Work-Life Balance?

One Big 4 Firm Isn’t Among the 10 Best Companies for Working Moms

Working Mother released its list of the 100 best companies for 2019 yesterday, and the usual suspects from public accounting are once again on there (in alphabetical order): BDO USA Deloitte Ernst & Young Grant Thornton KPMG Moss Adams PwC RSM US Those are eight of the 12-largest accounting firms in the U.S. that made […]

Here’s Your 2018 List of the Most Mom-Friendly Public Accounting Firms

Hey, ladies! If the grind of a career in public accounting is appealing to you and if you’re planning to have a family of five kids, two dogs, and a cat one day, then you should consider buying a Chevy Traverse—and peruse Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies list for 2018. From a public accounting standpoint, […]

Gentlemen, If Your Firm Offers Paternity Leave, Take All Of It

Gents, let's discuss something important. Many of you will be dads one day and, if you're lucky, you'll face the decision of whether or not to take some paternity leave. Many of you are ambitious, ladder-climbing types and that's great. But when that first bundle of joy comes along, you will be tempted to shun […]

Mark Weinberger Can Top Your Best Work-Life Balance Anecdote

When we talk about accounting firm culture, we often talk about the tone at the top. Besides being a really good buzzword that helps HR wonks convince the lowly serfs that The Powers That Be really care about their well-being, it basically means that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Or, […]

Here’s What the Weekend Might Look Like If You Work at Moss Adams

Call me crazy but if this is meant to show how flexible the firm is, maybe they shouldn't have mentioned that it was the one nice day Seattle has seen in 15 years and that it happened to be a weekend at that. Now had this been a Tuesday and Colin got to pull out […]

The Guy Tweeting From Life at Deloitte This Week Might Need a Cold, Post-Workout Kool Aid

As most of you already know, the Life at Deloitte Twitter account is a great source of G-rated PR fluff allegedly written by real Green Dotters. And this week's winner is Steve Nading, a tax senior in Chicago. Now, unless he's traveling in California for the week – doubtful, since he tweeted "Good morning from […]

Survey: Working Moms in Accounting Firms Could Have It Much Worse

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 […]

Is It Time To Start Fresh at a New Accounting Firm?

Ed. note: Need career advice or a last minute sweet potato recipe? career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll stuff you full of wisdom.

Hi GC,

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?

Please help!!

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.

Clean Slate.

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

Good luck.

Did You Get a Steak Dinner and an iPad To Join Your Accounting Firm?

Hey kids! Have you heard? The accounting industry is on fire! Don’t all pile in at once, now, let’s make a nice single file line toward the piles of cash, work-life balance and cash prizes! Yes, cash prizes!

You see, Crain’s New York decided to publish a piece over the weekend called simply “CPAs are getting hired,” which leaves little room for interpretation. While there’s no denying you all have survived the recession far better than your brethren in the doomed and overpopulated field of law, it comes off as a bit irresponsible in my mind for Crain’s to make it seem like firms are so desperate for good help, they’re giving out iPads and cash.

It’s no wonder, then, that employers are aggressively working on quality-of-life issues and recruiting incentives. At the Metis Group, perks include flexible work hours, a firm-sponsored kickball team and full company payment to prepare for and take the CPA accreditation exam, according to Managing Partner Glenn Friedman. The firm also gives out iPads for stellar performance.

In Ms. Teibel’s case, she hadn’t even been hired when the generosity began. Before she started with Berdon in January 2011, the firm had paid the $4,000 it cost her to prepare for the CPA exam. And before the interview process, Ms. Teibel had been wined and dined by Berdon partners.

“All that attention truly meant a lot to me,” Ms. Teibel said. “In an economy like this one, I’ll feel secure for years to come.”

Ha! Ms. Teibel is in for one hell of a rude awakening long after the partners have written off that steak dinner and traded ass-kissing and CPA review books for long hours and endless piles of busywork.

In reality, $4,000 will barely cover the cost of a year of Becker classes and one exam attempt for each section, so what happens if she doesn’t get it done in a year and needs to repurchase review materials? Or what if she fails a section? Or all four? Sure it’s nice to have your review course paid for but the truth here is that few candidates actually pass the first time through, and my experience with candidates who had courses paid in full was that they tended to do worse on the exam than candidates who had to scrape together their own hard-earned Federal Reserve Notes to buy review materials.

