Our industry specialists will listen to your aspirations and share your story with Belgium’s most prestigious organisations. Together, let’s write the next chapter of your career.

See all jobs

Belgium’s leading employers trust us to deliver fast, efficient hiring solutions that are tailored to their exact requirements. Browse our range of bespoke services and resources

Read more
About Robert Walters Belgium

For us, recruitment is more than just a job. We understand that behind every opportunity is the chance to make a difference to people’s lives

Learn more

Work for us

Our people are the difference. Hear stories from our people to learn more about a career at Robert Walters Belgium

Learn more

When is the right time to leave the Big 4?

If you’ve begun to think about leaving your Big 4 job, one of the many questions you might ask yourself is when. What looks better on a CV and improves your chances of securing a job?

The answer is not so clear-cut, as it will vary on each person’s situation and their goals. Whether you joined a Big 4 as a springboard for your career or were set on making partner, we generally advise professionals to make a move around three to six years of experience, in order not to leave either too early or too far into their Big 4 career.

Exiting as a Senior Auditor

Your Big 4 experience will have allowed you to rapidly develop skills and expertise which simply cannot be learned elsewhere. As a Senior Auditor, a promotion which usually happens around the third year, you will be given a team of juniors to supervise and will plan and oversee the audit process to ensure all client needs are met. This role will enable you to get a head start on developing some key leadership skills such as problem solving, communication and the ability to motivate others. As Senior, you will also perform much more complex and risk based audits and will need to identify business process improvements, all of which give you a deeper understanding of the full audit cycle. For those reasons, staying put until you’ve become Senior will help you stand out from all those who left earlier on in their Big 4 career.

Transitioning into a new job always takes time. When stepping away from audit, you will need to further develop certain skills that are necessary to succeed in industry, such as a profound systems knowledge (SAP for example) and a broader business understanding. Leaving as a Senior for a controlling or analysis role, your new employer will be more easily forgiving to recognise some of your 'limitations' and will provide you with the necessary time to settle in your new function.

Exiting as a Manager

Your extensive audit experience will have trained you to quickly acquire a general knowledge of your clients’ business. However, gaining a deeper understanding of one specific sector, its business needs, products, customers and even hurdles can only be learnt on the job. When applying for a management function or higher, employers look for seasoned professionals who are able to rapidly become operational. Surely, switching jobs always comes with an initial adjustment period, but transferring from a Big 4 to an industry job will require additional time for you to completely submerge yourself within a particular sector.

When stepping away from audit, you will need to further develop certain skills that are necessary to succeed in industry, such as a profound systems knowledge (SAP for example) and a broader business understanding. 

Furthermore, managing a team of auditors is not the same as managing an internal finance team. Instead of taking on a management function right away, it could be wise to take a role where you can learn from a seasoned manager who will show you the ropes of the business. For this very reason, we advise audit professionals looking to make a move not to wait too long past their manager promotion, which usually happens around the fifth year.

In the end, your Big 4 experience will prove beneficial to your career, no matter when you decide to leave. Like any job, just remember to leave gracefully.

Share this article

Related Solutions

Sign up for job alerts
Salary Survey
Career Advice
Get in touch

Find out more by contacting one of our specialist recruitment consultants


Learn more

View our latest jobs in accounting and finance or find out what you're worth with our digital salary survey tool.

Related content

View all

Why Big 4-professionals can work anywhere

Realized after a few years that working for the Big 4 is not for you? No problem, because companies are lining up to bring Big 4 leavers on board, according to international recruitment specialist Robert Walters. At the Big 4 you lay a foundation that you can use at almost any other company. Robert

Read More

Life after a Big 4: tips to help you find a job

As a Big 4 professional you have a sought after profile, and you’re bombarded with LinkedIn messages inviting you to have a look at new and “exciting” job opportunities. With all this attention, it can be at times confusing to actually step out of the Big 4 world and start looking for where to pursu

Read More

Four myths about leaving the Big 4

Many Big 4 professionals grow weary of making a move based on common misconceptions either about their Big 4 journey or about what to expect from an industry role. Christophe Paquay, Manager at Robert Walters and former Big 4 professional, clarifies 4 myths about leaving the Big 4. 1. Once you leave

Read More

Career advice for Controllers

The demand for Controllers has consistently shown an upward trend over the last years. What are the latest trends on the labour market for Controllers in Belgium? Which skills are essential and how do you demonstrate these in a job interview?

I'm Robert Walters Are you?

Come join our global team of creative thinkers, problem solvers and game changers. We offer accelerated career progression, a dynamic culture and expert training.