Advisory

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He Made the American Dream Real: From Foreign Lands to Big 4 Auditor to a Leader at an Advisory Firm

Does your accounting job have you trapped in an accrual world? Do you ever want to ditch it all and travel down a different career path? You could go back to school to become an orthopedic surgeon, but then you’d have to re-learn the phases of mitosis. You could be an English teacher, but that […]

Comp Watch ’14: Anticipatory Anxiety in Deloitte Advisory

Last year, it was someone in tax who wanted to get a jump on Deloitte comp talks, this year it's an eager beaver in advisory who would like the honor: Deloitte Advisory ratings will be approved.  We should be hearing of our rating (and possible promotions) any day this week).  Raise %'s wont be communicated […]

EY Tops Big 4 Las Vegas Firms in Hindering Its Advisory Business Growth

In this day and age of professional service firm trends, it's strange to see an announcement that highlights the audit business in the lead paragraph:  [On Monday] Ernst & Young LLP’s Las Vegas office celebrates its 10th anniversary. Since its opening here in 2003, it has become the nation’s largest fully integrated gaming and hospitality practice, […]

Let’s Discuss: Switching From Your Firm’s Audit Practice to the Advisory Practice

Last week during Caleb’s pseudo office hours, someone threw out the following question:

Have y'all covered the transition from Assurance to Transaction Services in GC?
Ahh, audit to advisory. The Holy Grail of internal transfers.

Bonus/Comp Watch ’13: KPMG Advisory

Sometimes on a hot summer day there's nothing better to do than talk about but money.  A recent memo from KPMG's advisory leadership entitled "Outlook for 2013 Compensation" is happy to share the news that FY 2013 has been motoring along and that they are cautiously optimistic the last quarter will round out nicely:  We […]

The New EY: A $50 Billion Revenue Goal, Squishy Independence, and Adios to the Ampersand

Nearly three years ago we surprised everyone with the news that PwC was rebranding itself. It was big news for awhile and not everyone liked the new look, but just like a website, eventually people get tired of bitching about the changes and they move on. Shortly thereafter, we highlighted an obscure report from Marketing […]

Hiring Watch ’13: Grant Thornton Chicago on the Hunt for Forensic and Investigative Dynamos

Last Friday while I was poorly navigating North Carolina, a tipster passed along an enthusiastic message that he received from a Grant Thornton National Talent Acquisition bounty hunter. And from the sounds of it, GT wants some fresh faces in their forensics group:

Layoffs Watch ’13: Ernst & Young Advisory

Another one bites the dust (via the tip box): There had been some concern among advisory professionals at EY that there could be a downsizing.  It finally happened to me today at the [redated for privacy] office. Told that I appear to have topped out at Sr 3 and would not be promoted this year […]

Big 4 Revenue Bigger Than Ever in 2012

The website Big4.com likes to put out an analysis of the Big 4 firms' revenues every year and we're pretty grateful because we sure as hell don't want to do it. That said, it's largely just a press release for all the firms to remind everyone how much they're crushing it. And although Big4.com "believes […]

Comp and Bonus Watch ’12: Here’s What Deloitte AERS Advisory Will Be Serving Up

Last week, we threw out a thread to get Deloitte's compensation discussion going which really dived into nothing of particular importance other than the usual bickering. It's possible that the discussion jumped the gun a bit, but if nothing else it got people lathered up and anxious for more details. Thankfully, we now have more […]

Is Deciding Between Forensic Advisory Work and Auditing Really That Difficult?

Our inquisitor has options. Don't you hate that? If you're stumped on career multiple choice question or need help with picking out something for the gift exchange, email us at advice@goingconcern.com. I was fortunate enough to receive two full time entry-level offers from two Big 4 firms: 1 in Audit and 1 in Forensic Advisory […]

PwC, Deloitte Enjoying Their Booming Advisory Businesses, Thankyouverymuch

This morning we linked to a Reuters report about the horse race between Deloitte and PwC for the biggest of the Big 4. It reports virtually nothing new that we haven’t discussed here already including Deloitte jumping P. Dubs last year by a whopping $9 million (thanks mostly to keeping their consulting business in house), the hiring sprees, the acquisitions, and oh! the audit business sucks:

With audit revenues leveling off in developed markets, the firms have been making a push in growing countries such as China and India and plowing ahead with investments in consulting, where business is growing after a recessionary slump.[…] The big four are expected to report their fiscal 2011 revenues in coming weeks and any significant growth will likely once again be in the consulting area, said Jonathan Hamilton, managing editor of Accounting News Report. “The audit business, while certainly the staple of all these firms, is a slow-growth business,” Hamilton added.

