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As advisors to industry, we provide a valuable benefit, since large businesses are regularly confronted with a bevy of challenges that range from the commonplace, such as not having the internal subject matter experience needed in order to execute upon critical initiatives, to the less mundane, such as perhaps a regulatory mandate to leverage independent third-party consultation.
The list in-between these two examples are vast to be sure and vary greatly in complexity.
Advisory, on the other hand, is more similar to a classic management consulting mold.
It is not nearly as consistent as Assurance work, but it is one of the fastest growing offerings within the firm.
Reaching this point has taken an immense amount of patience, hard work, resilience, ambition, and even a little luck. To be clear, this article has not been written under the guise of any Big Four recruiters.
I must confess, however, that this outlook reflects how I feel today, which wasn’t always the case.
The first division we’ll take a look at is “Assurance”. Assurance mainly encompasses classic audit services, including financial audits.
Assurance is a very mature service offering with very well structured methodologies and reoccurring annual audit business; it holds the top spot in terms of the most annual revenue generated for the firm.
Depending on the engagement, assurance work generally staffs younger personnel to handle the lion’s share of the research, which is then reviewed by seniors or managers and ultimately signed off by a partner before the findings are presented to a client.
This section is specific to Ernst & Young, but more than likely holds true for other firms in the Big Four.
The content intentionally touches on only two of the four divisions, since its purpose is to help further distinguish the concept of organizational groupings used in major professional services firms and to provide some practical perspective on their differences.
A former colleague of mine summed it up with the following catchphrase: “What we sell is the space between these two ears.” This bit of Yoda-like wisdom was followed by a slowly pointed finger to my forehead.
At its simplest form, “professional services” is an industry where firms like Ernst & Young provide clients with the right subject matter experience via resources at the right time and place and, of course, at the right price.
Now that you understand the demand from the client side, let’s take a look at the delivery or firm side.