Should You Make the Switch to Transaction Services?

By | 3 weeks ago

I’m not too far removed from Big 4 Audit. I remember what it was like. There were some aspects of it that were appealing: I enjoyed having a mix of projects and clients. I worked with a lot of great people.

But the thing is, I knew about three months into my audit career that it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. It felt like I wasn’t adding real value to my clients. We’d work long hours populating a massive audit file that would, hopefully, never see the light of day. Something was missing.

If what I just described is your life right now, there’s a simple pivot you can make to liven up your career. You’ll make more money, accelerate your career growth, and – best of all – never document a purchases and payables walkthrough again.

That pivot is switching to Transaction Services. And if you’re not already scheming to do so, you should be, especially if you’re 2+ years into your audit career.

Why you should consider a change to transaction services

There are several reasons to make this change. Here are a few of the more obvious ones.

The nature of the work is more dynamic and engaging

Transaction services work involves working on deals, not audits. Ask yourself this: would you rather review bank reconciliations on an audit of a sportswear apparel chain, or would you rather assess a post-acquisition go-to-market strategy related to a deal involving a sportswear apparel chain?

The answer to me is clear. I would much rather work on the deal.

You’ll raise your market value

Instead of spending half the year stuck in audit planning prison, you can spend the entire year on challenging projects that enhance your technical skills. In other words, transaction services affords you the opportunity to work year-round on projects that enhance your career development. In audit, you get that experience during busy season and maybe parts of a quarterly review.

By my estimation, a year spent in Transaction Services provides you with approximately double the value-added experience over an average year in audit.

You’ll open up your options

Around the time I left PwC, one of my former peers transferred from audit to transaction advisory. Fast forward three years, and he’s now found himself in investment banking.

Investment banking may not be for everyone, but it’s just one of many additional options that become available once you have a few years experience consulting on transactions. On the flip side, I can’t think of a single career option that is exclusively available to someone with pure audit experience but isn’t available to someone who has a blend of audit and transactions experience.

What’s the downside?

You’ve gotta hand it to them: The Big 4 firms do a great job of convincing ambitious CPAs that the moment they switch out of audit their career development will stagnate. And honestly, there may be some truth to that in certain situations.

Switching into Transaction Services is not one of those situations. So what’s the downside? The way I see it:

  • You may have to travel more than you would as an auditor.
  • Busy seasons may be less predictable.
  • Mindless SALY (same-as-last-year) copying and pasting will no longer be a thing, because there are no prior year files. This might be a downside to someone who enjoys routine work, but it should read as a benefit to any ambitious person.

There you have it. If you can live with those downsides, it’s really a no-brainer.

And by the way, did we mention that we have Transaction Services firms as clients, and they’re looking for auditors at the Senior Associate level?

If you’re in or willing to re-locate to Atlanta or Denver and are ready to accelerate your career, apply here:

Interested in making the switch from audit to transaction services? Contact us, and let us know which locations you’re open to.

Brad Hughes is a co-founder of Beech Valley Solutions, the premiere network that connects CPAs with freelance opportunities in advisory, assurance and tax.  Beech Valley consultants enjoy higher pay for every hour worked, the flexibility to accept or reject projects, and the ability to diversify their skill sets.