Salaries

Compensation Watch ’10: Is Anyone at Grant Thornton Getting Impatient?

Because “early July” becomes “mid-July” in about two days and some people would like to get this over with:

“Just as an update to GT’s “early july” announcement about raises. It hasn’t come yet, but some have been told that they’ll be getting promoted (I’m guessing seniors and managers) and were told that National is still trying to figure out what they’ll be.”

So you can take that as “Chipman and Co. are stuck in an epic game of Risk and can’t be bothered at the moment” or something else entirely if you like. If your anxiety level is at double-Lexapro levels or if you’ve heard something other than the earlier rumors, discuss below.

Apparently a Few People at PwC Are Feeling Shortchanged

The PricewaterhouseCoopers compensation post is still a hot thread, as the majority of news was about double-digit raises and bonuses have been reported from many although at least one commenter was skeptical that all the news was good in the PwC world:

“[P]robably the people most willing to share are the ones who got the most $.”


That comment was in response to someone who assumed PwC was throwing around “1” ratings (the firm’s highest) like boomies at a Phish show. Of course, not everyone can be so lucky and apparently there are a couple of terms being thrown around by the less fortunate.

Late last week a source close to PwC dropped us the following:

“Fonus”– noun; the much-diminished bonus Big 4 firms give to borderline staff they can’t afford to pay properly, but don’t want to quit.

Not to be confused with the ‘nonus,’ which is no bonus at all.

Apparently these terms have emerged this week as fonuses started appearing in people’s paychecks.

So not to worry “as expected” staff that can’t afford to quit your jobs! If you ended up with the 6%/0% instead of the 14%/10% or whatever, whathaveyou, you’re not alone! Plus, there are some fun terms you can throw around to help you bitch about it. Continue to discuss and keep us updated with any other fallout from the discussions – verbal creativeness or otherwise.

Comp Watch: Sit Downs Starting at Deloitte; Anxiety Over Raises Picking Up

Lots of news this week on the compensation and promotion fronts with Grant Thornton, KPMG and PwC all making announcements or soon-to-be making announcements (that we’ve heard; are you holding out on us, E&Y?).

The latest out of Deloitte is that the discussions are starting (although maybe not today since it sounds like most are off) but the news on yay or nay on promotions is starting and now the anxiety around comp will increase over the next two month:

The year-end ratings and promotion decisions have been approved by National; so the process of communicating both to Deloittians is starting…At a high-level, I heard that promotions this year were tough – that being said, plenty of people made it through. For the most part, people are now waiting to hear about comp – scheduled for communication the last two weeks of August.

We did hear one rumor about the number of new partners expected, “at a recent partner meeting, it was announced that there will be more than 60 new PDPs nationally, with more than 10 being in the Northeast,” so you can toss that around your meat-ingestion fest this weekend if you so choose.

Discuss your epic/tragic news re: your new promotion if you’ve received word and keep us updated on the comp rumors.

Compensation Watch ’10: Rumors at Grant Thornton as Announcement Approaches

From the depths of 666 Third Ave:

In New York:

Associates look to come in at almost $10k less than they did in 2007
Senior 3’s are looking to make almost $10k less than Senior 3’s in 2007
New Managers are looking to make almost $15k less than New Managers in 2007
Senior Managers are looking to make almost $15-20k less than Senior Managers in 2007

Raises (without promotion) are looking to be:
3% for employees rated under a 4
6% for employees rated a 4 or 5

Our source indicates that these are all rumors at this point but based on the last Communique de Chipman, the official numbers should be known soon (“early July”).

In the previous thread lots of numbers were getting thrown so who knows; maybe GT is pulling a PwC and promising low, delivering high? Discuss.

Compensation Watch ’10: PwC Starts Spreading the News in New York

It’s raining bonuses and raises over at PricewaterhouseCoopers these days. Unfortunately, all I’m seeing are news tips (monetary tips or buybacks at the bar are always appreciated). All of my sources are from the NYC office, so if you’re elsewhere in the country, please share your numbers in the comments below. Here’s what we know so far:


• Advisory/Consulting senior associate received a raise north of 18.5%. No, that is not a typo. So in the advisory practice it’s safe to assume the spread is 0% to 19% for raises this year, with the average being about 6% as reported by Caleb earlier.

• A recently promoted associate to senior associate in advisory received a 10.5% raise and a $3,000 bonus.

• Tax bonuses are being handed out now as well. Size matters in this instance, people. Cough up the details below.

This indicates that resources are being spent on what is being determined to be the right people in the right practices. Average performers should expect to receive 4-6% and take it to the bank.

Audit people, what are your numbers looking like? Email us or post your comments below. Practice/office/level are always appreciated

Thanks to everyone that is sharing information. Enjoy the weekend.

How Accountants Can Get the Salary They Want

I’ve always been a nerd.

Not a dork, a nerd. The financial services industry and its incredible economic influence (from tax structuring to secondary industries like cab drivers and event planners) has always interested me. So it should come as no surprise that I am an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal (I have the dual paper/online subscription…obviously).

There was an article in today’s edition that has to do with getting “the salary you want.” If only it was as easy as these five points. For what it’s worth, here’s my summary of, and input on, how these rules suggested guidelines if you are looking to transition out of public accounting:


Do your research – The article makes a point to research what current salary ranges at the potential place of employment could be. Salary.com, Payscale.com, and Glassdoor.com are all mentioned. My advice – remember to do your research with grains of salt in easy reach. The greater number of employees that contribute their statistics will lead to a more accurate number. (Glassdoor.com lists PwC’s “audit associate” salary average salary as $53,358. Is that accurate? You tell me.)

Don’t give out the first number – When you get beyond the confusion of that statement, you realize the article is referring to the pay day you would love to receive if given the job. My advice – Don’t give a number. Here’s exactly what you need to say if asked “what is your ideal salary:” “For me the role and opportunity is what is most important.”

Yes, that is a vague statement. But it is your recruiter’s job to fight for your salary; remember their pay day is dependent on yours.

Don’t lie – Listen to your mother. My advice – this is self-explanatory. Your current salary will be verified. Lying to your recruiter about anything – most notably salary and background check details – is a way to sever ties indefinitely.

Don’t take the first offer – The article goes back and forth about negotiating salaries, something that you won’t do if you use a recruiter. However, if you are not using a recruiter, I recommend reading this bit. My advice – People typically have two magic numbers in their head: 1) the salary they’ve dreamt of and 2) the number they really need to receive in order to commit to leaving. Be honest with your recruiter. They will fight for you, or they will talk you off the ledge of asinine expectations.

Once that’s locked in, go for other benefits – The article pretty much shoots itself in the kidney on this one. Read it. It’s 17 seconds you’ll never have back. My advice – consider the benefits part of your total compensation. More or less vacation days? Summer flex programs? Cheaper health benefits? Better 401k? List everything out and compare with your current situation. Due to fair employment practices, companies are usually hand-tied to offering equal employees different (or “better”) benefits.

That’s all I have. Oh and for the record, the difference between dorks and nerds is simple. Dorks read the Journal with coffee. Nerds read the Journal with scotch.

Bonus and Compensation Watch ’10: Grant Thornton Delivers the Goods

Grant Thornton has been on strict radio silence lately which makes us wonder if Stephen Chipman had given up on blogging or if they had simply given everyone the summer off.

The blog remains a mystery but we do have some news on GT bonuses (the jury was out for awhile) and merit increases and it seems to be good news but extremely short on details and extremely long on Chipman prose:

Leadership announcement
Additional guidance on bonuses and compensation

On our last all-employee call, I told you that I was optimistic that the firm would award bonuses this year. I am pleased to share with you that we are now in a position to say with certainty that we will be paying bonuses for 2010.

As you know, the overall level of bonuses is dependent on our financial results at year end. We are currently working on this modeling based on our economic forecasts and will have the final numbers next month. However, I can let you know that we plan to pay the bonuses in the mid-September timeframe.

Similar to our merit increases, our bonus payments are based on our pay-for-performance philosophy, where we strive to recognize and reward individuals commensurate with performance. We’ve held this philosophy for a number of years, but could have done better executing on it. You reminded us of this in our Voice Your Experience pulse survey, and we are striving to do better. This year — and even more so going forward — we will be giving larger merit increases and bonuses to our top-rated performers to ensure greater differentiation.

