Ed. note: Looking for above average advice from some snide, know-it-all hipster doofi? Take a number by emailing your problems to firstname.lastname@example.org and, if you're lucky, your position in the queue will still be in triple digits! Hi GC, I am going into my 7th busy season at a mid-tier ("MT") (2nd as a manger) […]
Yes my friends, the Purple Rose of Chicago’s focus on all things dynamic and pinstripe hating was enough to catapult the firm to the #1 spot on Vault’s Accounting 50. Va rnton’s rise “an upset of sorts” but I’ll go ahead and say this is more worthy of “shocker” status. This is like “Dewey Defeats Truman.” It’s the Miracle on Ice. Hell, it’s like when Brad Pitt finds Gwenyth Paltrow’s head at the end of Se7en (what do you MEAN you haven’t seen it?).
Don’t get me wrong, Grant Thornton is a fine firm. Sure, purple isn’t my favorite but the people there seem nice and very capable but HONESTLY this was not expected. When he hears the news, Stephen Chipman will probably start running through halls of the Chicago office sans
pants trousers rallying everyone down to the nearest pub (pictures, please). Anyway, let’s get to the Top 25 (previous year in parenthesis), shall we?
1 (23) Grant Thornton
2 (2) PwC
3 (1) Deloitte
4 (3) Rothstein Kass
5 (5) Dixon Hughes Goodman
6 (6) Moss Adams
7 (11) WithumSmith + Brown
8 (8) Friedman
9 (4) Marcum
10 (28) EisnerAmper
11 (14) Eide Bailly
12 (18) SS&G Financial Services
13 (12) Berdon
14 (7) Elliott Davis
15 (NR) Rehmann
16 (33) Baker Tilly Virchow Krause
17 (17) Armanino McKenna
18 (16) CBIZ/Mayer Hoffman McCann
19 (41) Marks Paneth & Shron
20 (20) Schenck
21 (10) Cherry, Bekaert & Holland
22 (21) Ernst & Young
23 (22) KPMG
24 (25) McGladrey
25 (24) BDO
As for how GT orchestrated this epic upset, here’s Vault’s Derek Loosvelt:
Although the Big Four firms PwC and Deloitte both significantly outscored Grant Thornton (the perennial fifth largest accounting firm in the country) in terms of prestige, Grant Thornton handily beat PwC and Deloitte in nearly every quality of life category. In other words, while the two Big Four firms’ names still carry much more weight than Grant Thornton’s in the marketplace, insiders are much more pleased with their day to day work lives at the non-Big Four GT than their peers are at PwC and Deloitte. In fact, non-Big Four firms ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in all but three quality of life categories (these rankings will be released over the next couple of days). Although Grant Thornton did not top any single category, it consistently placed ahead of PwC and Deloitte. Particular tough categories for the Big Four firms were hours and overall satisfaction.
So there are a couple of stories here: 1) Holy shit – Grant Thornton?! and 2) prestige seems to carry less and less weight in favor of quality of life for those looking to choose a public accounting firm as their employer. We’ll be covering the Vault list and the firms therein with more posts but until then, feel free to comment on the Top 25 and what you make of GT as the new #1.
Let me just say first off that this will not be an exclusive thread to the Big 4, I simply have to appease my SEO fanatic co-workers. That means if you’re interning at Grant Thornton, BDO, McGladrey, Moss Adams, Rothstein Kass, it doesn’t matter, don’t be afraid to jump in with questions or comments or respond to any of the regular commenters out there (“GT Partner” is a treat).
Anyway, it’s not technically summer but DWB encouraged me to drop an open thread on you all so that A) interns can share their skyrocketing anxiety and B) the veterans can bestow some of their wisdom upon these coffee gophers so that they don’t get in the way too much. Since I saw my fair share of interns pass through my time inside the House of Klynveld, I’ll jump in first.
For starters new interns, you need dress nice. If you show up in baggy Dockers without a belt and a Nike golf shirt and scuffed-up shoes – I hate you already. And unless you can do back flips (as it relates to your work) and buy me coffee once a week, my mind is made up about you already. For the ladies, since the dress code is a little more subjective for you, all I ask is you not show up in your pajamas. That said, your female superiors will be eyeing your attire much closer and they will be judging the shit out of you. And if they’re really offended by your fashion forwardness, they aren’t above tattling on you. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen.
As for work – find it. Sometimes you may have to act busy by reading god-awful training manuals or diversity literature or something else that makes you want to bathe with a toaster but FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR MEDIOCRE BIG 4 CAREER, I suggest you don’t look bored. I don’t care if you have to grovel to the lowliest A1 on your team, if you’re not working (or at least appear to be working), someone will notice and that doesn’t bode well for your chances at fulltime offer.
Finally, make some friends. Can you carry on a conversation that doesn’t revolve around your Beta Alpha Psi chapter or the bitch of an Intermediate mid-term you had? Excellent, you’ll be fine. Someone will like you. If you like talking about those things, I strongly suggest you find a hobby fast. The Mets are driving you crazy? Great, talk about that. You just saw the Arctic Monkeys in concert? Wonderful, music is rad. Outdoorsy type? Talk about some camping trips. You’re into Brazilian Jujitsu? Okay but don’t show off your injuries. That’s just gross.
