During the nearly 11-year history of Going Concern, we’ve been cynical about a lot of things in public accounting but maybe none more so than when firms talk about how great their work/life balance is.
The Big 4 and the top midtier firms paint a rosy picture of how wonderful they treat their thousands of employees and how much they really care about making sure “their people” have lives outside of work—and doing so with a straight face—while at Meet the Firms events or talking with college students who don’t know any better during recruiting visits on campus.
The biggest firms will hire recruits who fall for their schtick, and before they know it, these poor souls are busting their butts for 75 to 80 hours a week—and it’s not even busy season. No wonder CPAs in public accounting can’t wait to make the jump to industry.
But when Cover & Rossiter, a 37-person CPA firm based in Wilmington, DE, touts its work/life balance and flexibility, we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt. Here’s why:
Being located close to the glitz and glamour of large metropolises like Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, and Washington, DC, the folks at Cover & Rossiter realize that someone fresh out of college will probably find living and working in these big cities more attractive than living and working in Wilmington. That’s when Cover & Rossiter has to go in hard to sell that new accounting graduate on the soft benefits it offers that larger firms overlook.
“If you’re looking for that Big 4 experience or that big city experience, we don’t have it. And that’s OK to want that. Firms in these big cities are going to pay a lot more; however, the cost of living is going to be much higher, too,” said Lindsay Wheeler, marketing specialist and recruiter at Cover & Rossiter. “But someone who wants a small firm and values work/life balance, we’re going to be a great fit. I think there are plenty of candidates out there who want one or the other and there’s enough to go around.”
What Cover & Rossiter can offer that those bigger firms don’t is a 37.5-hour workweek instead of a 40-hour workweek. Yep, you read that right: 37.5. And the firm pays overtime.
An employee doesn’t have to get to 40 hours a week to start earning OT, according to Wheeler. OT starts right at that 37.5-hour threshold. Cover & Rossiter caps OT at 55 hours a week, although there can be exceptions, such as meeting a difficult deadline, when an employee can work more than 55 hours and still get that sweet extra OT, but then that person has to dial back his or her hours the following week.
“Even if they have to work longer-than-usual hours, they’re not working obscene hours,” Wheeler said. “It really just helps manage burnout and still gives people the opportunity to do what they like to do in their free time. It could be just sitting in front of the TV, but they’re getting that time they need outside of the office, they’re well-rested, and they’re happier. They’re going to do better work because they’re not going to be so tired that they’re making mistakes. They’re going to be more willing to work for the company and do right by our clients. So it’s kind of the recipe that we’ve found works well for us, for our people, for our clients, and for everyone involved.”
Start work early a.m. or late a.m.
Wheeler has two young children, so she’s up fairly early every morning, but by the time she finishes the “two hours of kids stuff and house stuff that I have to do,” she doesn’t get to the office or log in to work while working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic until 8:30 or 8:45 a.m. On the other hand, Luci Roseman, CPA, a manager in the firm’s Tax Department, starts work at 7 a.m. each day so she can cut out by mid-afternoon. That’s the beauty of working for Cover & Rossiter.
“You can flex an hour and a half off of 8:30 a.m., so you can start as early as 7 a.m. or as late as 10 a.m.,” said Wheeler, who has worked at the firm for more than 10 years. “So if Luci wanted to get her overtime hours in and started work at 6 a.m., that’s fine, as long as she’s in that 7-3:30 range for her time.”
As one of two tax managers at Cover & Rossiter, that flexibility allows Roseman to get some work done earlier in the morning, then have her daily meeting (or call during the pandemic) with the two people who report to her to see what they’re working on, before leaving the office once her workday is done to enjoy her interests outside of the office, such as horseback riding.
“Every morning we go over what their plans are for the day and if they have any issues that I can help them through,” said Roseman, who has worked at Cover & Rossiter for over nine years. “And then at the end of the day, they give me an update on how they did, so I think that’s been really helpful with keeping people productive and not making them feel like they’re all alone at home with no one they can turn to for help.”
Hey, guess what? Cover & Rossiter currently has a few job openings, including two in its Audit Department.
There are two facets of the firm’s audit group: captive insurance and nonprofit. Wheeler said finding a potential candidate with captive insurance experience is pretty rare, and if that person all of a sudden were to fall in their lap, “it would be like angels coming down from the heavens.”
But not having captive insurance experience isn’t a dealbreaker, she said. “We can teach the industry.”
Nonprofit audits are what is traditionally done at Cover & Rossiter as the firm doesn’t currently have any corporate audit clients, so potential candidates with nonprofit audit experience will have a leg up on the competition. But like with captive insurance, nonprofit auditing can be taught to people who don’t have that background on their resumes.
“If they can do the auditing, we can teach nonprofit,” Wheeler said.
So if you’re looking to join a small firm that has a relaxed culture, likes to have fun, has room to grow, and doesn’t just pay lip service to work/life balance and flexibility, like the Big 4 and the top midtier firms, why not send a resume Cover & Rossiter’s way?
Here are the two audit jobs the firm is looking to fill:
You can find other job openings by visiting Cover & Rossiter’s Careers page.