Kinda big news this morning from RSM US: RSM’s new digs won’t be that far away from its current digs. The firm will be moving its headquarters from 1 S. Wacker Drive in Chicago to the 30 S. Wacker tower of the CME Center in late 2020 or early 2021. CME Center currently houses such […]
Well, I guess Point72 could be worse. Like New SAC Capital or Point72&. They’ve changed the sign. They’ve changed the email address. And presumably they will soon be giving out new fleece jackets at Point72 Asset Management, the new family office that will trade billions of dollars of Steven A. Cohen’s money and is the […]
Contributor note: if you have a question for the Going Concern audience at large (including the useless dbags) or our team of accounting drop outs and degenerates, please get in touch.
Here’s a tip if you guys are thinking about submitting a question: it helps to know your motivation if you are asking for our advice. It’s difficult to tell you what you should do without knowing why you’re trying to do it, unless you’re asking us an obvious question like “should I take X position to make way more money?” because in that situation we obviously assume you’re in it for the money. There’s nothing wrong with that.
That said, this indentured serv So let’s commence to helping.
I’m currently working for a large mid-size firm as a Staff II and will become a Senior I next year on a relatively large public client. However, I’ve been debating whether or not I should follow up on opportunities to work at a Big 4 firm if it means I have to wait an additional 2 years to become a Senior I?
I know from my friends currently working in the Big 4 firm that new hires work for 3 years at the staff level before being promoted to Senior I. In addition, I may also slip one level from Staff II back to Staff I when I change firms. I’d essentially be 2 years behind my peers as a result of going to the Big 4 so I don’t know if making this switch would help or hurt my career. Is it really worth losing that much time in order to get the Big 4 name on my resume? Should I wait until next year in hopes that I could be recruited as a Staff III instead?
Surely I’m not the only one struggling with this decision, does anyone else have experience with this problem?
Thanks and Best Regards,
-Staff II(?) Auditor
Well, Would-Be Staff II, as you are probably already aware, the Big 4 item on your résumé is going to blow any of that mid-tier nonsense you’ve got going now out of the water (don’t get butthurt, mid-tier-ers. It’s not personal). The actual practical application of what you’re learning at a mid-tier firm versus what you might learn at the Big 4 is irrelevant here; it’s all about marketing yourself, and you’re better equipped to do that with bragging rights slapped all over your work experience. You’re pretty much only going to get those rights from the Big 4.
That isn’t to say you can’t gain valuable experience from your current employer, so it comes down to what you want to do career-wise and in what time frame you would like to accomplish it. Have you passed the CPA exam already? Are you itching to get out of public altogether? It’s pretty hard to try and push you in the right direction without knowing what that direction is. What do you want out of your career? Money? Prestige? Experience?
Why did you start mid-tier in the first place? Are you happy where you are? Do you enjoy the work and feel fulfilled? What is it you think Big 4 can offer that you aren’t getting at your current firm?
If I were you, I would wait it out, gain additional experience, keep those Big 4 contacts and try to make the jump when you have a little more leverage. The more secure you get in your skill set, the better equipped you’ll be to leverage that experience into a more ideal gig with a Big 4 instead of starting at bottom a level above the clueless interns.
I would also have a candid conversation with whomever you’ve been speaking to at the Big 4 about your concerns. Don’t come off as a money-grubbing, work-averse dick but definitely express an interest in being involved with work on par with what you’ve been doing with your firm, not taking a step back. Feel free to embellish whatever paperwork you’ve been assembling up until this point into a full-blown PCAOB-compliant masterpiece.
I’m sure any number of mid-tier grunts who read this site religiously can talk you out of making the jump, and for good reason, while others will tell you to jump now and worry about how quick you ascend the Big 4 ladder later. A smaller firm allows you a better chance at truly learning your trade instead of simply going through the motions and checking boxes; think of mid-tier as stripping at the pole as opposed to mopping up the floors. You probably won’t put stripping at the pole on your resume but you’ll be gaining practical experience you can segue into a better opportunity.
I’m not clear on the opportunity you’re after here. Can you clarify?
Welcome to the I-still-don’t-know-who-Casey-Anthony-is edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a tax senior was just laid off from his local firm because of a “lack of work.” Can he jump to a regional or a Big 4 firm without any trouble?
Is your latest raise an insult? Need some rumors debunked? Thinking of giving it all up for your dream of creating the world’s best burrito? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll give you the best average advice you’ve ever gotten.
Back to ranks of the funemployed:
Dear Going Concern,
I’m a tax senior and was just laid off from a local accounting firm with about 50 employees due to a “lack of work.” The firm has been losing clients and a lot of the staff has been sitting around lately with nothing to do.