Merit increases should be finalized in the next couple of weeks and your local office will begin communicating with you in early July. New compensation is effective on August 1. The increases are based on extensive market information for each of our practices and your individual contributions.

As we work to differentiate our firm through providing consistently distinctive client service, we will continue to move towards a model that rewards each of our people relative to their contributions to the success of the firm.

I’m excited about our direction as a world-class firm that truly makes a difference, and hope you are too. Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do, for Grant Thornton.

Stephen

So whether or not this puts your anxiety to rest is another matter. Discuss and keep us updated in the coming weeks.

Credentials for Accountants: Certified Information Systems Auditor

Need help deciding what you want to be when you grow up? Check out the rest of our posts on credentials for accountants.

If you’re really into internal audits and information systems, want to make decent money and never want to worry about having to find a job, you may want to look into the CISA.


Education Requirements
None that we know of, beyond what you’d need to secure a job in the field to gain required professional experience.

Professional Requirements
CISA candidates must have 5 years of relevant experience in IS auditing, control or security work and adhere to the IASCA Code of Professional Ethics. Experience must be obtained in the 10 years before taking the exam.

CISA Exam
The exam is administered twice a year (June and December) and candidates must register no less than two months before the exam date. The exam is made up of 200 multiple choice questions that must be answered within 4 hours. The score is graded from 200 – 800 points and a CISA candidate must score at least 450 points to pass. It covers the following areas:

IS Audit Process (10%)
IT Governance (15%)
Systems and Infrastructure Lifecycle Management (16% of Exam)
IT Service Delivery and Support (14%)
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (14%)

The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) sets the standards of and administers the CISA examination.

Compensation
PayScale has some interesting figures on compensation for those with the CISA and we have to say, it’s one of the more lucrative credentials we’ve covered thus far. Interestingly, GT pays its CISAs far better than P-Dubs.

Deloitte$59,942 – $86,500
Ernst & Young$60,737 – $90,757
KPMG$70,736 – $111,331
PricewaterhouseCoopers$58,448 – $97,657
Grant Thornton$56,500 – $143,400

IS Auditors make between $60,047 – $82,842 while IS Audit Managers can make up to $108,226. The money is good if you’re willing to put in the hours and pass a little more than half of the exam.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor. You can see more of her posts here.

Compensation Watch ’10: Deloitte Is Kicking Around Some Numbers

Last we checked on Deloitte’s compensation news, it was news of the wealth being spread around more than last year, although no one was really impressed based on the discussion that followed.

But now out of Ronaldo Fan Club HQ we’ve got an opening bid:

“It was announced at a Tax meeting last Monday that the average raise for NE Tax would be 5% this year.”


Since Dr. Phil recently said that raises weren’t going to return to “pre-recession levels” an average raise of 5% may be in the ballpark. Then again, this is only the tax practice…

Anyhoo, our source told us that reactions boiled down to:

1. After axing or transferring everybody from the Stamford, Wilton and Hartford offices, they better pay the remaining people more!

2. At least it’s more than the average of 0% last year…

If you don’t fall into either camp 1 or 2, make your opinion known. Otherwise, get back to watching your fantasy team suck.

(UPDATE) Compensation Watch ’10: Are Raises Looking Bleak at E&Y?

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard any news on the E&Y comp front but we finally received a preliminary report from one source late last week:

[Roundtables] went the same way they always go. Surprisingly, less pushback on proposed ratings for the portion I was involved in. I really think they may be scared to lose more people. Indications are raises will be low (3-5% range for most, more for 4/5 rated people) Bonuses are probably non-existent for the masses. Annoucements of promotions for other levels will be made in August (staff to senior, senior to manager, manager to senior manager) they will also do comp increase discussions then. Effective 10/1…


So despite Ernst & Young re-reassuring merit increases the 3-5% for the meaty part of the curve and no bonuses isn’t exactly what “the masses” were expecting.

That being said, this office may be catching some bad luck since we that at least one E&Y partner was confident that the raises would beat PwC’s.

Although, some lucky E&Y soldiers have seen some “spot bonuses” for their hard work but it’s not clear how widespread that generosity is.

On a marginally-related note, we’ve received word that the partner promotions were announced but we’re still trying to run down some details. Get in touch with us if you’ve got the scoop on the new partners, what you’re hearing about comp in your office and discuss below.

UPDATE, Wednesday June 16th: A couple more accountants familiar with E&Y have their own take on the comp situation:

I heard that we “we’re not going to be disappointed with raises” here at EY. I don’t know what that means. And I tend to believe, that as you posted today, 3-5%, is a more realistic view of what’s going to happen (though that’s just my own pessimism).

and that is coupled with another source, “Haven’t heard anything further on comp other than ‘moderate.’

Continue attempting to decipher the latest. As you were.

Promotion Watch ’10: Latest Details on KPMG’s New Managers

From a Klynveld Quaker:

In recent meetings with PA Business Unit leadership with all audit staff (i.e. A and SA’s), we were told that of the 32 inidivudals up for promotion to Manager in the combined three offices (Philly, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh), that 22 were officially promoted. Of the 10 that weren’t, at least 1 just came back from international rotation, and either 2 or 3 (can’t remember which) hadn’t passed the CPA exam and therefore couldn’t be considered for promotions. All raise and bonus theories were squashed (as to hard percentages), though we were told to expect some form of raise as well as variable comp at FYE.


So just a shade better than two-thirds of the Keystone KPMGers eligible for manager will be in the new manager class. As you may remember, this is pretty close to the breakdown for one office in the Rockies but a little less than an office in the northwest.

Since the firm has four months to go in its fiscal year, the fact that the local leadership wouldn’t even give a hint comes as no surprise. That said, it hasn’t stopped people from speculating about what they think the increases will be. We encourage you to share what you know, what you’ve heard, or your own wild-ass guess. And keep us updated with the latest in your office.

The Big 4 vs. Private Sector – Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda?

Happy MoanDay Tuesday, everyone.

Last week’s post about Big 4 firms lowering the bar on starting salaries in order to project artificial pay raises was well discussed in the comments section. Thank you to everyone who commented, as that’s what makes this online community vocally vibrant and a joy to be a part of.

Part of the conversation included a debate about whether it is better to begin a career in accounting with a Big 4 firm or in the private sector; two very different career paths. The question is a legitimate case of shoulda coulda woulda. The following are a few comments from the peanut gallery:


Guest said, “Even though I was offered $55k + $5k bonus out of college for a Big 4, I was VERY close to not accepting the offer and instead going with a private firm that was $60k starting and normal hours. The only reason I went to the Big 4 was because I fell for the trap of ‘the name recognition.’ If I could go back in time, I would have chosen the private firm.”

• Another Guest crunched the numbers, “In a Big 4, you’re overworked about 20-25% more than the private sector (if not, then more). Say a Big 4 offers you $55k starting. Your “REAL” salary relative to your peers would in fact be $55,000 / 1.25 = $44k. If you lower it to $50k for a first year, that equates to a real salary of $40k.”

• Finally, 2nd Year Associate chimed in with, “Plenty of my college pals are making upwards of $10k more than I am a year and they don’t even have their CPAs. I joined public accounting to get ahead over the next 5 to 10 years but if my pay was any less I’d have skipped this route completely.”

I think it all depends on where your career is at. If you graduated in 2007 or 2008, you might be less thrilled to be on the public accounting career. The double digit percentage raises for everyone on the team that were fiercely promoted by the Big 4 campus recruiting machines have yet to materialize for you, and now you find yourself lumped into the “just happy to have a job” group. Your classmates that went the private route have been cruising on decent pay and 45 hour work weeks. Nothing good to see here; move along.

If you’re 4-8 years into your career, you’re obviously in a different place. You’ve experienced the 15% raise, climbed the corporate shuffleboard to senior staff or manager, and utilize the phrase, “when I first started here…” all too often. You’ve earned your stripes after a number of busy seasons; your desire for a new job is to be better respected by your superiors. Pay isn’t everything, but it’s important.

Throughout all of this, you’ve benefited from the resources of working at a large firm (no, I’m not talking about free dinners). The training programs have been extensive, your CPA license is paid for, and you’ve been enjoying as much of your five weeks of vacation as the firm allowed you to take. And what about having the name on your resume? Having a pedigree firm on your resume can oftentimes land you the interview; earning the pay day is up to you.

