Discover your dream Career
For Recruiters

Big Four implement hikes in salaries, bonuses to fight off banks

It's been a good year for partners at PwC. Average profit per partner at the Big Four firm for the year ending June 2021 was at its highest ever level of £868k according to the Financial Times, up from £685k in 2020 and £765k in 2019. 

Some of this has trickled down the ranks. The bonus pot for PwC's UK staff in the year to June was £128m, up from £83m in 2020. However, that only works out at an average of £5.8k per head. 

As investment banks compete for staff and implement large salary increases both in the UK and globally, Big Four firms have been losing large numbers of people to higher paying banking rivals. Their advisory, consulting, and transaction services teams have all been hit.

"The Big Four are losing people like nobody's business," says Andy Pringle at recruitment firm Circle Square. "Banks are recruiting from them hand over fist." 

As we reported last month, some Big Four firms have already hiked pay in response, with some managers in advisory teams at PwC and KPMG understood to have received £10k pay rises. However, in other cases, the increases are said to have been more dramatic still. An associate director with five years' post qualification experience on one advisory team at a Big Four firm in London is understood to have had a recent salary increase from £60k to £90k, plus a £20k bonus. 

Not all firms have implemented increases though. A consultant at EY says they've "lost a lot of talent to banks, and while I’ve heard senior people acknowledge salaries are too low at the Big 4, I’ve yet to hear about what increases we expect to get." An update is due later this month, he says. 

Pringle says it's not just salaries that are rising at Big Four firms in response to the pay rises at banks. "Over the past five to six years, bonuses at the Big Four have been 10% to 20% of salaries at associate director level, if you're lucky. Now they're saying that bonuses will go up to 30% to 40%."

Even with a £90k salary and a £30k bonus, an associate director at the Big Four will still be paid substantially less than his or her counterpart at a bank. After five years in an investment banking role in London, you can now expect to earn a salary of around £120k, plus a comparable bonus. 

However, people in the Big Four typically work far shorter hours than people in banks. Working hours in PWC's corporate finance team average around 71 per week according to Wall Street Oasis. At the Big Four, Pringle says you'll typically work until 7pm or 8pm at night. At large investment banks, there are complaints of all night work and 100 hour weeks. "It's a different level of exposure again at banks and boutiques," says Pringle, adding that some of those moving out of the Big Four and into these types of firms find it difficult to adjust as a result. 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available. Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

Photo by Martin Olsen on Unsplash

author-card-avatar
AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Tu
    Tudor M
    14 August 2021

    Big4 does not compete with investment banks, what planet are you on? It doesn't even compete with non-investment banks. The only selling point is the potential rapid growth - other than that, wherever you go from big 4 you'll get more money.

  • Di
    Discus
    12 August 2021

    Still waiting to see increases trickling through here at the big4 I'm in. In the meantime we continue to bleed staff and try backfill. And even that's difficult.... Losing out to other companies that start these junior candidates at £20k more than I'm currently earning. So....I'll be leaving soon

Sign up to Morning Coffee!

Coffee mug

The essential daily roundup of news and analysis read by everyone from senior bankers and traders to new recruits.

Boost your career

Find thousands of job opportunities by signing up to eFinancialCareers today.
Recommended Articles
Recommended Jobs
Metis Search
FIG Analyst - Global Bulge Bracket Investment Bank
Metis Search
London, United Kingdom
PER, Private Equity Recruitment
Investment Analyst, Public Equities, Investment Firm, Dubai, UAE
PER, Private Equity Recruitment
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Goodman Masson
Fintech M&A Associate - US boutique
Goodman Masson
London, United Kingdom
Metis Search
Debt Advisory - VP/Director - Leading IB Boutique
Metis Search
London, United Kingdom
Elevate Partners
Investment Associate - Cimate Fund
Elevate Partners
London, United Kingdom

Sign up to Morning Coffee!

Coffee mug

The essential daily roundup of news and analysis read by everyone from senior bankers and traders to new recruits.