How difficult would it be to move from a small, local firm to a larger, regional one or the Big 4? Thoughts?
A Loyal Reader
Dear Loyal Reader,
Sorry to hear that you got the axe. That’s never a good feeling. If lots of other staff are sitting around twiddling, they’ll probably be joining you before you know it. But forget about them; you’re thinking about your options which is good, so let’s try and sort this out.
You’re a senior associate, so that’s a plus. Most firms, regardless of size, are hurting for seniors so that puts you in a good spot. You’re also in tax which requires a more specialized knowledge base than audit, so that’s a benefit too. Depending on what kind of clients you have served (I’m guessing individuals and small businesses), your best bet is start with the regional firms in your area. Odds are your experience will match up better with a regional firm, so they’re more likely to take an interest in you.
As for making the jump Big 4, this is a little trickier. I’m not saying it can’t be done, as I made the jump myself but it’s really dependent on your experience. If you’ve mostly prepared run-of-the-mill 1040s, chances are they won’t give you much of a look. On the other hand, if you have a lot of work in a specialized area (e.g. transfer pricing or M&A) on your résumé that will catch their eye.
Bottom line is that if you can find a firm that offers services and has clients that match up your experience, you’ll be a good fit. Good luck.
Welcome to the sometimes-we-blow-off-Monday’s-column edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a small firm accountant is cutting his teeth and is curious about prospects for the future. What’s in store for a young 10-key jockey? I guess we’ll try to find out.
Caught in a career conundrum? Think you’re about to lose it on one of your co-workers and need an outlet? Curious as to where lamé falls on the dress code? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll tell you what not to wear.
Meanwhile back at the Mom & Pop shop:
I just started as a staff accountant and I’m gradually getting the hang of what I’m doing. I work for a small firm and I am pretty much doing the audits start to finish from preparing the financial statements to sending letters to management as well as going through all the programs. So far it’s been 2.5 months and I’m going to take the classes needed to sit for the CPA. I’m definitely thankful to be here but knowing future options are nice as well. Here are my questions:
What is an estimated learning curve?
What are my possibilities as far as moving to a larger firms or going to the private sector?
Should I stay until I am qualified to sit for the CPA or does one or two years of experience hold any weight with the private sector or other firms?
I have gained a general idea from your other articles but wanted some specific feed back for me.
As is typical of the emails we receive, you’re thinking about the future. That’s all fine and dandy but at 2.5 months of work you can barely open a three-ring binder without injuring yourself or endangering those around you. That said, I’ll answer your questions because I’m solid like that.
First the learning curve. – This varies as some new accountants are genuine whiz kids while others have trouble turning on their laptops. In general, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing after 12 months or so. Your second year as an associate will be a breeze compared to your first and if you work at a firm where three years are required for promotion, you’ll really become a junior spreadsheet rockstar. When you reach senior associate level, your life will change significantly and you’ll starting learning all over again. It will occur again as you ascend to manager and partner. That’s your life in public accounting in a beanshell.
Secondly, your prospects for moving to a larger firm or to an in-house position are good, as long as you’ve demonstrated that you’re a performer and a team player. At 2.5 months on the job you haven’t really had the chance to put your abilities on display so you have to be patient. Get a year or two of experience under your belt and take a look back on your accomplishments so you can best explain to prospective employers why you’ll be a worthy addition to their team.
Thirdly, it’s my personal opinion that you should finish your CPA before moving to another firm or company. Having a CPA will demonstrate your commitment to finishing something valuable for your career and will do wonders for your salary prospects when you’re ready to make a move. The choice between a CPA and a non-CPA is an easy one for HR managers.
Grant Thornton moves D.C. office [Washington Business Journal]
GT DC is moving from its cushy confines of 19,450-square-feet at 1900 M St. NW to 15,190-square-feet at 1250 Connecticut Ave. NW.
Mary Moore Hamrick, the company’s national managing principal of public policy thinks this move is crucial saying, “Grant Thornton’s public policy group is taking a more proactive role in shaping the dialogue on accounting issues. This move will support the public policy group’s expansion as we seek to do our part in restoring confidence in the capital markets.” Better feng shui probably.