So why did you enter into public accounting? Was it because the Big 4 had a strong presence on your campus? Were private companies not offering enough? Would you change anything about your career path to this point? Leave your thoughts below.

Lowering the Bar – How the Big 4 Can Raise Morale by Reducing Starting Salaries

Last Friday’s post by Caleb surrounding the Bonus Watch at Deloitte sparked a handful of intuitive comments from GC readers.

In case you didn’t read the post and subsequent commentary, Commenter Anon51 responded to the question “what do readers suggest firms do to retain practitioners” with the following:

1. treat every team member with respect

2. you can’t just force your team to work harder year after year with fewer people and a smaller budget

3. pay 4-7 year people more, pay new hires less, so it seems there is an incentive to working harder

4. reward your people with an extra day off without having to utilize vacation time, especially after a really busy month/audit

Point 3 is bolded because it resulted in the following comment from Guest:

“That’s a really good idea, and I’m not being sarcastic. There is no reason why new hires fresh out of college need to make $59k ($55k + $4k sign-on bonus), when they would happily work for $50k. Then, a $5k bump every year would be a reward, with maybe a higher bump during promotion years…Pay disparity is a bigger issue than actual pay.”

Well said, Guest and Anon51.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the Big 4 are constantly in cahoots with one another with regards to hiring benchmarks. So I propose that TBig4PTB get together and reassess their starting salaries. Behold, a template for all Big Wigs to follow:

1. Decrease starting total packages (salary + sign on) by seven percent. Lower the bar from the get-go.

2. Now is the time – blame the decrease on “a firm wide strategic response to the economic risks of being a major player in the professional services industry. Unofficial response – did you see the DOW sink like the Titanic the other day?!”

3. Spread gap created by initial decrease in salary over the next two years. This will create an artificial sense of accomplishment and praise.

4. Send internal emails stressing the “increase in raises for well deserving employees.” Everyone cheers.

5. In three years college graduates will not know the difference; this “decrease” becomes a non-issue.

Guest’s comment that “pay disparity is a bigger issue than actual pay” can become a non-issue with very little effort. Is this fair or ethical? Mehhhhh. I personally think it would be a slap in the face to those of you who have busted your humps and sacrificed career and personal opportunities all in the name of KPDeloitterhouseErnstMG. But it certainly wouldn’t be the most desperate attempt made by one of the firms in recent memory.

Raising morale – hardly. What are your thoughts?

Does It Matter That Deloitte Left the Rest of the Big 4 in the Dust on CNN Money’s MBA List?

Can we have a show of hands who takes a list of employers published by Time Warner seriously? Fine. To hell with you; for this particular exercise we’ll assume that the list is 100% accurate.

Here’s the breakdown for the Big 4 on the CNNMoney’s 100 Top MBA Employers, Where MBA students say they’d most like to work:

#12 – Deloitte
#44 – PricewaterhouseCoopers
#45 – Ernst & Young
#75 – KPMG


So Deloitte dominates when you look at the Big 4’s performance. To put it in a little bit of perspective, Deloitte ranks ahead of The Blackstone Group and Morgan Stanley while the rest of the Big 4 rank behind the State Department.

Is this possibly due to the fact that they are the only firm to keep their consulting (not Advisory) practice in-house? Do they simply do a better job of selling their firm? Or is it possibly because male-patterned baldness is not discriminated against in leadership positions?

Or maybe we’re making too much of this. All the firms have a spot on the list and Google beats everybody’s ass with extreme prejudice, so is this one of those “it’s just a thrill to be on the list” moments, which results in the fliers all over your office and in the halls of Career Services at B-schools?

But forget all that for a minute. What’s really surprising (or perhaps not) is that the expectation of MBA graduates whose preferred field is public accounting are expecting an average salary of $59,176 for their first job after graduation. That amount is less than those for academic research ($79,590), education/teaching ($76,138), government/public service ($77,943) and “Other” ($92,110). Oh, and it’s behind “Auditing/accounting/taxation (corporate)” at $64,841. The average salary for preferred fields is $90,990.

Five years after graduation, those same graduates expect to make $92,075. Again, dead last. The average salary being $157,324.

Whether this says more about the state of the accounting profession or the firms that court those seeking accounting focused MBAs, we’re not really sure.

But in the grand scheme of things, it might just say that Deloitte’s position on the list may be – gasp – meaningless.

100 Top MBA Employers [CNNMoney]

Bonus Watch ’10: “Performers” Getting More Love at Deloitte

Last month we told you about some Deloitte partners in the Northeast that were dropping some “Applause Awards” on “strong performers,” possibly to help calm some nerves.

At that time, our sources indicated that “partners have also hinted at more money coming their way.” It now sounds like those hints are resulting in some greased palms:

[S]ome $1,000 [Outstanding Performance Awards] have been circulating in NE AERS for “performers”. Similar to the $100 applause awards for the larger segment of consultants, I think partners are trying to head off a mass exodus; not sure if the 1k will make a difference; but it does seem to be keeping people from quitting prior to hearing about their year-end comp adjustments

So regardless of what some Deloitte HR types might think, there are partners out there that are worried about people leaving and they seem to understand that throwing a little cash around does wonders for cooling some anxious heads.

Follow Up on KPMG Compensation and Promotion News

It’s been, in the words of one source, “a hell of a week” at KPMG. John Veihmeyer & Co. have been on a whirlwind communications tour, people up for promotion are getting the good/bad news and the whole summer blast thing has people soiling themselves with excitement.

Since they’ve been on such a tear, we’ll update you with a little more news out of the House of Klynveld, returning to promotion and compensation news.


First the bad news – we’ve learned from multiple sources that newly promoted SAs in the audit practice won’t be getting much of a merit increase for their new positions. The news is that the new promotees will receive an early 1.25% increase later this summer that will be followed up by another increase, although those raises will be subject to the firm’s performance in the last part of the fiscal year.

Now the good news – After hearing from a couple offices in the west, most of the SA3s that are up for the promotion to manager seem to be getting the bump. From one office in the northwest:

Despite rampant speculation about widespread non-promotion of seniors to manager, only 3 (of around 15) 3rd year seniors didn’t get the bump. One CPA licence issue, and two performance issues. Nothing out of the ordinary even in a regular year, let alone in one where the holdbacks are supposed to be so numerous that they are creating a new 4th year senior training.

The percentage of SA3s in a Rocky Mountain office that are getting promoted is a little lower with approximately two-thirds of the class getting the bump. So far, only the (un)lucky (i.e. non-promotees) ones have received the news while the new managers continue to sweat it out. For this particular office, the decision to promote/not promote was a little more confusing that its counterpart in the northwest.

Based on the information we’ve gathered, each office is essentially given a number of promotees by the boys at 345 Park and the local office leadership is tasked with figuring it out from there. Criteria for promotion to manager (as we understand it) is that 1) the eligible SA needs to be “ready to be a manager” and 2) they need a business case (i.e. have clients to serve).

In the case of this office, it sounds like this was scrapped. Rather, it was decided that historical rating was the determining factor and not the criteria we outlined above. In other words, if you received high ratings (“EP” at KPMG) as an SA1 and SA2, that was more important than whether you actually have clients to work on as a manager. If you were in the meaty part of the curve (“SP” at KPMG), despite your strong “business case” you are SOL. Our source told us that, in the past, they were always told that “my historical rating would not be a determining factor when it came to promotions.”

So basically it boils down to how your particular office is doing. If you’ve got a strong market with plenty of clients, things should go fairly smooth (with a few exceptions). If you’ve got a competitive or shrinking market, your odds of getting the bump go down, in some cases, way down.

As always, keep us updated with your office’s developments, and congratulations and good luck to the new SAs and Managers!

Credentials for Accountants: Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

Check out our previous certification posts on the CMA and CFE if you are interested.

The CFP is a pretty common sense credential for an accountant to pursue if one is focused on client service and looking to work closely with clients to create a blueprint for their future financial success. If you became an accountant to help people put their finances together, this one is for you. Unless you’re the least bit unethical or otherwise of unsatisfactory moral fortitude; check the CFP board’s Candidate Fitness Standards if you’re not sure whether or not your sketchy past will pass.


Here’s a quick rundown on the CFP:

Education requirement
The CFP Certification Examination is administered by the CFP board and in order to take the exam, you will need to be knowledgeable in all of areas covered by the financial planning topic list. There are three ways to complete the educational requirement: CFP Board-Registered Programs, Challenge Status or Transcript Review.

