That is the look of a man who no longer bears the yoke of a Big 4 job. Are you fantasizing about quitting your public accounting job? It’s finally March. Busy season will start to wind down soon and those miserable hours will begin to taper off. You may catch yourself daydreaming about finding another […]
It’s no secret that public accounting churns and burns its employees. Burnout is a cost of doing business. The result is fewer people embark on the partner track and those who become partners plan on staying put. I’d say most of those partners are crossing their fingers that the gravy train keeps chugging along from […]
Last week we published an article on what the transition from public accounting to industry was like for 14 corporate controllers. During my interviews with them, I asked what advice they’d give to a CPA at a public accounting firm who is looking to make the jump to an industry accounting role. And boy did […]
If it wasn’t for Fred Butterweck, CPA, this article may not have come to be. I was introduced to Butterweck, corporate controller of New York-based Clickspring Design, who worked for six years at PwC, via email as a potential source for the industry articles I’d be writing for Going Concern. During our email conversation, he […]
Does the endless stream of work make you want to cry sometimes? I know it is enough to make even diehard auditors buckle and break. Overwork is a hallmark of the accounting profession, and we all know it. But why? Surely if you factor in all of the international teams, we have plenty of people […]
Okay, maybe not quite obsolete, but they absolutely should be. Résumés don’t convey much. Did you work Big 4 or not? Did you have a high GPA in college? They’re the only truly socially-acceptable way to brag about an award or study abroad experience. Beyond that, a résumé isn’t very helpful. You can tell by […]
Certain accounting publications which are not Going Concern have all kinds of suggestions for how you should be spending your life post-busy season, sadly the majority of said suggestions involve everything but decompressing from the worst months of your miserable life to date. Now is not the time for introspection. It is not the time […]
Last year around this time, we were dawning on the era of denim in the accounting profession. It started with Baker Tilly, picked up steam with Crowe Horwath, faced some backlash and then finally hit the mainstream in the spring when PwC went all in. I'm sure there's a number of people out there that […]
I don't imagine that too many people have given much thought to how Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would fit into the accounting profession, but Peter Reilly did and I'm grateful: The only two roles I could see for Trump in public accounting are client from hell or managing partner. Public accounting firms at the […]
Ed. note: Today we debut a new contributor to Going Concern. Rachel Andujar, CPA decided to jump off the accounting career ship after 9 years. Her career strategy and leadership coaching firm, Rethink Nine to Five, helps professionals figure out what they really want in their careers and love it. She is passionate about helping […]
Exposure Drafts appears every other Wednesday. Send comments and suggestions to email@example.com.
If you're a fan of accounting nostalgia, I recommend the semi-regular anecdotes from WithumSmith+Brown partner emeritus Ed Mendlowitz. In case you're not familiar, he's the guy who gave Greg those accountant trading cards and wrote a thinly veiled dig at anyone who hasn't kept books by hand. In his most recent musing, Ed shares a […]
I’ve touched on offshoring in a couple of my previous articles, and it seems to have gotten some attention. While offshoring is prevalent in top firms it's not standard practice in the rest of the profession, it has certainly been gaining momentum. I fully expect this trend to continue, and here’s why: Barriers to offshoring […]
As a follow up from my first post “The End Is Nigh: Prepare Yourselves for the Accountapocalypse,” I thought I’d present my interpretation on Porter’s Five Forces applied to the accounting profession. These forces seem to vary between region (countries, states and even counties), service areas (audit, tax, advisory) and firm size (top tier, mid-tier […]
The accounting profession is in a weird place. Maybe that’s too polite; the profession is in a demonstrably fucked up place. This is obvious to some people, not so obvious to others. I say this as an observer, of course, and not someone who lives in the profession like many of you. But, really, it […]
Jump for joy, it's time for the Vault Accounting 50, people.