And what’s this about work-life balance? Is there a memo I haven’t gotten? As far as I can tell, based on completely non-scientific analysis of the comments many of you leave here, the slave drivers haven’t let up on you guys and have no plans to do so any time soon. If you’re actually good at your job, expect to be worked into the ground as your expertise and talent are a commodity the firms are more than happy to burn. But hey, enjoy that free iPad.

I recommend reading the Crain’s piece in its entirety, if for no other reason than to scoff and wonder in what parallel universe this takes place and try to figure out how to transport yourself there immediately.

Between this and the Yahoo! fluff piece awhile back, if I were a 20 year old wondering what to be when I grew up, this number-crunching gig might seem like the only viable option in these uncertain times.

Prepare for the bum rush of ankle-biters, kids. Or at least start working on your kickball skills.

You Certainly Can’t Complain About a Lack of Accounting Firms Purporting Mom Friendliness

Do you work? Are you a mom? Do you wanna be one? No? Then continue shotgunning 5-hour bombs.

For those of you thinking about juggling tikes and 10-keys, Working Mother hay it’s exactly 100) companies that they think you’re looking for. Hey! and there are even some accounting firms in there, so if you think your current employer will keep you crunching numbersup until your water breaks, you may consider some of these firms.


BDO – “To encourage its employees to use flexible schedules, this accounting and consulting firm has formalized the request process, made sure nearly everyone has laptops that enable remote work and instituted flex training for all.”

Deloitte – “As they pursue their career goals, moms telecommute, ramp up or reduce their workloads, take paid sabbaticals and even go on five-year breaks, all the while maintaining connections to office mentors and freelance work.”

Ernst & Young – “If you’re surrounded by talented people, it makes sense to seek their advice on work life matters, which is what the female employees of this professional services firm often do.”

Grant Thornton – “[Women] earned 32% of all promotions to partner in 2010 (their biggest victory ever) and now fill nearly triple the number of slots they did seven years ago. In the hopes that they will occupy 20% of the partnership by 2015.”

KPMG – “While women earned half of all promotions to manager, senior manager and executive last year, the growth of virtual meetings means they don’t have to stay in the office to be considered top performers.”

McGladrey – “Most every working mom has a vision for her own future—maybe she’d like to get a better degree, rocket up the career ladder, have more kids or just get a little free time. Goals like these are often achieved by women at the accounting, tax and business consulting firm.”

Moss Adams – “Moms-to-be can earn up to $250 through the Beginning Right Maternity Program, which evaluates their health needs, supplies a nurse to counsel them through high-risk pregnancies, and helps them get ready for delivery. When primary caregivers give birth, they may take ten fully paid weeks off; those who adopt earn four fully paid weeks of leave, plus $6,000 in aid.”

PwC – “Working a reduced schedule won’t hurt your career at this audit, tax and advisory services firm: Moms who put in just 20 hours per week still earn full benefits and remain under consideration for top jobs.”

All of the Big 4 snuck into the WM100 top ten which shocks absolutely no one except for maybe Donna Kassman. If BDO, GT, MA, and Mickey G’s get their act together maybe accounting firms will get their very own special Mom list. God, that sounds awful actually.

2011 Working Mother 100 Best Companies [Working Mother]

Deloitte Consultant Inadvertently Finds Peace on Vacation

Barbara Adachi, a principal in Deloitte Consulting’s human capital practice, started creating a stricter separation between vacation and work when she was in Patagonia on vacation several years ago. Her BlackBerry didn’t get reception there, she said, “and I had no choice but not to check it — it was very freeing.” [NYT]

Life after Public Accounting: Is the Grass (aka Money) Really Greener?

As summer winds down, those of you that are still living the Big 4, et al. life may be wondering if you’ve squandered the last couple of months getting overserved on patios and roofdecks, spending hours by the pool and vacationing to exotic locales. You might say, “All this time I was having FUN, I could have been looking for my dream job. What was I thinking?”

