There’s a lot to be said for the small town, local accounting firm. It’s intimate, it’s friendly, and it’s safe. But if you want to join this ‘global economy’ people never seem to shut up about, you need to set your sights higher.
Even medium-sized firms may not offer the resources and opportunities you need to reach your full potential. To fully conquer your aspirations, a large accounting firm with multiple offices around the globe might be your best choice.
The Big 4 all fit these criteria. But the disadvantages of working at one of those firms far outweigh any large company benefits.
You’re surely familiar with most of the strikes against the Big 4 — and maybe personally experiencing them right now — but hey, here are a few of them just for fun: they offer poor work/life balance, have absurdly high turnover rates, work you like a dog during busy season (which never seems to end), and basically embody everything wrong with America.
Make no mistake, the Big 4 provide a level of prestige other firms can’t match. But with that esteem comes a price–and the cost might just be your soul.
There are plenty of large firms that can offer Big 4-style benefits while still treating you like a human being, however. You might want to work at one of them, and here are four reasons why.
1) Move and keep your job
Let’s say you live somewhere horrible, like Orlando. (Just kidding, we love you, Mickey!) But your dream has always been to surround yourself with the bright lights and towering skyscrapers of New York City.
In most cases, fulfilling this dream would require a gamble on your part. Most businesses don’t like to hire people who aren’t already local, so you’ll probably have to quit your job and hope you can find someone willing to pay you when you get to the Big Apple.
But the average job search takes 43 days, so unless you’ve been saving your pennies, you’ll probably have to take a temporary position to make rent. And do you really want to add “Part-time barista” to your resume?
If you worked at a larger firm with a New York office, achieving your big city ambitions could be as easy as putting in a transfer request. It may not happen right away, but when the time does come, you’ll have a job waiting for you on the other side.
Working at a larger firm can also be helpful when life events force you to move.
Personal anecdote time: My brother was a New York City tax attorney for a number of years. Then his wife got pregnant. A combination of their not wanting to raise a kid in the city and their desire to get some parenting help from said wife’s family lead to their decision to move to Houston.
Because my brother works for a large firm with offices around the world, including one in Houston, this was an easy transition. In fact, with the power of technology, he still basically does the same job with the same clients, just remotely instead of in-person.
2) Travel on the company dime
The more offices your company has, the more cities you might get the opportunity to visit for free. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but you’ll certainly have a better chance of a company-funded trip than you would at a smaller firm.
And with some companies, you might get to explore new locations on a long-term basis. Prager Metis is one such firm, offering staff exchanges to their various offices.
“Each year, selected staff get the opportunity to work at different locations for a week or so,” David Neste, Co-Managing Partner, Prager Metis says. “We move people around the United States and to Europe.”
With offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Miami, Los Angeles, and London, Prager Metis is a great example of a firm where you can fulfill your global career goals. If you’re interested in working there, click the link below to apply for a job. Or keep reading to discover more benefits of large firms.
3) Work with various cultures
If you’ve listened to a stand-up comedian in the last 30 years, you know New York and L.A. are hilariously different. Those cultural differences extend to the accounting world as well.
Clients from each city have their own language and their own way of doing things. And the same is true for clients in the Midwest, the South, the Farm Belt, the Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, and, of course, in other countries around the globe.
Achieving true global accounting mastery will require you to learn the vernacular and culture of every region. You’ll need to know how to shift your tone when speaking to clients in L.A., the right and wrong words to use when working with Brits, and how to mind your manners with a client from the South.
And you won’t learn how to do any of that at a small or midsize firm. Working at a firm with multiple offices exposes you to numerous cultures, forcing you to learn the quirks of each one. As you collaborate with more clients outside your comfort zone, you’ll start to develop global skills that will help you take your career in any direction you want it to go.
4) Technology is unifying large enterprises
One of the biggest fears of working at a large accounting firm is that you’ll be secluded from offices outside of your own. You won’t gain the advantages of your company having multiple branches because those offices never talk to each other.
And that is the case at some firms. But thanks to advances in technology, branch offices are starting to foster stronger relationships.
New technologies are making virtual collaboration more human. That means the offices of even the largest of enterprises are starting to connect to each other on a more intimate level, ultimately forming a unified culture across every branch.
“We’re working on one culture, sending one message internally and externally,” Joseph Rust, Regional Managing Partner, Prager Metis says. “One of our biggest initiatives right now is working with a culture committee and culture consultants to unify our voice across all our offices.”
To Big 4 or not to Big 4
Again, all of the benefits we’ve listed here can be claimed by the Big 4. But as we stated earlier, those benefits come with severe caveats, none of which you’ll experience at a firm like Prager Metis.
If you’re coming around to the idea of working at an accounting firm with multiple offices outside the Big 4, Prager Metis is a great place to consider. They’re a 2018 Accounting Today Top 100 Firm. They’re using cloud technology intelligently to connect their offices and provide superior client service. And as their tagline says, their global presence can help make your world worth more.
Want to apply for a job at Prager Metis? Apply now >>