If you're not up-to-date on your accounting profession rankings, this is the one that curates feedback from accounting professionals on accounting firms in a variety of areas including prestige, culture, empty work/life balance initiatives, tchotchkes, CEO sex appeal, etc. They have a full breakdown of the Vault Accounting 50 secret sauce if you're into that sort of thing.
Ed. note: This is the first of a series of interviews with accountants who have started or own a business. Whether it's a CPA firm, a coffee shop, or a mobile app, we're talking to accountants that have an entrepreneurial streak. If you want to suggest an accountant-turned-entrepreneur for this series, email us. A […]
If you watched the Oscars last night, you probably saw the awkward exchange between host Neil Patrick Harris and PwC's Brian Cullinan. According to the Daily Mail (I know, I know): After the gongs had been awarded, Cullinan was brought out by Harris, who grilled him on his job as guardian of the Oscars secrets. […]
What do we know about City of Pittsburgh? It has lots of bridges, 446 to be precise. Andy Warhol was born there. Carnegie Mellon University, a decent school, is located there. Its professional football team is popular with the residents.
Let me preface something here in order to prevent a flood of hate-emails from Ron Baker and his ilk — timesheets need to die. They need to die a slow and agonizing death. But actually, a quick death would be preferable so accountants could immediately cease wasting time on them and start doing something useful […]
As any old white guy heading up a diversity and inclusion panel will tell you, women at the upper ranks of the accounting profession are in short supply. You don't need an old white guy to tell you this, however, as it is clearly laid out in the AICPA Trends in Supply and Demand report. […]
I had no idea what to expect at Thriveal’s 4th Annual Deeper Weekend other than ludicrously passionate accountants. It was held over two days in early November at a small gallery in West Greenville, South Carolina. When I arrived, a presentation was already going on with 60 or so people sitting in rapt attention. […]
Cruising through Meijer the other day, I took a short cut through the toy aisle on my way to the cat supplies, and a fart piano caught my eye. The fart piano played assorted bodily noises – farts, belches, and vomit effects – in various keys. Next to the fart piano was a product called […]
In the spirit of Internet lists, we humbly present public accounting positions, ranked from best to worst.
Recently, a PhD candidate contacted us about helping with her dissertation. That sounds strange since neither Adrienne nor I have any interest in working more than we do already and this sounded like work. Thankfully, we found out that we didn't really have to do too much. Michele Frank wrote us last week asking […]
I came late to the Game of Thrones party. After hearing rumblings about a “Red Wedding” and the emotional scars it left on people who I thought didn’t have shred of empathy in their bones, I immediately stopped watching Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 5 to binge on GoT.
The timing of this discussion is pretty good considering we have not one but two hot conversations happening in Open Items as we speak; one person was “forced to resign” from the Big 4 after just 6 months, while another person asks if anyone has been or knows anyone who has been coached out. You will see momentarily what this has to do with forced rankings but for now, let’s pull an old article out of the archive from Francine McKenna:
Ed. note: I've been sitting on this post for a few weeks. Oddly, it seems appropriate to publish now given Tony Nitti's article earlier today. You let me know what you think. Most firms promotion time occurs during the summer, but for all you audit and tax folks out there, busy season is the time […]
Fall is a quiet time of year for most capital market servants, and with the holidays coming up, it's about to get quieter. That will all change in early months of 2014 when working long days, nights, and weekends will become the norm at firms around the country. It's a depressing thought for many. […]
And then Jesse said, "YO! MR. WHITE! LOOK OUT!" Hahaha. No, no he didn't. But here's something interesting not related to Breaking Bad that we read on Twitter this morning: Spoke to @UChicago MBA students Sat. about patsy "rogues". Surprised when I said walk away from recruiters looking for "fit". #RedFlag — Francine McKenna (@retheauditors) […]