For those capital market servants whose past season was simply too much to bear, you probably aren’t saying these words and have, at some point, spend a few weeks (or several) trying to find that perfect new job. For those who did finally pull the trigger on their public accounting career, a plea from a reader:

Can you guys do an article on the types of jobs (read: salary increases) former Big 4/public accountants have taken in industry (or somewhere else) after leaving this past busy season? I need a reminder of why I still work in audit.

Typically, auditors are in constant “remind me why I do this” mode but for the purposes of this post, we ask that tax and advisory professionals give the lowdown on their new gigs as well. Possible topics of interest to keep in mind when commenting:

• Did you simply leave for a bigger salary or bonus or were there work-life issues? If so, were your expectations in the marketplace met?

• Did you leave for a private company, nonprofit/government or – GASP – another public accounting firm?

• Is anyone going back to school?

• Anyone just saying fuck it and getting out of the numbers game altogether because they realized that money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

• Grabbag.

Kiwi Accountants Aren’t That Different From Americans, Rank Work-Life High on the Happiness Scale

According to a new survey by leading finance and accounting recruiter Robert Half, 79 percent of New Zealand finance and accounting professionals rank work-life balance as a number one priority in the workplace. Of those, 86 percent of women rank work-life #1, versus 72 percent of men.

Based on a survey of 426 finance, accounting and banking professionals and hiring managers across New Zealand, the Robert Half Financial Employment Report provides invaluable insights into the hiring intentions, staff retention rates and business confidence of organizations for the second half of 2011.

Two thirds of those surveyed (77 percent) valued “working in an enjoyable environment,” while slightly fewer (69 percent) ranked having a manager they can respect and learn from in the top three benefits most valued to them in the workplace.

Other important benefits were working for a stable company (58 percent) and job security (47 percent).

Only 28 percent of respondents cared about working for a socially responsible company (you don’t say!) while a mere 38 percent valued a short commuting distance and just 40 percent valued access to technology as important in the workplace.

Interestingly, 84% of hiring managers said that they find it challenging to find skilled finance, accounting and banking professionals. The functional area in which they are experiencing the most difficulty in finding skilled staff is accounting which has increased by 22% year on year. To help attract and retain staff, hiring managers indicated they are offering or planning to offer perks such as flexible hours/telecommuting (46%), subsidized training (52%) and additional bonus/loyalty leave (41%).

Now, back to that elusive “work-life” balance. Nearly two thirds (62%) of New Zealand professionals stay connected to work or do work-related tasks when they are on holiday. Nearly two thirds (61%) of New Zealand hiring managers expect their employees to be available to some degree while on annual leave or out of office hours. About half are only expected to be available in the case of an emergency (49%). Of the employers that expect their staff to be available when they are out of the office, over three quarters (79%) expect their senior managers to be ‘on call’, while 60% expect this of their middle management team.

Read the rest of The Robert Half Financial Employment Report here if you’re into surveys.

Women Attracted to Accounting Firms for Flexibility Despite ‘Old Boys’ Network’ at the Top

Our friends at Vault are curating the data for this year’s rankings to be released later this summer but they’ve got a little teaser for us that they published last week. They found that the number of women in accounting is roughly double of those in investment banking, the explanation being that “that women, more than men, seek careers with better work-life balance […] due to the fact that they’re more often than not the main caretakers of families,” as well as “offerings that the former industry provides its women in the workplace.”

According to accountants who took Vault’s 2011 Accounting Survey, their firms offer extremely generous maternity leave (and, in some cases, paternity leave); do not look down upon or punish women who take their full maternity leave; offer numerous flex-time and part-time working arrangements; and provide strong mentoring, retention, and promoting programs for women.

The finding that “[firms] do not look down upon or punish women who take their full maternity leave” and “strong mentoring, retention, and promoting programs for women” are contradictory to the recent lawsuit filed by Donna Kassman, a former KPMG Senior Manager, who has sued the firm for $350 million gender-discrimination lawsuit. Her allegations include KPMG’s “[failure] to properly investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and harassment,” that her salary was cut when she went on maternity leave and that she was subjected to numerous instances of harassment and discrimination. Whether this one example illustrates a systemic problem is debatable as the Vault survey includes a large pool of respondents (Vault doesn’t have the tally yet) who seem to have responded positively to question of gender opportunity but the allegations are severe and are a blow to the KPMG’s (and the Big 4 at large) marketing machine of gender promotion and equality. KPMG has stated that Kassman’s lawsuit is without merit.

