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What do you do exactly? How does one get into that line of work? How much do you travel?
Is it a good career path? Is there such a thing as work-life balance? When I received answers to my inquiries from people in the profession, many of whom continue to this day to be my friends, I was intrigued.
Reaching this point has taken an immense amount of patience, hard work, resilience, ambition, and even a little luck. To be clear, this article has not been written under the guise of any Big Four recruiters.
Its goal is not to solicit top talent or self-promote services offered or whatever other angles you might have running through your head right now. I respect all of the Big Four firms, especially mine, a great deal but feel that the only way to offer up a truly unbiased perspective on the lifestyle is to provide genuinely candid insight.
The primary purpose of this article is to offer a balanced perspective to those who may be interested in such a career path regardless of industry focus or subject matter area.
The article is structured with bold headings and key takeaway bullet points for those only interested in a quick scan. Feel free to bounce around if you already have a solid understanding of certain sections.
Advisory Services A former colleague of mine summed it up with the following catchphrase: As advisors to industry, we provide a valuable benefit, since large businesses are regularly confronted with a bevy of challenges that range from the commonplace, such as not having the internal subject matter experience needed in order to execute upon critical initiatives, to the less mundane, such as perhaps a regulatory mandate to leverage independent third-party consultation.
The list in-between these two examples are vast to be sure and vary greatly in complexity. Firms as you might expect are structured in such a way as to meet client demand. Now once again try to imagine ten or so other service lines like RAS with once again a bunch of sub-service lines such as PAS.
These groupings also vary from country to country and region to region depending on client demand in that particular geography. Assurance, Transaction, Tax and Advisory. Ah, such is life. New practices form and old practices consolidate just about every year. Want to know why? Because they have to so in order to remain current with the rigorous demands of an ever-changing market landscape.
The new regulation will have a significant impact on these companies for obvious reasons. Once the business case is formally presented and a firm commits to the investment…Recruit, train, sell and bam! We now have a new practice with a new focus.
This exemplifies why professional services firms cannot have a flat or rigid hierarchy. It is for that main reason that such a fluid organizational structure must be in place.
It may not look pretty on an organizational chart that is if you could even find one but I assure you there is critical logic behind this labyrinth of practices. Advisors at professional services firms sell the space between their ears. Industry perspective, experience and subject matter experience are what clients are really paying for.
Firms are equipped to address client demand by providing the right resources, at the right time and place and at the right price. The professional services industry is a very dynamic one, which does not follow a flat or rigid organizational structure. The content intentionally touches on only two of the four divisions, since its purpose is to help further distinguish the concept of organizational groupings used in major professional services firms and to provide some practical perspective on their differences.
Assurance mainly encompasses classic audit services, including financial audits. Assurance is a very mature service offering with very well structured methodologies and reoccurring annual audit business; it holds the top spot in terms of the most annual revenue generated for the firm.
Advisory, on the other hand, is more similar to a classic management consulting mold.
It is not nearly as consistent as Assurance work, but it is one of the fastest growing offerings within the firm. Assurance work is typically very analytical and often time-consuming. Auditors during the busy season can easily spend sixty or more hours per week combing through data, searching for anomalies, and ultimately preparing reports that highlight their findings to a client.
This type of structure where engagement teams utilize less experienced personal to do the bulk of the work, with oversight provided by senior management, is called a leveraged model.
The leveraged model is an optimized cost model for clients, which generally yields higher profits as well.
The work is very well organized and methodically run with time-tested frameworks, checklists, etc.They were literally building the American dream. In the late s, soldiers returning from World War II dreamed of the idyllic life: a happy family, a lovely suburban home.
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