Mid tier (specifically Grant Thornton) vs Big 4

Grant Thornton

Firstly, I would like to thank those who set up this site and also thank those who contribute to this site. In the cut-throught competition involved in securing a graduate job it is just plain nice to see people helping each other out. Wikijob has been invaluable in helping me out as I poo myself before interviews. I wouldn’t have known about SARBOX. I wouldn’t have known about practice e tray exercises. I wouldn’t have known about how to get to the point when answering questions. The list is endless and I say well done chaps!

Getting to the point: I have been offered a job at Grant Thornton. I really liked the manager, the partner, the general culture of the place (London Office). Everyone was spectacularly friendly and it was emphasised to me what a great supportive environment it was to study the ACA and gain hands on experience.

However, if I accept, I worry about the long term opportunities Grant Thornton trainees have compared to Big 4 trainees. In the long run do those who train with the Big 4 have better opportunities? Perhaps in the future, I may want to go into another career, say banking or consultancy or corporate finance; i get the feeling that those who trained with the Big 4 will be seen as superior to those who trained elsewhere.

Admittedly, on a shallow and superficial level, I would want to work for the Big 4 because of the prestige involved. I was knocked back by deloitte but have yet to apply to the other three. I really think that the variety of clients, the quicker turnover of clients, the chance to take on more responsibility at an earlier stage, and the better work life balance makes GT look a really great place to work (as well as other factors), BUT, i have a niggly feeling that to maximise long term opportunities I should concentrate on getting a big 4 contract (and working for the Big 4 appeals to my more shallow sensibilities).

I would be grateful for people’s thoughts on this. Why are the Big 4 in such high demand? I want it, but i know I’ll be happier at GT. What would you do?


If you liked GT, I’d say take that. Despite what you may think, if at the end of your training you want to move to a big4 firm, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to, provided you can prove you meet the standard, which I’m sure you will.

Bear in mind that people trained in the Big$ often want to move down once trained, leaving vacancies for people to move up. Long term, I believe GT has a good reputation and working for a smaller firm means you will will get more varied hands on experience, which you will be able to demonstrate to any company you may choose to move to. Plus, do you want to reject a firm offer at a place you really like purely for vanity?

I am no expert of course and these are merely my thoughts. However, if you did interview at a Big4 firm there’s nothing to say you won’t like it equally as much, I personally felt hugely comfortable at PwC and declined interviews at other Big4 firms once I had secured a job with them but we’re all different. My overriding thought is that have to dedicate 3 years of your life to training. Years that involve a lot of study and learning new things. As such, your happiness is imperative as it will be much much harder if you are miserable and unmotivated!!! I chose where I thought I’d be happiest, even though I had to change service lines to do so. This was a change I was willing to make to snare a job at the firm of my choice.

Let us know what you decide to do!!


I say apply to the Big 4! It’s hard for you to decide if you like them or not without actually having gone through the recruitment process like you have done with GT. At least once you apply (assuming you get the job), then the decision will be made based on facts rather than some ‘illusion’ you may have of one company or the other!


I agree with all that’s been said- try and secure some more offers before making your mind up. Grant Thornton is a great firm though- those mid tiers are extremely reputable and very well known. A particularly good reason to work for a [[Big 4]] is if you want to go into banking or financial services- and want to be involved working with those clients from an early stage. If this doesn’t interest you, there’s no reason why mid-tier is a bad thing.

They say a lot of the financial director’s of companies are ex-[[Big 4]]. This is true, however the [[Big 4]] also train up more accountants than anybody else, so it’s a fairly hollow victory.

Ultimately, it will come down to your reference and performance while working at whichever firm that will ultimately help you on your way in the future.

Personally I don’t believe working for a mid-tier firm, especially one like [[Grant Thornton]] or [[BDO Stoy Hayward]] would ever hold you back.

What kind of thing do you think you might want to do afterwards? Also, what line of service did you apply for?


Well, I work for GT and have done for two years now-- and I know a lot of people who’ve qualified and gone to the banks-- Barclays Capital, RBS etc. They haven’t just gone into product control, 3 last year went to Barcap to do the ‘newly qualified ACA’ rotation scheme (where you rotate around different departments of the investment bank before settling down) out of 20 they take on every year. I think this is pretty good considering the relative sizes of graduate intakes!

Furthermore I’ve worked on a number of clients (some AIM listed, some not) where the FDs are ex-GT. And I can confirm, they are on a LOT of money, possibly even more than you’d earn in a bank.

I’d say if you want to go into M&A/the front office at a bank def choose Big 4, but given the current economic climate that might be hard to get into even if you are ex-Big 4.

Good luck!


Ive just had an offer from GT in a regional office. I want to get in to management consultancy after I get my ACA.

I wanted to know wether I would be at a disadvantage applying to larger consultancy firms if I qualified from GT as apposed to a big 4 firms.

any thoughts would be very much appreciated.

Thanks guyz.


I think you both know the answer to this question.

No one will say categorically that you can’t move into banking or consultancy but everyone knows because of their prestige the prospects are slightly better. If that is really what you want to do, I would apply. You may really like it at GT or you may really like it some place else - you won’t know except that you might have disavantaged yourself.

If you had applied and been unsuccessful then at least you know there was nothing else you could have reasonably done.