SME or Big 4? Which Career Path for You?

Posted June 30 2023 By Ashlene McFadden

It’s an enviable dilemma to be in: Two companies are vying for your accountancy talents in a bid to add value and excellence to their team. One is a well-known, national brand with shiny, modern offices and the other is a smaller, family firm with slightly less up-to-date facilities. They are both offering you the same job on the same wage … So, which one do you pick?

There can be many pros and cons on either side. Working for a big brand may seem exciting and glamorous but you could feel overwhelmed or faceless. Equally, a smaller firm may feel more welcoming, but where will it take your career?

Deciding what size of company you want to work in can be just as important as any other deciding factor throughout your job search – although you may not have realised how much of an impact it can have.

Here is a list of just some of the positives for working for either a large or a smaller company.

Small company

  • Wider experience and better overall understanding of the business
  • Increased interaction with senior members of staff
  • Opportunity to ‘climb the ladder’ relatively quickly
  • Often can have friendlier, more personable atmosphere
  • The chance to be ‘hands on’ with decision making

Large company

  • Larger budgets and access to great training programmes
  • Typically offer better benefits or more ‘perks’
  • The chance to take your career national or, in some cases, global
  • Better networking opportunities
  • Opportunity to work in specialised or niche roles

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing one company over another. It all boils down to personal preference and where you see your career going. As a recruiter, we can certainly advise you on culture fit, career progression and any other relevant details, but the choice to pursue a larger or smaller firm is purely down to the candidate.

Just as many people have careers for life at smaller firms as they do at larger ones. Perhaps you value close working relationships on a smaller scale or maybe you have your heart set on travel and training. All that is important is that you don’t get distracted by the brand itself, but rather what the actual day-to-day would look like and what the overall benefits package entails. Ideally, candidates would write a list of their career ‘must haves’ and see which company is most in line with their wants and needs.

That being said, choosing one size of firm over another doesn’t mean you are stuck there for life. A good recruiter will endeavour to keep in touch to remind you of current opportunities in the market. There is always room for mobility in any job.

If you would like to speak to me about roles within the Accountancy & Finance market, I would be delighted to chat to you about the positions I currently have available. Click here to drop me an email.  

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