For some capital market servants the number one goal in their careers, the crown jewel, the ultimate feather in the cap, the most memorable notch on the bedpost, is being admitted to the partnership of his/her public accounting firm. It's an accomplishment that takes commitment, perseverance, hard work, dumb luck, brown nosing, corporate politicking, very […]
If you're tired of listening to your stupid friends and co-workers try to give you professional/life/style/dietary/love/major purchase advice, why not turn to your friends at Going Concern for a little wisdom? You'll get the brutal honesty you're craving and if you don't like it, just write us a nasty email blaming us for all your […]
Are you considering a line of work that’s not so heavy on the Excel? Does your co-worker’s audible humming drive you crazy? Is it possible that you’ve been working too hard and are just hearing things? Email us your questions and we’ll make it stop. Hey GC, There have been a lot of articles lately about […]
We have a reader question from a self-identified public accounting newbie: What is the best advice that experienced Big 4 employees can offer to new hires starting in the next couple of months? Thanks! Instead of long, rambling rants about not drinking the Kool-aid, I'd be curious to hear just one concise piece of advice […]
Have your colleagues quit taking you seriously? Are you a serial mismatcher of shoes and socks? Wondering if moving back in with your parents is a good idea? Email us your questions and we'll try to get to them before Labor Day. I'm currently set to attend a two-day summer program at a smaller office of a […]
We now present to you, dear GC readers, the third of our potential Going Concern freelancer submissions. Let's give Andrew a "warm" GC welcome! There were four of us in the car at the time. I was the senior; there was a staff person, the manager, and the engagement partner. It was a second or […]
This is our second submission from the stable of Going Concern freelancer candidates. The following is by Bob Loblaw. Notwithstanding a few e-mails I’ve written in the past that had a wider circulation than intended, this is my first piece of journalism (Ed. note: relative term). With that in mind, it’s important to my unpaid […]
Perplexed by corporate fashion dos and don'ts? Need remedies for comp/bonus anxiety? Are you an auditor that needs a go-to quip for those relatives who want help with their taxes? Email us your questions and we will answer them in order of stupidity. I have an upcoming interview at a large firm, but in one of […]
Looking for the right way to tell your colleague he has a hygiene issue? Not sure if dark khakis go with that dusty blue button-up shirt? Want confirmation that you haven't sold your soul to the Devil himself? Get in touch with us and we'll do our best to help without making you cry. Hello […]
Have a question on anything from career limiting moves to plausible excuses for blowing off a random Tuesday to identifying that odor in the audit room? Email the Going Concern Brain Trust with your queries. And remember, there's no such thing as a dumb question; just dumb people who ask questions. So here's the deal. I […]
Need help putting together your typo-laden farewell email? Need assurance that your GC trolling doesn't present an ethical conflict? Unsure which flavor of Doritos to choose from the office snack machine? Get in touch and we'll do what we can. Hi Adrienne, I have not seen a post about Internal Audit to Public Accounting so […]
Are you a reformed or current degenerate looking for anything but legal advice? Get in touch with our shady team of not lawyers and one of us will eventually get around to your question. Hey Adrienne, I know you have addressed background checks before. Specifically, if, on the application, it asks about felonies or misdemeanors […]
Ed. note: Stuck in a predicament at work? Not sure how to break it off with your busy season love interest? Wondering how best to prepare for bonus disappointment? Email us your questions. Anything goes. Dear Going Concern, A question from the great white north. I'm a second year auditor with a Big Four […]
Has busy season made you question everything and everyone around you? Great! Email us your troubles and we'll marginally improve your life. Howdy!I've combed through the many post on the site, but I haven't been able to find one about my situation. Here goes…I'm finishing up my second busy season at a small local firm […]
Do you have a question about, well, anything but are surrounded by fools who couldn't possibly enlighten you? The sages of Going Concern are here to help. Email us with your questions. Dear Going Concern, I recently finished my winter internship with KPMG and I am not sure how I felt about it. On […]
Have a question for the GC public accounting dropouts, degenerates and rejects? Email us. We'll fight over who gets to call you out. After spending four years in the Navy, I went back to school and graduated with a BA in English in 2007. After looking for a job for a few months and watching […]
Yes, it's Wednesday, otherwise known to some of you as, "half way through a week that I have no days off," but what many people don't realize is that busy season is the perfect time to be updating your résumé. This post is more geared to be a gateway to productive commentary, so read and then […]
Your daily serving of vegetables, brought to you by GC. Subject: Advice: negotiating a starting salary GC,I am graduating in December from a masters in accounting program and I am currently interning at Big 4 firm in advisory. I am hoping to get an offer after the internship and join the firm in January. Is […]
In a few weeks, many of you plugging along through busy season will decide to call those incessant recruiters back and test the job market. Last week's report by Robert Half and published in the Journal of Accountancy miiiiight rain on your parade, at least in the short term. Ninety-one percent of CFOs said they don’t expect […]
Today's blog post is brought to you by a worrisome soon-to-be-grad. Hi GC, I already accepted an offer from one of the Big 4 firms. When I did, my GPA was very solid. However, I took a class last semester with a professor that has the highest drop rates and the lowest grade average given […]
Have the busy season blues but too lazy or untalented to write a song about it? Email us at [email protected] and someone will tell your story. Hi GC Long time reader, first time emailer. I am a first year manager at a Big 4 firm. For the past 4 months I have had this […]
Greetings, GC'ers. Damn, it feels good to be back after a minor hiatus. Let's get to it, shall we? Subject: Big 4 Dilemma First off, I want to thank Going Concern for all of the public accounting insight. Now on to my dilemma. Last fall I accepted a full-time audit position with of one of […]
GCers – we love your contributions and could use some more to get us through these first few weeks of “not really busy but not 9-to-5” season. But be advised: advice emails that meet the qualifications of #longreads drive us to our breaking points. Caleb overdoses on steamed carrots, Adrienne takes her frustration to the roads […]
Ed. note: Is busy season bringing out the worst in you? CPA exam seem hopeless? Having trouble finding the box of tickmarks in the supply room? Email us your problems and one of us will put you on the couch. GC, I recently decided to leave my position in a Big Four Advisory position after […]
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 […]
This is our second intern-themed post this week, which gets me thinking that some of you are neck-deep in coffee jockeys. This can be a trying time for those of you that are A) impatient B) dicks C) control freaks D) all of the above. As such, the following has probably crossed your mind at […]
Are you in desperate need for advice from one of the GC hacks? Email us at [email protected] and we'll draw straws to see who gets to ruin your life. Hello GC, This is more of an opinion question from you and the GC community than actual advice. My question is particularly now before busy […]
Today's advice column started off with the subject "Accountants with beards." My first thought was "damnnnn that'd make a great Tumblr," one that could rival the creeps at Messages from Match and the political poignancy of Kim Jong-un Looking at Things. WE COULD TAKE OVER THE WORLD. But…then I continued reading. Wait. This is about an otherwise qualified […]
Ed. note: Looking for above average advice from some snide, know-it-all hipster doofi? Take a number by emailing your problems to [email protected] and, if you're lucky, your position in the queue will still be in triple digits! Hi GC, I am going into my 7th busy season at a mid-tier ("MT") (2nd as a manger) […]
Ed. note: Are family and friends frequently throwing labels like "workaholic loser who will be alone forever" in your direction? Maybe you need some advice on how to balance things better. Email us your situation and we'll shovel some guidance your way. I would appreciate your guidance on how to break into the public accounting […]
Need some advice? Email the GC team with your burning questions. Just be warned – our advice might rain on your parade. Dear GC, I am on my 6th month with a Government Audit team and got an offer to join one of the Big4. The job is of the same nature and the pay […]
Our inquisitor has options. Don't you hate that? If you're stumped on career multiple choice question or need help with picking out something for the gift exchange, email us at [email protected] I was fortunate enough to receive two full time entry-level offers from two Big 4 firms: 1 in Audit and 1 in Forensic Advisory […]
Ed. note: Is your career somewhere in between mundane and craptacular? Email us at [email protected] and we'll help you improve your life slightly up from SUCK. GC, I'm a semi-frequent reader (hey I still have to get some work done) so I wasn't sure if this topic was covered, but I just got done reading your recent […]
It must be advice week here on GC, what with me yelling at everyone and DWB pulling double duty pissing on kids’ dreams of a fulfilling life in public accounting. I’m OK with that.
