July 22, 2018

Corporate Accounting Jobs

Big 4 Boomerang: Former Auditor, Bored with Corporate Gig, Wants to Join Advisory Group

Ed. Note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].

Dear Going Concern,

I started my career in B4 Assurance, got the bump to SA relatively quickly (1.5 yrs), stuck it out for another year, then jumped ship for corporate goodness (Fortune 100 – double the money, half the hours). I’ve been doing that for 5 years now, and I feel like I’ve plateaued. I’ve been promoted 3 times in those 5 years, but I’m sufficiently elevated in the corporate ranks now that my next step is likely to be more a function of “serving my time” rather than continued innovation and stand-out work product; a war of attrition, if you will. I put in 40 hours in a rough week, don’t travel, and my comp is on par with (or slightly in excess of) a B4 Senior Manager in major markets (think NYC, Chicago, LA, SF, etc).

So, on to my dilemma: Am I crazy to be considering a jump back to B4? I miss the challenging work, and the energetic work-force, but I don’t necessarily miss working 80 hours a week. My primary driver is to be interested and engaged in what I do every day. Making partner and a seven figure income is a nice idea, but is just an afterthought in the context of this decision. I wouldn’t make this move expecting to become a partner (although if that’s how it played out, hooray for me). I’m looking for your candid feedback, criticism, blunt verbal beat downs, etc. I’m also looking for input from the GC rank and file – particularly those that have done what I’m considering: B4 -> cush corporate gig -> back to B4.

Let’s assume for the sake of this question that with my skill set, I could re-enter as the equivalent of an experienced Manager, or first year Senior Manager in one of the Advisory practices. Let’s also assume that I have partner friends at all of the Big4, that my experience and academic pedigree are top notch, and that I have a lot of corporate contacts that are ideal for selling new business. So essentially, the option is there – I just have to choose to do it.

Sincerely,

Glutton4Big4

Dear Glutton4Big4,

Crazy is a relative term, and we’re all a little crazy around here at GC. I find your confidence in both your Big 4 and private industry contacts to be refreshing and brazen. Who cares that the economy is still a sputtering engine block inside a car chassis that’s resting on blocks, you have connections! Of course you’ll get a job back in public! OF COURSE your private industry drinking buds will want to sever whatever pre-existing consulting relationships they have with other vendors and go wherever you are!

My advice is simple – play both fields. Look into the Big 4s and their needs for someone with your background and experience in addition to pursuing opportunities that might be with your corporate contacts. You are not necessarily locking yourself into a career in public should you transition into a Big 4 advisory practice, whereas returning to assurance would be moral and career suicide. The advisory lines are generally more fluid opportunities and can act as stepping stones back into a corporate world after a few years.

For those breezing the submission above, Glutton’s career has been as follows:

• 2.5 years in public (assurance)
• 5 years in private
• Potentially back to public (advisory)

Has anyone in the peanut gallery done this? Share your horror stories or little victories below.

Big 4 Employee with an Itch to Jump Ship Wants to Know What His Options Are

Welcome to the the-shutdown-will-probably-last-45-minutes edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a Big 4 senior associate has a hanker to jump ship. Problem is, corporate accounting and internal auditing don’t sound like appealing life-preservers. Are there other options or is our hero doomed for permanent Big 4 burnout?

Nervous about a promotion? Back on the hunt for a co-worker to canoodle with after an unfortunate experience? Concerned about where your bonus is going? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll sort you out one way or another.

Meanwhile, back on the Titanic:

Hello there,

So I’m a senior associate at a big 4 accounting firm and needless to say, I’m getting the itch to leave this gig. The problem I’m facing though, is that I don’t know what job I want to take when I leave.

While the hours may be better, going into corporate accounting and doing journal entries / reconciliations sounds just as mind numbing. Likewise, doing the same old routine in internal audit doesn’t really sound riveting either. So outside of those, what are my options? What jobs are out there that will let me put my CPA to good use while actually enjoying my career?

– Not sold on corporate accounting

Dear NSOCA,

Ah, you’ve come to see that the grass isn’t always THC-ier on the other side. It’s important that you’ve come to this realization, so I don’t have to give you a sermon about that. However I should say, you seem to have your priorities a little backwards: “The problem I’m facing […] is that I don’t know what job I want to take when I leave.” This sounds like you’re ready to leave your Big 4 firm with virtually no plan; that would suggest A) your “itch” is really a full-body rash and B) you’ve only had preliminary thoughts about what life after Big 4 can really be like.