Bottom line: be yourself. Unless yourself sucks. In which case, email the career advice brain trust and we’ll turn this around. Now if you’ll excuse me, some of us don’t have interns and I have to fetch my own coffee.
Perpetual fusspot and BDO Global CEO Jeremy Newman has not been shy about how unfair he thinks the dominance of the Big 4 is. The majority of his blog posts are tagged “Global Accounting” and several consist of bellyaching about Big 4 this and the Big 4 that. Of course, since the mainstream media has finally picked up on the idea that the concentration of auditors could be a bit of a problem, Newman has lots of articles to jump from and since the UK’s Office of Fair Trade has said something needs to be done about this, he had another opportunity this week:
Under the headline “Antitrust watchdog urges reform to break audit grip of Big Four” the FT states:
“Regulatory action may be required to break the dominant grip of the Big Four accounting firms on UK audits of leading companies…”
The only word I would challenge is “may” – it should say “will”.
Presumably this article was in the print edition because Newman doesn’t link to it but suffice to say he’s concluded that the government needs to either break up the Fab 4 like Yoko Ono or put some laws in place that mandates non-Big 4 firm inclusion. Either way, Newman laments to the Big 4 that it doesn’t have to be this way:
At long last it seems that something might now be done to open up the audit market. It is a shame it has taken so long and that it will require regulatory intervention – though it is not too late for my colleagues in the Big Four, and others, to act on a voluntary basis to create the environment necessary to allow real competition.
Judging by the statements from the firms, they seem more or less going along with it but these firms aren’t conscientious objectors. Don’t expect them to play nice.
Welcome to the Justin-Bieber-is-trending-on-Twitter-again edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a young collegian has an internship with a mid-tier firm next busy season but still dreams of the Big 4. Currently, she’s in talks with one B4 for a shot at a coveted summer internship. If she lands it, how does she break the news to her firm?
Does your partner get bent out of shape over weddings and other fun things? Are you single, fat and a hypocrite? Looking for a big change in your career? Email us at email@example.com and we do know of a terrorist organization that’s probably taking applications.
I signed to do an internship with a mid-tier firm next busy season, and I’m pretty grateful for it. That being said, I still want to go the Big 4 route if possible. I have one recruiting season left before graduation, and I’ve been in some talks with one firm in particular that suggests I might have a chance at interviewing for a summer internship.
Should they make an offer, and I accept, how do I go about sharing (or not sharing) this with the other firm come next January? Should the mid-tier make a full time offer, how long can I wait before telling them yay or nay, just in case the summer one falls through? Am I shooting myself in the foot on this one?
We should all be so lucky to have a shot at two internships. Although your chances with the Big 4 firm aren’t a lock, this situation could prove tricky so I’ll go on the assumption (per your request) that you get the offer.
Now, then. My inclination is to advise you to not tell the mid-tier firm that you have a summer internship coming up, as it does not really your ability to perform work for them. Plenty of people have done two internships, so your case is not unusual and in my opinion, not necessary to tell them that you’re doing another internship in the upcoming summer.
That said, if you do decide to tell your mid-tier suitor about your Big 4 summer internship (I’m sure my advice has been ignored in the past) it could go one of two ways: 1) The firm likes you and they try hard to convince you choose them over those smug Big 4 bastards; 2) They’re on the fence and they reason “she’s got another opportunity coming up” and you’ll get cut right away.
So assuming you’re a likable, hard-working and don’t look like an absolute troll (you’ve got the internship, so this is unlikely), you’ll be in the enviable position of being able to choose exactly what you want. If the mid-tier firm makes you the offer, you won’t have a lot of time to decide (e.g. 30 days), certainly not before your summer internship is over. So if your experience at your mid-tier firm wasn’t so great, then your decision is easy. If you – gasp – really enjoyed it, then you’ll probably write us another email. And I’ll tell you to read this post.
BDO announced a new member firm in Brazil today because…well, KPMG kindasorta poached their last one. Well, BDO Global CEO Jeremy Newman has had it up to here (i.e. eye-level) and wanted to point out that A) this not uncommon:
“BDO is not the first firm to have suffered as a result of our larger competitors using their dominant financial position to buy market share and we have expressed our concerns about this in BDO’s recent submission to the European Commission’s Green Paper on the role of the audit profession,” said Newman.
B) this is some shady dealings:
“These tactics are not driven by client needs but by one firm’s wish to buy market share and presumably achieve further economies of scale. We are concerned that when one firm looks to dominate it reduces choice for clients and leaves the market worryingly dependent on just a few players.
and C) these aren’t just fightin’ words. The most interesting accounting firm in the world will be taking action:
“BDO will be lodging an objection to this deal with the Brazilian competition authorities.”
