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.Auditors during the busy season can easily spend sixty or more hours per week combing through data, searching for anomalies, and ultimately preparing reports that highlight their findings to a client.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.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.Ernst & Young, like any of the Big Four or large professional services firm, is composed of a series of “practices” or unique groups of resources, ranging from a handful of people to several hundred, which tout similar subject matter experience.These practices are then lumped into larger organizational categories that support the firm’s overarching strategic vision. Here’s an example which should clarify things for you a bit: I’m part of the “Program Advisory Services” practice, or PAS for short.
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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.My practice then rolls up into the “Risk Advisory Services” service line.Let’s forget what these groupings actually do for the time-being. Because they have to so in order to remain current with the rigorous demands of an ever-changing market landscape.Hopefully, the following explanation sheds some light on this early career decision that you’ll need to make.
Assurance work is typically very analytical and often time-consuming.
This section is specific to Ernst & Young, but more than likely holds true for other firms in the Big Four.