In other words, the consulting advisory business is hot and audit is not. And what causes some people to fly off the handle is how the firms have sold everyone on the idea that they can still miraculously be the bastion of good business principles ethics. Well, maybe not everyone:

More worries loom from stepped-up regulatory scrutiny. As consulting revenues grow, complaints are surfacing again that firms will be tempted to go easy on audit clients for the sake of winning or keeping a consulting job — a charge the audit firms deny.

Last week, European Union lawmakers approved a report that calls for barring auditors from providing audit and non-audit services to the same client. The report is nonbinding but could shape a draft law in the works.

PwC and Deloitte both said there was no conflict of interest in the consulting services they provide. Much of their consulting is done for companies they do not audit and they follow regulators’ standards and companies’ own restrictions on the kind of consulting they do for audit clients.

The report doesn’t mention many things that have cropped up (some recent, some not so much) including the nearly 500 reprimands Deloitte had in 2009, the rash of insider trading, or PwC’s incestuous Satyam scandal but talking points are also used to address those issues. These firms didn’t get to where they are without figuring out how to play the media game.

One thing is for sure – the firms are going to depend on their consulting/advisory businesses for growth until someone banishes audit firms from offering any other services at all. And God knows what that will take.

In close race for No 1, Deloitte, PwC grow apace [Reuters]

Engineer Curious to Know if an Advisory Role with PwC or Deloitte Would Be a Good Opportunity

Ed. note: Looking for career guidance from a couple of Big 4 expats or our resident permanently ink-stained wench? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com.

Hello,

I have become an avid reader of your website and need your help regarding an opportunity. I have an engineering background and 5 years of experience in the heavy construction industry specifically oil & gas. In hopes to moving on to something different and possibly working as a consultant I have got a chance to work at PWC and Deloitte in a senior associate advisory role. I do know that these companies are primarily in audit but the sales pitch they gave me was that they were trying to build the Capital Projects Advisory division. Do you all think it is good opportunity?

Sincerely,
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

Dear Chugs,

As a self-proclaimed avid reader, I hope you caught the post I did in June about the engineering consultant in a similar situation as yours. Check it out for feedback focused on what to do once you start at your new gig in a Big 4’s advisory practice.

That said, you’re asking if the chance to work at the #1 or #2 public accounting firms in the world are “good” opportunities. I follow up your question with one of my own:

If working for #1 or #2 is not a good opportunity, what more are you looking for?

So yes, they are great opportunities to jump start your career into the “consulting” slash advisory biz. Sure, they crank out audits and tax returns, but those are very different revenue generating streams than their advisory practices. To put things in more engineering terms – wary of working in the advisory group of PwC or DT because they perform assurance services is like turning down an aerospace engineering job at GE because they also make light bulbs.

Assuming the offer details are similar, look at each firm’s Capital Projects practices. Which group is more established? Have they made other external hires recently? What is each group’s current market share/focus, and what are long term plans?

Good luck with whichever role you pursue, and welcome to the Big 4 community.

Cheers,
DWB

Comp Watch ’11: Deloitte’s New Structure Is Taking Shape

A couple of weeks ago, we heard that Deloitte was considering a similar compensation structure as PwC. This would result in Senior Associates making approximately 1.5x their starting salaries in three years, managers making 2x their starting salary and so on and so forth. At the time, it didn’t strike me as surprising that Deloitte would get all monkey-see-monkey-do on its employees simply because the Green Dot is a far more conservative firm than P. Dubs. While the structure at PwC was welcome with largely positive reviews, the Deloitte version was received less warmly.

Today, we have a little bit of an update for you – with slides! – on hure is progressing. From our tipster:

I’m surprised there was no article about this yet. Tuesday we all had a compensation call which went into great detail how raises and bonuses were handled. Here are some slides you might be interested in. It appears PwC scared them and they are copying. These numbers are still not official yet as they “are working out the numbers”…


Here’s a slide from the presentation on Deloitte’s total compensation earnings multiplier that our tipster sent over:

And here’s PwC’s:

So they’re pretty darn close, with Senior Associates doing slightly better at P. Dubs but Senior Managers faring slightly better at Deloitte, thus it ends up as a wash. Granted, the Deloitte slides only present information for AERS Advisory professionals (sorry audit and tax peeps) but it would seem odd if they opted to only change the structure for one group.