According to the Rosenberg MAP Survey, which you can buy here if you feel like dropping $450, turnover at some CPA firms saw their turnover go up 50% in 2012. GAHHHHHH! Wait, it's NBD: Yes, turnover increased 50%. But the 16-18% range is about where staff turnover was at before the recession and where it […]
This sounds unfortunate. From the always fun tip box: [Well-known CPA firm] is working hard to maintain top-10 firm status. One unfortunate office on the East coast is enjoying a Monday with no air and toilets that won't flush. Apparently the whole building smells like sewage, which is a slight improvement over the usual busy-season BO. We're unable […]
A year ago TODAY we did the et al. compensation thread for any and all accounting firms that typically fly below the radar, so it seems fitting that we would mark the occasion again on August 29th. Plus, someone at Rothstein Kass is practically begging us: Can you please open a compensation thread for Rothstein […]
Here's an interesting email that was forwarded to us late last week. It's from a peeved partner and we've removed the particulars since the message strikes us as universal among larger public accounting firms. From: [Regional Partner In Charge of Assurance] To: [Whomever it may concern] Cc: [Office] Leadership Team Subject: Respect […]
In all the commotion, we've neglected to congratulate those summer interns who have successfully navigated the summer without blowing their chances at a full-time offer of employment. It's no easy task, although if you followed our Definitive Guide to a Successful Public Accounting Summer Internship, it probably wasn't that bad. So for all the copy […]
On Wednesday we reported that McGladrey's Great Lakes leader David Shane was leaving the firm. It seemed a little unexpected given the fact that the announcement was on Monday and Shane would gone on August 15th, but a commenter reminded us of a story we reported on a couple of years ago: Perhaps unrelated to […]
If Bravo Delta Oscar's announcement of its 2013 fiscal year revenues are any indication, we're going to see big revenue numbers from accounting firms this year: BDO USA, LLP, one of the nation's leading professional service organizations, today announced revenue for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013 was $683 million, a 10.5 percent increase […]
We've heard from a few people that McGladrey's Great Lakes Regional Leader David Shane is leaving the firm and it seems a little unexpected. Mickey G's CEO Joe Adams sent this message out on Monday: I’d like to inform you that David Shane will be leaving McGladrey effective August 15. Jim Mansk will act as […]
The country is on fire this week. I mean, even Canada is thawing out. On one sweaty hand, it’s nice to see the month of July actually pulling its weight and holding up its end of summer. On the other, it’s FRIGGIN HOT. How are you all compensating with the threat of melting today? […]
If you're of the House of McGladrey and you can't find the compensation thread, let me point you this way. Since conversations started on Friday, reactions are just starting to roll in and will continue through next Friday, but one source responded to our question of people's expectations this way: Tempered would be a good […]
Yes, our last two posts are stark reminders that we are smack dab in the middle of performance evaluation season. It can be a stressful time of year because you'll be forced to reflect on things that you'd rather forget. Often times what you'd like to forget is some of the people you've had to work […]
Historically, mid-July is when things get rolling at McGladrey and yesterday we received the first notice that things were starting this week. Email went out that compensation and bonus discussions would begin on 7/12 and conclude by 7/26. I think a McG comp thread is in order. So you have all of today to gird […]
It's not often we get an advice email we haven't already answered, but lo-and-behold, here's one: What is the coolest car an accountant could have? Bimmer? Benz? Beetle? Forget ballin partners who have long since disposed of a soul, I mean us grunts who do the work. Surely our perceived lack of personality and terrible […]
For one reason or another, Bravo Delta Oscar announced their new partnership class late on Wednesday, so virtually everyone missed that news. Now that everyone has returned from their epic four day BBQ-beer-blowing off digits bender, we will present to you the 16 new BDO partners: Brandy Arbuthnot (Dallas – Tax) Matthew Cromwell (Bethesda – […]