Despite the positive findings, the survey respondents didn’t have all good things to say. Turns out, “some” respondents believe that the leadership at accounting firms are the professional services firm equivalent of Augusta National Golf Club:

However, this doesn’t mean that accounting still doesn’t suffer from some of the same things that investment banking does. Some accountants who took our survey report that their firms are still beholden to the “old boys’ network” and, at the very top of the org chart, still consist mostly of white males.

That and “minorities and GLBT individuals are on par with those in the banking industry — that is, not so hot.”

Overall, this take on women’s fondness of the accounting industry is certainly more believable than the Times‘ piece on the culture of work-life balance since it collected responses directly from those who work in the biz rather than going to the firms for the story.

Ladies, what do you think of the results? Do you have all the opportunities of your male counterparts and the flexibility with no strings attached or do you still get the feeling that the deck is stacked in favor of the bros?

What Does the Big 4 Have That the Bulge Bracket Doesn’t? [Vault]

McGladrey Employee Not Happy with Firm’s Attempt to Give Everyone a Three-and-a-Quarter Day Weekend

Good morning capital market servants. I know the first day back from an epic holiday weekend is a tough pill to swallow, as many of you couldn’t bear the thought of returning to work today. And because some people like to prolong the agony by taking today off, I’ll do my best to take you back to last Friday. A McGladrey reader dropped this note after I checked out for the day.

The company leaders have recently rolled out this lean working platform [GC coverage here]. They are trying to say work smarter not harder. What most people think lean means though is “do more with less” which is trademark of this company. CE [Andrews] and Joe [Adams] talked on a webcast the other day and they were trying to rile us up. What for? So in the end, they can tell us “despite our great efforts there isn’t money for salary increases”.

CE and Joe and other leaders are all excited about letting the entire firm off at 3 p.m. Friday., July 1 for the weekend holiday WOW! Don’t get too crazy CE and Joe, not 3 p.m. on a Friday? Holy cow!

When Steve Tait was President [of RSM McGladrey] we would get two days off during the Fourth, but under new leadership we get to get off at 3 p.m. on Friday? What a deal. What work-life balance. No wonder we make Working Mothers top 100 each year. Oh and you know what, the firm took away summer hours too…all because they want us to focus on ongoing flexibility…and working lean, which means no one can take time off because departments are too lean.

It’s 3 p.m. now on Friday, and boy I am lucky to be off. Nevermind most employees checked out – officially or unofficially – a few days ago already. I am sure major accounting and tax deals are going down right now on this holiday weekend, but we were fortunate enough to get off at 3 p.m. What a joke!

I think I might get a small putting green cake to celebrate!

Many firms – we’ve confirmed PwC and KPMG – gave their employees last Friday off, which does make for a nice four day weekend. And our tipster is correct, early July is a pret-tay, pret-tay, pret-tay slow time of year for accounting firms so a 3 pm let-out for a Friday before the grandest, pyrotechnic digit-losing holiday of the year might feel like a slap in the face.

That said, if you’re so bent out of shape about it, why not use some PTO (God forbid!)? You’re completely in control of this situation, friend. You want an extra-long weekend? Make it happen. Expecting accounting firms to just hand you a four-day weekend is a little bitchy and you have no excuse if you have a grip of PTO banked. Don’t make the same mistake come Labor Day.

Chili Cook-offs, Thank You Notes Probably Keep Grant Thornton IT Team From Sabotaging the Whole Firm

As we know, your information technology teams can be what holds things together at your firm in times of strife. If you’re good to these people, they’re good to you. And if you treat them poorly, well…good luck to you.

Grant Thornton has been recognized as one of Computerworld’s best places for IT professionals to work, the only accounting firm on the list. It’s a typical ranking with the general buzzword descriptions along with examples of why you should be hella-jealous that you don’t work there. For the IT gang at GT, not only do they get to show off their culinary talents at “annual chili cook-offs and dessert competitions” but when they go above and beyond the call of duty, there seems to be a Hallmark system in place.

