July 16, 2018

Good News, Future Accounting Firm Interns: You Have Options

Vault, the ratings and rankings website, released a slew of internship rankings yesterday including one for accounting firms.

The most notable thing about the accounting-only list of 15 firms is that no Big 4 firms appear in the top 5. The best showing is PwC at #8, followed by KPMG at 9. Vault's rankings has the Bay Area's Frank, Rimerman at #1, followed by Elliott Davis Decosimo, Plante Moran, DHG and Moss Adams for the rest of the top 5.

What's also interesting is that in the Vault Top 50 Best Internships, that features all different kinds of employers, there are lots of accounting firms, with Frank, Rimerman and Elliott Davis both in the top 3. Plante Moran (11), DHG (14) and Moss Adams (15) are all in the top 20 and, by my count, at least 8 more accounting-ish firms in the rest of the list. The highest Big 4 firm is Deloitte Consulting at 23. It's not all sad faces for Big 4, however; they all appear on the most prestigious internships list, although they're well off the pace set by Google, Apple and Facebook.

I don't know if professors or Big 4 recruiters or anyone else out there are still suggesting that anyone securing less than a Big 4 internship is doomed to failure, but if they are, these ranking serve as a sanity check. If you're an accounting student and have been worried that the Big 4 firm won't look twice at you, good news: you're going to be fine.

[Vault]

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Tweets and Pokes: How the Big 4 Is Recruiting the Next Crop of Accountants

BelushiCollege_CPA.jpgNo one here is arguing that there is a vast disparity between the intern program experience and the stark reality of working in public accounting. What’s bothersome, however, is the smoke and mirrors that the firms use to convince recruits that their careers should start in one location over another. This begins and ends with spending exorbitant amounts of time and money on campus, growing multi-yeardressing up public accounting as one’s best bet if you want to work globally.

It has come to the point where the firms’ online presence is two-faced. One side of the proverbial coin shows the straight-laced, information-packed websites that industry and employees see. Flip it over and you’ll encounter extensive and oftentimes flashy sites targeting tomorrow’s crop of new hires:

Deloitte
E&Y
KPMG (warning – mute your speakers)
PwC

Accounting never looked so sexy.


Many of these sites are taking advantage of the technology that students use, which makes sense. E&Y spent thousands on creating a presence on Facebook, one that would show advertisements to a select target of majors. KPMG chose to go the YouTube route, primarily to promote its Global Internship Program. PwC’s campus-focused site has its own “.tv” brand. And of course, Twitter.

All of these methods of communication and established online web presences are fine and dandy, albeit expensive to maintain (marketing teams are dedicated at each firm solely for campus recruiting needs). However, what about the relationships with the students? Recruiters target students as freshman, four to five years prior to any chance of return on investment. Honors programs are sponsored by firms; same goes for professor salaries. Every Big 4 hosts their version of a “leadership summit” – these generally take place one or two years prior to being eligible for an internship. These multi-day summits occur under the sun and are attended by the respective firm’s national leadership. Trust falls and scavenger hunts in sunny Florida. Or Arizona. Or California. Every year. At every firm.

By the way, that bonus you were expecting? Sorry, can’t find the money in the piggybank.
In defense of the Big 4’s marketing gurus; their work is paying off. BusinessWeek’s 2009 ranking of “best” internships has the Big 4 in the top five: Deloitte is #1; KPMG, #2; E&Y, #3, PWC #5. This translates to the same firms taking the top four spots in BusinessWeek’s ’09 rankings of best places to launch a career. This comes as a no-brainer when you consider the vast majority of new hires were former interns. The Kool-aid has been known to have long-term effects.
But the questions remain – is the multi-million dollar recruiting campaigns run by each Big 4 firm worth it? Are these rankings worth the time of students and the decisions they need to make? And what happens after your career has been launched? What’s the next step?

Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources Professional could very well be considered the hypothetical love child of Suze Orman and Toby Flenderson. Following his varsity jacket wearing college days, he entered the consumer markets as an auditor for a Big 4 firm in New York City. He spent three brisk years as an auditor before taking the reins of stirring the HR kool-aid. He currently resides in Manhattan. Daily routines include coffee breakfasts and scotch dinners. You can follow him on Twitter @DWBraddock.

For-profit Higher Ed. Moving on Non-profits Could Reap Taxpayer Funds

Prostitution in the industry is nothing new, you have to take what you can get even if that means devouring struggling non-profits or whoring yourself out for otherwise wholly un-big-business-like busywork (I’m staring directly at you, Big 4).

Daniel Golden of Bloomberg reported yesterday that “ITT Educational Services Inc. paid $20.8 million for debt-ridden Daniel Webster College in June. In return, the company obtained an academic credential that may generate a taxpayer-funded bonanza worth as much as $1 billion.”


With education little more than a vague directive to “teach” at this point (except for the chosen few professors who put their hearts into it, of course), schools are being encouraged to “convert a school to a charter school or a similar education management organization, a for-profit or nonprofit organization that provides ‘whole school operation’ services” (via firedoglake) in California districts where schools have fallen way short of federal education “guidelines”. Hint: that’s when you know it is bad. Firedoglake implies that recent protests and riots by California state university students facing severe class cuts and hikes in tuition are directly related to the push to privatize education.

In the case of small but favored not-for-profit educational institutions, they don’t have much of a choice but to end up recycled into the ITTs and the DeVrys if they can’t make it. For-profit education is the way to go, ask DeVry. They didn’t make $369 million last year for nothing.

Said Karen Pletz in the Kansas City Star, “the not-for-profit mission, whether it be in education, health care, or other human services, is really about values and is intrinsically focused in bettering lives and community.” Not to carelessly go name-calling but what can a for-profit, publicly-traded institution possibly know about that mandate or education for that matter? Its first loyalty is to the shareholders, not the students.

Perhaps not coincidentally, in December of 2009 WSJ pointed to a Department of Education report revealing a 21% default rate in the first three years for those coming from for-profit institutions like ITT over there gobbling up broke Daniel Webster College. For-profit education institutions are accused of aggressive loan procedures to get students through their programs; meanwhile non-profit private education remains picky about who they’ll take and for good reason. It’s a sweeping generalization to say default rates somehow correlate with the quality of instruction but one can assume loans are easier to pay off when the debtor is not just gainfully employed but paid well.

Company’s purchase of N.H. college could earn it $1 billion [Bloomberg via Boston Globe]