and Real Estate transactions and Federal income Tax at law school in NY. I have a law degree back from my home country and Masters in Economics. I would really like to get into big 4. But I do not realize to which positions apply. If anyone can share any info, pls I would appreciate it.


At my big 4, a lot of Econ people are in transfer pricing. That might be the way to go if you’re not in a tax LLM.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:16 pm

What are hours like? If you have big law there's no reason to consider big 4 right?

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:What are hours like? If you have big law there's no reason to consider big 4 right?


OP here who has researched and talked candidly with Big 4 employees, but not experienced Big 4 life personally: At my CB I was told if I got the job I wouldn't have billables, guaranteed 5 week vacation upon signing that I can actually take without fear of retribution, six month guaranteed job security for birth/adoption of child, and opportunity to move within groups/offices (even for pre-approved temporary periods). They also pay for your LLM after a year of working for them and offer other incentives like child and elder care, car purchases at dealer rates, etc.

You have to consider tradeoffs. As an older student, I'd rather take my five weeks vacation and be able to enjoy some time with my family than be working on a Saturday afternoon, missing my kid's soccer game. In the long run, with a paid off LLM and hike increase from it, you're still making good money. Especially after compounding 10% pay increase each year after twenty years versus being miserable at biglaw and eventually moving in-house with a starting pay lower after a few years than someone with the same number of years put in at a Big 4 with a marketable LLM.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:36 pm

So the work is predictable? Do you work like fixed hours even if thats like 9-7 or 9-8 on weekdays? Because from my friends who did big 4 audit from undergrad, they all told me they had busy seasons where they worked crazy hours (and didn't get compensated well for either).

I just finished my first year in big law -- at this point it probably doesn't make sense for me to try to switch to big 4 when I can ride it out for another year or two and try to go in-house, but maybe this will help someone else too. I absolutely hate my working life at big law.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:So the work is predictable? Do you work like fixed hours even if thats like 9-7 or 9-8 on weekdays? Because from my friends who did big 4 audit from undergrad, they all told me they had busy seasons where they worked crazy hours (and didn't get compensated well for either).

I just finished my first year in big law -- at this point it probably doesn't make sense for me to try to switch to big 4 when I can ride it out for another year or two and try to go in-house, but maybe this will help someone else too. I absolutely hate my working life at big law.


As a data point, my older sibling works as a JD in a tax group for one of the big 4 in New York. Her hours are consistently in the 9:30-7:30 range. I think there are usually a few hours of weekend work, although that can be done from home.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby nealric » Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What are hours like? If you have big law there's no reason to consider big 4 right?


OP here who has researched and talked candidly with Big 4 employees, but not experienced Big 4 life personally: At my CB I was told if I got the job I wouldn't have billables, guaranteed 5 week vacation upon signing that I can actually take without fear of retribution, six month guaranteed job security for birth/adoption of child, and opportunity to move within groups/offices (even for pre-approved temporary periods). They also pay for your LLM after a year of working for them and offer other incentives like child and elder care, car purchases at dealer rates, etc.



Quality of life will really depend on the office and group in Big4. I've talked to Ex-big4 folks who worked more hours than I did in Biglaw. Your hours are going to be a lot better doing transfer pricing at a satellite office than if you are star performer in the International section in NYC.

Most biglaw firms will also pay for the LLM, and offer things like emergency backup childcare (it's really just a babysitting service at a discount). Car purchase discounts at any employer are mostly flame- even if you work at an automaker.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:What are hours like? If you have big law there's no reason to consider big 4 right?


OP here who has researched and talked candidly with Big 4 employees, but not experienced Big 4 life personally: At my CB I was told if I got the job I wouldn't have billables, guaranteed 5 week vacation upon signing that I can actually take without fear of retribution, six month guaranteed job security for birth/adoption of child, and opportunity to move within groups/offices (even for pre-approved temporary periods). They also pay for your LLM after a year of working for them and offer other incentives like child and elder care, car purchases at dealer rates, etc.

You have to consider tradeoffs. As an older student, I'd rather take my five weeks vacation and be able to enjoy some time with my family than be working on a Saturday afternoon, missing my kid's soccer game. In the long run, with a paid off LLM and hike increase from it, you're still making good money. Especially after compounding 10% pay increase each year after twenty years versus being miserable at biglaw and eventually moving in-house with a starting pay lower after a few years than someone with the same number of years put in at a Big 4 with a marketable LLM.


This sounds like Deloitte. OP, classifying big4 as a one big category is a misnomer - each firm and the groups within are very different. I work at a big4 M&A tax (transferred from international) and we pull 100 hour weeks on a consistent basis. International was more like 60 hours a week with occasional weekends. It also depends on the type of international tax, office and the firm. I have friends who work 9-6 everyday, are 80%+ utilized (so the firm doesnt bother then) and are happy with their lives. We have people here who consistently pull all nighters waiting for that time to gtfo asap as well.

I want to argue that exit ops in big4 can be better than biglaw in the tax world, because at the end of the day you wouldn't just be a doc monkey drafting tax provisions of LPAs all day. But theres also a possibility you may get stuck doing compliance and cannot distinguish your skills from the accountants. Big4 is huge and depending on how you shape your experience, you can exit to really good inhouse opps that easily pay 250-300k all-in at the manager/director level (4-7th years). But while you are in the big4, the pay is definitely going to suck compared to biglaw (JD/LLM directors, i.e., 5-8th years, get paid similar to biglaw 1-3rd year associates). I've seen a lot of people go to biglaw from the big4 especially in the past year, but this may be because of the tax reform.

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Re: Anyone have inside knowledge on Big 4 compensation?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:12 pm

I worked in a big4 and now work in biglaw.

The pay in biglaw is infinitely better. However, the work I do on a daily basis at a law firm is not the type of work I wish I was doing. We do very little structuring work (mostly do drafting and some due diligence). At the big4, we got to do a lot more of the in the weeds structuring work that my firm doesn’t seem to do. I don’t think many law firms do that kind of structuring anymore.

I think, as someone mentioned above, the number of associates moving from big4 to biglaw in NY is abnormally high because of tax reform. I didn’t have to, but I know someone who had to trim a year when they lateraled. You still make more money, but it sucks losing a year.

The hours varies a lot more in the big4. There were associates who got unlucky and were placed on 5 deals that all had the same deadline and they had to work 70-80 utilization hour weeks (most of their day was spent sitting around but around 5, they got slammed with work, so they’d be in til midnight). Other associates have 5 deals that fall through and are able to get by on that 80% utilization (32 hours billed).

At my firm now, the work is a lot more hectic because we are at the mercy of the m&a/PE people. We are an additional layer removed, so it’s chaotic more often than not.

At the end of the day, to me, the salary gap made the switch a no-brainer. Also, I think if I go back to an accounting firm later in my career, I will have a leg up.



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