But today, I’ve got something a little different. You see, giving advice here is sort of like working at an animal shelter. You deal with the person extensively up until the moment that you hand over the animal, after which you probably never hear from them again. It’s rare that we ever get follow-ups from those who’ve written in for advice, so all that much more special to see that everything worked out for this repentant public accounting wanna-be.
Back in September, we met the Zero to Hero, who took a page from the AG playbook and decided to enjoy his youth instead of frittering it away with responsibility. While I’m sure this made for a much better experience than many of you had in your very early twenties (except for PwCASSociate, who probably woke up in the same pool of vomit as I did many a morning), it also made it difficult for this guy to get serious once he realized GPA is a real number and that cute face just isn’t going to be able to pull all the weight anymore.
DWB advised him to be honest and network his ass off, advice that many of you agreed with. Since we know for a fact many of you are confirmed slackers who somehow stay gainfully employed in this industry, it was safe to say that advice was spot on.
And now we know just a few short months later that we were right. Writes Zero to Hero:
Daniel et al:
Just to let you fine people know, the recruiting process is over for me. I ended up receiving offers from EY, Deloitte, and two second tier firms. I officially signed myself over as an EY Advisory intern last week. I am really appreciative of the advice I received and believe that it is one of the reasons I was successful. Thanks again, you guys rock.
Z to H
Congrats, kiddo, we’re proud of you.
Check back in and let us know
if when you get a full-time offer, and remember, we’ll be here in a year when you’re hating life and wishing you were back in the van getting stoned.
Ed. note: Back with a second edition of the advice column today. Thanks to D Dubs. for stepping up today.
I graduated in December 2010 with a degree in accounting from a well-known university. Because of my grades (2.9 Accounting GPA, 3.0 accumulative GPA), I was shunned by nearly all of the accounting firms. This has led me to working in the accounting department at a fortune 500 company.
While in school, I was able to network and make several connections at both Big 4 and regional firms. I was told repeatedly by recruiters to “pass the exam and get some experience, then come talk to me.” I have passed the CPA exam and have almost a year of experience under my belt at this point.
In early November I signed with a small regional accounting firm set to begin in January. I know that it’s bad business to immediately bail on a company, but is it too early to get in touch with my contacts at the bigger firms? While I’m very grateful for the local firm, I have my sight set on a much bigger firm, and I want to make it to the big leagues sooner rather than later. Should I gain a year or two of experience at the local firm in order to move to the Big 4 as an experienced associate or possibly a senior associate? Or would it be better to reach out to my network now and attempt to make a transition?
I admire your tenacity to make it to the Big
Four Leagues. Staying in touch with your contacts will hopefully prove to be beneficial. I suggest reaching out to them now, as it’s prime-time hiring season for public firms leading into busy season. Provide them with an update of your progress on the CPA exam and that a local firm has expressed interest in hiring you. In turn, express your interest in working at XYZ instead, and you were hoping to inquire about any openings they may have. If they have openings, be flexible to whatever level they want you to start at, as it’s more important to get your foot in the door. Leveraging off of your recent success with the local firm would not be the worst thing you could do; you’d hardly be the first or the last person to do so.
GC’ers – what do you think? Have any of you made the quick transition like described above?
If you haven’t already, please read Adrienne’s post on submitting questions to the site. I applaud her for hitting every damn nail on the head, and I want to echo her bottom line: we love hearing from you; the advice columns keep this place buzzing; but please check to see if we answered your question last week. I’d also like to add that the details you can provide (practice lines, office location, level, etc.) make it easier for us to offer more precise feedback. Keep ‘em coming.
In the meantime, consider this post as Example A as to what will happen when a lazy ass individual seeks advice they can find right under their noses. With this tried to find some shred of a question to answer, but instead I found myself screaming at my monitor. If this is the product of Helicopter Parenting, we as a society are screwed. Nevertheless, we’ll get right to it:
Hey GC, how’s it going? I am writing about making a decision between EY’s FSO practice and their TAS practice. Right now there is a lot of squawk about PWC’s FSR and EY’s FSO practices. These are both very hot topics and I believe relevant to readers, as seen after the EY FSO Assurance article [this one].
First off, you’re making a decision between two different options at EY, yet refer to the “hot topic” of PwC’s FSR practice (Financial Instruments, Structured Products and Real Estate). Let’s spell out some definitions for people here who are not familiar:
1. EY FSO – Not a practice but rather a term that stands for Financial Services Office. Per their website (which I Googled like any child can do) EY’s FSO practice includes all three lines of business: assurance, tax, and advisory. It’s a go-to-market philosophy/marketing strategy/organizational hierarchy more than anything else. Go to the website to learn more, if you’re so inclined.
2. EY TAS – Transaction Advisory Services – an advisory practice by name, includes a variety of services (due diligence, restructuring, valuation, etc.). Without splitting hairs here, a TAS associate will work on FSO clients (e.g. valuing insurance claims at AIG). Said associate could also work on a transaction involving a factory in Topeka, Kansas.
3. PwC FSR – Most closely related to EY TAS as it would fall under TAS if it were at EY. But it’s not. It’s at PwC, where you don’t have an offer. Again, not relevant.
Many students have accepted or are contemplating offers from the big 4, and there are rumors circulating that FSR and FSO employees work banker hours and get paid like consultants.
You are clearly new to public accounting, Going Concern, and the world in general. Get paid like consultants? WTF does that even mean? And for the love of God, you’re not working at PwC. Stop talking about it. Note: At this point the contributor goes on with a list of questions; my feedback at the bottom.
I am having trouble making a decision between TAS and FSO. For staff one’s in NYC, total year one compensation with salary and signing bonus is between 60-70 thousand on average. Not bad, but with what kind of hours?
On the other hand, TAS year one salary is about 55k, no bonus. What type of hours can be expected? Being that all new hires in EY FSO start in BAP [link for those playing at home], a 4 year rotational program, does good old uncle Ernie just rotate their staff through busy season after busy season? How much travel can be expected in NYC, aren’t most financial clients located in the city? FSO and FSR new hires are earning on average about 10k more than their audit and TAS counterparts. If the hours are comparable to these service lines, why so much more money? If the hours are much longer in FSO, does the staff ever receive a bonus? There must be a hitch…
Readers should note: This contributor happened to email us from a company email address of a flailing/failing/going-down-in-flames investment bank and – in this writer’s opinion – should be thankful to have ANY job at ANY Big4 firm. Turns out this person has already worked at EY during a previous (and VERY recent) internship and assumedly had ample time/networks/professionals/resources/access to the Internet to answer the above asinine questions.
The hitch is that you don’t have an offer from PwC, so drop the comparison. It’s like comparing my ideal commute to work (jet pack, duh) to the one I currently have (6 train, running with delays). Comparing a PwC FSR offer to an EY TAS offer would at least be a bit more relevant.
I’m going to ignore all questions about busy season hours/travel because you should have asked them while going through the interview process. After all, that’s the point of the interview process. I’m also going to point out that your statement that, “FSO and FSR new hires are earning on average about 10k more than their audit and TAS counterparts” is wrong on many levels. First, FSO includes auditors. Second, new hires within FSO make different salaries (tax hires make XYZ, auditors makes ABC, etc.). Finally, STOP COMPARING EVERYTHING TO PwC’s FSR PRACTICE.
