This is a very serious point and deserves a serious and considered answer. I think you'll find its due to where the Big 4 recruit and the relative value propositions of employer and propsective employee. The big 4 tend to recruit MBA graduates from places with "emerging" reputations, for example the Big Mac School of Business at the University of Dagenham. Though a fine institution with alumni in many international corporations (such as KFC, Burger King, even some at Pizza Hut) there is little on-campus recruitment competition from rival employers such as McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, Spearmint Rhino (this is an equal opportunities posting) and Dagenham MiniCabs. These employers tend to be more selective in their recruitment and look elsewhere. So we have a situation where the employer can afford to offer little as they have little recruiter competition, and the prospective employee is forced to accept little as they have no alternative, many already having sold one kidney to fund their overseas education experience. In this way a satisfactory bargain is struck and a market clearing price is found. So though it may appear that the big 4 pay poorly, the reality is they pay exactly what "their" market can bear. No why this means that they all must all wear such poorly made polyerster double cuff shirts with Primark cufflinks I don't know, but I hope this will be helpful for your friend.