CFP candidates must have a bachelor’s degree but that requirement is a condition of initial certification and is not needed to take the exam. The areas of financial planning are as follows:

• Financial planning: process and environment
• Fundamentals of insurance planning
• Income taxation
• Planning for retirement needs
• Investments
• Fundamentals of estate planning

Professional requirements
Three years of full-time relevant personal financial planning experience is a requirement for certification.

Career Options
There are approximately 59,000 CFPs today, twice the number there were a decade ago. Despite the explosion in this designation’s popularity or perhaps because of it, the CFP is still an in-demand certification that can only grow in these uncertain financial times. CFPs can end up at large or small firms, or wish to start a private practice.

Compensation and Other Benefits
CFPs with 20 years experience make twice as much as those just starting out in the field, according to PayScale. Starting median salary is about $50k, and by 20 years a CFP can make anywhere from $90 – $100k. Of course pay depends on location and NY CFPs will naturally make much more (about $75k in their first year) than, say, metro Houston CFPs. Naturally, adding an MBA to one’s resume on top of the CFP will likely earn you an extra $20k in your first year. Income potential is based mostly on performance (sales).

It’s clear that CFPs have a real desire to help their clients (and pay their bills), so if you’ve got stars in your eyes and are planning to make a partner’s salary one day, this may not be the designation for you. But if you’re driven, love finance, and have a real feel for investments and clients, perhaps this is just what you need.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor . You can see more of her posts here.

John Veihmeyer Doesn’t Mind Repeating Himself if It’s About Raises at KPMG

While some people are still sweating out to hear if they’re part of the new manager class, John Veihmeyer and Henry Keizer did more casual chatting with the troops and this time it was about everyone’s favorite topic to bitch about – compensation.

Specifically, somee asking about raises for FY ’10 and 401k match. Strange thing is, JV has already addressed the issue of KPMG raises in a previous communiqué by saying:

“[B]y year-end, we fully expect that the pickup in market and business conditions will drive compensation increases for the vast majority of our people. Also, assuming we meet our plan, as we are on track to do, our goal is to enhance our variable compensation pool from last year—meaning higher bonuses than last year for EP performers as well as bonuses for deserving SP performers.”


Good thing he doesn’t mind repeating himself:

Inquisitor #1: I was just wondering, if it’s likely that employees will get raises this year?

Veihmeyer: We are very optimistic at this point that that is exactly what’s going to happen. We all need to stay really engaged in what’s going on in the marketplace at this point to make sure that the second six months of our fiscal year also tracks the plan that we put in place. If we do that, we are very committed to sharing the rewards appropriately across KPMG.

As we assess the market right now – means that the vast majority of our people will be getting compensation increases this year. We are just as committed to increasing that variable compensation pool to the maximum extent we can reflective of how our results play out over the next six months.

Keizer: And in terms of variable compensation at the EP level that will translate into larger rewards and our deserving SP performers will also receive compensation rewards.

I am confident – based on what we see out in the marketplace, the foundation we have within the firm, the indicators of economic vibrance that are coming back – that we will be able to reward our people better and to be able to restore some of the things that we had to eliminate in a very measured and prudent way.

And John Veihmeyer was just wondering why you didn’t read his previous statement (or websites where it might appear) on the matter. Since V seems like a nice guy he managed to say what he said before only this time without saying “Yes” outright. Whether the absence of this explicit confirmation is a cause for concern can only be determined by you. Hank chimes in about the bonuses, presumably so he doesn’t feel awkward (at least that’s how we picture it).

So what about the 401k match? Is that returning to pre-financial apocalyptic levels?

Inquisitor #2: You mentioned earlier that we recently brought back the Standing Ovation award into the Encore program. Can we expect to see a change in our 401K match?

Veihmeyer: With an eye toward maximizing the immediate financial rewards to our people – to a level that we all can feel good about – we have some goals and objectives around base and variable compensation that in our view will take precedence over 401K as we reinstate and are able to shift those rewards. But it’s something that if the circumstances change and our ability to reinstate some of those things evolve, we will continue to look at it.

In a word – No. First things first you rubes – We’ve going to get every single Klynveldian feeling great about their immediate financial rewards. Until that is accomplished, your retirement will have to wait. The time frame of “we all feel good” was not given.

Compensation Watch ’10: More People at Deloitte Will Receive Raises This Year

Some straight talk from Barry Salzberg:

Barry had a [recent] session in LA at which time he said essentially the following about comp:

1. Raises and bonuses will be distributed this year
2. Raises and bonuses will be larger than last year, but are unlikely to return to “pre-recession” levels any time soon
3. More people will be receiving raises and bonuses this year


Unfortch, Deloitte doesn’t seem to be getting involved in the pissing match with E&Y and PwC by putting a number out there but “more people” and “larger” are both somewhat encouraging, no? Well, not really, according to our source:

To my knowledge, we’re not getting any more info. On the people side; the video didn’t say anything new and everybody knows that the economy’s getting better and that Deloitte’s doing better; so we all assumed it was going to be like he said. Without a number benchmark, words are pretty much useless.

Any Attempts by Accounting Firms to Boost Morale May Be Too Late

From an accountant familiar with E&Y:

We got two voicemails today, one from head of Banking and one from the Vice-Chair of people, both talking about compensation. I think the underlying fear is that we don’t have enough people anymore in our practice because they keep stressing all the things that the partners are going to do besides compensation to boost morale (like have a lunch with staff sometime around cinco de Mayo).


The last month and a half has been a bit, shall we say, tough on the E&Y and the troops. That being said, the news that Ernie would beat P. Dubs raises may or may not have got some people to relax but it appears that the firm’s leadership is still on the offensive to keep spirits high.

After discussing it with our resident HR expert, the problem with these little wine & dine events is that at this point they are too little, too late. People don’t want they faces fed. They want answers. They are crawling the walls with anxiety about three things:

1. What raises will be.
2. If there will be a bonus pool.
3. Who is getting promoted.

And they want to know the answers ASAP. Raises have been triple-reassured at all the firms and people want to know that number; they want to know if there’s a bonus pool.

Everyone at the point of promotion has made up their minds about what they will do if they get promoted or not. Plus everyone who is not up for promotion is talking about who will get promoted, who won’t and the reactions that will result (e.g. storming out of the office or a nervous breakdown).

The reality is that these things take time. The fact that PwC put a number out there was impressive (and some have said, desperate) shows that partners are aware of the anxiety and they’re trying to get people to relax.

Deloitte is up first, as their fiscal ends 5/31 and we’ve heard that there has been generosity passed around there but it will ultimately depend on the the merit increases. We hear their all hands webcast is coming up soon and that discussions are occurring this month so it won’t be long.

No amount of margaritas, $100 bonuses or NHL playoff hockey tickets will change the fact that people have worked it out in their heads about what they will do when they get the news. And once that news is known, people will act fast. We would encourage everyone to be patient, try and be rational etc. etc. but we also know that’s an futile request.

Compensation Watch ’10: GT Reassures Merit Increases, Jury Out on Bonuses

On Friday, Grant Thornton had a firm wide call to discuss several things including layoffs, compensation, and grab-bag questions.

Headcount Reductions – Steve-o believes that the worst is over and that “restructuring efforts are substantially behind us.” If there happens to be additional “headcount transitions” it will be to refine operations or part of the no He went on to say that the people that are GTers now will, “in very large part,” remain GTers. So can we assume the action in Cleveland and Chicago was the last of it?


Compensation: GT seems is making big push towards a “pay for performance” model for its employees which means compensation adjustments will focus on top performers (“5s” in GT world) and market based adjustments (i.e. keeping up the Joneses) won’t be happening. SC cited a downward trend of salaries in the accounting profession based on a survey that GT does with Mercer (sounds convenient) for the phasing out of market adjustments. He said there might be some exceptions to this.

The size of the merit adjustments have not yet been determined because it all depends on how well 1) GT performs through the end of the year and 2) individual performance. Chip said that enough people were belly aching about the old adjustment system that a change was warranted. This will be implemented slightly for this fiscal year (can’t get all Darwin about it 3/4 of the way through the fiscal year) and will be the main methods for next year and going forward.