This is quite the impressive move by Bravo Delta Oscar. The firm issued this press release earlier today: BDO USA, LLP, one of the nation’s leading professional service organizations, today announced an expansion of its financial institutions practice through the addition of 12 partners and as many as 97 employees formerly with the banking practice […]
So lucky me, I just got home from a trip to Turf Valley to hang out with the Maryland Association of CPAs for their Generational Symposium, which you totally missed this morning. It wasn't a massive crowd but it's not the number of attendees that mattered, it's the fact that the accounting profession is willing […]
Sunday is Father's Day, so our friends at Vault have shared the results from their working parent survey that cover the dear ol' dads and accounting firms faired pretty well: [S]urvey respondents who work in accounting rate their firms highest when it comes to how accommodating they are for working fathers (survey respondents were asked […]
Our friends at Vault are still cranking out surveys and last week they debuted a new one that focused on working parents. Now, I don't have kids so I suppose that disqualifies me from commenting on juggling a professional life and trying to rear a helpless baby into something that slightly resembles a human being […]
Over the weekend, we received quite the disturbing item in the ole tip box. Our tipster did not leave an email address so we cannot possibly verify this but wanted to share anyway: Something very interesting happened to me during busy season. An entry level threatened to kill me. He wrote a note saying he […]
Good day, fellow capital market servants. It’s been some time, hasn’t it? To those of you that are new-ish to this corner of the Interwebs, my name is Daniel Braddock, the resident Human Resources semi-professional. I typically cover HR related topics like compensation, recruiting trends, and topics like the always popular “how do I switch […]
I suppose if public accounting firms were looking to brand their employees, offering them a 15%-no-questions-asked raise would be the way to do it: If your company offered you a pay raise to tattoo its logo on your body, would you do it? A New York City real estate company made the offer and dozens of […]
Just as there are many people who are thinking about getting out of public accounting, there are others who want to go back. Here's an email we received earlier this week: I was "2 and out" at a Big 4 and joined a Fortune 500 as an accountant. My logic was that I could live with […]
It's that time of year when public accounting firms start showing the underperformers the door and we have our first confirmed across the board cut at it has happened at Rothstein Kass. The first we heard of the layoffs was in mid-April when we were informed by an anonymous tip that the firm would be […]
Yesterday we discussed the Vault business outlook rankings for public accounting firms. In general, I thought that mid-tier firms have a sunnier horizon than the Big 4 firms, with the obvious exception of PwC. That exception seemed odd to me, so I shot a question over to Derek Loosvelt who did the write-up on the Accounting […]
With busy season over, many of you are thinking about your next career move. Over the coming weeks and months, we'll share various career-focused posts to see where your heads are. Some will wait to see what compensation and bonus season holds for them, while others are ready to take action PRONTO. If you're at […]
One of the more interesting Vault rankings is the "Best to Work For: Business Outlook" list. All of the BtWF rankings have 20 firms listed, and that seems like overkill. Really, they could cut it off at ten and I think the list would have a more exclusive air to it, so that's what I'll […]
Busy season is coming to a close. Some of you are already done and are spending this Friday at a ballpark eating junk food and drinking heavily because that's exactly what you should be doing.
And some of you are still grinding it out because, with 10 days left until the most overhyped deadline in a tax professional's year, that's exactly what you should be doing.
Regardless of what bucket you fall into, this will be the last busy season for some of you. You may already know that or you may not, but it's a fact. And if you've never quit a public accounting job before, then there's a number of things you need to do before that last day comes. There are all kind of practical things that you should do of course, but this is NOT that list. Since when do accountants need to be told what's practical? Let's proceed.
