November 14, 2018

Burnout

3 Ways CPA Firms Can Make Busy Season Burnout a Thing of the Past

With every busy season, I, and most everyone around me, met the occasion with dread. We knew burnout was inevitable. It was interesting to observe how attitudes shifted from first year associate up the ladder. First year staff typically met the occasion with anticipation and slight uncertainty. Professionals that had a few busy seasons under […]

Why Busy Season Is an Exercise in Futility

A reader sent along this article on how campaign managers can easily work 60 – 80 hours during campaign season (oh the horror!) and promised we'd find an interesting bit buried in it. Sure enough, how about this? Burnout sets in fast. For every 10 hours of weekly overtime, you’ll need an extra day off […]

Do I Have Public Accounting Burnout?

Good morning and welcome back as we return with another accounting career quagmire. In today’s edition, an experienced associate at a California regional has a bad case of burnout and is weighing some options – including the IRS.

Caught in a dicey situation at work? Want to incorporate your love for your firm on your vanity plates but need some suggestions? Have some extra money to throw around and need help with ideas on how to best use it to your advantage? Email us at [email protected]l make sure you spend it wisely.

Back to the burnout at hand:

I am a second-year associate at a regional firm in California and I am considering getting out to go somewhere else, but I’m not sure where. I’ll start by saying that I have some big issues with the way the firm is run and I don’t trust anyone except for people in my office and maybe two people in the main office. Multiple people in my office have recently notified the firm that they will be leaving including multiple staff, a manager, senior manager, and a partner. Most of them are leaving due to the frustration related to the way things run around here. The partner and managers were basically rendered powerless by the CEO and main office for the entire time they were here and I think the growth of our office has suffered because of it.

I don’t have my CPA license and I’m not sure I care about it anymore, but then again, I’m not sure if working here has just beat me down to the point where I am pessimistic about the rest of my life spent in accounting. I do somewhat enjoy auditing, but I feel I would be better suited for forensics or consulting, a path that I inquired about at my current firm to which I received a reply similar to “not if you want to keep your job”. Could the grass be greener at another accounting firm? I had a good amount of personal interaction with the partner, but I am not sure it’s enough where I could ask him if he wants to bring me along when he jumps ship and swims to his new firm. Or should I be looking for a larger, more well-established firm with more interesting clients?

That being said, I’m pretty burnt-out and not even sure if I want to stay in public accounting. I don’t want to go private at this point, but might instead want to go work for the IRS. My brother is a revenue agent, enjoys it, and said he’d keep his ears open for job opportunities. It seems like it is less frustrating, fairly interesting work that fits into my more investigative mind-set. So could the better hours, more centrally located audit locations, great benefits, and lot’s o’ federal holidays be worth making the switch?

Thanks for your help,

Big-Time Burnout

Dear BTB,

Autocratic management? A quasi-exodus? Your professional interests are meaningless? How you’ve managed to last two years in this joint is nothing short of miraculous. How the firm convinced you to take the job in the first place is also a mystery but let’s focus on the future shall we?

From the sounds of it, you are suffering from a severe case of burnout but we’re not convinced that it’s because of public accounting. You ask, “Could the grass be greener at another accounting firm?” and considering the fact that grass you’re currently grazing is brown and the dog shit hasn’t been picked up for weeks, it wouldn’t be hard to find a better firm. The risk is that if you do have public accounting burnout then you’re doing yourself a disservice by making another run at it when your heart isn’t in it. Plus, your “meh” attitude about the CPA doesn’t do much for your prospects at another firm.

If you’re interested in forensics and consulting, the IRS may be a good route for you. Follow up on your lead and make it known that you are very interested in any opportunities. But since the IRS gig doesn’t sound like a guarantee, you should find a recruiter to help you get out of your current gig. Don’t make yourself look like you’re desperate but definitely communicate why you are looking. A good recruiter will help you find a cultural fit as well possibilities to satisfy your intellectual curiosities.

So while you’re showing severe symptoms of public accounting burnout, it’s not a clear-cut case. Your career aspirations would be best served if you could find another firm more willing to cater to your interests in forensics and consulting. If an opportunity at the IRS comes up and you’re still interested, go for it. In the meantime, take some vacation (if your firm will let you, yeesh).

Insight from the peanut gallery? Help the poor guy out.