August 21, 2018

Big 4 Advisory Professional Wonders What a Title Is Worth

Ed. note: Whatever your problem is, we can fix it. Or at least make you feel better for the rest of the day. Email us your query at [email protected].

Going Concern:

There is a good amount of time spent discussing careers moves within and outside of the public accounting world, but one topic I have not come across often (or at least, recently) is: does title matter?

The Big 4 firms really push the "stay until manager" mentality. The benefit to the firm is obvious, but I am curious as to whether the benefit is also reflected in the résumé value for the employee. Does having the "manager" title on your résumé open you to new opportunities? Or at the end of the day, is it all about years of experience?

I am currently mulling two job offers. On one hand, I have a Manager offer from a Big 4 firm in their Transaction Services practice. On the other, I have a Senior Analyst offer from a Fortune 100 company in their Corporate Strategy group. While the Manager title obviously favors the former, the hours and pay (by about 12%) favor the latter. Does the title carry more weight? Or will "industry" experience outside of client services add more to my resume?

This definitely has to do with my current situation, but I am sure plenty of other readers wonder the same thing. Given the number of readers and contributors on GC, I would be interested in hearing the experiences others have had (or witnessed) when making career moves before and after the manager promotion.

Any thoughts or insight would be appreciated!



Ahh, the timeless question about whether staying for a title upgrade is worth it.  It baffles me when I hear someone say their reason for staying in any job is because “I really want the next title.”  Really?  Do you know how much time a hiring professional takes to digest the title on your resume?  About half a nanosecond. Sure, it can show progression in one’s career and dedication to a job, but I’m more interested in the bullet points below your title.  Call yourself Senior Vice President of the Data Dump Room for all I care. If you have the right responsibilities/experiences, you’re getting a call. 

All that said, you really need to be comparing the job responsibilities and the long-term upside of each role. If managing a team is important to you, will you have analysts reporting to you under the Corporate Strategy role? What is the career projection at the F100 company? How do the Manager duties of the TS role (higher level strategy, proposal development, etc.) compare to what will be expected of you in the private sector? How does the private sector role set you up for a return to a Big 4’s TS practice in 2-5 years?  Is that even an career option you’d consider?

My advice – weigh job duties, pay, work/life, and the health of your particular group in the Big 4.  Is it thriving, or are you picking up the promo because 75% of the managers have bolted in recent months? But let's also open it up to the comments. Remember, Wilson is in Advisory, not Audit. 

(Want some insight to career projection in the TS group?  Use KPMG’s Career Architecture site as a rough reference).


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Three Social Networking Tips for Accountants

Depending on where you’re working these days, you might already be or soon to be under snow. Why not put that much-needed day “working” from home to benefit your next career move? Here are three steps that you can take now to better your social networking profile to prepare for post-busy season.

Update your LinkedIn account – When was the last time you refreshed your LinkedIn account? Dig up the password, log in, and revamp your profile. Those 23 requests sitting dormant in your inbox? Accept them. Update your work experience. Include details about both the industries you work in and the responsibilities you’ve accrued. Remember, recruiters are constantly filtering through LinkedIn profiles looking for potential matches.

Also, make sure you upload a respectable picture. If it is something you wouldn’t want your client seeing, pass on it. But whatever you do, do not leave the picture option blank. Recruiters are much more inclined to review a potential match if the profile includes a picture. Worst case scenario – have your roommate, significant other, or spouse snap a photo one morning before you head to work (the post-work look of disgust should be avoided).

Be socially responsible – No, I’m not talking about going out and saving the whales. For those of you who are active on social networking sites, you need to be cognizant of the fact that you’re constantly creating an online footprint.

Facebook – Double check the settings in your Facebook account. Facebook is continuously altering these; oftentimes the new defaults leave your information wide open for the general public to see. Your Facebook profile — including status updates, wall posts, and photo albums — should be off limits to viewers who are not your Facebook friends. Speaking of photos, lose the keg stand picture from senior year. You wear a button-down shirt to work now.

Twitter – The email address on your resumé is most likely connected to your Twitter account. Block your tweets from the general public if you are discussing things you’d rather not share with a potential interviewer.

Dig up those old recruiter emails – You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re cold, robotic emails that tease you on random weekday afternoons. Typically they’re titled, “New Opportunities in hedge funds” but the more apt title is, “How to get the $*@! off your current engagement and home in time for dinner.”

Dig through your old emails and find some of these. Read through them. See what sparks your interest. At the very least, try to figure out what you want to do next, what qualifications you already have, and what you can do to prepare yourself for the next step. Your current engagement might be providing you an opportunity to expand your skill set; jump at that possibility.

New Hartford CFO Is Latest to Flee from AIG

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

Perhaps he wasn’t crazy about the new forced ranking method on pay?

The Hartford Financial Services Group announced late on Tuesday that Christopher Swift will join the insurer as chief financial officer effective March 1.

Swift, 49, is jumping ship from American Life Insurance Company (ALICO) where he was CFO. ALICO is a subsidiary of American International Group, which the bailed-out insurer is trying to sell to MetLife for $15 billion. The deal is currently hung up on a tax issue.

Hartford, which received $3.4 billion in government aid, has been undergoing a major executive shakeup.

Liam McGee, a former head of consumer banking at Bank of America, took over as chief executive in October from Ramani Ayer, who had led Hartford’s aggressive push into variable annuities and retired at the end of 2009.

Shortly after taking over, McGee tapped Hartford’s current CFO, Lizabeth Zlatkus, for its chief risk officer position. She’ll move into that role when Swift officially joins the company.

AIG, for its part, has been bleeding talent. More than 60 managers have left the company since it was bailed out in September 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Pay practices at AIG have been under intense scrutiny by the public, as well as the government.

Swift began his career as an auditor in the Chicago office of KPMG where he focused on financial services. He was made partner at 32. He then became executive vice president of Conning Asset Management, a subsidiary of General American, where he was responsible for finance, sales/marketing and information technology. After MetLife acquired Conning in 1999, Swift returned to KPMG and was eventually appointed head of the firm’s Global Insurance Industry Practice. As leader of this segment, he worked with clients in both the life and P&C segments, globally and domestically. He was responsible for matters ranging from strategic and regulatory to audit, risk, advisory and tax services.