What you do have:
1. An offer in EY FSO: What group? I don’t have a f*cking clue, and you never told us.
2. An offer in EY TAS: Which sub-group? There are six spelled out on the company website.
So, back to one the question in your email that hasn’t been answered at GC a thousand times before:
Hey GC, how’s it going?
Overworked and underpaid. Ring a bell? Take a number.
Bottom line: read through EY’s website to understand their practice lines and acronyms, something you should have done before emailing us. Also, consider taking a job in a “safer” practice…because the last time we had record Black Friday sales was November 2008…and we all know that the house was on fire then…
Welcome back from the turkey coma, kids, I had to take an extra day just to shake it off but all is well now and we’re totally ready for action, at least until I take half a week off for my birthday in two weeks. Ah, life is good.
Anyway, a desperate plea for advice we received over the weekend got me thinking – I figure it’s about time we set some ground rules for writing us for advice. Why we’ve waited two years to do this is beyond me but I don’t run the show so let’s forget that part.
Caleb was concerned by publishing said letter, I might come off as a judgmental, xenophobic prick (isn’t that the brand I’ve worked so hard to craft? Oh well) so I will refrain from publishing it to maintain some sense of decency and openness to all types and cultures don’t really have an issue with foreigners with poor English comprehension, lost little sheep or clueless accounting students; if I did, I would’ve quit this gig to write a racy sex blog a long time ago. I do, however, have an issue with lazy ass people who expect to be hand-fed the answers by us as if we don’t have anything better to do.
NOW, since you probably think I’m a dick at this point, I need to be clear when I say that I LOVE the advice component of this site. It has turned into an unexpected bright point among the lame Hans Hoogervorst jokes and Caleb’s Grover Norquist obsession, and I’m constantly both delighted and disturbed by the reactions in our comment section. You guys have proven yourselves to be mostly useful, sometimes funny and generally helpful to your fellow capital market servants seeking wisdom, and that part is great. So great that I don’t mind so much that so many of the questions we get tend to be very similar.
Keeping in mind, of course, that though we were all told how special we were when we were little, there are really a limited number of scenarios a young accountant might need help navigating. Low GPA, no Big 4 offers. A couple of offers to consider, no idea which to take. High GPA, low social skills, you get it.
But here’s a tip. We’ve been doing this so long that chances are, we’ve covered a scenario similar to yours. So your first best friend is the search bar. You will find this on the upper right-hand corner of the website just under whatever ad we’re running at that time. Type in whatever you are looking for, “compensation,” “opportunities,” “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” whatever. If we’ve written about it, you’ll find it. If we haven’t, you won’t. Try to be vague, so instead of searching for “Caleb’s embarrassing affinity for wearing Brazilian women’s underwear,” try “Brazilian underwear” and you might have better luck.
Your second BFF is our comprehensive, all-encompassing tagging system. You may have noticed by now that both Caleb and I enjoy employing useless, often one-time-use tags just for the sake of continuing whatever joke we cracked ourselves up over when we wrote the post but we do also use tags for easy organization of information. Let’s say you’re interested in KPMG and PwC, guess what? We have a whole tag JUST for KPMG v PwC! Amazing, isn’t it?
Now, you’ve searched the site and gotten a good idea of what others are asking and are ready to write us an email. Awesome! We love emails! But please, let’s go over what is appropriate for an advice email and what isn’t.
Remember, we are NOT professionals, we are writers. In fact, some might call us degenerates. So while we know the game well enough to gently shove your confused ass in the right direction, we cannot evaluate your transcripts, refer you to credentialed programs, take the CPA exam for you, decipher your foreign credits, pretend to be you in a job interview or any matter of issues such as these. We don’t sponsor H-1B Visas, we don’t validate parking and we don’t hold hands unless you’re really, really scared.
In the same vein, we cannot draw out your entire future for you. So writing us asking for advice on how to get started in public accounting and realize your dreams of CPAhood will go unanswered. We’re not freshman career counselors. We’re also not mind readers, so know what you want answered before you write some vague email asking how to live your life when you’re old enough to have figured that out by now. To me, asking such broad questions shows that you’re a drive-by who just stumbled across the site and I’m sorry but I work for pageviews, which means I’m far more likely to coddle someone who proves they spend 5 billable hours a day here over someone who Googled “accounting” and didn’t bother to read any previous posts we’ve written. I have given up week-long benders to crank out this content, it’s offensive to get the sense someone hasn’t taken the time to read any of it before writing us. So don’t do that.
Are we clear? With that said, please keep ’em coming. I love you. Each and every one of you, even the trolls. Fuck, especially the trolls.
After two years at a national mid-sized firm I’m seriously considering a lateral jump to either another mid-size or local firm. Through some bad luck and my own failure to balance work and my parental responsibilities (aka, put the spouse and kids completely on the backburner), I have gained a reputation among some of the higher-ups in my office for not being committed. While I believe this perception is unfair (I get all my work done on time and on budget), hat it is preventing my promotion to Senior. I don’t want to be in public accounting any longer than I have to, but would like to make the Senior level.
I’d like to stay with my current firm, but I’m concerned that I’m in too deep a hole now to climb out. Almost all the clients I was in line to inherit have been acquired, and I haven’t been picked up on as many engagements as I’ve lost. So even if I get good ratings on my jobs, I am pretty sure that my utilization figures are going to be ugly. A blank slate, full schedule, and even the chance at making Senior earlier are very appealing right now. But is a lateral jump worth the risk? Which is better (or worse) on a résumé: 2.5-3 years with one firm and not making Senior or 2 years with one firm as an associate and 1 year with a different firm as senior?
During my time in and around public accounting, I have found the promotion from Associate to Senior Associate to be a fairly automatic process. Come to work, do your work, make yourself available to go the extra mile (even if it’s not needed), don’t knock up the administrative assistant in the coat closet at the holiday party, and you’re handed the title (instead of a paycheck). Several top notch and newly minted seniors jump ship for private, further justifying the promotion of average Associates to Senior. For you not to be made Senior in the normal time period, I’m going to assume you screwed up somewhere.
From the leadership’s view, public accounting thrives on firm loyalty and employee trust. Whether it’s justified or not, you’ve been labeled as someone that management cannot trust. Somewhere along the line you must have done something to challenge these fundamental rules. The majority of partners and managers still to this day believe in the mantra that “I went through busy seasons of hell when I was young, so you can/should/deserve to, too.” Silly or not, it’s part of the code. So if I understand your statement above regarding family and work/life balance, you didn’t communicate fully with your managers/partners that you needed time with your young family. More likely is that you didn’t make your own “sacrifices” to make the work up: working from home in the evening after kids are in bed, bringing work home on weekends, etc. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t; what matters is that you need to accept the fact that your clients are being ripped from your ownership – this does not happen unless you’re dropping the ball.
You’re up against a challenge by staying at your current firm. Considering your attitude toward your career is, “I don’t want to be in public accounting any longer than I have to” you should work on your résumé this weekend and apply to other firms. The time between now and January is a hot hiring period for CPA firms of all sizes, but be sure to focus on the smaller, regional firms. You’ll have better luck finding the work/life balance you require. That said, do not think that you’ll automatically be handed the title of Senior this fall. A firm will want to see how you do as a experienced associate (how you work with management, the quality of your work, etc.) before trusting you to lead their associates.
Trust. There’s that pesky word again. Taking a busy season to prove yourself at a new firm will be a better use of your time than if you stayed where you are to fight the gossip mongers and labels that are undoubtedly floating around your office. Accept the challenge of proving yourself at a new firm – for the sake of your career and the benefit of your family.
While you’re sitting around the house this weekend, work on the following:
• Updating your résumé
• Updating your LinkedIn account (describing the industries you work on, add a nice – but not Sears photo studio nice – headshot, etc.)
• Researching the CPA firms in your area
• Digging up a recruiter’s contact information
Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected] with your problem(s) but only if you’re comfortable being mocked in an older sibling kind of way.