Bonuses: SC cleared this whole issue up saying that it has not been determined if bonuses will be paid this year. It all depends no the firm’s performance in the final quarter of the fiscal year. He did say that he’s pre-tay, pre-tay, pre-tay optimistic about the firm “being in a position to pay bonuses” but they’re still crunching the numbers so there’s no telling if it will be a mini-windfall, pocket change, or a set of steak knives.

Not to worry though, as the top performers will certainly get something if everything goes well at the firm overall.

This “new” focus on pay for performance seems kind of familiar since all the firms assign rankings to employees (with their own bizarro methodologies) and are paid accordingly. It makes you wonder if those that fall in the meaty part of the GT curve will get such a small adjustment that it will be another twist on the forced ranking trend amongst accounting firms.

Steve-o then shared his general optimism about the direction of the economy and what it means for the firm, a few recent client wins, yada yada yada. He also updated everyone with some very vague details on the firm’s new strategy “Unleashing Our Potential” that will be rolling out in the next fiscal year. Basically all non-partners will have the chance to drop their $0.02 on this strategeroy very soon but other than that we couldn’t tell if the new strategy involved a lunar landing or full-scale assault on financial reporting fraud.

Last but perhaps most importantly, Steve-o admitted to enjoying the Masters very much, however he was quite clear that he was less than thrilled to see KPMG on Phil’s lid. We’re sure it’s nothing personal against Phil but those may be fightin’ words directed straight at Johnny V.

Ernst & Young’s Raises Will Be Better Than PricewaterhouseCoopers’

I said it on Tuesday and I’ll say it again. HERE. WE. GO.

Caleb ran a post yesterday about Ernst & Young raises that as of deadline time had no comments. Zilch. Nadda. I was surprised by this because if anything guarantees comments on GC posts it’s talk about layoffs, Overstock.com shenanigans, and money (not in that order). Needless to say, I think this update will change things.


GC received a tidbit from an EY reader about the recent phone call:

“I did receive a voicemail from Steve reassuring compensations but, it appears that the firm will concentrate giving raises to its “high performers”. So, this potentially could mean that only EYers rated a 5 (need to catch a fraud to get this or have really sore knees) or 4s (need to be well liked all the way up the pipeline on an audit) will have a respectable raise.”

So – if you burned through busy season working yourself to the bone for Uncle Steve but stopped short of needing knee pads (it should also be noted that the parts in parentheses above are part of the original email…) you might be shit out of luck for a respectable raise.

Continuing…

“In addition, I checked with a partner and the August 1st early pay increase is a rumor. The rumor appeared believable since EY is a monkey see monkey do type of firm but, our partner said that EY’s raises although be start on October 1st, will be higher than what PwC will offer to its auditors.”

Boom. To quote my man and crime fighting detective Marcus Burnett, “Shit just got real.”

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

Is there any credibility to this? Sure there is. To think that the upper leadership from every firm does not talk to one another about compensation targets is ridiculous. Merely for the sake of the partners’ bottom line, it’s necessary to know what ones competitors peers are paying in compensation. Why some loose-lipped partner is sharing this information is beyond me, but hey, it’s dedicated readers fed up with their own compensation that forward these tips on. Now, let’s talk it out.

Which would you prefer – every 10 key cruncher receiving a mediocre payout or just the stars receiving something slightly-better-than-insulting? Comment below, regardless of which firm you work for. Be sure to shed some light on the timing of EY’s payouts if you know any details.

Credentials for Accountants: Certified Management Accountant

Last week we kicked off our certification series by looking at the CFE for those of you interested in becoming numbers sleuths that also have the figurative iron-clad stones that Sam Antar insists are imperative for any CFE.

This week we look at the Certified Management Accountant (“CMA”) credential and while it’s probably not as sexy as the CFE, a lot of you may want to consider the CMA if you see yourself spending a good portion of your career working as an in-house accountant or finance pro.


The credential is administered by the Institute of Management Accountants whose website states that “85% owork inside organizations, where expertise in decision support, planning, and control over value-adding operations are crucial elements of operational success,” and boasts 60,000 members worldwide.

Here’s the rundown on the CMA:

Education Requirement
You can meet the education requirement by verifying that you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or that you have a professional qualification, such as a CPA (here’s a partial list of global certifications that qualify).

Professional Requirements
The professional requirement for the CMA is two continuous years of experience in management accounting or financial management. This can be completed prior to the application or within two years of passing the CMA exam. The website states that, “Qualifying experience consists of positions requiring judgments regularly made employing the principles of management accounting and financial management.”

There is a long list of experience that will satisfy this requirement including financial analysis, budget preparation, management information system analysis, financial management, management accounting, auditing in government, finance or industry, management consulting, auditing in public accounting, research, teaching or consulting related to management accounting or financial management.

CMA Exam
The CMA Exam is currently transitioning from a four-part format to a two-part format. The two-part format rolls out on May 1st but testing of the four-part format will be available through December 31, 2010. The new format will focus on financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support. The two four hour exams consist of 100 multiple choice questions and two 30 minute essay questions.

Part 1 breaks down like this:
Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting (30%)
Performance Management (25%)
Cost Management (25%)
Internal Controls (15%)
Professional Ethics (5%)

And Part 2:
Financial Statement Analysis (25%)
Corporate Finance (25%)
Decision Analysis and Risk Management (25%)
Investment Decisions (20%)
Professional Ethics (5%)

There’s a lot of information on the new exam format including fees, testing windows, and more that can be seen here.

After certification, you are required to complete 30 hours of CPE annually, of which, 2 hours are required to be in ethics.

Career Options
Many CMAs work in budgeting, financial planning, cost accounting, performance evaluation, asset management and other various capacities. The work often times result in internal reports that will help management make prudent decisions rather than just taking wild stabs at running their respective companies. So it goes without saying that this is important stuff.

For those of you still working in the public realm, you can get benefits out of a CMA too. Our favorite Exuberant Accountant, Scott Heintzelman, has a CMA and he told us that it helps him better understand the needs of his manufacturing clients, “I had a bunch of clients in the manufacturing space and many of the controllers were CMA’s. I thought taking the time to get this certification would give me more creditability with this group…it helped me gain more manufacturing clients as they saw me as one of them, not just a CPA.”

Compensation and Other Benefits
According to the IMA’s most recent survey, CMAs earn 24-31% more than their non-certified colleagues. Those surveyed that have both a CMA and a CPA have even higher salaries. Now, we know what that you’re hung up on money but there are some other advantages too.

According to Scott, “Partners then had this belief [then] that the CMA was a brutal test (and it was). So a year later I started the process and actually was fortunate to pass the entire test on the first attempt. I had also passed the CPA exam on the first attempt a year earlier and so my partners suddenly thought I was some super smart young accountant and many believed I was ‘fast tracked’ to partner. I believe I just worked my butt off to learn that stuff, but none the less several of my partners looked at me differently. A very key moment in my young career.”

Compensation Watch ’10: PwC Puts a Number Out There

Multiple sources have told us that Bob Moritz has put a number out there for comp adjustments during the firm’s webcast today :

Sitting in the Bobby Mo Firmwide Townhall Webcast. Raises: 5% to 8%.

But don’t start high-fiving just yet:

PwC expected to be 5% to 8% raises this year, but still a “quarter to go” per Moritz on today’s townhall webcast.

Early reports also are that internal firm services (IFS) will be getting 3-5%.

Thoughts? Your move, KPErnstDeloitteMG.

Bonus Watch ’10: Are Deloitte Partners Getting More Generous to Keep the Peace?

Here we are, it’s April, and most of you are happy to be bored (relatively) at work for the first time in months. Now that your brain isn’t saturated with numbers and/or what you’ll eating at your desk, you may be weighing your options. As we’ve mentioned, Big 4 partners are expecting this and naturally they want to keep their top performers. How best can they do this? Bribery of course!


And at Deloitte, this method seems to be gaining steam. An accountant close to the situation gave us the rundown on the recognition programs at the firm:

• Applause Awards (whenever)
• Outstanding Performance Awards (whenever)
• Merit Bonuses (annual)

For the most part AAs ($100 to $500 – tax adjusted) and OPAs ($500 to $5,000 – non-tax adjusted) were frozen for the last 2 years; with MBs only being processed for 1s and sometimes 2s (we’re rated on a scale of 1 to 5 – 1 being the best, 5 the worst – with typically 5% 1s, 10% 2s, 80% 3s, 5% 4s and 5s).