To encourage employees to thank their co-workers and recognize a job well done, the IT department developed a way to voluntarily track the sending and receiving of thank-you notes. The names of both senders and recipients are submitted for drawings in which the winners receive a gift cards.

What’s not entirely clear is if these “thank-yous” are inspired by Stephen Chipman’s past communications or if was simply another way that the IT team was able to avoid human contact. Either way, it sounds like they enjoy a decent gig at the Purple Rose of Cairo and that will keep anything catastrophic from happening.

Big 4 Aspirant Wants Help Choosing a City

Welcome to the way-to-double-bogey-18-Phil edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a prospective Big 4 associate wants help deciding between a large or mid-market city. Let’s see what we can do to get her out of the sticks.

Have a spotty past that may hurt your career aspirations? Need help spending some tools? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll point you to some sharper folks.

Meanwhile, back on the farm:

Hello,

I am preparing for recruiting season this Fall, and I attend a heavily-recruited university on the east coast. Recruiters from the Big 4 (as well as other firms) recruit nationally from my school, so I pretty much have my pick of what city I would like to work, if I were to get hired by one of them. I know that they ask us for our preference in location, and that is my current dilemma – I am not sure yet which one to pick.

I know for sure that I want to leave my current city, as it is mostly a college town. I have family in both Miami and Phoenix, so I am considering those options, but those are middle markets. My dream has always been to live in a big city, so I am considering NYC and possibly Chicago. Obviously there are big differences in size, both in terms of number of employees and clients. However, I have no family in any large city, so I would have to live on my own or find a roommate. But wouldn’t working in a bigger city provide me with a greater advantage, career-wise? There are a lot more possible clients and industries to pick from when you work out of a large city. I would really like to know the advantages and disadvantages of working in a middle-sized office versus a really large one (Big 4 firm specifically). I would truly appreciate any feedback that you may have on this matter – maybe even post it as a blog on the website so that the readers can share their insight.

Dear Big City Dreamer,

Live on your own?! Roommate?! Is it possible that you’re becoming an adult? That may have a – gasp – job in the very near future? This can all be very scary, I realize so I’ll stop with the jokes…for now. Lucky for you, I’ve lived and worked in both a mid-sized and a large city, so I’ll share my personal experience and then we’ll throw it to the group.

When choosing where to live it’s important to know what you want to get out of that city. You’re going to be living there after all and believe it or not, you will have free time occasionally to do some things other than work. You say that living in a big city is your “dream” so I’d encourage you to go for a big market so you can enjoy everything that they offer. I lived and worked in New York for about two years and while the hours were long, I still had the great opportunity to experience everything the City has to offer. Plus, I made a lot of cool friends in a part of the country where I didn’t previously know anyone. Professionally speaking, it’s true that you’ll be exposed to a wider variety of clients and a bigger network of people. All good things for someone who’s looking for options.

The main disadvantage to a larger office is that it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. If you’re not hell-bent on being Ms. PwC, just want to do your job and go enjoy your life outside of work, sometimes that can work against you. It’ll be important for you to foster good relationships with people that will go to bat for you when it comes to performance reviews and staffing you on clients. If you’re always billing and you’ve got a good relationship with your superiors, you should be fine. If you find yourself floating around, you may end up being a name no one recognizes and that makes you expendable.

A mid-sized office, on the other hand, is a little more familial. You’ll get to know everyone, including the support staff who can be lifesavers when you inevitably find yourself in some kind of jam where they can help. Mid-sized cities can be fun because they have a different feel from the big city. Denver, for example, has a great music scene and amazing weather so you spend a lot of time outdoors. No, you don’t have the Met or a grip of five-star restaurants but you make the most of wherever you go.

The main problem with a smaller city is that because it can feel familial, there’s always familial problems. It can feel a little bit like high school at times and most people will know your business one way or another. If there’s a beef amongst team members or someone else, EVERYONE WILL KNOW ABOUT IT. Also, because line-of-business groups are smaller, it can make the promotion process and the internal politics a little trickier. There are fewer clients to chase and so the higher up you go, the fewer manager and partner spots are available. As a staff you won’t really be affected by this but if you want to stay with your firm for awhile, it may become an issue later.

