Small CPA Firm ~> Big 4 ~> Corporate Executive (CFO)

Open ItemsCategory: CareersSmall CPA Firm ~> Big 4 ~> Corporate Executive (CFO)
DoubleHelixDoubleHelix asked 10 months ago

What are your thoughts on starting out your career in smaller firms vs Big 4?
Do you think career prospects are hurt if you don’t start out at a Big 4?
For example, would it hurt your chances of becoming a CFO for a large corporation if you started at a small CPA firm after college, worked there for 5 years, then became Manager at a Big 4 company and worked there for another 5 years?
As opposed to starting at a Big 4 after college, working there for 3-5 years, then moving to the industry at a large corporation?
Do you think there is there a preferred path in this case or does it not really matter?
The reason I ask is because I’ve read many CFO bios that say “John Smith, CPA started his career at a Big 4” so I’m curious what difference it makes where you start…

2 Answers
TesterittoTesteritto answered 7 months ago

Chances of you getting hired as a manager from a small CPA firm into Big4 are slim to none. Local Big4 office has to be really desperate.
Chances of becoming a CFO are even slimmer. They will rather hire a partner/director from Big4 externally, extremely hard to grow w/i industry from manager to CFO. Better switch when you’re Sr Manager/Director/Partner for a director/VP position and wait until the CFO gal/guy retire or get charged with fraud.
Talking about really large corporations here though (Fortune 500s).

ClownCollegeClownCollege answered 7 months ago

If CFO is your chosen path, your best bet is to start at the Big 4.  Like Testeritto said, slim chances to go from a small firm to the Big 4. What’s your current situation? Are you already at a Small firm looking to make a move or are you (hopefully) in school trying to map this out?  

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