AICPA Survey Shows US CPAs Gaining in Awareness of International Financial Reporting Standards [AICPA Press Release]
CPAs are less clueless on IFRS, sayeth the AICPA:
The latest AICPA tracking survey shows a sustained shift toward greater awareness of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) among U.S. accountants. Nearly half, 47 percent, of CPAs in the survey conducted April 20 to May 7 said that they already have basic knowledge of IFRS, an advancement from 39 percent who had basic knowledge in October 2008. At the same time, there has been a continuing decline in the number of CPAs who say they have no knowledge of IFRS; 16 percent in the latest survey, down from 30 percent in October 2008.
U.S. Supreme Court upholds IRS power in tax case [Reuters]
Those super secret corporate legal documents that discuss contingent liabilities? The IRS may be able to request them whenever they like, as the Supreme Court upheld a First Circuit ruling by denying certiorarit in the case.
In U.S. v. Textron, Inc., the company claimed that such documentation was privileged. The First Circuit disagreed:
[I]n its ruling against Textron, set a new test, under which every party in commercial litigation whose opponents file financial statements with contingent liabilities for litigation will be able to obtain documents detailing such exposure, according to Douglas Stransky, an attorney at Sullivan and Worchester in Boston who represents corporate clients.
“The First Circuit’s decision has eviscerated the work product protection that exists to protect exactly the type of attorney analysis that was present in this case,” he said. “It’s surprising that the Supreme Court did not recognize this.”
Florida Keys inmate pleads guilty in IRS scam [Miami Herald]
Shawn Clarke, an inmate at a Florida prison, pleaded guilty to conspiracy yesterday as the ringleader to a tax fraud scam in which he requested bogus refunds from the IRS in the amount of $115,000. It wasn’t exactly a complicated scam, as the inmates and their family members submitted 1040EZ forms along with Form 4852 to request the refunds, all for around $5,000.
Clarke was convinced that this was the best idea ever, allegedly saying, “I’m through with the street crime. I’m strictly white collar from now on. I love the IRS.” He’s looking at an additional 10 years.
What to do, what to do.
As summer promo’s and raises (or lack thereof) loom on the horizon, you may or may not be on the hunt for a new job. If you are, great, keep reading. If you’re not that’s swell too but I encourage you to use this as a reference when the time comes. What I do want to talk about is how to resign from a job. Because if I’ve seen anything on my side of the HR table, it’s that you accountants can be rough around the edges come Hugh Grant time.
Listen, I don’t know what your recruiters tell you, but here’s what you need to know:
Respect your colleagues and boss – So you get the call you’ve been working towards – XYZ Company wants to hire you. Offer is for better money, hours, and potential. You’re on board. Great – now what?
When you’re done with your victory dance in the parking lot, the people you should break the news to is your engagement team. After all, they are the ones that will be forced to immediately absorb your departure. You shared long hours and an infinite number of other unfortunate circumstances and the whole “in the trenches” camaraderie is flushed away with your decision to leave. The best way to explain this situation to them is to be honest – you’re moving on to a better situation and you’re sorry that this puts more work on their plate but it’s not personal.
Spread the word to your mentor and mentees. It is vital to protect these professionally personal relationships. Chances are your mentors know why you’re leaving; hell, they might have even encouraged you to look outside the firm. Include them on your final “farewell” email, but be sure to contact them on a personal level as well. Thank them for their help in shaping your career.
Your resignation letter should be short and sweet. Keep the feelings, personal jabs, and wisecracks out of the email. Here’s an example:
Dear Caleb Newquist,
As of today, (May 12, 2010) I am officially notifying you of my resignation. I am prepared to work for two weeks from this date, ending on (May 26, 2010). I will do whatever it takes from today until that date to make my departure as smooth as possible.
I sincerely hope to continue the professional, and more importantly personal, relationships I have developed in my time at ABC. I hope that this parting can be accomplished without hurting said relationships.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Short and sweet. Should you have the need to express personal messages to TPTB, do so in a separate email. Your resignation letter is nothing more than a means to an end.
Whatever you do, don’t burn the bridges – The accounting world is smaller than you might think. Chances are when you leave your current firm you will consider a number of your former colleagues to be current friends. Keep your farewell email short and genuine, but also professional. Whatever you do, don’t burn bridges now. You have no idea when the next happy hour will turn into a professional opportunity.
One way or another most people move on from their Big 4 experience, regardless of practice or firm. Whether you left on on your own accord or by other means, you all have experiences of what life is like now.
Starting a career with a Big 4 firm is definitely a good way to go (yes, we said it) but shit happens and things change right?
So whatever you want to discuss: Money. Work/life. Does the Big 4 firm on the resume really impress? Did you leave and go back? If you’re still living the glamorous life in the B4, discuss your thoughts on your firm and why leaving is unthinkable. We realize that the Stockholm Syndrome is a bitch.