Class actions against the world's largest corporate auditing firms are spreading globally as governments bolster investor protection laws in countries where the Big Four firms have previously not faced substantial legal risks. Even as class action lawsuits dwindle in the United States due to court rulings and legislation, the number of countries allowing these kinds of […]
Sorry, winter interns — it's just that we've been, ya know, busy. Just like those senior associates who haven't had the time to take you to lunch. Or that manager who you thought wanted to get to know you better. Or that partner that never pronounces your name correctly. There's no shortage of love, just a […]
Last month we had nice little chat for CPA exam candidates and it seemed to go rather well, so we're having another live Q&A, this time about life after public accounting and it will be hosted by yours truly. Get excited. I'll have a few questions from the mailbag to get things started, but if […]
Our friends at Vault have released a few more teasers from their 2013 accounting survey and this time, it's what they're calling the Dark Side of Accounting. They went with Pink Floyd art, which is fine. I personally would have chosen Palpatine or DV or even Darth Maul, but whatever. They still do a good job. […]
According to responses thus far on Vault's annual Accounting Survey (which you can take here if you haven't already), it appears as though the largest 100 accounting firms are pretty darn gay friendly: [W]ith respect to diversity, one question in the survey asks accountants to rate their firm’s initiatives with respect to lesbian, gay, bisexual, […]
Welcome to this week's edition of busy season problems. Got a busy season problem? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with "Busy Season Problems" in the subject line. The final days of January are upon us so that means that for many of you, your lives are about to get infinitely worse. What that all entails will […]
These are your new McGladrey National Industry Leaders: Alternative Energy – Dustin Petersen (Des Moines, IA) Business and Professional Services – Barry Rosenthal (Chicago) Consumer Products – Carol Lapidus (New York) Federal Government – Mark Waterman (Vienna, VA) Financial Institutions – Jeff Baker (Des Moines, IA) Financial Services – John Hague (Chicago) Gaming – Keith Stoneburner […]
If you hate your job, it's clearly because you don't work for one of Accounting Today's "100 Best Firms to Work For." Every year they come out with this list, and every year it bugs the hell out of me. I don't totally get the methodology of determining and ranking the list, mostly because I […]
Timesheets, billing rates, and chargeable goals still piss me off. I haven't tracked my time for three years, but thinking about it is like thinking about that time I ate some bad salami. I'm probably not going to puke now, but I probably did back then. I hated working under the billable hour. I became […]
Okay, we're in the aftermath of Sandy and while I cruised around on my bike in sunny Colorado and Adrienne had to round up a single bucket for her leaky ceiling in Richmond as the storm came through, those of you from DC to Philly to NYC to Boston were caught up in the worst […]
Leaders in the public accounting profession love to proclaim the industry's commitment to diversity. Ask any Big 4 CEO out there – they care about diversity, like, A LOT. "It may be the most important thing to the future of the profession," they might say. Despite the efforts and achievements to be the diversiest career […]
The AICPA asked around and it turns out that most CPA firms across the country have a seen an increase in fees in the last couple years. That's good! Consequently, partners are doing a little better than they were just two years ago. That's good! So good, in fact, that everyone at the adult table […]
In the blood-thirsty world of public accounting, people will do anything to get ahead. While there are a few out there who realize that a life of cubicles, impatient clients, out-of-date laptops, and elaborately designed pivot tables does not constitute life or death, there are many people who spend years of their lives believing otherwise. […]
At the end of last month the CPA Consultants' Alliance released a white paper on succession planning and leadership. Okay, it was mostly about leadership; succession planning was thrown in there to scare old people into reading it. Succession planning has gotten boring. It's been everywhere in the accounting press for years. A boomer can't […]
Welcome to this week's roundup of baffled buckaroos. Each week we'll try to save some hapless accounting students from embarrassing themselves somewhere along recruiting trail. Have a question about recruiting season? Email us at email@example.com with "Recruiting Season Questions" in the subject line. We'll kick things off with a follow-up from last week when "Pissed […]
When you work in public accounting you meet a diverse group of individuals. They all have different life, education, and professional experiences and that’s what makes working for these businesses so interesting. Despite these differences, all these people have one thing in common. Something so basic, so fundamental to the culture of the public accounting […]
Hi my name is Adrienne and I'm a snarkaholic. If you are just dying to tell someone your life story, let's meet in the church basement and talk it out. We're here for you, buddy. It works if you work it! Wonderfully Sarcastic GC team,I have a serious question, even if it brings down the […]
Tuesday got you down? Wonder how to best waste all that PTO you haven't been using? Curious as to who would win a Big 4 CEO Royal Rumble match? Email us your questions. Hey there Gee-Cizzle, I am in my third year (up for senior next year) working PwC Tax and as you probably […]
