Consulting or Accounting


#1

I’m a second year University economics student and I just wanted to get opinions really on what people think is better - accounting or consulting? Both sound interesting, but competitive. Is accounting generally easier to get in to than consulting? Which is better paid after 5/10 years?

Thank you for you help in advance!


#2

Consulting is definately better than accounting, hands down. It is also more work, more competitive and more money. Consultants advice businesses on strategy issues, to help them make more money. Accountants advise on accounting issues.

Really to be getting into consulting you will need a first class degree and show a strong commitment to wanting to work in consulting (it is VERY competitive). Accounting is much easier to get into (relatively speaking), and you would be OK with a 2.1.

With both there will always be long hours involved. However, accounting’s hours are seasonal (typically January - March for auditors) whereas for consulting it is project based, and typically this is all year round.

Consulting is much more interesting work than accounting and given the choice (again) that’s what I’d do.


#3

Accounting is a great career if you manage to secure a place at one of the top 4.

A key advantage to accountancy is that there is a great deal of attention that PwC, Deloitte, EY or KPMG will pay to training and offering opportunities to develop your career. These firms offer a broad range of financial services to business which include a great deal of advisory work on how the company can run itself more efficiently to improve profit. The firms will train you up in the first 3 years and you have a great deal of say in what direction you want your career to go in and what work interests you the most.

In contrast training at investment banks, consultancy or legal firms tends to be much more dog eat dog with there being a reputation for these firms to abuse their staff whilst offering large financial renumeration.

Perhaps the best thing about having a career in accountancy is that the pay is more than enough not to have to worry about money, so long as you hold off on that ferrari for a few years, and the hours are reasonable enough for you to have enough time to remember what life is all about. Typically in Audit the hours are 9 - 5.30 but can be longer when visiting clients or in a busy period. In tax the hours are a steady 9-5.30

Another plus to working in accounting is that over a 3 year period you gain the ACA qualification. At the end of this all options are open again. From moving into a managerial position at the firm you are in, to making a career change into consultancy, banking or law (assuming your prepared to do the qualifications)

It is very competitative to get into the top 4 with approximately 10 applications for every place available.

The pay at the top 4 is 26,000 in london 20,000 outside. This pay more than doubles over a 5 year period going upto 250,000 - 2.5m if you make it to partner (which normally takes about 12 - 15 years)

Consultancy on the other hand is often seen as more exciting career choice. The benefits to consultancy are its shortcommings for me. If you work for a big consultancy firm such as accenture or IBM then you will be working away from home during the week coming home at weekends. This is good if you enjoy travel and staying in hotels but makes a home life difficult and can become lonely. The nature of the job doesnt change as you get older with your salary and position increasing you will still be flying to Mumbai, Dallas etc working on a project traveling to the client to offer them your consultancy skills.

The pay is better than accountancy which probably explains why it is harder to get into than accountancy.


#4

Hey Martys that was a great post, thank you! …I liked the sound of travelling around the world and working for a consulting firm but thinking about it again I can see that spending time in hotel rooms with no friends around could get pretty lonely. I’ve heard some pretty average reports about Accenture compared to firms such as IBM and Deloitte. I consider my CV and experience to be pretty good, perhaps even good enough to get a job at a top firm. In your opinion, where would you recommend for consulting? I am interested in working for foreign firms, as well as those in the UK.

The Worm.


#5

Accenture and IBM are the two biggest consulting firms giving you the opportunity to work on projects nationwide and abroad, they tend to take on the most graduates and pay the most. A career at either would be an opportunity not to be turned down if you want to work in consulting.

Having said that Deloitte, Cap Gemini, McKinsey & Co etc all offer fantastic careers. The best way to decide which one to choose is to apply widely and as you go through the application process you will have the opportunity to speak to people within those firms and visit their offices to get a feel for what they are like. Then if you are left in the fortunate position to be sitting on more than one offer you will have acquired as much information as possible to make an informed choice.


#6

IBM & Accenture are techology consultants - for implementation of IT systems and so on. Tends to be a fair bit of travel as IT systems are global.

The rest (Bain, McKinsey etc) are strategic consultants or management consultants. Much more money that technology consulting but longer hours. Also much more competitive to get into. Arguably more interesting work, and the real opportunity to become a board member on a company one day.