Should You Consult the Big 4?



The Big 4 are a group of four of the largest professional services networks in the world. They are Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG and PwC.

Consulting with any of these Big 4 firms can be a great way to get a comprehensive understanding of your business and industry, as well as access to expertise that you otherwise won’t have access to.

In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of consulting with the Big 4 to help you make an informed decision.

Pros and cons of consulting the Big 4

Consulting the Big 4Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – can offer a wide range of services to help you grow and develop your business. Consulting with a Big 4 firm is not without risks, however, and it’s important to weigh both the pros and cons before making a decision.


  • The Big 4 have extensive resources that can come in handy when making complex business decisions.
  • The four firms have offices in most major cities around the world, so their services are accessible even if your business does not operate in the same country as them.
  • They are well respected in the global business community, meaning working with a Big 4 firm adds credibility to your organization.
  • Agreements can be tailored to fit specific needs eliminating long contracts that lock clients into services they may not need or want.


  • Although agreements may be flexible, consulting projects with the Big 4 can be expensive as billed rates for staff members are normally higher than with outside consultants or smaller firms.
  • Their size can also make them appear rigid or inflexible at times due to bureaucracies within their structures.
  • When roles conflict between departments taken on by different consultants from different locations, communication issues arise leading to delays on projects due to slow response times or limited ability of personnel in distant locations to understand client problems quickly.

Benefits of Consulting the Big 4

Consulting the Big 4 is becoming increasingly popular due to the impressive reputation they have in the business world. By consulting with the Big 4, you can gain access to their global network and resources, ensuring you have access to the best people and widest range of industry knowledge. Furthermore, the Big 4 have a long history of successful engagements, and their in-depth experience can be invaluable to any business.

Let’s look at some of the main benefits of consulting the Big 4:

Access to top-tier talent

Among the advantages of consulting with Big 4 firms is access to top-tier talent that have subject matter expertise in multiple industries and practice areas. Big 4 firms have global networks of accredited professionals from which clients can select the best team to conduct a particular project. Further, as members of an internationally recognised network, professionals affiliated with any firm from the Big 4 have access to resources and comparable services throughout the world.

Big 4 firms are also well known for their ability to attract and retain top-tier talent due to their attractive compensation and benefit plans for employees. As such, clients who choose to seek out the services of one or more of the Big 4 in order to pursue a project or complete tasks will benefit from working with highly experienced and well-respected individuals who are familiar with these areas across industries. Additionally, as each firm takes great care in assessing both candidates’ skillset as well as their ability to collaborate effectively, customers can be assured that they will receive quality service dedicated precisely towards achieving predetermined goals.

Global reach and resources

When considering the benefits of consulting the Big 4, the global reach and vast resources they bring to the table are unparalleled. With operations in over 100 countries, those firms offer a unique range of skills and contacts worldwide. This scale permeates all aspects of their operations – from risk management services to pricing models and process automation. Moreover, access to top talent from around the world is an asset that offers consultancies an advantage over other firms.

In addition to these advantages, many Big 4 firms provide access to their own knowledge databases where training materials and best practices are available to consultancies on demand. Professional development programs offered by some Big 4 firms equip consultants with cutting-edge tools, techniques and industry insights needed for today’s consulting environment.

The Big 4 have also invested heavily in building platform solutions that deliver process efficiency, cost reduction and time savings. Because they have integrated a wide range of technology into their operations, including artificial intelligence (AI) tools, they can quickly find solutions that meet specific customer needs while staying agile enough to support dynamic strategy changes as market trends evolve over time.

For Fortune 500 companies seeking top-tier consulting advice from experienced professionals with unparalleled resources at their disposal, the clear choice is often one of the four major audit firms: Deloitte, EY (formerly Ernst & Young), KPMG or PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers). By accessing expertise from these trusted industry stalwarts at all levels – strategy through execution – organisations can gain access to deep pools of global resources without complicated processes upstream or unforeseen risks downstream.

Financial stability

The Big 4 accounting firms–Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)–can provide valuable consulting services, especially on financial matters. This is not solely because of the expertise their consultants possess but also due to the financial stability and solid reputation of these global companies.

The reputation, size and success of the Big 4 carry a lot of weight when it comes to instilling trust in clients that their consulting needs are being met with experienced professionals who have relevant insights from working with generally larger and more varied clients than smaller firms.

