Restless Accountant Considers a Second Chance with a Big 4 Firm

Have a question on anything from career limiting moves to plausible excuses for blowing off a random Tuesday to identifying that odor in the audit room? Email the Going Concern Brain Trust with your queries. And remember, there's no such thing as a dumb question; just dumb people who ask questions. 

So here's the deal. I graduated in 2010 from a public university. My "class" had 3 full-time B4 offers. I wasn't one of them. I'm now working elsewhere (not public accounting) and I just got a completely out of the blue phone call from a manager I met back in the day asking me to come in for an interview. I'm going.
 
I had convinced myself that I am in the best place for me. There's a great work-life balance, I don't travel, I actually work 40 hour weeks and the benefits are top tier.
 
However deep down I have had a sinking feeling that I am limiting my career unnecessarily. There's not a lot of paths in my current line and most of them are thankless with rather meager wages.
 
I'm NOT asking what I should do… I know I have to figure that out myself. I want to know: 1) Wtf? Does this really happen? 2) how much power do I have? I feel like I would need significantly more money in order to move (due to the increased workload and decreased benefits) can I get it?
 
If anyone is curious, I believe the factors leading to me getting this call are 1) a friend of mine, who has been working at the firm for 2 years, has a close work relationship with the manager in question. 2) I recently ran into him at a cocktail party. We talked for like 30 seconds but it was apparently pleasant enough.
 
-second chance auditor? 
Thanks for releasing us from actually making a choice for you, Second Chance. It's quite tiring telling people what to do with their own lives all the time, so this is a welcome reprieve.
 
Now, then. Your questions:
 
Wtf? Does this really happen? – Yes! Occasionally you will make a professional acquaintance that doesn't think you're a complete waste of space. This occurred in your pleasant 30-second convo at the cocktail party. This professional acquaintance then asks someone if they think you would be a good employee. In this case, your friend is that someone. (S)he said nice things about you and the manager picks up the phone because good people are hard to come by. Ta-da!
 
How much power do I have? – You have all the power in the world. Not like POTUS-who-is-at-the-behest-of-mega-corporations power, but power in the sense that you're content with your situation, which gives you all the leverage you need. If someone extends you an offer that (s)he thinks is a great opportunity but you consider an insult, you can shoot it down like a Black Hawk helicopter. Think about how good that would feel! (shooting down the job, not the helicopter).
 
I feel like I would need significantly more money in order to move (due to the increased workload and decreased benefits) can I get it? – First, Big 4 benefits packages are pretty competitive so you won't lose anything there. Second, an experienced hire like yourself would likely be placed in the top pay range of your peer group by any Big 4 firm. So to answer your question directly – yes, you can get the big bucks you want (within reason, they aren't going to double your salary).
 
There. No advice on what path to take, just simple answers to simple questions. I don't expect everyone out in Internetland to be as reserved (I even struggled), so hopefully you can resist the impending deluge of pairs of pennies that will come your way. Good luck. 

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