I know my question is somewhat specific but I just accepted an Internship offer for E&Y FSO Assurance in NYC and was interested in gaining some insight into the 3 divisions within FSO Assurance. First, I would love to hear your opinion on the pros and cons of each of the three sectors (Asset Management, Banking, & Insurance) including which EY is best known for. I was also wondering if there was a clear leader in each of those sectors in NYC and was wondering which of the Big Four was best nks so much for your help. I know I am still a year away from having to actually select one of those options but gaining people’s opinions never hurt. Thanks so much.
Congratulations on landing a sweet summer gig with Uncle Ernie. You’ll be working for a great firm in a great city making a great salary while fetching great coffee for your superiors. Cheers!
But really, welcome to New York. You’re smart in thinking ahead to the fact that where you start with your internship will lead to a fulltime offer with the same group. This is because internships are essentially training camp for your first year – make it through the summer successfully and you’re in the club. I did a little digging within my professional circle to uncover some of the EY clients that you’d have the potential of working on, as well as my own two Lincolns.
Insurance – Let’s start with this one because I have a feeling that the group consensus will be unanimous: DO NOT JOIN THIS GROUP. Sure, it is a small, “family-like” practice in the financial services industry, but you’re not coming to work for the warm and fuzzies (if you are, avoid public accounting altogether). You’re coming to make yourself a valuable asset to future employers – one, three, or ten years from now. Can you receive accelerated responsibilities and extensive interaction with your clients? Yeah, but that’s because your co-workers are jumping ship and no one within the firm wants to transfer to the Insurance group. Unless you have an absolute passion for the industry (which you don’t, since you emailed us), I would avoid this group. Stay in this group for five years (you know, to make the dream promo to manager) and you’re setting yourself up for a career working for an insurance (or re-insurance) firm.
Banking and Capital Markets – This group is bigger and more prominent than the Insurance group. It’s taken its hit in recent years because…ummm…the banking industry is in turmoil, but some of the pain has been buoyed by their growing Broker Dealer client base (also falls into this group). Potential clients include Bank of America (*gulp*), UBS Wealth Management (the shining star in the UBS sky), Icahn Securities, JG Wentworth, ING Financial Holdings, and Cantor “run for the hills” Fitzgerald. Sources tell me audit staff are constantly trying to take rotations to the asset management group, so take that for what it’s worth. Career advancement outside of public can take you to either a banking or hedge fund depending on your client exposure, but have you read the papers recently? Banking ain’t the hottest date to the prom to these days.
Asset Management – this is EY’s money train in New York when it comes to audit (and even tax) services. EY and PwC dominate this market in New York, and depending on whom you ask EY has a more rounded client base (blue chip and start ups). Premier clients include Eton Park, Reservoir Capital, Anchorage Capital, and Och Ziff Capital (do some Googling to get an idea about these firms). The exposure to different investment strategies and financial products you will see will be second to none. Don’t forget that you can count the relevant investment banks left standing on two hands, whereas there are thousands of hedge funds and private equity firms in the country (most of which are in the greater NYC area, too). Your easiest and most lucrative path out of audit and into the private sector will be with a background in asset management. Absolutely, positively, 100%.
So there you have it. As always, GC’er please chime in below with your comments.
Ed. note: Need advice on your career, the CPA exam or how to best enforce your firm’s dress code? Email the career advice brain trust at [email protected] for answers.
This past summer I worked as an intern with a Big 4 firm. Learned a lot, some decent people, long hours. Still felt relatively miserable considering most of the people I worked with were wound pretty tight. Fast forward to now, and I am considering “taking my talents to south beach” by switching to a different Big 4 firm. Yes, there is an immaterial amount of additional money on the table, so my decision comes down to (1) a more interesting client base and (2) a more exciting and open culture among the happier employees at the new firm.
To me “the Decision” has been made. How do I tell the firm I interned with (and accepted an offer with) that I won’t be coming to the party next year? Am I at risk of being “that guy?” Can you put me in contact with a cable network willing to run a one-hour special so I don’t have to tell them directly?
First, congratulations on one-upping your entry level status in such a dire market. It sounds as though your decision is a done deal so cutting the cord with your personal version of Cleveland shouldn’t be hard to do.
Being that it’s already November, you need to reach out to the firm you’re breaking away from immediately. They’re in the middle of interview season anyway, and knowing that they have an additional spot in their budget now rather than later is important (and fair to their process). Reach out to the recruiter that was your point of contact within the firm (and probably the one that presented you with the original offer). Leave them a voicemail at work stressing the need to speak about a “time sensitive issue” and follow up with an email stating the same. Should you not hear back from them in 48 hours, follow up with another call. If it’s another empty voicemail, follow up with another email (forward the original) and state then that you will not be starting with them after graduation. Explain the situation (using the “it’s not you, it’s me” angle usually works), and thank them for the positive intern experience.
In fairness to them you should try to speak to them live on the phone; however you’re not obligated to make a dozen attempts to reach them. Everyone has email in their pocket these days and it’s reasonable to expect a response in two business days.
And why are you worried about being ‘that guy?’ If by that you mean ‘the guy who left for better money, clients, and culture,’ I’d bet it’s safe to say many of us wouldn’t mind being that guy (or lady) too.
Hello Going Concern,
I’m currently finishing my last semester at the University of Kentucky, I’m a fifth year student that will be graduating in December with a dual degree in accounting and economics. The recruitment period for the big 4, regional and local firms are all over and done. I applied to basically all of the positions/internships and was not asked to interview for any of them. At first, I naively thought they just weren’t hiring from my school, but the voice of reason deep inside my head finally convinced me that it was ind y own doing. My GPA was simply too low (about a 3.1).
Granted, accounting is a challenging course of study, also majoring in econ certainly steals valuable time and energy towards getting that very good GPA. My problem now, is where to go from here. I can’t change the past and must move forward, from all indications I will graduate in December with no job prospects. Should I continue to push and attempt to network with the larger firms, or should I just try and get a position somewhere….anywhere, accounting related to develop some valuable experience? I didn’t do a good job at all of networking through college, just put my head down and hit the books. I’m not a social pariah by any means, however I know that this shyness of mine will not cut it and has hindered me tremendously at this point. I feel overwhelmed and a little disheartened at the makings of the future. If I don’t land a firm job will I be stuck in a perpetual rut in a dead end job? Is it important to avoid the private industry right out of college to get a taste of what you like in the public industry? How would you go about networking out of college, cold calling? I know I’ve asked a bunch of questions here, and maybe have not provided enough background information. To be outstanding you must stand out, now I’m at the crossroads of trying to do just that, but am a little unsure of how to start.
Playing the “I’m holding out for a job in public” doesn’t pay the rent or student loan bills. Not only are you up against stiff competition due to your lower-than-most-interns GPA, and self-decribed “shyness”, you’re fighting the timelines of every firm’s recruiting schedule. Meaning, the firms are done with their hiring needs by this point in time, especially if you are in a smaller market. You ask in your email to GC if you should “continue to push and attempt to network with the larger firms” only to admit in the next sentence that you “didn’t do a good job at all of networking through college, just put my head down and hit the books.” What the hell happened? Your email leaves me wondering if you simply dropped the ball on putting any effort into your job search, leaning too heavily on the notion that all you need is an accounting degree to receive free job handouts.
If going into public accounting was always the goal, your economics degree was not necessary. As “majoring in econ certainly steals valuable time and energy towards getting a very good GPA,” why didn’t you cut your losses after a few classes and drop the major? If your answer is “because I was interested in the subject,” I’m going to call bullshit. If you were so interested in the topic, one would safely assume you would, you know, do well in those classes.
But enough about the past – given that you are about six weeks from graduating, you need to be aggressive with your job search.