In addition, companies can rely on the Big 4’s financial stability due to their long track record of successes. If a project requires a lot of resources or if its scope is much larger than expected, the Big 4 are better positioned than smaller or less-established firms to handle those issues effectively. They also have multidisciplinary teams that allow them to deliver services related to all aspects of business—from tax planning to risk management or mergers & acquisitions. Furthermore, they often provide general advice on issues such as succession planning or corporate governance.

Generally speaking, when it comes to dealing with large-scale projects and matters requiring financial security, the Big 4 are likely your best bet for high quality service from experts in their fields.

Challenges of Consulting the Big 4

Consulting with the Big 4 can be an incredible opportunity to gain experience and hone your skills in an environment of excellence. However, consulting with the Big 4 comes with its own set of challenges. This section will discuss the pros and cons of consulting the Big 4, including:

  • The difficulty to get hired.
  • The high demands placed on consultants.
  • The intense competition for projects.

High cost of services

When it comes to consulting at the Big 4, the high cost of their services is one of the biggest challenges for potential clients. While facing this challenge, many organizations choose to look for alternative providers who can offer competitive rates in comparison. Additionally, organizations may also find that hiring an external consultant with Big 4 experience (such as Alumni) can still provide them with expertise while they save on costs.

The cost alone may deter some organizations from taking this route and push them towards exploring other organizations who promise full service with a lower price tag. It is important to note that organizations do not necessarily pay more to work with the Big Four – instead, they pay more because they receive more access and engagement within their processes. Their services are provided by top-level professional teams who are equipped to handle complex financial transactions, such as international mergers and acquisitions or global market capitalization projects. Consulting companies within the Big Four also offer reliable advice during difficult times and help clients navigate changing circumstances due to inevitable market shifts.

Ultimately, if budget constraints have become a barrier for your business needing immediate consulting services, it is important that you weigh your options carefully – take into consideration both the savings associated with a less expensive option versus all of the benefits available when working with experienced professionals from a name brand organization like one of the Big Four accounting firms.

Longer turnaround times

Working with the Big 4 can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but you should be aware of the potential challenges you might face. One common issue is slower turnaround times than a smaller firm. Solutions may take more time to come to fruition due to a larger team, more bureaucracy and multiple layers of decision making that don’t always prioritize speed.

The longer turnaround time is often attributed to both scale and diversity in the Big 4’s form and structure. Many firms have appeared considerably larger through their many mergers and acquisitions which may have caused some restructuring in their systems for better or for worse. On top of this, services are often broader, requiring input from different divisions or countries which can add another layer of complexity when it comes to project completion times.

When consulting with the Big 4, it is essential to set realistic expectations for delivery timelines at the outset – account for complexity and ensure there’s sufficient contingency in place should it be needed – and stay on top of your daily process management activities while continuously communicating with stakeholders across departments if something starts taking longer than expected.

Complex internal bureaucracy

Working with a Big 4 firm can offer many potential opportunities, but it’s important to recognize the significant barriers that one might encounter. Consulting the Big 4 means dealing with a complex internal bureaucracy that is designed to protect their interests first and foremost.

The typical Big 4 firm hierarchy is highly structured and rigid, making it difficult for outside consultants to be successful in their efforts. This is due in part to the fact that many of their processes have been around for decades, leaving little room for change or adaptation. There are also sharp divisions in departments and even distinct cultural differences among groups within the same organization. This can be an issue as well as frustrating when trying to move projects forward without roadblocks from internal politics.

Also, many of the larger jobs tend to be given primarily to internal staff who understand the company systems better than outside consultants do – at least initially. In some cases, even if an outside consultant proves successful on a project over time, there may still be a hesitancy from management to continue using them because there is less flexibility in payment terms and verification of performance quality versus employing someone from within their teams.

Lastly, consulting the Big 4 can be more expensive compared to working with regional or smaller firms since they have higher overhead costs associated with intricate structures and expansive international networks required by global corporate clients they serve. All these factors must be taken into consideration before attempting work with one of these businesses as successes could mean career advancement while missteps could lead to frustration or disappointment professionally.