Ultimately, go with your instincts. If you want to live in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, you should go for it. You’re young and eager, so you may as well use that high energy on those high-energy places now. Good luck.

Are Accountants Willing to Trade Salary for a Four-Day Work Week?

Apparently! Our sister from across the pond has gotten over their Royal Wedding hangover to report that two-thirds of “finance professionals” would take less money if they were allowed to skip one day a week:

It seems that finance professionals are getting a taste for a more balanced lifestyle after the recent spate of bank holiday weekends. According to a recent survey, two-thirds of accountants would be happy to give up some of their salary to enjoy a four-day working week.

A survey of 2,882 finance professionals conducted by recruiter Marks Sattin found that 66% of respondents were more attracted by the prospect of a four-day working week and would be willing to sacrifice up to £11,000 a year [about USD $18k] to achieve a better work-life balance.

Only 6% said they are less attracted to a four day week than this time last year, while just over a quarter of respondents said they felt no differently.

Marks Sattin managing director Dave Way commented, “Appetite for a greater work-life balance is a sure indication that people feel more secure in their jobs. Since the recession, people have had to knuckle down and work harder. But as the economy picks up and there is less pressure on employers to make redundancies, people are increasingly prioritising a work-life balance.

Of course what isn’t mentioned is that even with a four-day work week, a number of people would just end up working longer hours on those four days and would spend a portion of their free day checking email and other various work-related activities. In the Big 4 (and the rest of the top 10-20 firms) however, there are people who are completely satisfied with the status quo and others willing to give their lives for the firm, so there’s little chance that you’ll see a big shift in culture. That said, it’s a question worth putting out there – would you take less money to work four days a week? Tell us below.

PwC Partner Has Mixed Feelings on the Royal Wedding

As you may have heard, there was a wedding today in London. It just so happened that this little event landed smack-dab in between Easter and May Day which has resulted in a lot of extra time off for our friends across the pond. While the majority of people are using this alignment of holidays to take long vacations or extended benders, a few people still have to get some work done. The good news is that with so many people away you can enjoy elevator music in solitude, whistle in the john and lose the pants behind the desk in one’s office and not feel anxious that someone could walk in at any time.

The bad news, as one PwC partner explained to the Journal, is that the lack of subordinates can sometimes hinder productivity:

“I am being super efficient while everyone is away, but I keep running into the fact that people I need to get a hold of are not here,” said Hemione Hudson, a partner in the banking division of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in London.

PWC’s London offices would normally have more than 2,500 people passing through on a given day, says Ms. Hudson, but this week, there have been far fewer. Many employees took the opportunity to get away after a busy audit season, she says. That’s meant quicker elevators and no lines for coffee, she says.

Among those remaining behind are her boss, PWC Senior Partner, United Kingdom Ian Powell and “many of the executive board.”

Still, “it’s not so great for business’ bottom lines,” Ms. Hudson points out. April has felt like a very short month, even for those working throughout, she says.

Makes you wonder why people feel pressure to work so much, doesn’t it?

U.K. offices find pros, cons to holiday week [WSJ]

Should a Regional CPA Give Up Work-Life Balance for a Shot with a Big 4 Firm?

Welcome to the that’s-the-last-time-I’m-getting-up-at-5-am edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a perfectly happy CPA at a regional firm wants to know if giving up his work-life balance and other intangibles for a Big 4 gig is a smart move prior to hitting the dirty thirties. Should he stay or should he go?

Trying to make sense of your career? Want to know your firm’s cool quotient? Worried that the axe will fall right after April 15th? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll give you a either an ego boost or a reality check.

Back to our friend who’s considering trading work-life for work-for-life:

I am currently debating on whether I should make the move from a regional firm to a Big 4, for assurance. Pros about my firm: it’s local and has minimal travel; there isn’t much intensity/pressure; I only have overtime from February until April, and other than that I work about 40-45 hours a week. However, the variety of clients is lacking and salary increases are pathetic. Granted the current economic climate, I think that I can get a 10K increase if I make the switch.