Contact Career Services – Your school’s career services should have resources available to help you overcome some of the interview/social anxiety you might have that has held you back in your efforts to network with employers up to this point. They can set you up with meetings, discussions groups, mock interviews, etc. Take advantage of these free resources now; in six weeks it’ll cost you.
Stop being so damn picky – Your questions above gave me the impression that you’re being too picky (dead end jobs worries, hesitation about entering private industry instead of seeking public accounting experience, etc.). The economy – if you haven’t noticed – sucks. You’re entering a job market that is sputtering around nine percent unemployment and approximately 103 percent underemployment. Your competition is more experienced and potentially has better grades and soft skills than you.
The job market – even for accountants – is a simple numbers game – You apply to 30 jobs. You receive interviews at five. You receive second rounds at three. You hope for one offer. You should be applying to accounting roles in every industry in every sized firm. If they’re seeking an accounting degree, your résumé should be there. Search Indeed, LinkedIn, and the Monsters of the world on your own. Look into your college’s resources for alumni. Get in touch with recruiters in your area to see if they have any entry level or temp to perm positions. Play the numbers and see what hits. Good luck, and keep your head up.
Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us [email protected].
I am an associate working for KPMG. During the past 13 months of my career here, I’m just tired of using their outdated office technology, audit tools (an electronic audit system that was made in 2010 when all other big 4s started at least 5 years ago), unfriendly people culture (politics and white-eyes), and stingy meal reimbursement ($14 for dinner). I often work really late hours (utilization rate more than 180%), at the year-end review, I am really unhappy for the rating and raise they gave me.
But still, I want to work in public accounting for the next 2 to 3 years. My question is, do Big 4 recruiters share their employee’s review? Does a recruiter at DTT/EY/PwC know what the employee’s performance is at KPMG (maybe a call to his/her close-friend in KPMG to find-out)? Also, while I’m choosing my next target, which Big 4 has better people-culture so that I will be motivated to work hard for the 2 or 3 years?
An Escaping Klynvedian
Oh, the woes of a being a first year associate: you think the hours/pay/bennies can be substantially better at another firm in your area, but really where you’re at now is oftentimes par for the course. Yes, the audit tools at KPMG are antiquated compared to the others (to their credit: they’re desperately playing catch up now), but with the other areas of complaint I doubt the GC crew has much sympathy for you. Your $14 Per Diem rate is not a KPMG decision but rather based on rates set by IRS. As someone who has traveled extensively for my firm (and uses the IRS rates), I’ve never had a problem ordering in or dining out within the rates set for any given city. Hellz, you could live on $14 a night in NYC if you had to (street meat, anyone?). On to your other concerns:
1. Hours – going to be bad wherever you are. 180% chargeability bad? I don’t know. Talk to anyone you know at the local offices of your competitors and ask about their busy seasons. Also ask if they’re hiring.
2. Unfriendly culture – I think we can all agree that this is different for every office, for every firm, for every city. Best way to find a better one is to look around.
3. Sharing employee reviews – it’s unlikely that one HR professional will call up his/her counterpart at your firm and inquire directly about your reviews. However, they will most likely ask that you provide copies of past reviews before making you an offer. This is a legitimate request and you should be prepared to cooperate. Based on your expressed concern, I’m going to guess that your reviews are not that…great. If this is the case, be prepared to explain any average/less than review points made by your manager(s).
GC’ers – who has some advice for our fleeing first year? Hit up the comments below.
Personally, I don’t know I have the energy for this shit today but here’s a sob story we’ve all heard before:
I was born to be a lot of things, but being an accountant isn’t one of them. In my heart of hearts I have always known this, but for some stupid subconscious reason, I have always ignored it.
Why? Well…um…err…I didn’t know what else to do.
Okay, I’ll jump in now – this just pisses me off. Why? Because I have the solution and it’s easy. Quit. Immediately. I don’t give a baker’s fuck if you don’t know what else to do; don’t wait, just quit your job. I spoke with a friend recently who has been with a Big 4 firm for over ten years. This person was in a similar situation as this guy, not sure what to do other than what they were doing right now (i.e. “auditing”). Then they decided that enough was enough. Forget the money. Forget not having a plan. They just up and quit without a plan. I was so thrilled to hear someone finally going with their gut rather than thinking about all the practical bullshit that ties people down. Speaking of, what’s this guy’s excuse?
You might be left asking, “If you hate it so much, then why don’t you just leave?”
I’m the first person to berate myself for sticking with it for so long. It never helped that accounting, and the financial sector for that matter, pays so well and instantaneously blindsides with dollar signs. I was always caught up chasing the next pay cheque, hanging around a few more months for a bonus and salary hike, and holding my breath for my well-deserved promotion.
The result always afforded me the trips overseas, a new car, the latest gadgets, elevation up the clothing-label food chain, gambling in a few shares here and there, and even a deposit on an investment property. Important things in a twenty-something year-old’s life, right?
It sounds like I’m making excuses. Well I am. It’s hard to walk away. But hey, if it pays well and the bills get paid, shouldn’t that be enough? And shouldn’t I just be grateful to even have a job in this economic climate?
First off, you’re using the money as the excuse. Money is a terrible excuse. Sell your car. Sell your investment property. For God sake, pull your money out of the casino that is the world’s financial markets. And the mantra “I should be grateful to have a job in this economy” is the biggest crock. Grateful for a job you hate? That’s like being grateful to be getting laid with a partner that’s lousy in bed and hates your guts. What’s the point? Go find something you want to do and never look back. Life is too short to be wasting it doing something you don’t want to do. This is not Earth-shattering advice but sometimes it bears repeating. Will your life change? You bet your ass it will and it’ll be better for it.
And that’s goes for anybody else. You know who you are. Don’t wait for this year’s busy season to come and go so you can see what the raise will be or to get another bonus. I assure you that you’ll still be miserable. Probably more so. There’s still time to save yourself. You’ll thank me. But you don’t have to.
I’m an avid reader of Going Concern and I was wondering if you could help ease my anxiety on my Superday coming up fairly soon. I’m currently a senior in a master’s program and I am looking for an internship this Winter. I’ve interviewed with all Big 4 and only managed to score a second round with PwC for a Northeast location. I do have a couple back up offers but really want PwC. Do you have any tips or other insights on these superdays? I often read that the majority of people attending superdays get an offer but I don’t w ident. Any insights you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
I’ll do my best to give you some honest insight on Superdays, although I don’t know if it will quiet your fears.
Your biggest competition at the Superday will be yourself and your choice to pursue a winter internship (presumably tax?). Everyone knows that the summer internship programs are the bees’ knees: barely 40 hours a week; summer outings; awesome schwag. Winter internships, on the other hand, have been traditionally limited in numbers but extensive in experience. This is changing a bit this year, as firms are looking for a small uptick in winter interns to help offset the turnover in staff. The firms’ practices have higher standards for the students they hire for this time of year because they’ll be doing actual work (relative to the summer class). But should you land one of the spots on the winter intern bench, you’ll be poised to rake in a lot of overtime $$$. So, what do you need to do at the Superday to best position yourself for one of the internship spots? Keep your cool. Keep your confidence.
Be flexible. Winter interns are oftentimes from local universities, since many students balance a light credit schedule while putting in long hours at 300 Madison Avenue (or 345 Park, or…okay you get it). If you’re in this position, oversell your availability to work. Think you’re taking 15 credits? Say your’e taking 12. Available on weekends? You bet! They’re looking to hire workhorses, not show ponies. If you’re taking the semester off, that’s great; make sure the recruiter knows this. Talk about your willingness to work long hours and do “what’s best for the team” even if that means working weekends. The goal is to land an offer, not sound like someone with a grasp on reality. “Work the entire month of February and sleep under my desk?!?! Sign me up!!!”
Now, then. General advice for Superdays:
You’re always being watched. Think that the teambuilding event is trivial? Think again. The recruiters will be watching how you interact with the team members. One comment of “this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done” will get you dinged. Sit down, shut up, and BE REALLY EXCITED TO PLAY WITH MARKERS.
