MBA Careers: Growth Of Big Four's Consulting Wings Opens Up Opportunities

Increasingly bright MBA job prospects at PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG

Rapid growth in advisory at the Big Four professional services firms highlights the feast of career opportunities in an expanding management consultancy market.

PwC, Deloitte, and EY have over the past month posted surging figures for their advisory wings.

The results come as industry experts have said the Big Four are scooping up an increasing number of management consultants.

“We are seeing a high demand for our students from the Big Four professional services firms,” said Larry Verbiest, associate director for consulting at Georgetown McDonough School of Business.

He added: “The number of offers has been on an upward trajectory [over] the last few years and we expect that trend to continue this coming year.”

At PwC, the largest professional services firm by revenue, consulting was up by 16% in the 12 months to the end of June. At Deloitte, consulting revenue grew 10.5%. For EY, advisory skyrocketed by 17.6%. KPMG announces results in December.

The consulting businesses of the Big Four were last year already growing faster than traditional consultancy firms, according to Source Information Services, an analyst firm.

MBA graduates have long lusted over working at traditional advisory companies, such as Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company and Bain & Co. Some of the big opportunities, however, are now with the Big Four, which have expanded aggressively beyond their accounting roots.

Deloitte last year hired 31 MBAs from Duke Fuqua School of Business; 26 from Kellogg School; and 24 from Michigan Ross. PwC hired 15 from UCLA Anderson School of Management. 

The Big Four have expanded through snapping up boutique management consultancy firms, such as Monitor Group, Booz and Company, and the Parthenon Group.

Deloitte last month bought Kaisen Consulting, a boutique of business psychologists and leadership consultants, and said it planned to recruit 700 people by 2020.

EY said this week that it had recruited 4,500 people this year — including 1,275 graduates — and appointed a record 95 new equity partners.

New European regulation that requires companies to put their audit out to tender every decade and switch auditor every two decades have also prompted a shift.

Dr Edgar Loew, professor of management practice in accounting at Frankfurt School, said that as European rules prompt rotations among auditors, accountants are increasingly moving from auditing departments to advisory departments.  

“They will have to be flexible as the market changes,” he added.

Regina Resnick, associate dean for the Career Management Center at Columbia Business School, said the advisory practices of the Big Four firms are recruiting on campus.

“Each is very interested in maintaining and strengthening their relationship with the school,” she said.

Consulting at the Big Four has been boosted in particular by services such as data analytics and cyber security, while financial services advisory has been buoyed by the booming mergers and acquisitions market.

Paul Schoonenberg, head of MBA careers at Aston Business School, said: “As M&A activity has been very active over the last 12 months, the Big Four firms have been expanding their teams.”

He added that the rise of mega-mergers — deals worth more than $1 trillion have flourished in 2015 — has fuelled team expansion.

EY’s transaction advisory services were up by 15.5%. Deloitte’s financial advisory unit grew by 9% last year. The firm already employs 300 people for corporate finance advisory work.

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