Do you wonder if every decision you've made is wrong? Not sure if you should eat the Hot Pocket that clearly has someone else's name on it? Have you gotten to the point where you're ready to take questionable advice from someone on the Internet? Email us your questions. Hey GC, I'm an undergraduate student […]
Most of your offers are signed and many of you are ready to start at your new firms this fall but surely you've got some horrible recruiting brochures lying around that you'd love to show off. You know the ones I'm talking about; the smiling auditor hanging out in the jungles of Costa Rica, the […]
This is the story of the little public accounting firm that could: Clayton-based RubinBrown, a long-standing fixture atop […] the area’s largest accounting firms ranked by number of local CPAs, fell to the No. 2 spot this year. The firm, which also has offices in Kansas City and Denver, employs 167 CPAs in St. Louis […]
It seemed like only yesterday we were welcoming the summer interns to their first taste of capital market servitude. Now that it's August and they've sufficiently been pranked, pandered, and paid per hour, the full-time offers for interns are starting to roll out. Yes, you will be seeing many of those Xerox technicians back on […]
For some capital market servants the number one goal in their careers, the crown jewel, the ultimate feather in the cap, the most memorable notch on the bedpost, is being admitted to the partnership of his/her public accounting firm. It's an accomplishment that takes commitment, perseverance, hard work, dumb luck, brown nosing, corporate politicking, very […]
As we pointed out earlier this week, being a CPA and a sexy Olympian is no easy task. It involves hard work, natural talent, and strategic poses to accomplish both. But even the hardest working, most talented athletes fall short. Example: Alisha Williams, 30, of Colorado Springs. She competes in distance running, specifically the 5,000 meters, 10,000 […]
This is our final submission from the Going Concern freelancer candidates. The following is by Last Day in May. “Good morning.” “David’s dead.” “They found his body in Tel Aviv.” “Shot himself in the head.” “No suicide note.” And thus I found out that one of our high net worth […]
This is the fifth entrant from the Going Concern freelancer candidates. The following is by Lee St. Mark. As a follower of Going Concern, you know it is that time of year again; then again maybe you don't know what time of year it is because you have been buried by your public accounting job. […]
This is our second submission from the stable of Going Concern freelancer candidates. The following is by Bob Loblaw. Notwithstanding a few e-mails I’ve written in the past that had a wider circulation than intended, this is my first piece of journalism (Ed. note: relative term). With that in mind, it’s important to my unpaid […]
If you're like me, you checked out on earlier than normal this week due to the long weekend of bad decisions ahead. It's a welcome reprieve for those of you that are firmly entrenched in the day-to-day amusement park that is public accounting. However, very soon the latest crop of presumptive capital market servants will […]
Since we've sufficiently gave attention to the top 25 firms in this year's Vault Accounting 50, as well as those firms whom you all think are the bee knees, we know will present the firms that are a merger or two or three away (or the endorsement of another golfer that will pose in body […]
There's an intrepid story over at the Wall Street Journal from late yesterday that discusses the concept of shared or open workspaces. If you've worked in public accounting, particularly as an auditor, you're very familiar with this phenomenon (commonly known as "hoteling"), yet the Journal more or less presents this as some trailblazing in the realm […]
Imagine my surprise when a link to the 2013 Vault Accounting 50 found its way to our tip box. It comes to us five months earlier than last year and I really didn't expect to see all of the Big 4 in the type five, especially the likes of E&Y and KPMG who were doing well […]
Have a question about anything – and we mean anything? Email us and one of the smarter than average bears around here will get to it. Colin, Can you explain why most accountants dress poorly? Also, is it inappropriate to intentionally dress better than the managers and partners? I enjoy dressing well and find it […]
You may recall that last year we launched Going Concern March Madness: The Coolest Accounting Firm, in an effort to give you a break from your spreadsheets and grossly outdated email management software. It proved to be quite popular so with that in mind and since it's brackets season, we're doing it all over again. […]
Earlier this week, our friend Elie Mystal wrote a sad post about a young attorney who died at 35 under suspicious circumstances. Adam Maynard was gunning for partner at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and was working very hard right up to the time he died. How hard was he working, you ask? Friends of Maynard […]
Need some advice? Email the GC team with your burning questions. Just be warned – our advice might rain on your parade. Dear GC, I am on my 6th month with a Government Audit team and got an offer to join one of the Big4. The job is of the same nature and the pay […]
I’m a junior at a well-respected New England college with a double concentration in accounting and marketing. A few weeks ago, I accepted an offer as an audit intern for next summer from a public accounting firm just outside of the Big 4. Just as a background, my GPA sucks (sub-3.0), but I enjoy doing interviews. While I was excited to get the job, I’m still not sure if auditing is a career path I want to go down.