In addition to the plethora of corporate accountant and internal audit gigs, there are many opportunities for various analyst positions – cost, budget, financial – if that’s something that would be of interest to you (check out this post on cost accounting positions from last summer for more details). If you’re the wonky type, a SEC reporting or a technical accounting position may be up your alley.

With all that in mind, don’t dismiss all senior accountant job. If you find a company that’s the right for you (i.e. size, responsibilities, money, etc.) you’ll end up learning a lot and in addition to your Big 4 experience, you’ll have a nice skillset that will prepare you for your next move. As far as internal audit is concerned, I personally never had much interest, simply because I discovered that auditing was nothing I wanted to do. If you do like auditing (God help you), then I wouldn’t dismiss all of those opportunities but like the senior accountant positions, I’d be pretty selective.

Just remember, don’t get anxious to leave just because you’re miserable. Figure out what your real interests are and then start your job search, working with a recruiter or pounding the pavement yourself. You might discover that you need to get of this accounting thing altogether. I’m a living, breathing example of that and there are plenty more out there like me. You may be one of them too but I admit, you have to be willing to make sacrifices (mostly money). The worst thing you can possibly do is take any old job with a fancy title and a bigger paycheck to only hate it in three months. Good luck.

Making Sense of Robert Half’s 2011 Salary Guide

Robert Half rolled out its annual salary guide today (available for download here) and they’re saying that “compensation for accounting and finance professionals should see commensurate gains” with the “slight uptick in financial hiring,” that RH predicted last month.

You could interpret this as exciting news since “slight uptick” beats the hell out of the consistent “disappointing outlook” that we’ve seen over the ars.

Anyway, Roberto reports that for most positions, salaries rose anywhere from 1% to 3% but if you’re the type to sell out to the highest bidder (you know who you are) you’ll be most interested in the following:

• Senior business analysts are expected to see the largest boost in base pay in 2011, with their average starting salary rising 5.0 percent to the range of $66,500 to $85,500.

• Projected base pay for tax accounting managers at midsize companies ($25 million to $250 million in sales) is $69,500 to $92,500, up 4.9 percent.

• Starting salaries for financial analysis managers at both large (more than $250 million in sales) and midsize companies are predicted to climb 4.8 percent; senior financial analysts at midsize companies are predicted to see their base compensation rise to $60,000 to $78,000, a 4.7 percent increase.

• Senior compliance analysts at small companies (up to $25 million in sales) are anticipated to receive starting salary offers between $58,750 and $75,250, a 4.1 percent increase.

• Average starting salaries for tax services senior managers and directors as well as senior tax accountants at midsize public accounting firms ($25 million to $250 million in sales) are expected to climb 3.9 percent in the year ahead.

• Base pay for senior auditors at midsize public accounting firms is expected to range between $62,000 and $81,750, up 3.8 percent over 2010 levels.

• Within financial services, compliance managers can anticipate a 4.4 percent gain in base pay, to a range of $64,500 to $89,000.

Emphasis is Bob’s. What do these numbers mean? Honestly, not much for anyone that is happy with their current job situation. However, since compensation news season has more or less ended, those that are not happy with the news they got this year will be looking to the hot positions. A little bit of our own digging and impressions are as follows:

Corporate Accounting
Mining through the report, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many surprises. If you’re looking for a Corporate Accounting gig, something with “Controller,” “Director” or “Compliance” in the title is going to have some of the highest salaries.

If you jump down to the rank and file you’ll find that if you’re a tax, IT or audit maven, then you’re likely to do better than your average humdrum general/cost accountant.

Likewise, an “analyst” of any stripe will have a little more earning power than your average non-analyst, although “Financial Analysts” saw a larger bump in salary than its fellow non-financial analysts.

Public Accounting
Salaries for tax, audit and “management services” are surprisingly tight with audit on the low end followed by MS and then tax. This is consistent across all levels (i.e. associate, senior, manager, senior manager/director).

Also noteworthy is that public accounting salaries keeps pace with the in-house gigs at their relative corporate ladder levels. For example, an audit manager at a “Large Firm” makes only $4k less than a Internal Audit Manager at a “Large Company” and actually does better than many analyst positions at the “manager” level.

In other words, if you’re considering a lateral move, DON’T. You likely won’t make more money and you may end up making less. If you’re dying for changing, this of course means that you’ll have to find your way into a position that is a step above your current job to get a significant boost in salary.

You could argue that based on the data, this report at gives a lot of credence to the “Staying Until Manager” when it comes to salary and entry into a top-level position. As for practical experience, that’s a debate for another post. And based on our traffic numbers, accountants are all about salaries.

Robert Half Releases 2011 Guide to Accounting and Finance Salaries [PR Newswire]