Other items worth noting include the 500 promotions for this year and the 3-5% bonus that accompanies the bump.

The pictures on the following pages show merit increases based on ranking (1 to 5 scale) for Consultants, Senior Consultants and AIP – Senior Consultants.


Presumably, in the bad years some high performers may see a paltry raise of around 4% but in the good years, it will push 16%, depending on metrics listed:


And even more impressive for Seniors, with highest performers receiving a merit increase of ~20%:


What’s interesting to note here is that Deloitte claims to have awarded bonuses to 95% of “eligible professionals.” So if I understand that correctly, 5% of those people ranked 3 or higher didn’t get a bonus. It may also get you a little weak in the knees if the AIP pool is already larger than last year’s “highest ever” pool:

Lots to digest and discuss here, so let it rip.

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 advice@goingconcern.com.

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.

Deloitte Auditor Wants to Know if Joining KPMG’s IT Advisory Group Is a Good Idea

Editor’s Note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com.

Hello C,

So with the new found (and welcome) love for Advisory on goingconcern.com I feel comfortable posing my question:
I am currently a 2nd year at D&T audit in Dallas, I am contemplating a move to KPMG’s IT advisory, I currently make $54k and KPMG has offered me $60k. I have some IT in my background and enjoy IT related stuff but don’t want to be stuck in Audit support as an IT Advisory Associate. KPMG has promised me the ability to move within Advisory…so here is my list of questions:

1. Would that switch be the right move for my long term career growth?

DWB:I cannot speak clearly on what your long term career growth can or cannot be without knowing what your goals are. Being that you’re two years into your career, I’m not expecting you to fully know either. That said, I suggest that you look at this in two ways: 1) what are you long term career options if you stay at DT, and 2) what are your options if you leave and enter the advisory practice at KPMG? Weigh these options with your roughly outlined career goals and take it from there. In your favor is the fact that Dallas is a larger market for both firms, so options are not as limited as they would be elsewhere.

2. Should I take the opportunity to progress towards specializing in an ERP and get more technical with IT or eventually switch to M&A/Forensics (another interest of mine).

DWB: Listen – playing first base for the Yankees is an interest of mine but it simply isn’t going to happen. I’m not saying you can’t bounce over to M&A or Forensic (drop the “s” from the name and realize they’re two separate groups at KPMG), but I am hinting at the fact that it is going to be difficult. Advisory lines of business are BOOMING right now for the Big 4, which means they have the ability to go to market and hire individuals with relevant talent. Also, should you move out of IT, that’s just one more position KPMG would have to fill as well. I’m not doubting your talents, skillset, and drive, but I don’t plan on batting clean up anytime soon.

3. What do I do after a few years of KPMG IT Advisory experience? would I be considered for Controller type (because of my Acct degree and Audit exp) jobs or only CIO career path (due to the IT tag)?

DWB: If the market dips again, prepare to fight for your current job. Advisory lines at Big 4 are the first to get slashed when the going gets tough (more discretionary lines of business, too dependent on an active client base, etc.), and IT Advisory at KPMG was slaughtered back in 2008/2009. Also, your two years of audit experience hardly prepare you to compete with senior staff and manager public accountants interviewing for the same controller roles.

4. Am I getting paid a competitive salary at $60k?

Honestly, I have no idea. Can someone in the peanut gallery chime in? What are experienced associates in Dallas making in IT advisory these days? If my gut tells me correctly, you’re a steal for KPMG. One more thing I want to harp on, although I touched on it above in #2:
“KPMG has promised me the ability to move within advisory.” This line is out of the Recruiting for Dummies. The different business lines in Big 4 advisory – as close as they may work together – are very specialized in their skill sets. Being an expert on SAS 70 reviews does not automatically make you an expert with regards to historical due diligence analysis and breaking down a company’s EBIDTA numbers.

Debunked Rumor of the Morning: PwC Is Rescinding Offers

Adrienne, who is hidden away in an undisclosed location (read: Boston) was tipped off last night with the following and forwarded it on to me:

Rumor has it that PWC rescinded offers for September 2011 hires. I went to GC to read the inside scoop but didn’t see anything. Maybe this is a totally false rumor or a lead….

Answer: Totally false rumor.