My biggest fear is a high-paced, numbers-intensive career tra to people, forming relationships, and pretty much anything that doesn’t involve crunching numbers. Ideally, I’d like to pursue a career that highlights my writing ability and interests, like sports marketing (which I’m sure will be scoffed at in the comment section). Additionally, as my GPA suggests, I hate studying for tests, so I don’t anticipate doing the CPA thing or going to grad school. Do you have any general advice? Any chance I survive this internship?
Love the site, keep up the good work.
My first drafted response:
Drop the accounting degree, focus on marketing, and start going to class to get your grades up before you’re unemployed.
You remind me of countless other students, studying a subject that you have little interest in. I don’t know your backstory: maybe you did well in accounting in high school; maybe one of your parents is a CPA; maybe one of your Helicopter parents told you that “you can do ANYTHING with a degree in accounting” and you earnestly believed them. Frankly, I don’t care what the story is…but you need to kick yourself in the ass and either suck it up and commit to an accounting career or get the hell out.
What you have going for your career:
• A paid internship with a mid-sized CPA firm. Ignore the fact that the Central Banks came to the rescue this morning (even Groupon is up!). The economy is in the can and because hiring trends are reactionary and delayed in a services industry like public accounting, fulltime job opportunities will be even scarcer when you’re graduating. That’s to say you want to work in the industry; but I think you don’t and you came to GC hoping we’d tell you otherwise.
What you have going against your career:
• Your grades are terrible compared to market. Firms are turning 3.8 GPA’s away at the door.
• You have little/no work ethic.
• You do not plan to do graduate school (presumably to be CPA eligible).
• You don’t plan to take the CPA exam.
If everything remains constant, you will not survive in a career in public accounting. You claim that your biggest fear is a “high-paced, number-intensive career track,” where in reality it should be more in line with “living in my parents’ basement, playing video games and ‘networking’ over Linkedin.” What would you prefer – a slow-paced environment where hypothetical interview questions are tossed around? Do you think “sports marketing” isn’t a fast-paced environment?? And what do you even KNOW about audit? Being that you’re a junior, you might not even take an auditing course before your internship. Don’t knock it just yet, man. It sounds to me like you’ve given up on accounting before you’ve even started. Which is fine if that’s the case; just accept it yourself and believe in what you actually want to do.
Not speaking for the GC commenters, but I won’t scoff at your desire to work in sports marketing. I will, however, challenge your ass to do more. What are you doing to break into the incredibly competitive sports marketing world? A piss-poor GPA, marketing degree (from a university whose program is not in the top tier for marketing…go Eagles!), and self-proclaimed writing abilities are not going to cut it. I’m not an expert on the industry, but I do know that “sports marketing” is like saying you want “a job in finance.” What do you want to do? Product development? Management? Retail marketing? Brand management? Selling Gatorade at Red Sox games?