Now that you have the background, there’s this:

Based upon what I’ve been hearing very recently, strong performers have been getting [Applause Awards] for $100 in the NE [Advisory] practice. In some limited instances, partners have also hinted at more money coming their way (seemingly in the [Outstanding Performance] realm). Seems like the partners are noticing that people, especially performers, are getting antsy; and are trying to keep the peace until compensations are adjusted in September…

Well! Good to see that Deloitte partners are taking their firm’s advice (combo of #2 and #5). This could work out well for those of you that are rockstars at Deloitte (and are easily swayed by monetary reward) but for the other 80% that fall into the unexceptional categories, you may just have the longer ladder to look forward to.

Earlier:
KPMG Reinstating “Standing Ovation” Bonus Awards

Credentials for Accountants: Certified Fraud Examiner

Now that busy season has come and gone (that is, for most of you) you may be thinking about what you’re going to spend you summer doing. Of course you should relax and use some of your accrued vacay that’s been thrown at you but you also me wondering what the next step in your career might be. For those of that haven’t yet gotten your CPA, we recommend getting on that ASAP, especially if you’re working in the public domain.

For the rest of you, some options include obtaining another certification that may assist you for your current role or prepare you for a position that you may have interest in for the future. We’ll examine maer the next several weeks to give you an idea of what the requirements are, what the benefits of the certification might be (yes, including salary) and some career options.


Since forensic accounting is somewhat fresh in our minds, we’ll kick off this series with the CFE designation. It is administered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (“ACFE”), the “world’s largest anti-fraud organization and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education,” according to the ACFE website. The website states that Association more than 50,000 members and it requires 20 hours of CPE every 12 months.

Steps to Obtaining a CFE
1) Be an Associate member of the ACFE in good standing – You can apply for membership here.

2) Submit the CFE Exam application with proof of education and professional recommendations – The ACFE requires three professional recommendations (form here). See the education and professional requirements below.

3) Pass the CFE Exam – After your application and supporting documentation is processed, then you must pass the exam (application here). It consists of five hundred objective and True/False questions administered via a computerized exam that has a $150 fee. The exam covers four areas: Fraud Prevention and Deterrence; Financial Transactions; Fraud Investigation; Legal Elements of Fraud. The CFE has a ton of resources to help with the exam including a prep course that has a money back guarantee.

4) Gain final approval from the certification committee and become a CFE – Assuming you’re not living a double life, this should be the easy part.

Education Requirements
The CFE requires a Bachelors Degree (or equivalent) and you may substitute two years of fraud-related work experience for one year of academic study.

Professional Requirements
Two years of work experience in one of the following fields will meet the professional requirements:
1) Accounting and Auditing – Anyone with experience ” or the detection and deterrence of fraud by evaluating accounting systems for weaknesses, designing internal controls, determining the degree of organizational fraud risk, interpreting financial data for unusual trends, and following up on fraud indicators.”

2) Criminology and Sociology – Do you know the criminal mind?

3) Fraud Investigation -If you’ve investigated fraud as a part of law enforcement or in the private sector (including insurance or internal investigations for other types of businesses).

4) Loss Prevention – This includes security consultants and directors but not your time working security as a mall cop.

5) Law – Candidates that have worked in a legal capacity including lawyers, fraud litigators and anyone working in an anti-fraud capacity.

Career Options
The two largest groups in the ACFE’s most recent compensation guide were fraud examiners and internal auditors. All of the Big 4 have forensic groups, internal auditors are increasingly become a more important part of the corporate structure and of course, the Federal government (including the SEC) is looking for fraud experts.

The other option, of course, is develop services that aren’t already offered by your firm. Scott Heintzelman, Partner at McKonly & Asbury (aka The Exuberant Accountant) and a CFE told us that it was a way for him to get involved in a new new practice area, “Our firm was getting involved in more cases and I wanted to be a part of this exciting niche. I also saw it as a way to add value to all my clients, by using the best practices on the prevention side.”

Compensation and Other Benefits
The most recent compensation information for “anti-fraud” professionals that we found was produced by the ACFE and it surveyed over 3,000 anti-fraud professionals. Of those, 64% had obtained their CFE and 36% had not. The median salary of those with the CFE certification was $90,300; those that did not have a CFE certification was $74,111.

And depending on the job function, the certification may have an effect on compensation. For example, the median salary for someone with “controller” as their primary job function was $104,500 while a non-CFE’s median salary was $106,000. On the other hand, a respondent whose primary job function was “Internal Auditor” that had a CFE certification had a median salary of $92,000 while a non-CFE “Internal Auditor” had a median salary of $77,800.

Some non-monetary benefits that Scott shared with us is that it definitely raised his profile among the partners at his firm, “As a younger accountant in our firm, my partners clearly saw it as me making myself more valuable to them and my clients. I was the first in my firm and this was a clear distinction.”

Ultimately, work experience and subsequent training will do the most good for those interested in fraud prevention as mentioned by both Sam Antar and Tracy Coenen in our recent post on forensic accounting. The appropriate mindset that includes “investigative intuition,” “[thinking] like a scumbag,” and “double iron clad balls.” Sam insists that these personality traits and characteristics are the most crucial to any successful forensic accountant but he didn’t dismiss the certification altogether saying, “[The] CFE designation is like chicken soup. It can’t hurt.”

So for anyone that thinks that they have the personality and fortitude to make a run in forensics, the CFE can serve as tool to demonstrate your interest. God knows there’s plenty of work out there.

Compensation Watch ’10: Is Deloitte Joining the Party?

In the past week or so, merit increases have been communicated or reiterated by three of the Big 4. While the news of the resurrected raises is widespread, most people we’ve talked to (and commenters) are not believers. Most see it as a preventive measure to delay the exodus (or at least keep it within expected ranges).


Since the rest of the Big 4 have already been covered (KPMG, E&Y, PwC) we decided to get proactive on finding out the scoop on Deloitte. We contacted a reliable source and it turns out there may be some communication very soon:

[S]o far nothing. I’m going to an all-hands meeting tomorrow in NYC, so maybe they’ll mention something there. For now, all that I can really say is that there’s whole big bunch of people waiting to jump ship, pending the results of this year’s comp, so they better put some serious increases in…

So it’s safe to presume that if the Deloitte brass doesn’t communicate a satisfactory message, the streets may be flooded with Green Dots. If you’ve gotten guarantees, denials, or anything that remotely resembles an official word on this year’s Deloitte comp, get in touch.

Compensation Watch ’10: KPMG Back to Raises and Bonuses

KPMG’s newly announced Chairman John Veihmeyer knows that you’ve been anxious, so in a message to Klynveldians, Johnny gets right to the point, “I want to take a moment to address a question that I know is on the mind of every KPMG employee: Will there be raises and bonuses this year? The short answer to this question is ‘Yes.'”

For the “vast majority of our people” and bonuses will be available, “our goal is to enhance our variable compensation pool from last year—meaning higher bonuses than last year.”

How’s that for a Friday morning message?

As we reach the midpoint of FY 2010, I want to take a moment to address a question that I know is on the mind of every KPMG employee: Will there be raises and bonuses this year?

The short answer to this question is “Yes.”

As we communicated during this year’s town hall meetings, the business environment is showing measurable signs of improvement. In fact, I am pleased to report that thanks to your efforts the firm is slightly ahead of plan. So by year-end, we fully expect that the pickup in market and business conditions will drive compensation increases for the vast majority of our people. Also, assuming we meet our plan, as we are on track to do, our goal is to enhance our variable compensation pool from last year—meaning higher bonuses than last year for EP performers as well as bonuses for deserving SP performers. Assuring that we recognize and reward our best performers is an integral element of our compensation philosophy and a critical ingredient of the high-performance culture we intend to maintain.

We are optimistic. But along with this optimism, we must maintain realistic expectations. Keep in mind that our FY10 plan is more challenging in the second half, and reliant on significantly improved performance in the spring and summer.

What does this mean? It means that now more than ever, we must come together as a team to do our best work and make 2010 a successful year—one that brings the improved business results that enable us to restore the financial rewards that we all desire. If you’re in Audit, Tax, or Advisory, it means driving business and providing the highest-quality service to clients. If you’re in a Client Service Support role, it means providing our professionals and teams with effective tools, resources, and information they need to win business and deliver excellent service to clients. And all of us need to continue our Spend Smart efforts and do our parts to drive efficiencies in the way we operate.