Careful with the booze. Every firm’s 2nd round interview program is different, but be sure to take it easy if there is booze involved. Take a page out of my BFF Patti Stanger’s book: keep it to two drinks. You’ll loosen up, it’ll taste GREAT after the long day, but you won’t get too loose lipped. Just because the evening’s atmosphere is casual, doesn’t mean the office managing partner should know what you’re getting your boyfriend for Christmas.
Shoot for the middle of the fairway. Every in-office interview program has the same cast of characters. The Funny Guy. The Guy Who Thinks He’s Funny But Isn’t. The Girl Who’s Skirt is Questionably Short. The Guy Who is Wearing His Father’s Suit. The Sit in the Corner Special. The Candidate with Too Much School Pride. The Leader Who Doesn’t Know How to Be a Team Player.
Umm, yeah. Don’t be any of those.
Easy on the cellphones. Silence it, turn it off, and only look at it on breaks. Nothing pisses off an over-the-hill recruiter more than watching a room full of Millennials texting and tweeting over their morning fruit salads.
Welcome to the bullshit-faux-holidays-that-accountants-don’t-get-off edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. Today we have a new Big 4 associate who’s wondering how much trouble he could get in for a recent arrest for pot possession. If his firm finds out will they just blow it off or is his career baked?
Do you need advice on your career as “The Help” to our capital markets? Whether it’s CPA exam anxiety or minding your debits and credits at career fairs or putting together a to-do list after you put in your papers, we’ve got solutions for you. Email us at [email protected] if you’re in haze.
I just started at a Big 4 firm and to celebrate the college life being over my friends had a party over Labor Day weekend. To cut to the point, I ended up being arrested and charged with marijuana possession in a city about 2 hours away from my office. I had a prior arrest for marijuana from 4 years prior as well. Basically, my question is, how likely is it that the firm finds out about this incident without me telling them? Also, if they do find out does this mean automatic termination?
Any advice would be appreciated.
Dear Stoney Jabroni,
Let me just say first that I’m not a lawyer, so take this advice for what it’s worth (not much more than a dime bag). Having said, that, your solution is easy. Move to Colorado. Or California. Or anywhere pot is decriminalized. Maybe I’m misinterpreting “arrested” but here in in the MHC, for example, adults don’t really get “arrested” for possession of less than one ounce and thus, there is really no problem. I realize this is probably unrealistic advice but your state’s laws will ultimately determine how “serious” this really is. Generally, this is not a serious issue but if you’re in state that likes to throw the book at marijuana users, then it gets more complicated.
To answer your first question – since you work in a city that’s two hours from where your arrest occurred, it’s pretty unlikely that anyone at your firm will find out you had your little run-in with the law. Unless, of course, there’s townie that would go out of their way to contact your firm to fink on you. That seems unlikely but, hey! you never know.
As far as termination is concerned, it depends on the agreement that you signed when you accepted your offer. If you’re held to specific code of conduct, it’s possible that this arrest could violate that code. If there’s nothing in the agreement that would cover something like this, your firm doesn’t really have grounds to dismiss you. There are plenty of Big 4 employees and partners that enjoy a nice toke every now and again and it is more socially accepted than ever. If someone at your firm does get a whiff of this news, certainly some will frown on this behavior and you may get a talking to but does it mean the end of your career? That’s just wack, man.
Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].
I have a senior-level job with a regulator that has jurisdiction over accounting firms. (Don’t want to say much more, because it would be self-identifying.)
I think my credentials may be good enough to land a partner-level job with a Big Four to help with compliance and whatnot. I’d like to pursue this some time over the next several years.
But how should I make the approach? Should I contact the firms directly at the appropriate time? Or go through a headhunter? If a headhunter, which ones have the best contacts for senior positions?
Thanks for your help.
–Fence-crosser (sorry, I couldn’t come up with a witty name)
Give yourself some credit – your nickname is wittier than most (and by most, I mean people usually sign their first and last names and add their Social Security number for good measure).
After a quick (and confidential) search for your background on LinkedIn, I have a much better understanding of your seniority and depth of experience in the regulatory space. Very impressive. Considering your educational background (for those of you playing at home – very strong undergrad and advanced degree programs), I have no doubt that you’ve made your mark within the inner circles of both your industry and your city (major US market).
Before we talk about how to go about pursuing opportunities within the Big 4, let’s talk about this so-called “partner-like” level where you’d like to land. Without a CPA you cannot be a partner, however principals are a non-certified equivalent and directors are nothing to slouch at, either. You’d most easily transition into either 1) a firm’s internal professional practice, helping decipher government regulation and how said firm’s practices are affected by changing laws or 2) a firm’s advisory group, aiding clients with the same issues. The upsides – both monetarily and network-wise – would be in advisory. But do not overlook being an internal expert; they are paid handsomely for their work.
When it comes to seeking out the Big 4’s interest in your particular skillset, I suggest starting with their in-house Experienced Hire recruiters. All of the firms are hot to hire people with your experience. Look into their publicly posted opportunities first; either you will find something in line with your background or at the very least find a name to contact. Check out last week’s post for links to each firm’s experienced hire pages. Your skillset would be an exceptional value added to a firm’s compliance/regulatory departments. Best of luck in transitioning.
Readers – are you familiar with this kind of transition? Have you made the move yourself? Email Caleb and he’ll connect you with Fence-crosser should you be able to help. Are you a recruiter at one of the Big 4? Do the same – contact Caleb and make this happen.
Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].
Here’s an issue I rarely see. I joined PwC management consulting right out of my Ivy League school, and have my undergrad degree in Economics. I loved it, worked hard, made manager in five years and worked for some huge clients. I did all of the extras, methodology writing, promotion committees, coaching, proposals, etc. Managed some huge high profile projects too. Was offered a slot at PwC’s new executive MBA program, and was in the alpha class, graduating with a concentration in Marketing (picked by the firm). But then we had huge post 9/11 layoffs, were spun off and bought by IBM. I left soon after to start a family. I was there nearly ten years.
I went back to school and got my MSAT, and now am halfway through my CPA exam, acing it thanks to my teaching and experience. I’ve been teaching accounting and tax at a major university for the past four years as an adjunct, and doing a little private consulting.
Can I get back in to Big 4? Do I do it as an experienced hire? I know I’ve never been a practicing auditor but I know the methodology and how to manage large engagements. What’s the best way for me to work my way back in? My former colleagues are all at IBM or have left. I am not eligible for on campus since I graduated with my latest masters in 2009.
DISCLAIMER: not every circumstance in the history of circumstances has been taken into consideration when making this statement:
Public accounting – you can always come back.
The flow of people out of public accounting is much more intense and consistent than the experienced hire onboards, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. I did a little searching on LinkedIn and realized that you live in the greater New York City area, which is to your advantage. Many of the Big 4’s support staffs are located in NYC, so there might be options in those areas of the firms if a return to client servicing is not possible. so your odds of finding an opportunity and a new home with one of the Big4 improve slightly. Start with searching their Experienced Hire websites for open opportunities. Links are below:
Scour LinkedIn for experienced hire recruiters within each firm and reach out to them directly; have them hear your story. Most importantly, be persistent. The experienced hiring model within the Big 4 is can be touch and go, especially considering the recent uncertainty in the economy.
I am interviewing with multiple big four firms but I am a little worried that if I receive an offer it may be revoked later on. I graduate in December with my masters and due to recruiting season and studying for the CPA exam I have not focused much on school. My current GPA is 3.5 and I feel that after this semester it will be in the 3.3-3.4 range. Have you ever heard of a CPA firm revoking a new graduate offer due to their grades slipping? I am getting a little worried. Thanks.
Welcome to the trials and tribulations of recruiting season. Unfounded rumors. Random interview selection. Lost sleep over imploding GPAs. Epic amounts of money wasted on free schwag*.
