Time for culture of overwork in financial services to change

When Spain’s Labor Ministry revealed in January that government officials had hit the Big Four accounting firms’ Madrid offices in the Cuatro Torres business district with surprise inspections at the end of last year, as part of an investigation into alleged abusive work practices, it generated global headlines.

The Spanish arms of the world’s four largest professional services networks – Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC – generate combined annual revenues above €700 million ($770 million), according to the Financial Times. The firms provide audit, assurance, taxation, management consulting, actuarial, corporate finance, and legal services and employ more than 20,000 people in Spain. 

Given their revered position in the market, the Big Four tend to attract the brightest graduates, who often switch to other sectors after gaining their accountancy qualifications. To earn those credentials and climb the ranks there is a tacit understanding that employees will put in the hours, despite earning meager early career wages compared to contemporaries in other areas of the financial services industry. 

Could it be that after decades of flogging junior staff, in particular, the Big Four will have to transform their work policies – in Spain and elsewhere? And what will that mean for the rest of the financial services industry?

The full version of this article was first published on Digiday’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in February 2023 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.