You need to figure your shit out. That’s as much handholding as you’ll get from me. I could sit here and babble off that you need to study more, focus your efforts on your future, yada yada yada. So, here’s my advice: do some serious soul searching. If accounting is not what you want to do for the next 40 years, give up your internship. Take summer classes to get your GPA up or sweat your summer in an unpaid marketing internship making copies for the local single-A minor league baseball team. Do SOMETHING to get your career on track. At the very least, go ask your questions on a marketing-focused website. Find out how cut-throat the industry is right now. If you are hoping to ride the waves of your alma mater into some sweet gig at an agency, you are setting yourself up for a rude awakening.
After two years at a national mid-sized firm I’m seriously considering a lateral jump to either another mid-size or local firm. Through some bad luck and my own failure to balance work and my parental responsibilities (aka, put the spouse and kids completely on the backburner), I have gained a reputation among some of the higher-ups in my office for not being committed. While I believe this perception is unfair (I get all my work done on time and on budget), hat it is preventing my promotion to Senior. I don’t want to be in public accounting any longer than I have to, but would like to make the Senior level.
I’d like to stay with my current firm, but I’m concerned that I’m in too deep a hole now to climb out. Almost all the clients I was in line to inherit have been acquired, and I haven’t been picked up on as many engagements as I’ve lost. So even if I get good ratings on my jobs, I am pretty sure that my utilization figures are going to be ugly. A blank slate, full schedule, and even the chance at making Senior earlier are very appealing right now. But is a lateral jump worth the risk? Which is better (or worse) on a résumé: 2.5-3 years with one firm and not making Senior or 2 years with one firm as an associate and 1 year with a different firm as senior?
During my time in and around public accounting, I have found the promotion from Associate to Senior Associate to be a fairly automatic process. Come to work, do your work, make yourself available to go the extra mile (even if it’s not needed), don’t knock up the administrative assistant in the coat closet at the holiday party, and you’re handed the title (instead of a paycheck). Several top notch and newly minted seniors jump ship for private, further justifying the promotion of average Associates to Senior. For you not to be made Senior in the normal time period, I’m going to assume you screwed up somewhere.
From the leadership’s view, public accounting thrives on firm loyalty and employee trust. Whether it’s justified or not, you’ve been labeled as someone that management cannot trust. Somewhere along the line you must have done something to challenge these fundamental rules. The majority of partners and managers still to this day believe in the mantra that “I went through busy seasons of hell when I was young, so you can/should/deserve to, too.” Silly or not, it’s part of the code. So if I understand your statement above regarding family and work/life balance, you didn’t communicate fully with your managers/partners that you needed time with your young family. More likely is that you didn’t make your own “sacrifices” to make the work up: working from home in the evening after kids are in bed, bringing work home on weekends, etc. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t; what matters is that you need to accept the fact that your clients are being ripped from your ownership – this does not happen unless you’re dropping the ball.
You’re up against a challenge by staying at your current firm. Considering your attitude toward your career is, “I don’t want to be in public accounting any longer than I have to” you should work on your résumé this weekend and apply to other firms. The time between now and January is a hot hiring period for CPA firms of all sizes, but be sure to focus on the smaller, regional firms. You’ll have better luck finding the work/life balance you require. That said, do not think that you’ll automatically be handed the title of Senior this fall. A firm will want to see how you do as a experienced associate (how you work with management, the quality of your work, etc.) before trusting you to lead their associates.
Trust. There’s that pesky word again. Taking a busy season to prove yourself at a new firm will be a better use of your time than if you stayed where you are to fight the gossip mongers and labels that are undoubtedly floating around your office. Accept the challenge of proving yourself at a new firm – for the sake of your career and the benefit of your family.
While you’re sitting around the house this weekend, work on the following:
• Updating your résumé
• Updating your LinkedIn account (describing the industries you work on, add a nice – but not Sears photo studio nice – headshot, etc.)
• Researching the CPA firms in your area
• Digging up a recruiter’s contact information