Rest assured, the drop in your GPA should not affect your eligibility. Consider this: your candidacy for a spot at a Big 4 firm consists A) your undergraduate GPA/degree B) any relative internships you’ve landed C) your first semester of grad work (the 3.5 GPA) and D) your CPA eligibility. I say “should not” without making a promise because the world could end tomorrow (Greece! UBS! HPV shots!) and recruiting could dry up but it’s not likely. Okay, UBS could be toast…
I’m not suggesting that you let things slide, either; you will need to provide a final transcript upon graduation. Assuming you took an equal amount of credits across two semesters for your Masters program, your first semester of a 3.5 GPA will be match up with a second semester of 3.2/3.3. Not the end of the world.
Keep interviewing, keep studying, and keep us informed of how things play out. Good luck on campus this fall.
*GC contributors will gladly accept schwag.
127. That is the number of unread emails in my inbox at this very moment (Wednesday @ 2:28pm). Two meetings, a list of high priority to-do’s, and a number of phone calls to return when I hit my desk before 8:00a this morning. What’s the point? We professionals are busy creatures and as much as we appreciate the thoughtfulness of a “thank you” email when we meet you at a Career Fair, we don’t want to hear about your interest in IFRS issues. In an effort to build off the advice in the comments of Monday’s post, here are some things to keep in mind before hitting send on your thank you email to us.
Do: Keep it short, but personal. When we attend a career fair, we can meet upwards of 200 students in an afternoon. Even if 25% send emails, that’s 50 interspersed amongst our regular business inbox. Keep it short, to the point, but also relevant so it doesn’t seem like you sent the same message to every firm. Tip: reference something professional the two of you spoke about, reference to the recruiter what professional you met, or thank them for the invite to an event later in the week; something to make the connection to your brief in-person encounter.
Don’t: Regurgitate your cover letter. It’s a “thank you” email, not an opportunity to over-sell your candidacy.
Do: Triple check your grammar. Nothing takes you out of the running faster than a misspelled name or the incorrect verb tense in a sentence. Sure, accountants are notoriously bad with spelling and grammar, but leave the misspellings to the managers. When you sign off, go with “sincerely” or “regards” followed by your name.
Don’t: Make us feel old. Mr./Miss/Ms./Mrs. are all off the table. We are not our parents, capisce? More importantly, you need to put yourself on the same level as us. You want to be treated as the adult you are, so speak to us as equals. This goes for everyone up and down the hierarchy (first-year professionals to partners). We’re all on the same level when it comes to addressing us in emails.
Do: Capitalize. keep the lowercase sentences to yourself. and your texting buddies. okay? okay.
Don’t: Attach your résumé. Submit through the website like the recruiter mentioned 32 times.
Do: Keep it light. Remember – we enjoy spending time on campus and interacting with the future of our firms. We had a great time meeting you – remind us of that.
Don’t: Get offended if you do not receive a response. Oftentimes the professionals will just forward the emails to the recruiter to keep track of. You wouldn’t expect a “you’re welcome” note if you were mailing a thank you note, would you?
Back with another edition of “Decide My Life for Me – Public Accounting Edition.” Today, an antsy Big 4 employee in a large city wants to know if moving to second-tier firm in small city will mean a demotion or cut in salary.
Do you have trouble matching your socks? Need help making sense of your cryptic performance review? Are you worried that someone with a bun in the oven is also capable of doing their job? Email us at [email protected] and someone will try to straighten you out.
Back to our “Should I Stay or Should I Go” du jour:
I was curious if you had any information on employees jumping from Big 4 firms (auditing) to upper-mid-tier (i.e. McGladrey). Do you find that they are often promoted? I am currently in a large city and am uninterested in staying in the city long-term. I was thinking of moving to a 300,000 person city with some firms like McGladrey, Grant Thornton, etc. If I am jumping ship as a senior or manager, where should I expect to come in at? Same level? Same salary?
Had it with Big 4 life, eh? Let me guess, the groupies got to you, didn’t they? Every damn time.
As to your inquiry, here’s the deal – you won’t be promoted if you decide to accept a position with McGladrey or Grant Thornton. Why? There are a few reasons: 1) You don’t have the experience; 2) You don’t have the experience; 3) You don’t have the experience. We all know that Big 4 auditors think they’re pretty special and that anyone who doesn’t soil themselves after looking at their stellar résumés followed by an immediate job offer is simply stupid. So it comes as a shock to many when this scenario doesn’t play out. As far as second-tier firms go, they definitely want Big 4 talent when they can get it but they’re aren’t about to throw you a bone because you worked at E&Y Chicago or PwC New York.
What you can expect – if you’re senior associate or a manager at a Big 4 firm, you can reasonably expect to be offered (not a guarantee, obv) a similar position at GT or Mickey G’s that you currently have. If you’re moving to a smaller city, you could see a similar salary but you should not expect a raise. You’ll receive the market rate for your position in your new city. The firm may put you at the high range of pay for your group but be prepared to be reminded of that fact come merit increase time.
Anyone made a similar move with different results? Share below.
Got a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].
Good afternoon, GC’ers. I’m going to be devoting posts to general campus recruiting advice this week. College students – listen up. Already-employed cohorts – chime in with your own advice. Today I’m going to cover Career Fairs, everyone’s favorite meat market.
Questions you should be ready for – “Did you submit your resume through Career Services? Did you submit our firm’s additional paperwork? When do you graduate? What office are you interested in? Will you be CPA eligible up graduation? What practice are you interested in?” If you know what practiced you’ sure to have your paperwork submitted through the necessary online means. Don’t know what you’re applying for? Read below…
Know what you’re applying for – Nothing worse than talking to a student who is, “Uhhhhhhh, you know, I’m open to anything.” To me, that means you are unfamiliar with my firm’s services and you’re standing in line like a lemming because you know it’s good for you. Do you homework ahead of time about what practice groups are being targeted on your campus. Here’s a hint – focus on the job posts that are on your Career Services site; this is what each firm is focused on and actively recruiting for from your particular school. Don’t see Transaction Advisory Services listed? Probably ain’t gonna happen.
Suit up – Take a piece of advice from Barney Stinson and rock a suit to the Fair. It doesn’t need to be an expensive suit; heck, it doesn’t even have to be yours. Personally, I’m not a fan of the trend of suits becoming the norm at career fairs but it is better to match your competition than to assume “different is better.” Accounting firms are not Google; they breed a conservative culture. Play along, at least until you have an offer.
In an effort to avoid this becoming an Esquire-like blog post, I’ll keep my suit advice simple.
Ladies: Make sure your blouse is comfortably but securely buttoned, and take the potential of taller recruiters (aka wandering eyes) into consideration. Also, avoid hot magenta or any other color that would be included in a pack of highlighters.
Gents: That Calvin Klein tag on the outside of your jacket’s left sleeve? Yeah, that’s supposed to come off. Also, be sure to open your pockets and jacket vents before going to the Fair. It’s always awkward to see a guy trying to stuff a business card into a sewn up pocket.
Relax. Don’t sweat it. – Really, I mean that. Few things are more repulsive than shaking the moist hand of an anxious student. It can get hot at career fairs, I know. You can do a couple of things to chill out if you have a sweating problem: 1) Hold you résumé folder in your left hand and keep your right hand out of your pocket. This will let your hand breathe. 2) Small talk the person next you – it will help both of you relax. 3) A good swipe of your right hand on the back of your leg when you know your turn is coming up is totally fair game.
Always mints, never gum – There’s a good chance you’ll have to wait in line at the Big 4 booths. As you’re waiting in the mass herd of people, pop a few Tic Tacs or mints (avoid Altoids – too strong). They’ll help you relax and will be gone before you start speaking to the recruiter.