BDO lines up complaint against KPMG Brazil [Accountancy Age]
Welcome to the upset-special edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a future public accounting foot soldier has to make a decision between a Big 4 firm and “GT/BDO type firm” but is stumped on what to do and can’t find a two-sided coin anywhere. The next best solution was, obviously, emailing us.
Want to know if you’re in a dead-end job? Trying to deal with stress in the waning days of busy season? Anxious about changes in your job? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you pull through.
Back to the indecider:
Hi Going Concern,
I have an offer from a Big 4 and a GT/BDO type firm and am having a tough time deciding. I wanted to ask which option will be better in the long-run if I want to start in public accounting, but then might want to move to a large publicly traded tech company? I guess my question is which route would give me better exit opportunities and long-term benefits should I decide not to stay in public accounting? (If I leave, I have a good idea of where I’d like to work on the corporate side.)
1. Mid-Tier Firm experience — having taken lead on small projects by my second year, more interaction with clients etc. Having experience with mid-sized (not public) tech companies, and experience with large, public companies that are not tech companies.
2. Big 4 — staying a little more than 2 years (enough to move up to Sr. Associate level but not staying too long beyond that) – and having worked on large, public tech companies. Having the Big 4 brand name on my résumé.
Also, there’s a chance that I might enjoy staying at the Mid-Tier in the long-term, but without being sure, I want to keep my options as open as possible.
Thanks. Any advice is appreciated.
Stuck in Indecision
Dear Stuck in Indecision,
I’m impressed that you’ve managed to cover all the angles here. You could possibly like each scenario without considering what it is actually want with your career other than “might want to move to a large publicly traded tech company” or “might enjoy staying at the Mid-Tier in the long-term.” You’re basically saying that you’re up for anything – hence, ” I want to keep my options as open as possible.” Your options are open all right since you’ve committed to exactly nothing. However I’m here to help, so here goes.
To keep it brief: all things being equal, go with the Big 4 firm. Here are some details – it’s likely that you will have the opportunity to work on smaller clients at a Big 4 firm, thus giving you the chance to “take the lead.” If you also have experience working for larger, publicly-traded companies (not as likely at a mid-tier), your experience will be more vast and allow you decide what it is you actually want to do (because, at this point in time, you don’t seem to have a clue). GT, BDO, McGladrey et al. are fine firms but you have a Big 4 offer – take it. You didn’t mention the people (a big selling point at most firms) so I’ll assume you’re indifferent or that they were all equal on this front. The network you build in a Big 4 firm will benefit you the long run and the experience will as well. Just don’t expect your firm to do well in “cool” contests. Good luck.
Welcome to the Cairo-is-burning edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a midtier intern-to-be is having second thoughts about their decision to turn down an offer from a Big 4 firm. Was the move a mistake? Can they go back, begging, crawling on hands and knees for a second chance?
Need solid, yet snarky career advice? Concerned that your advances on a co-worker might be rejected with footwear? Suddenly in need of a talent agent? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll help you find your very own Ari Gold.
Meanwhile, back on campus:
I accepted an audit internship offer awhile back with a midtier firm for next winter. In doing so, I turned down an offer from one of the Big 4 for the same period. Now, I’m wondering if I’ve really given enough thought to the Big 4 route.
I am aware that my life will be non-existent outside of work no matter where I go, but the exit ops with the Big 4 seem worth it. I’m wondering if it would be advisable to contact the recruiter I previously worked with and see if I could interview again, this time for a summer internship. Would this make me seem too indecisive, or should I at least try for it? If not, could I still ask him to keep me in mind for full time positions?
Confused and soon to be abused
Dear Confused and soon to be Abused,
You didn’t really give me a lot to go on (we do however, appreciate the brevity) but we’ll make something out of this.
In general, I think your first instinct is always best and it sounds like you might be second-guessing your decision. You chose the firm you chose for a reason, didn’t you? You probably had reasons for not choosing the Big 4 firm, right? Did the “exit ops” occur to you only after the decision had been made and all your previous considerations were deemed inconsequential? I’m doubtful.
As for contacting the Big 4 recruiter, I don’t see any problem but take the angle that the decision you made was extremely difficult, you want to have various experiences to make the best choice for your long-term career and you’d be interested to know if summer internships will be offered. If you play the “I made a mistake, please, please, please give me a second chance” angle, you’ll come off desperate and wishy-washy. As for the full-time possibility, most of those positions will be offered to their interns, so it will be tough to sneak in once you’re ready to go full-time and you haven’t interned with that firm.
Keep in mind – just because you’re interning with a particular firm, that doesn’t mean you’ll be with the firm your entire public accounting career. Many people bounce around to various firms for one reason or another and your experience will be valuable no matter where you work. So, feel free inquire about the Big 4 firm’s summer internship but don’t give up on your mid-tier possibility. Good luck.
Welcome to the Calebs-are-a-loyal-sort edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a non-tradish student is getting all wishy-washy about choosing between BDO and a Big 4 firm. There are lots of variables involved so we’ll get right to it. But first…