Yes, believe it or not, we happily debunk rumors around here when possible. Of course this can only occur when people with the means to help us discredit the rumors are cooperative. We spoke to someone in the know at PwC who informed us that not only is this rumor false, P. Dubs is asking some of their new advisory hires to start in July because there is so much work. Now, it’s possible that there are a few isolated incidents where someone’s name shows up in the police blotter and an offer may get pulled but our source says there haven’t been any reports of those and definitely nothing “systemic.”

Of course if you’ve got evidence to the contrary, we’d welcome you to get in touch with us and good luck to those who choose to end their summers/lives two months early.

Let’s Finally Talk About How Much Money You Can Make In Advisory

Somehow I find myself pulling the Accounting Career Emergencies rabbit out of my hat (or, as I like to say, “Decide My Life For Me: GC Edition”) and for once it has absolutely nothing to do with the CPA exam. We get yelled at all the time for focusing too much on tax and audit and not enough on advisory, so now’s your chance to start the discussion.

Though this question ended up in my inbox, it’s obvious that it was directed at you, dear Going Concern readers:

There is a lot of discussion on GC about the compensation for the audit and tax arms of the B4, but I don’t remember seeing much on what the strategic advisory/consulting branches of the B4 can expect in compensation as one rises through the ranks. It is pretty much assumed that compensation is much better on the performance and strategic side of the business but can you lay it out what is expected at each level?

I know different markets will pay at different rates, so a general range would be appreciated. I expect for associates in all branches to start in the same general range between $45,000-$58,000 but at what point in the chain of command does advisory compensation really separate itself compared to audit and tax?

Signed,

New Advisory Associate

First off, you’re right that we don’t discuss advisory that often but we do discuss it when we can, dependent on how many emails like yours we get and whether anyone in the advisory family has embarrassed themselves enough to warrant a note to us telling us all about it. If you’re playing along at home, that’s a strong hint that we’d talk about other areas besides tax and audit more often if more of you non-tax-and-audit folk contributed to the conversation. This is a good start, keep it going.

Anyway, based on comments left here and there around this site, the separation between audit/tax and advisory is not so much defined by dollars but by quality of life. What good is making more (or less) money if you’re miserable and overworked doing it? So before you look at how much more (or less) you’ll end up making than your cohorts in audit and tax, it’s appropriate to look at how much having a life is worth to you. So keep that in perspective while you are trying to figure out just how much you can make and when.

While you’re waiting around for useful comments from the GC miscreants, we were able to dig up a useful discussion on the Wall Street Oasis forum that will give you some actual numbers (though the validity of those numbers is apparently up for debate). That’s a starting point, and puts you at 65K out the gate, average. Since we’re getting that information from the Internet, let’s be conservative and say 60. This doesn’t help much as you already knew as much.

You might want to check out this GC thread (granted it’s two years old) and see if you get any better numbers there. With 311 comments, chances are you’ll get your answer, or at least a reasonable ballpark to aim for.

Cue to comments from the advisory bad asses out there who have been dying to see a column all about them. Now’s your time – especially those loyal soldiers who have put in a few years – to shine. Or blow smoke up each other’s asses to see who spins the most unbelievable compensation tale. I’m cool with either but please, help your soon-to-be advisory brother.

(UPDATE) Comp Watch ’11: Things Are Looking Up for KPMG Advisory

~ UPDATE: Email sent to audit professionals added to the end of the post.

How do variable increases “larger than last year for most of you and much larger for many” sound?

With the first half of FY2011 in the books, we want to provide you with an update on the firm’s and Advisory’s performance and share information about our plans for employee compensation.

We are pleased to report that the firm and Advisory are ahead of plan for the first half of the year. Advisory’s revenues have grown 18% compared to last year and our pipeline of opportunities stands at a record $1.5 billion, confirming the marketplace relevance of our services.

We have also successfully added more professionals to our team (over 800 new and ennovated high value services (including services around cloud and data analytics), acquired a strategic sourcing business (placing us No. 1 in that important piece of the market) and strengthened our training programs (through Advisory University and many targeted programs).This is great news, and a direct result of your contributions!

Further, we are confident that we can finish the year in a very strong position if we continue to work together with a sharp focus on the marketplace, our people, the profitability of our engagements (including expanding the work we offshore to KPMG Global Services), and the timely billing and collection of our receivables.