Business cards = cheat sheets – Ask for business cards when you meet with the professionals at the career fair (note – if they don’t have any, just remember to get their name so you can take notes later). Generally speaking, they are alums from your school and are excited to be back on campus and they can be a great resource going forward. They will also be at other events, even as early as the same week as the career fair. In between visiting booths, take two minutes to scribble notes on the back of the business card to help you remember who they were. “Black hair.” “Red glasses.” “Talked about baking.” “Mentioned she was an Eagles fan.” Reviewing these cards prior to next week’s firm-sponsored social event on campus will help you remember the connections much better.
Find out when they’ll be back – The five minutes you spend with the recruiters and professionals at the career fairs are not enough to earn yourself an interview. It is imperative you make personal connections with members of each firm. Beta Alpha Psi presentations. Cheesy happy hour mixers. Whatever. Go, shake hands, and laugh at their jokes. Earn yourself an interview.
Remember your manners – Thank everyone for their time. As happy to be on campus as they may be, many of the professionals will put in hours for work back at their hotels later that night. It is not always easy for them to take time off from work to make the trips back, so have a little respect for their time and their neglected inboxes.
Have anything to add? Email us or leave your comments below.
Ed. note: Got a question from the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].
Happy Friday, folks. Even though Summer Fridays are a thing of the past, we have much to be thankful for. College football on the tube. Ya’ll are getting laid, apparently. And we have some great questions coming into GC.com, like this one here:
I’m ready to leave the Big 4 for industry but want to make sure I don’t m��������������������make the jump. Is there a GC cheat sheet on things to take care of (and take with you) during the 2 week lame duck period after I give my notice? (e.g. contact info, CPE profile, etc.)
I’d love to hear GC readers’ thoughts.
Caleb and I scratched our brains on this one and realized that no – we’ve never really covered this topic. I know some if not all offices allow employees to take care of loose ends during the two week downtime but wouldn’t you rather be prepared to turn everything over on the same day? What I want to do here is cover the basics from the angle that you want to be able to put in your notice and walk out the door the same way. You fill in the details in the comments section below, as I’m sure I’ve missed some of the finer points. Share your horror stories and little victories alike.
1. A. Back up your personal computer files – Technically your work computer is reserved solely for work files and functions but for many of you it is a secondary (even primary) personal computer. I’ve seen laptops turned in with the likes of iTunes libraries, photo albums, tax returns and personal financial tracking files just hanging around in plain sight. You don’t know when HR or your partner will demand to seize your computer (I’ve even seen partners’ commuters seized with no access granted to the files for weeks), so make sure you back everything up onto your own USB drive.
1. B. Delete your personal computer files – Once everything is backed up (make sure the files open on another computer), delete everything personal that’s on the computer. Don’t forget to empty the trash can, too.
2. Get a new wireless plan – If you’re wielding a firm-purchased phone, you’ll be needing to turn that over as well. Take the initiative to get a new phone and have the contacts from your current (firm) phone transferred to your new (personal) device. Every carrier is different, but some will let you buy the new phone without having to activate it immediately, thus giving you the option to walk in there later (presumably, after you’ve dropped the bomb on leadership) and transfer the number over. If you prefer a clean slate and want a new number, so be it.
Also, remember to delete your recent call log, Blackberry Messenger conversations, texting history, sensitive contacts (*cough* your recruiter *cough*), etc. Granted if they really want go through an archive they will, but that really only happens if suspicious/illegal activity is suspected.
3. Organize your client work – This can be a very mundane and verbose task however necessary it may be. The goal here is to make things as easy as possible for your colleagues. Use separate USB drives for different managers and partners. Give everyone an update “open items” list for your active engagements. Make it so organized that a new person to the team would able to seamlessly come on board, read your notes, and pick up where you left off.
Chances are good that you like your co-workers, as one of the most common hesitations staff members have when leaving public accounting is, “I would feel bad leaving my co-workers swamped with my work.” Here’s the deal: they survive. I mean, think about it – how many times has a coworker left before you? Sure, the first few days can be a slow go, but they’re out-of-sight-and-mind within a week. Work is divvied up and completed.
4. Link in with people – I covered this back in June.
5. Mentally prepare yourself – Accounting firms are hit the hardest with employee turnover around this time of year so you need to expect your employer to put up a bit of a fight. Better clients, better work life balance, rotation to another group, verbal praise and affection. (Where was that love when you were working 7:30a to 11:30p during busy season?) You need to prepare for the pressure to be there to turn down your other offer on the spot. There’s nothing wrong with hearing out what your firm can put on the table, but you are under no obligation to turn around and be back on Team PwC or Kamp KPMG during the same meeting you put in your resignation.
Also, remember: you can always go back. Not sometimes. Not usually. ALWAYS. The only thing more valuable to a public accounting firm than its employees are employees that return with private experience.
6. Copy down contact information – There are people you will want to stay in contact with as your careers progress. This should be a no-brainer.
7. One last thing – There’s that colleague with whom you have some tension. Maybe they’re seeing someone, maybe they’re not. Screw the coulda-shoulda-woulda’s and say something before you leave. Be bold.
Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].
I’ve been worrying about this for so long, I’m hoping some people in the profession can shed some light on my fears. When I was 18, I was an idiot. I attended a school far away and I literally never attended class. I also never dropped any classes. Needless to say, I flunked out with many Fs on my transcript (almost a full year’s worth). Later on, I went to a community college and remained an idiot. I did the same thing. My GPA was ~0.9.
Fast forward a few years in a new location, and things are a different story. I went to a community college down here and after screwing up yet again in the first term, I had a 4.0 GPA for the remaining 18 classes. I matriculated to a 4 year school (automatic admission in Florida for AA graduates) and continued. My last 64 credits have been straight As, and I have taken some of the hardest accounting classes – including Cost and two Theories.
I am absolutely dreading recruiting. My institution tells me that my “real” GPA consists of the grades I’ve earned at the school – which would make my GPA a 4.0. However, my transcript is going to have my overall GPA of 2.6 on it. To make matters worse, my actual coursework from the newer community college won’t be on the transcript so they won’t even notice much of an admirable grade trend.
I am also not a member of Beta Alpha Psi. To be an accounting major at my school, you need a 3.0 GPA – I was ineligible my first semester. Since I did not have an accounting GPA before last week, I have to submit my application in the next few weeks. I hope their admissions process isn’t so slow that I miss out on any of their opportunities. OCR is next month.
I know this is a scattered story that very few people can relate to. I don’t know what happened in those years and can’t understand it either. If anyone has some direction for me I would be extremely grateful.
Thank you and I love the site. It’s easily my favorite place for shameless mental masturbation when I’m feeling anxious.
– Zero to Hero
Dear Z to H:
Whatever you did to break out of the unfortunate streak of bottom feeding failures in the classroom and get yourself up to a 4.0-GPA-earning level, please tell me. I would like to make it, bottle it, and sell it to the masses.
The way that your college calculates “real” GPAs is standard for the industry; realize that this is absolutely to your advantage. The 4.0 you are currently carrying should be reflected on your résumé. Also on your résumé should be the time you spent at the community college. The time there launched you to where you are now.
Do not be afraid to approach recruiters. That said, I recommend talking to every firm regardless of size. Some might be turned off by your unconventional path to Dean’s List. Be prepared to be honest with the recruiters about your first attempt at college and the years you took off and when you began to right the ship. Honesty is absolutely the best approach here, because come offer time you will need to provide a transcript of your academic history. You want the transcript to be confirmation of your story, not the bombshell. Good luck.
Back again with another edition of fix my career ASAP. Today, “an accidental tax lawyer” wants to obtain a CPA to bolster his small practice. Other lawyers look at him like he’s “crazy” when he discusses the IRC but our Regretful JD enjoys all the minutiae. Problem is, he’ll have to start from scratch since he has business background. Is this plan gold or is he a glutton for punishment?
Are you suffering from a case of summer-is-ending-which-means-busy-season-is-right-around-the-corner blues and are wondering if it’s time for a new job? Does your golf game suck? Do you wear