Alternatives to Consulting the Big 4

Consulting the Big 4 can be a great way to get advice and assistance on a wide range of tasks. However, there are alternatives to consulting the Big 4 that can be just as effective. This article will take a look at some of the alternatives that are available and discuss the pros and cons of each option:

Smaller, independent consulting firms

If the Big Four is out of reach for your organization, there are several other options for consulting firms. Often smaller than the big four, independent consulting firms may provide more specialized services and offer different pricing structures that can help to accommodate your budget. Depending on your project’s scope, an independent consulting firm may be a better fit than the Big Four.

Independent consulting firms often focus on specific industries or topics and have an established specialization that makes them an attractive choice. They usually have a team of consultant experts in various specialized areas such as IT, marketing, accounting and eCommerce that can bring new insights and approaches to projects. Additionally, their services tend to be more cost-effective than those of the Big Four due to the smaller overhead costs associated with running a boutique firm versus a large multi-national conglomerate. Finally, they tend to have more flexibility when it comes to creating customized solutions for their clients which can be highly advantageous for businesses seeking something outside of the standard approaches.

Some examples of independently owned consulting firms are:

  • The Frontier Group
  • BCG Digital Ventures (formerly BCG Gamma)
  • Stout Risius Ross LLC (SRR) Industrial Strategy Group
  • McKinney & Company
  • Finetix Consulting Group

Each firm has its own unique perspective on how best to assist companies with their business needs while also staying within budget constraints – making them attractive alternatives in certain situations when compared against larger organizations such as the Big Four.

Freelance consultants

In recent years, the demand for freelance consultants has grown significantly. According to some reports, the number of freelance consultants in the U.S. has doubled in the last decade. Meanwhile, the number of independent contractors on platforms such as Up Work and Freelancer is over 50 million – a figure expected to reach 86 million by 2027.

Freelance consultants provide an alternative to consulting with the Big 4 firms (Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young (E&Y) and KPMG). Freelance consultants can offer specialized knowledge in a certain sector and will offer flexible terms for their services – often at lower rates than traditional firms. They may also free you from long-term commitments or provide more personalized attention than larger consulting firms.

When considering working with freelancers, it is important to contact a variety of individuals and ask questions such as:

  • How long have they been providing consultancy services?
  • What industries have they worked with?
  • Do they specialize in certain topics?
  • Are there any references available?
  • Do they have linked profiles that you can review?

By asking these questions upfront, you may get a better sense of how they work and better understand how they may be able to benefit your project or business needs.

In-house resources

Consulting the Big 4 can be an expensive proposition, but there are other options available. Many companies have in-house resources that can provide similar advice at a much lower cost. For instance, internal accounting and finance teams can offer expertise in setting up financial systems, budgeting and forecasting. Internal audit teams are also invaluable for verifying financial controls and developing new processes to improve internal efficiencies. Additionally, human resources departments can help establish policies regarding employee retention, benefits packages and job responsibilities.

In-house IT departments are a great asset as well, as they can streamline communications and give companies access to the latest technology without incurring expensive outside consulting costs. Additionally, having an in-house analyst who is familiar with the industry trends and customer behaviors will give a business invaluable insights that could result in improved efficiency or strategic advantage over the competition. With these types of support functions already in place at many organizations, it may make more sense to leverage them rather than outsourcing these services to large consulting firms like McKinsey or Deloitte.


After considering both the pros and cons of working with the Big 4, it’s important to assess whether it’s the right choice for your business. Working with the Big 4 can provide you with access to the most experienced and talented professionals in the industry, but it can also come with a high price tag.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on your company’s current circumstances and future goals.

Summary of pros and cons of consulting the Big 4

For many aspiring business professionals, consulting the Big 4 is an attractive option. Hundreds of professionals have been recruited by these companies and they offer a wide variety of opportunities. But there are also some drawbacks to consider before diving in head-first.

Pros of Consulting the Big 4:

  • Working with a top-tier firm with lots of resources and experience
  • Exposure to high-level projects and clients
  • Opportunities for collaboration and career development
  • Benefits, training, and travel opportunities

Cons of Consulting the Big 4:

  • Demanding schedule that can lead to burn out or lack of balance between personal life and work life
  • High pressure environment may lead to limited creativity or originality in their work products
  • Competitive culture that can be stressful for some individuals

Overall, consulting the Big 4 can be a great career opportunity as long as you understand both the pros and cons beforehand. It’s important to be aware that while you may gain invaluable experience at these firms, it’s also necessary to take care of yourself if you want your experience to be successful long term.