January 17, 2019

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

Open ItemsCategory: CareersSmall CPA Firm ~> Big 4 ~> Corporate Executive (CFO)
DoubleHelixDoubleHelix asked 8 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 5 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 4 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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