So what does this mean for compensation? As we have said in the past, our philosophy is that as the business does well, we will share those rewards with our people. And, assuming we stay on plan the remainder of the year, that’s exactly what we plan to do:

Variable Compensation and Salary Increases

Based on our strong results to date, variable compensation will be larger than last year for most of you and much larger for many. Further, we expect that approximately 80% of you will receive a variable compensation award in October. And if you are a client service associate or senior associate, variable compensation is in addition to any awards earned as part of the Above & Beyond program.

Market conditions are dynamic and will vary greatly across our many service disciplines within Advisory. Therefore the range of salary increases will also vary greatly by individual and skill set. We have increased the planned spend for salary increases as well, so increases in base salaries on average will also be better than last year. We know that rewarding and recognizing our people is critical to fostering a high-performance culture, so you can be sure that we will continue to meet our commitment to provide an attractive and competitive total compensation package that differentiates exceptional performers with superior rewards.

Accelerated Compensation Communication

To help provide you with more clarity on what you can expect in the way of compensation come October 1, in July, a leader will meet with you individually to provide you with a line of sight into what you can personally expect to receive regarding salary increase and variable compensation. (As in past years, employees promoted as of July 1, will receive a promotion bonus at that time that will be in addition to any salary increase or variable compensation effective October 1).

And we ask that each of you continue working as a team, providing the best service you can to your clients and colleagues, and helping us to drive outstanding business results. Remember, the better the business does, the better we all do.

Thanks for everything you’re doing to build KPMG’s reputation as the best firm to work with, and to contribute to our success!

Reactions are welcome at this time.

UDPATE: Henry Keizer lays it down for the audit side of the house and while rosy (nearly identical wording as noted in the comments), there’s no specific “larger” or “much larger” language which may be of concern:

With the first half of FY2011 in the books, I want to provide you with an update on the firm’s performance and share information about our plans for employee compensation.

I am pleased to report that the firm is ahead of plan for the year. This is great news, and a direct result of your contributions. And, while there is still a lot more work to do, we are confident that, working together, we can finish the year in a strong position. We have good traction in the marketplace and anticipate that the demand for our services and skills will continue to be strong.

So what does this mean for compensation? As we have said in the past, our philosophy is that as the business does well, we will share those rewards with our people. And, assuming we stay on plan the remainder of the year, this year’s compensation pool will be enhanced compared to last year.

We know that rewarding and recognizing our people is critical to fostering a high-performance culture, so you can be sure that we will continue to meet our commitment to provide an attractive and competitive total compensation package that differentiates exceptional performers with superior rewards.

And we ask that each of you continue working as a team, providing the best service you can to your clients and colleagues, and helping us to drive outstanding business results. Remember, the better the business does, the better we all do.

Thanks for everything you’re doing to build KPMG’s reputation as the best firm to work with, and to contribute to our success.

Tax people – anything to report?

ISA Consulting Takes Up with Ernst & Young

The firm that wouldn’t be named adds the Philadelphia-based company to the advisory business.

“The acquisition of ISA Consulting is part of a broader strategy to expand Ernst & Young’s already strong presence in the performance management and analytics market,” said Bob Patton, Americas Advisory Services Leader, Ernst & Young LLP. “ISA Consulting’s reputation for quality service and integrity, as well as the experience of their team, makes them a great cultural fit with Ernst & Young.” Just don’t get mixed up with those auditors. [PRN]

Holiday Bonus Watch: Deloitte Advisory

What the hell is in the water today?

FYI – “Select” resources in Northeast Advisory are getting notified that they will be getting a small holiday bonus (ranging from $500 – $2000) in their next paycheck.

Happy Holidays 🙂

If you’re not “select” feel free to get Grinchy in the comments and if you are, then go but an iPad.

Ernst & Young Layoffs: The Latest

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ey_bandaids.jpgFrom a reliable source on the west coast we have learned that the advisory practice of E&Y was feeling left out and has decided to get into the act.
Twelve advisory professionals — we’re speculating that it was all staff at this point — were laid off today in the Pacific-Northwest Region. The only confirmed city that we have so far is San Jose. Emails were sent out last night and meetings with partners were held this morning. For an added personal touch, our understanding is that the staff met with partners that they were not previously acquainted.
Our calls to E&Y have gone unreturned. An E&Y spokesperson declined to comment.
Jump back to this post for all the details on this round of E&Y layoffs and get in touch with details for your city, practice, and severance.