Whatever the remainder of 2010 brings, you can be sure that KPMG remains committed to its philosophy of providing our people with an attractive and competitive total compensation package that differentiates exceptional performers with superior rewards. And, we remain fully committed to being an Employer of Choice and a great place to build your career.

Thanks for all your contributions to our firm’s success.

Compensation Watch ’10: Ernst & Young Still Planning on Merit Increases

A little more from inside E&Y to round out the week. We got a tip earlier in the week that there was an oddly-timed town hall going on in Chicago this week. Our tipster indicated that the meetings usually occur after the June 30 year-end or in September.

We asked around and from the sounds of it, the meeting amounted to an extremely sober pep rally. The need for a little HR cheerleading is completely understandable, considering the month E&Y has had.


“[T]hey just talked about how they know morale is down, yet no plans for how to fix it. Additionally, they said there would be raises this year, but no mention of how large or small…[and] your basic HR ‘Thank’s for your help’ stuff.”

We haven’t heard the details for the cause “low morale” but it’s quite possible that it could be due, at least in part, to the ehmanlay rothersbay uckshowfay. Plus, busy season is in the home stretch and most people are just over it at this point. As far as fix for morale, our suggestions of Canadidan Tuxes, Timberlands and Hitler videos are obviously being ignored with extreme prejudice. We’re all out of suggestions. Maybe they aren’t the best ideas but at least we’re trying.

The silver lining here is that comp increases are still on the agenda after the initial announcement made by Steve Howe back in January. If they go back on this promise — we’re confident they won’t — you can just blame it on Dick Fuld.

Compensation Watch ’10: PwC Moving Up Adjustment Date?

There’s been some whispering about PwC moving up its compensation and adjustment time frame from September to July and that’s got people curious.


At first glance this makes sense because the firm has a June 30 fiscal year-end. PLUS! Since Bob Moritz has already made it abundantly clear that there will be raises for 2010 we figure everyone would be excited to hear that the bumps would be coming a little earlier this year.

However, since everyone likes to jump to conclusions over the slightest little change, we’ll indulge. There have already been whispers of layoffs at PwC here and there but nothing that we’ve been able to confirm so people are probably antsy. And if the adjustment date is moved up we’re sure people are worried that means layoffs will be happening sooner rather than later. We can’t read anyone’s mind but we’re thinking this should be in the ballpark…

But if you’re anxiety is well founded, tell us why or get in touch.

UPDATE, a shade before 1 pm: One of our sources inside PwC shared their thoughts with us:

I think the overall feeling was positive…it will probably make some people happy (depending on the %) and hopefully limit the higher performers from going out into the market, however, it may also help some people look for jobs sooner (i.e. they don’t have to wait until September now, if the raises are low). Most people still have a lot of questions, including the estimate of the increase for each band of the rating system, what the bonus pool is going to look like, and although that is not being paid until September, whether we will know what the bonus amounts are in July.

Three Signs That It Might Be Time to Get Out of Public Accounting

Busy season is rounding the corner and, if you look carefully, you might be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Squint. No I swear, it’s there.

My posts this week will shift from social media to the potential job market. As a public accountant, you should always be cognizant of the fact that you have the ability to continuously develop your strengths and mold your career path. Want to pursue of a career in hedge funds? Network within your firm to be staffed on the right engagements. Need to add tax experience to your resume? Seek out a rotation.


Here are three signs that you should get you thinking about exploring your options.

1. You’ve got your CPA – This might go without saying, but many people enter the public accounting industry with the “two years and done” mentality. Pass the CPA, earn some experience stripes, and get the *$@% out. There’s nothing wrong with this, but don’t expect to $100K jobs to be jumping into your lap. The average salary bump for younger staff from public to the private sector can range from 5-10%, usually topping out around 15%. If this isn’t enough of a bump to seriously consider a private job, don’t lose sight of the quality of life improvement a new job can bring. No, not the smoke and mirrors your firm is promising you. The real deal.

2. Someone you know is interviewing – Believe it or not, the job market is actually improving. The hiring freezes on many financial firms is now limited largely to supporting roles (i.e. HR folks like myself). Hedge and private equity funds are picking up their hiring as the markets begin to thaw. Recruiters are not wasting their time with interviewing individuals for the sole purpose of interviewing. So take note next time your senior staff member has three doctor appointments in a week; perhaps you should be “coming down with a nasty bug,” too.

3. Recruiters call – and you listen – Speaking about recruiters, be prepared for an onslaught of calls. Their timing is no coincidence. The private sector has been shuffling around over the last few months (remember when your client contact suddenly went MIA?), and as the cycle goes, the newly opened private jobs will inevitably be filled by auditors and tax accountants from public. Listen to the cold, scripted calls; be open to a pay increase and better work hours; reclaim your weekends. It can’t hurt to listen to the (substantiated) claims that you’re undervalued in today’s market.

Newsflash: you are grossly undervalued.

The Job Outlook Is Good for Accountants…But More Competitive

With one major deadline passed and two more coming up next week, some of you might be thinking about your employment options. It’s a common occurrence post-busy season to reflect on the past three-ish months, contact a recruiter and explore your options.

idea of what kinds of jobs might be attracting accountants in the year ahead so we got in touch with recruiter Adam Klitzke, Managing Partner of Emerson Search, LLC in Denver, Colorado.

Adam told us that he thinks that “2010 and…2011 are years where there is a “hot” background or skill set,” as opposed to a hot position (e.g. financial reporting, IFRS, or technical accounting). “[D]uring the previous 3 months, we haven’t seen the same job come up twice, but we have seen clients targeting the same type of candidate.“


So what does a hot “background or skill set” look like? Adam shared four primary characteristics that recruiters are currently looking for:

• 4-7 years of experience, the majority of which has been spent at a Big 4 firm.

• Experience with clients that comply with SEC regulation.

• Has experience supervising staff.

• Has obtained their CPA license.

“These candidates are not having any trouble landing interviews,” Adam told us. He added that in terms of your competition, there are far more bodies jockeying for a position, “in the current market we are seeing 5-10 candidates like this [with the ideal skill set] competing for the same job, whereas 3 years ago, a client would be lucky to see 2 candidates with this background.”

What if you don’t have the ideal skill set? Don’t worry, it’s not hopeless, “a second tier would look like someone with non-Big 4 public accounting experience coupled with industry experience (with a mid to large size public company – $200M+), supervisory experience, and a CPA license or an MBA,” Adam said.

Naturally, if your current background is lacking in these , it will be more difficult for a recruiter to help you land some interviews. Adam told us that while there are jobs out there for people with backgrounds that don’t fit the model above, those candidates typically find jobs without the services of a recruiter. If you’ve got bigger plans for yourself than that, it will be worth your time to pursue some or all of the points above.

The good news for those of you looking to make a move now is that you can expect to do well in terms of salary. As Adam told us, “Salary negotiations will be firm, but fair. Candidates will be able to negotiate an increase in pay and do NOT need to take a pay cut.”

Finally, another development he has seen has to do with the morale, “employee morale seems to be quite low and neither department heads or human resources are doing anything to combat that.” So, if you’re meeting with a recruiter it pays to be honest why your old employer didn’t give make you feel so good about yourself, “clients have asked us for ideas on how to improve morale and we have been able to help them as there are things a company can do other than increase salary to improve [that].”

Bottom line is that whatever your situation, it pays to be honest with recruiters about exactly what you are looking for. If you don’t like what you’re hearing from them, be honest and don’t settle for a position that you’re definitely not interested in pursuing. It may be a more competitive market but if you’ve got a strong background, you’ll have options.

Women Accountants Earn 60% Less Than Men in UK

Somehow female accountants over 45 in the UK earn 60% less than their male counterparts. The disparity is so ridiculous it defies understanding, but according to a study conducted by the ICAEW and Robert Half, men earn more than women at all stages of their careers and the gap widens with increased experience. This finding is consistent with the 2008 report. So ladies, if you’re on the partner track and thinking, “London might nice,” we’d advise against it. As for our female readers from the UK, you can always jump the pond, we’d love to have you here …


From the report:

Overall, male [Associate Chartered Accountants] are better remunerated than females – an average basic salary of £88,200 for males (median £76,000) is almost 50% higher than their female colleagues’ average of £60,500 (median £53,000) (Fig 3). The average male salary is up by 7% on last year, females by 10%. However, the average bonus of £24,700 for males has dropped slightly compared to last year, while that of their female colleagues, at £11,600, has increased by 33% (median £6,900 males and £2,400 females). The bonus received by male ACAs represents 28% of average basic salary, while females received only 19%.

