Common myths about the Big 4

We sat down with Helen Bobbitt, Graduate Talent Acquisition Manager from KPMG, to get her take on what it is — and isn’t — really like to work for one of the Big 4.
Erin Delaney
Team GradAustralia
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Which companies make up the Big 4?

The Big 4 are the four largest professional services firms offering audit and assurance, tax and advisory (consulting) services to clients. The Big 4 are KPMG, EY, Deloitte and PwC.

Can you tell us what is and isn’t true about working for a Big 4?

We don’t… just hire accountants/accounting/commerce students.

We do… hire graduates from all degree backgrounds into grad roles in Audit, Tax and Advisory groups. This is great as it leads to diversity of thought and innovative solutions for our clients. Some of our new graduates have degrees in IT/Technology, Science, Engineering, Pharmacy, Maths, Communications, Environmental & Biological Science, Sociology, Arts and Politics to name a few.

We aren’t... just auditors.

We are… a business comprised of Audit, Tax and Enterprise, but this isn’t all we do. Advisory (Management Consulting, Risk Consulting and Deal Advisory) is around 50% of our business and rapidly growing.

We don’t… expect long hours every day, and you’re not expected to stay in the office until your manager leaves just to show that you’re there.

We do… prioritise work/life balance and wellbeing, and our new agile way of working also supports this. We do work longer hours from time to time when a project is coming to a close or we’re close to a client deadline, but that’s it. For example, if you’ve had to work late on a project, you may agree to work from home the next day. KPMG isn’t about “facetime”.

It’s not… competitive. This isn’t the case at all.

It is… very collaborative, KPMG has a team-based culture. We support each other to get the work done. You’ll always be working as part of a team to achieve goals/outcomes. The people I work with and support I’ve had to progress my career are some of the key reasons I’m still at KPMG after 10 years.

We don’t… only look at grade transcripts and degree discipline.

We do… look for grads that have studied a variety of degree disciplines, not just commerce. While a credit average is important, it’s not the only thing we look at. We’re really looking at a candidate’s application as a whole, and different candidates have different strengths — there certainly isn’t a hard and fast check list of things we look for.

What do KPMG look for?

In general, the key things we look for are:

  • People who have strong career motivation and are passionate about what they want to do.
  • Candidates can articulate why they are applying to KPMG over other firms and show an understanding of the role they would be doing and how this helps them achieve their career goals.
  • People with excellent communication skills and the ability to build strong relationships with clients and colleagues.
  • People who can demonstrate natural leadership, with a strong ability to influence and collaborate in a team environment.
  • Strong problem solving and strategic thinking skills are also vital. We’re looking for innovative thinkers who aren’t afraid to challenge things.