I Want to be a CA is a Canadian site, obviously, but Big 4 misery is a universal thing that transcends race, sex and geography. In the spirit of busy season, I'm happy to share the following with those of you slaving away dreaming of running off to the circus.
"The Accountant" left Big 4 life last April at Senior 2 — 6 months from promotion to manager — just after he got his CA. His girlfriend is still scratching her way up the Big 4 ladder.
For anyone getting that "fuck it I'm out of here" busy season itch, check out what he misses… and, more importantly, what he really doesn't:
What I miss:
1) Some of the cool people at Big 4. I never really fit the "corporate culture" reflecting back and never really fit in. I always dressed like shit compared to the $300-$500 outfits I always see around. There were a couple of cool people that I miss at the Big 4, not enough for me to ever go back, but they were cool and it was fun complaining about the bs environment. I usually hated everyone, but there were a couple of cool managers that I still keep in touch with. Most of my intermediates and juniors were cool as well, maybe it was because I was like the chillest senior.
2) The occasional socials that I would go to, to have some alcohol and meet some work people. But really, I don't feel like I fit in, ever to the accounting world, so this is very very minor.
3) The occasional travel opportunities and free hotels/rooms sponsored by the firm.
4) The nice constant paycheck.
I think that is about it, you think you would miss more about the Big 4, but after leaving big 4, I don't think I had a single regret about leaving like career progression and what not.
What I don't miss
1) The 10+ year managers and partners who are assholes. I know they have a job to do too, I'm just glad I'm not the one doing it anymore. =) After leaving Big 4, my health has skyrockted [sic]. It took like 2-3 months of big 4 for post traumatic stress recovery, but I'm fit again, and my happiness has steadily improved.
2) staring at the computer screen for 10+ hours a day. I already have bad eyes and working for Big 4 for the past 4 years made my glasses degree almost double.
3) Busy season. Man it feels good to be on the other side, and not have to take shit from clients. To be fare [sic], I had some really nice clients. My last busy season, my partner stressed the controller so much, she constantly had to work on the weekends. My controller had to bring her kids with her to the office. I felt so bad. She was constantly stressed, and I wish I could tell her to take it easy, but I couldn't. I really hope she left that job or got promoted since.
4) Sitting in the audit room "pretending" to do work around 7-11 p.m., just to show face to the manager. I think the biggest problem in Big 4 was and still is, people who don't need to be there still have to be there to look good to the manager/partner.
5) I remember being so stressed out about deadlines and stuff, and looking back none of that was ever really that important. It was also terrible to have to eat take out every day during busy season. Looking back, I don't know why half the stuff we had to do, we had to do.
He reports he is glad he left. Your results may vary.