Big 4 Career Path:

Pay & Title

 

This post aims to simplify what a career path at a big 4, especially consulting, looks like in Hong Kong. You will notice a pretty decent increase in salary at different career stages. I use pay ranges to cover the differences in different departments (e.g. Assurance, Tax, Consulting / Advisory, Deals / Transaction Services). In general, the impression is that consulting (e.g. actuarial, forensic, management consulting) pays slightly higher. There are lots of reasons for these, e.g. higher margin in consulting. But let’s face it, the biggest factor is the offer acceptance rate.

They have to make it more attractive to graduates

The starting salary at big 4 was once notoriously low compared to other professional services in HK. The problem is that the business demands the best and flexible minds they can find. But these best and flexbile minds often find it hard to take their offer. When offers get declined one too many times, the partners started to ask for a higher starting salary. While consulting is not just about money, for fresh graduates who have no idea what they want to do in life, a choice between 30k IBD and 11k Consulting job seems quite obvious.  (Disclaimer: I did take that 11k job when I was starting out. It ended up okay. See more: How I bought a house in 2 years starting out at 11k a month) That was a few years back. I’m glad to hear and spread the rumors that big 4 consulting firms are pushing the starting salary to the range of 18k~20k. 

Myth on pay difference among the big 4 firms in Hong Kong

Obviously there are all sorts of rumors and perceptions on the pay difference. To save you time on research, there are something along this lines: PwC has the highest pay for graduates, followed by Deloitte, then KPMG, then EY. This is irrelevant. Why? Their pay doesn’t mean your pay. I know a guy that started in EY consulting at 20k in 2012. Does it mean graduates next year will get that kind of pay? No. Graduates in 2013 start at 15k. Why that guy is an exception? I don’t know.

Note: PwC Strateg& does pay more than the rest of big 4 and its interview process is more like the MBB (and run by a different team).  

Myth on culture difference among the big 4 firms in Hong Kong

Another funny myth. I have seen coaches that shares “tips” on how to interview according to the firm’s culture. For example, PwC is more aggressive, so you need to lead more in group discussion. So, that means you don’t lead group discussions in other big 4 interviews? Or Deloitte values leadership. (What does this even mean? Other firms don’t value leadership?) Or, EY likes people person. So you need to be friendly in the interviews. Hmm, so you don’t demonstrate leadership in EY interviews? Or you don’t act friendly in other firms? 

I will write a separate article on the interview process and the introduction on Big 4. 

Enough said, let’s show you the money.

 

 

Career Path

  • 1~2 years

    Associate

    • Monthly salary: 15-30k
    • Bonus: 13th month
    • Average time to next level: 1.5-2 years
    • Expectations on project delivery: 80~100%
    • Expectation on client relationship: 0~20% 
    • Expectations on practice building: 0~20% 
  • 2~5 years

    Senior Associate

    • Monthly salary: 25~50k
    • Bonus: 13th month
    • Average time to next level: 2.5~4 years
    • Expectations on project delivery: 60~80%
    • Expectation on client relationship: 20~40%
    • Expectations on practice building: 10~20% (e.g. coaching junior team members)
  • 5~8 years

    Manager

    • Monthly salary: 50~70k 
    • Bonus: 1~3 months as per performance rating
    • Average time to next level: 2.5~4 years
    • Expectations on project delivery: 40~60%
    • Expectation on client relationship: 40~60% 
    • Expectations on practice building: 20~40% (e.g. coaching junior team members, your coachee(s))
  • 8~11 years

    Senior Manager

    • Monthly salary: 75k~120k
    • Bonus: 1~3 months as per performance rating
    • Average time to next level: 2~4 years
    • Expectations on project delivery: 20~40%
    • Expectation on client relationship: 50~75%
    • Expectations on practice building: ~50% (e.g. coaching junior team members, your coachee(s))
  • 11~13 years

    Director

    • Monthly salary: 120k~180k
    • Bonus: discretionary based on business performance
    • Average time to next level: 2~4 years
    • Expectations on project delivery: 20~30% (e.g. guide the team to solutions, provide inputs, review deliverables)
    • Expectation on client relationship: 60~80% (e.g. meet sales target)
    • Expectations on practice building: 50~75% (e.g. coaching junior team members, your coachee(s))
  • 13+ years

    Partner

    • Monthly salary: 160k~300k
    • Bonus: discretionary based on business performance
    • Average time to next level: 3~? years
    • Expectations on project delivery: 0~10%
    • Expectation on client relationship: 80~100% (e.g. meet sales target, up-sell and cross-sell )
    • Expectations on practice building: 75~100% (e.g. build leaders)

Source: Houson Salary Guide 2015; CareeTipsHK; Image Credit: Unsplash; Image Effect Credit: Pixlr

CareerTipsHK: 

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Source: CareeTipsHK; Image Credit: Unsplash; Image Effect Credit: Pixlr