In today’s edition of “I’d like advice from a bunch of strange accountants,” an experienced accounting associate is interviewing with the Big 4 and wonders if makes sense to waltz in, slam their fist on the table and demand more money.
Need some advice on your next career move? Want some pointers on how to win that coveted item at your local IRS auction? Having trouble with the law and wonder if you should share it with someone your firm? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you on the road to sobriety in no time.
Back to our prospective Big 4 associate with dollar signs in their eyes:
I will be going on a job interview with one of the Big 4 firms (currently employed with a large national firm), and they are interviewing for experienced associate/senior associate position. I have experience in an industry their office has a large need for, but not all the candidates to fill it. Even though I am a senior associate at a smaller firm, and may come in as a experienced associate, does it make sense to ask for a pay increase from what I am currently making? I will be relocating to another market, but I would assume the markets are comparable. Just wondering if anyone may have some thoughts on the salary I should be requesting.
Always about the money, isn’t it? Very well, then.
You’re with a large national firm which means you’re near the high end of the accounting salary range already. This doesn’t exactly help your negotiation for a higher salary with a Big 4 firm. To take that a step further, the Big 4 aren’t exactly the negotiating type. The range of salary at the Associate/Senior Associate level isn’t a huge and if you come in at a higher salary than your peers, you’re likely to be on the short-end of merit increases come merit increase time (as this is SOP). Plus, it’s unlikely that your work experience to date will impress the firm you’re interviewing to the extent that they’re A) begging you to join the firm and B) they’ll throw thousands of extra dollars your way (not that it makes that much of a difference).
All right, now that we’ve mercilessly shot you down, you’re ready to hear some good things – if the firm you’re interviewing with really has a need for your experience, it is likely that they are willing to pay you more. If you can demonstrate in your interviews with the partners and managers your knowledge and accomplishments, they will let HR know that want your hot auditing (or whatever) ass ASAP. And that’s the key – what do you offer that the clowns that started with the firm don’t? Run-of-the-mill statements like, “good work ethic, do what it takes” blah blah blah won’t do anything for you. Have you already reviewed other’s work, supervised staff, etc, etc? Differentiate yourself in substantive ways. Make that firm want you for what you bring to the table.
Bottom line: you probably won’t get to “request” your salary, you’ll simply be made an offer. But if you can present your coveted experience in a way that will make your interviewers crave you like Kardashians crave cameras in their faces, coupled with a jump to the higher pay scale of the Big 4, you’re likely to be happy with the salary they offer you.
KPMG knows that many of you left the firm under less-than ideal circumstances. You found a younger, vibrant, more attractive employer who made you swoon. Or maybe you were cast out with the other lepers in the layoffs of ’08 or ’09. Either way, the firm would like you to think about it:
More Than 2000 Experienced Hire Positions to be Filled
KPMG Connect invites you to take advantage of the firm’s emerging growth as the alumni program expands its resources. To show our appreciation for your service to the firm as well as the experience you have gained since your departure, we have assembled a dedicated team to help bring alumni like you back to KPMG.
Join the alumni who make up 15% of our experienced hires each year. Contact [redacted] at email@example.com to make a direct query or click here to view KPMG job opportunities across the U.S.
Openings in certain strategic and high-demand practice areas include:
• Audit: Financial Services, Commercial.
• Tax: AMCS, EVS, Federal Tax, Fed Tax – Alternative Investments, ICS, IES, M&A, SALT Sales/Use & Income
• Advisory: Operational & Financial Risk Management, Regulatory & Compliance, IT Audit, IT Strategy & Transformation, Business Intelligence, ERP, Business Process Optimization, Financial & Transactional Due Diligence
• CSS: SAP Implementation, Operations, Administration, Marketing, ITS, Tax Processing, and other Practice Operations
In case you don’t have tour in you, the House of Klynveld would still like you to refer anyone that’s remotely qualified for any of the positions listed. And if you just so happen to know someone worthy of the blue squares, you’ll be rewarded with five Benjis.
Sure, that doesn’t hold a candle to the $3,000 and $1,500 the current mini-Flynns are get for referring experienced SAs and Associates but all you have to do is rejoin the firm and that referral bonus could jump six-fold!
The company expects to hire 11,500 in the country, which includes 5,000 campus hires. The U.S. numbers are part of the more-than 40,000 hires the company anticipates in FY 2011, said Patty Pogemiller, national director of talent acquisition.
The company is hiring across all of its major businesses in the U.S., particularly in its financial services industries. According to Pogemiller, the company is looking for candidates with “superior analytical and problem-solving skills” as well as and team-building abilities.
The breakdown of “hiring across all of its major businesses” remains unclear, although since the consulting business is going gangbusters while audit, tax and advisory are more or less flat, you could reason that the demand for consultants would be be on the rise. Assuming normal (or abnormal) attrition, the other business lines will still have their typical demand for fresh faces but a source close to Deloitte indicated to us that if the hot pace of the consulting biz continues, it could easily outpace the rest of the firm’s services.
Our source also indicated that the recruiting levels of 11,500/5,000 is consistent with those the firm had in the pre-financial crisis years of 2007-2009, which could mean the firm’s demand for new people has normalized.
A reader posed a question to one of Caleb’s posts last week with regards to, “how to get into one of the big four accounting firms as an entry-level auditor when you are a laid off baby boomer with many other experiences?”
My short answer — in so many polite words — is why would anyone want to do that? Even as a recently laid off baby boomer, I can only hope that your career, up until its unexpected termination, was fulfilling. Contacts, networks, referrals, and references; all of these resources should be tapped out before considering a complete career change.
On a more basic level of necessity, I doubt that an entry-level career (well below the average Big 4 salaries earlier discussed) starting between $48,000 and $60,000 is ideal for a baby boomer. This is before the return on investment is even discussed. If I was a recruiter and had to choose between hiring a green recent graduate with minimal zero family obligations versus a baby boomer, parent of three, coming off of a recent firing, the answer is simple. The young buck will complain less, cost less in insurance terms, and has a recent education that can be molded to fit the firm’s methodology.
The typical public accounting career path is set: graduate from school, start career with a Big 4, take your punches and roll up the ranks. Those still standing in 10-12 years make partner. Burnt out souls need not apply; there’s always the private sector.
There are a few exceptions to this rule of thumb. The experienced hiring departments of the Big 4 are consistently recruiting specialized talent from the private sector. Ten years ago this centered heavily around the IT departments, as firm security practices grew exponentially (gotta love those SAS 70’s). Tax specialists are always in need. Many of the firms poach experience from government work, which is about as plug-and-play of a situation as you could hope for.
More on the volatility side of things are the firms’ advisory practices. Through 2005-2008, experienced hiring for the forensic, corporate finance and M&A practices tried desperately to keep up with growth opportunities. Turn the page to 2009 and where do you think the axe fell the most? No question it was the advisory lines. But even now as the markets shed thousands of jobs, a supply of raw talent appeared on the horizon for the Big 4 to gobble up. It can oftentimes be a rollercoaster of both potential and risk, but generally the best opportunities for experienced employment can be found here.