The differential reflects in part at least that male ACAs are typically older (46 against 40 for females), longer qualified (18 and 14 years respectively) and more likely to be in a permanent full-time role (88% and 72%). They also spend longer hours at work (45 v 38 hours per week).

It’s especially cute how this is “in part” chalked up to age and experience. It would probably be terribly bad form for the ICAEW and Robert Half to come right out and say that the difference in average pay is say, absolutely ridiculous and blatant evidence of patriarchal institutions exhibiting clear gender bias when it comes to compensation.

ICAEW/Robert Half Career Benchmarking Survey 2009
[ICAEW via Accountancy Age]

Accounting Salaries Mapped by Region

Back again to decipher more of the data that you so graciously shared with us on our salary thread from December.

After noting that average Big 4 salaries and non-Big 4 salaries were essentially even, we now present the average regional salaries for you enjoyment or dismay:

Mid-Atlantic– $88,831

Northeast– $72,024

Southeast– $56,000

Midwest– $65,124

Southwest– $73,185

West – $64,706

Some analysis and the map, after the jump.


Surprisingly the Mid-Atlantic boasted the highest average salary based on the data collected. This was due primarily to two salaries that were reported from “JDs” working in “Washington National Tax.” The Mid-Atlantic average also included an Associate Director that reported a considerably higher salary than the average. If these three salaries are removed, the average salary is $76,254. which may be more in line with your expectations.

Another surprise that we saw was the higher than expected Southwest average salary. Again in this case, a brave Senior Manager in an advisory practice reported a much higher salary than most submitted. When this is removed the Southwest average comes down to $68,134, again, probably closer to what you would expect.

The Northeast, Southeast, and West all seem about right to us although we might have expected the West salaries to be a bit higher but then again we’re going with what we’ve got.

The map below shows how we grouped the states in the respective regions, with a few additional details on the regions.

Accounting Salaries Are Dead Even; Is Big 4 Work Experience the Difference?

Last month we opened a thread on your salaries and your response was impressive. Just for fun, we found some poor soul to crunch some of the numbers so that we might share some information on the data we gathered.

We’ll start off with a post facing off the Big 4 salary against non-Big 4 salary. Here are the average salaries for each based on the data we collected:

Non-Big 4 – $72,136

Big 4 – $71,166


If you getting worked up over less than a $1,000 difference, then you’re more shrewd than we imagined. For the more reasonable of you, the discussion is, what are the unmentionables here? Both Big 4 and non-Big 4 firms have their advantages and many of you have made the jump from Big 4 to non-Big 4; non-Big 4 to Big 4; Big 4 to non-Big 4 back to Big 4, whatever.

A popular argument is that the Big 4 work experience is irreplaceable on a resumé but is it? Will potential employers really pick someone with a Big 4 background the majority of the time?

Most people would agree that auditing is auditing and the tax law is the same no matter where you work. Smaller firms have just a many unique clients as large firms so there’s experience to be gained everywhere.

Now before you start shouting, “if you want a job at a Fortune 500 company, blah, blah, blah” how many of those jobs are really out there? Enough so that everyone that has left a Big 4 firm will be able to find a job? Let’s not pretend we all have the same ambitions here.

An Open Thread on Accountants’ Salaries at the Big 4: What Do You Make?

money.jpgWe received a request over the weekend to discuss everyone’s favorite topic: money.

This is a great idea on many levels since A) it’s been quite some time since we’ve dedicated a post to the subject B) there are plenty of newbies that have started since then but mostly C) knowing what everyone else is making is your God-given right.

Hopefully, this new thread will get everyone up to speed (or just completely pissed off on a Monday) and ready to run through brick walls in 2010.
In the comments, provide the following:
• Salary without bonus, bonus amount
• Level
• Practice (audit/tax/advisory), practice subgroup
• Firm, city/region
• Other notes/complaints
The reader requesting the thread, was kind enough to provide their details:
• $52k, $3k (in start year, bonus was a whopping $0 this year)
• Associate 2
• Audit
• PwC, Northern California

This is an equal opportunity post so regardless of your firm, get your numbers out there (this means you: GT, BDO, RSM/M&P, Crowe, Moss Adams, anyone else).

UPDATE, Tuesday: Thanks for all the input so far. Feel free to email us if you want to give us more details on your salary or ideas or other related thread discussions.

Other money related discussions:
Problem of the Day: Do You Quit Your High-Paying Job with the Idiot Boss?
Satisfied with Your Salary?
Problem of the Day: Your Staff Makes the Same Money As You (Maybe More)

Salary Satisfaction Poll Results

An official tally was necessary since it’s pretty obvious that Americans are way more hung up on money than our British counterparts. Results after the jump.


So satisfied I need a cigarette – 8.7%
Even if it’s bad, it’s still pretty good – 36.4%
I can’t get no satisfaction – 54.9%
Frankly, we expected a larger margin of victory for “no satisfaction” what with the ubiquitous Siberia treatment and some of the staff making more than you. We admire your resolve.
As for the 9% of you that are getting hot thinking about your paycheck, we’re assuming you’re either in a constant state of bliss or delusional. Kindly elaborate.
Thanks to all that voted!

Satisfied with Your Salary?

unsatisfied.jpgThis is the last thing we thought we would see: No grumbling from accountants over pay freezes.
Maybe our number crunching friends across the pond are less hung up on money but Stateside “No grumblingis, at the very least, debatable.
We figured getting a comparison poll was in order. So, continuing the theme of election day, we’ll ask you to vote again, this time on how you feel about your current salary. Feel free to elaborate in the comments.

Robert Half’s Salary Guide Doesn’t Have Many Surprises

Robert Half has issued its salary guide for 2010 and we wouldn’t say that’s its chock full of good news. It follows the Ajilon salary guide that came out a couple of weeks ago and it seems to present a lot of the same sobering conclusions.
Salaries will be virtually flat, according to Bob’s guide, increasing approximately 0.5% for next year. However, there are some areas that seem to have better prospects than others including:


Tax accountants
Financial analysts
Senior and staff accountants
Business analysts
Along with these positions, the guide states that employers are seeking professionals with certifications, broad experience, and expertise in technology or compliance.
RH also has a “Public Accounting Outlook” in the guide and it does not paint a pretty picture:

Compensation packages in public accounting have seen notable changes. Salary levels have moderated, with declines reported in some areas. Additionally, instances of large signing bonuses and raises are far less common and typically reserved for premier performers.

The silver lining is, again, for tax professionals but since more companies are trying to do tax work in house, public firms are now competing directly with their corporate clients for the talent. It also indicates that some smaller firms have done some hiring and our earlier post on considering a smaller firm elicited some comments in favor of choosing that route.
Overall, with the significant change in the political environment, the job market for accountants seems to be trending towards positions centered around compliance and rule changes and the competition will likely be fierce. You can request a copy of the salary guide by going here.
For those of you currently on the job search, discuss the salary trends that you are seeing in the current market. Good luck to everyone that is currently on the hunt.

Problem of the Day: Your Staff Makes the Same Money As You (Maybe More)

money.jpgApparently it’s happening, people. With several firms freezing pay for this fiscal year, some already hinting at an additional freeze for fiscal year 2010, and with less fewer offers being made on campus, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the new associate nearly has the same salary as you.
It goes without saying that this is a contentious issue amongst the staff and it can be made worse if it is known to exist between members of the same team.
If you’ve been busting your ass for the last two to three years and seen very little appreciation in the form of merit increases and suddenly the new associate walks in making virtually the same as you, your motivation may evaporate on all fronts.
From a staff perspective, no new associate, no matter how virtuous will ever ask, “Is that what a senior associate makes? I wouldn’t be comfortable making that much without any experience.” Nice thought but not gonna happen. Firms will claim that they have to keep salaries competitive in order to win the best talent and may even encourage it in order to foster the “competitive environment”.
So discuss how prevalent this is on your team, in your office, or at your firm. Is there any good solution here? We’re talking about money, so there has to be some opinions.