Big 4 Partners With High Salaries To Experience Layoffs

Picture Source
No, that’s not happening, but it could.

It’s happening to the lawyers and the consultants to the lawyers are helping them think about how to do it nicely.

I was reviewing my Top 20 Pages last night and realized that if I could write the post about Big 4 partner “salaries” and the the layoff of Big 4 partners, I would probably get a million hits in one day.

But that’s not what this is all about…

You have no idea how many people in and out of the firms Google, “Big 4 Partner Salaries,” and “What Do Big 4 Partners Make?” Lots of interest in this subject. Any partners that want to lay it out for me will be doing the public a huge service.

Or maybe the regulators could push for more transparency by the firms with their own financial statements? Maybe we should make them convert to IFRS?

Report top partner and average partner compensation by tenure range.
Report assets and liabilities, on and off balance sheet.
Report sources of funds.
Report reserves and contingencies for litigation.

Come on.

I dare you.

Last summer, my consistent #1 post was the one about Auditing Standard 5. That’s still a popular one and people still search constantly for more information about how and when to implement it. But since last fall, and especially since January, the readers of this blog have had their minds on their job, their paycheck, their family, and their house. And they are looking for their audit firm to get better at telling them what’s going to happen next.

Here are the Top 20 Posts:

PwC Advisory Services Layoff

PwC US Layoff

Big 4 Starting Salaries – Facts

LAUSD Still Cleaning Up Deloitte’s Mess

PwC Layoff – Meet Me At The Reorganization

New Century Financial – It”s KPMG Again

PwC Layoff – Paying Pesky Employees To Go Away

More Big 4 Layoffs

Follow Up PwC Advisory Services Layoffs

Bear Stearns – Sometimes Losing A Client Is A Good Thing

Big 4 Salaries – Every Day A Surprise

Société Générale – Risk And Control

Follow Up on More Big 4 Layoffs

Put A Fork In PwC – They’re Done Re: Northern Rock

Off With Their Heads – The Fallout Of The Subprime Crisis

Auditing Standard 5 – Repealing The AA/Enron Rule

PwC Hit With Overtime Lawsuit Wave

KPMG Canada Settles Overtime Suit

Ah Youth – The Folly Of Blind Loyalty

Layoffs – What’s Your Excuse

And my Top 15 Keyword Search Terms from recent statistics

Num Perc. Search Term
1,268 3.99% re the auditors
1,238 3.90% pwc layoffs
713 2.24% pwc layoff
698 2.20% kpmg new century
397 1.25% bear stearns auditor
329 1.04% retheauditors
290 0.91% new century kpmg
248 0.78% auditing standard 5
246 0.77% pwc advisory layoffs
241 0.76% sirva
225 0.71% re: the auditors
217 0.68% kpmg layoffs
172 0.54% francine mckenna
171 0.54% deloitte layoffs
139 0.44% pricewaterhousecoopers layoffs

15 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I just looked at our internal financials and revenue/growth projections (all employees in client service had access to the numbers on purpose) to figure out what the average salary per partner is. It also schooled me to find out how much the average partner pays out in lawsuit and settlement fees as a percentage of salary (and we’re one of the least frequently thrown under the bus, from what I can tell.)

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Ah yes, the “PwC Advisory Services Layoff” post. That was a great one as your “source” said “up to 1000 professionals will be told they have no job.”

    Still waiting for the number to come close to 1k.

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    it wasn’t 1000 all at once – that would be too hard to hide…it was 400 on that Friday, coupled with a few hundred in the Fall and a few hundred more by end of May

  4. Francine McKenna
    Francine McKenna says:

    Well, since I keep hearing that they’re cutting people 50 to 100 at a time, in all practices, in disparate locations all over the country and not issuing any press releases, blaming the individual and making them feel like losers so they don’t talk amongst themselves… I will accept the burden of keeping score.

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    You know the more I read this “blog” the less credible it becomes. I think it is completely irrisponsible of you to use a headline like that. It reminds me of your claims of 1000 people being laid off in Advisory and Juan getting canned.

    Please stop printing headlines like this without any support. Please try and be responsible in your reporting of “facts.”

    I would love to know about Partner saleries along with everyone else. But your recent article, along with a few others, reads more like a message board topic than a blog.


  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I don’t think you are ever going to get a straight answer of what partners make. Sure, you can find a source somewhere who will tell you what the AGI is for somebody, but that is not the whole story.

    What about the magical buckets of expense that they have? The huge quarterly payouts to “help” with quarterly tax payments? Auto reimbursement/ leases? Do they take any draws? Etc., Etc., Etc.

    I would be willing to bet that most partners in the big4 probably claim around $550-750k, that from simply looking at their published financial information. If they are this stingy with reporting information about earnings TO THEIR OWN PEOPLE that tells me, at least, that they are just making sure they dot the “i” and cross the “t” because they aren’t reporting everything to the IRS.

    Or I could be seeing black helicopters.

  7. Francine McKenna
    Francine McKenna says:

    @I Just Work Here – Maybe you didn’t read the Disclaimer post yesterday…

    Just received word that email referred to below does refer to Deloitte.

    @Anonymous – A regular commenter, who asked to remain super anon in this case, sent this update to me this morning.

    …one of the Big 4 is announcing performance/utilization based professional reductions today; this will include staff and managers, and is for audit and IT auditors.

    Looks like the reductions will be in the 1% to 3% range of total headcount, depending of geography.

    The basis for the reduction is that the Firm is behind the financial plan, and with the slowdown, it looks like recovery back to plan is unlikely, and forecasts for next year need reducing.

    Criteria for impacted people included performance ratings, past ultilization, and future projected utilization. Consistent with Firm policy, they will get some sort of severance package.

    No word on partners.

  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Deloitte’s audit practice just recently laid off a number of employees (at all levels) the last few weeks. Rumor is that more layoffs are coming.

  9. Former DT auditor
    Former DT auditor says:

    In United Kingdom they make information about partner’s remuneration public, a friend of mine who works there, says that UK partners get around 1,5 mln pounds a year on average. It is believed that UK partners are paid the highest in the world. I am a former DT auditor.

  10. Tom
    Tom says:

    I’ve long been curious about Big 4 Partner compensation, as reliable data on this is difficult to obtain. I have found at least one quality source, CA Profession Compensation Survey [conducted in Canada – “Every two years, the CICA and the provincial institutes/ordre conduct a profession-wide compensation survey”].

    According to the summary of the 2009 survey results (, page 27, we find a table with “Owner’s Compensation.” For owners with partners, the survey found the following:

    Median: $246,000 (2009) – in Canadian dollars
    Mean: $306,603 (2009) – in Canadian dollars

    The data does not distinguish between Big4 firms and others, but it does give you a rough sense.

    I’ve also found another article claiming that a UK Deloitte partner ( made 750,000 British pounds (approx $1.2 million US).

    So I think that gives one a sense of the range: $300,000 at the low end and somewhere around $1-3 million at the high end.

    Aside from the raw numbers, I’m curious about how the mechanics of partner compensation work. Is it a base salary plus “bonus” (i.e. pay based on partnership units)? Is it a single huge lump sum payment? How does it vary? If a partner brings in a new $10 million engagement, do they get a certain % of that as personal compensation?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] PwC reductions once the new fiscal year started, it’s now time for PwC to actualize my half tongue-in-cheek prediction of partner layoffs and salary […]

Comments are closed.