Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Work life balance in Big 4

Let's define what's big 4?

Big 4 was defined as 4 largest accounting firms in the accounting profession worldwide. The Big 4 consist of the following entities: Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young and KPMG.

Auditors in Big 4, in general, have long working hours. Working till midnight and over the weekend is a norm in the industry. We've heard about the heavy work load, stressful life and long working hours of auditors who work in Big 4 audit firms. However, what are the factors cause the long working hours in Big 4?

It is due to the portfolio of the clients that Big 4 have. Majority of the listed companies would engage one of the Big 4 audit firms as their auditors. Having high volume of transactions and relatively more complicated business, listed company has tigther dateline to meet. As such, the audit team work on a listed company have to struggling between the dateline and the complexity of the transactions. This has resulted in the increase in hours required to spend.

Listed parent company would normally requires its oversea subsidiary to engage the same auditor as the parent company or at least a big 4 auditor. The Multinational Company located in oversea has tight reporting dateline too. Due to the fact that the parent might be a listed company in United States/ Europe, and subsidiary is required to report to the parent company on time, in order to meet the regulatory dateline.

The above analysis tell you why auditors in Big 4 needs to work so late.

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