My biggest question is: “Is it worth it to give up the intangible benefits of the easy audit life for the higher salary and pressure of a Big 4 firm?”

I’ve got a masters degree and have my license. I’m also in my late twenty’s and figure that if I want to try the big leagues, now is the time.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks,

An indecisive CPA

Dear Indecisive CPA,

Your biggest question shouldn’t be “Is it worth it to give up the intangible benefits of the easy audit life for the higher salary and pressure of a Big 4 firm?” rather something to the effect of “Does a crazy person know they’re crazy? And am I that crazy person?” But forget self-reflection for a second, I’ll attempt to make sense of this for you.

I was in a similar situation myself at one time, although it was earlier in my career. I was working at a smaller firm, had a decent work-life balance but felt bored and the money wasn’t great. At the time I wanted to experience life in the Big 4 and found the opportunity to do so. You sound as though you have an itch to figure out what life inside the Big 4 is like but also know that you’re giving up the intangibles that you mention.

The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you’ll regret not trying to land that coveted Big 4 gig. If you read the comments here regularly or talk to your friends who do work for one of firms, you know what to expect. If your reaction to these anecdotes is somewhere in the range of “That sounds like pure hell,” to “I’d rather scrub the floor at Penn Station with my bare hands” then your decision has already been made. If, on the other hand, the curiosity is still too much to bear, I say it’s worth exploring the opportunity. If you don’t pursue it, you’ll likely never fully get over the fact that you didn’t at least go for it and find out for yourself what life at Big 4 is really like. Plus, you’ll get a nice little bump salary and you’ll meet some new people. Could be worse. And if all of the Big 4 cast you out like a leper you’ll be better off. Good luck.

BREAKING: Tax Season Leads to Poor Work/Life Balance for Accountants

This newsflash is brought to you by OfficeMax’s National “Tax it To Me” survey:

For busy accountants responsible for filing taxes on behalf of the approximately 82 million out of 228 million American adults who opt to use professional services, tax season is perhaps even more emotionally wrought. A busy plate often leads to a poor work/life balance, botched sleep schedules, poor eating habits, and problems in personal relationships.

And if you can believe that, the survey also found that taxpayers blame procrastination of filing their returns on nervousness, confusion and laziness (among other things). Now remove your hand from your forehead and get back to work.

[via The Hill]

Johnson Jacobson Wilcox Ups the Bar on Good Times to Be Had During Tax Season

During tax season, many accounting firms attempt to provide their employees with “fun” things to do. Ordinarily a boss would rather you just qwitcherbitchin and do your job than take you to Dave & Busters or splurge for pizza but when employees are suffering from exhaustion, Excel-induced eyestrain and pants that grow tighter with each passing day, sometimes violence has ensued (or, at very least, passive-aggressiveness so frightening that it borders on assault). While we applaud the effort by firms to make things more pleasant, many of them suck at “fun.”

Las Vegas-based Johnson Jacobson Wilcox, for one, is trying to not suck in the fun department and it appears that they’ve been successful since they were named Best Accounting Firm to Work For in 2010 (15-49 employees) by Accounting Today.


JJW’s managing partner Gary Johnson realizes that most people are still hung up on the old accountant stereotypes and he’d like to debunk those (after rehashing them, of course), “Most people think of accounting firms and accountants as dull, without much of a personality — people with their heads down and green eyeshades on, who work all day long and don’t talk to too many people unless the phone rings. We’re just not like that. We like to have fun once in a while.”

In this particular case, fun includes a $500 clothing allowance for new hires, free lunch during tax season and a Wii bowling tournament.

Johnson Jacobson Wilcox runs a stress-busting Wii bowling tournament every tax season — 2011’s edition kicked off Monday — complete with a trophy. During the 24-employee firm’s busy season from mid-January to April 15, the company brings in free lunch for employees every day. The company also sends new hires an orientation binder complete with business cards two weeks before they start, and a $500 clothing allowance awaits them as soon as they walk through the door.

Obviously the $500 clothing allowance would come in handy for most of you (especially the fashion-handicapped types) but this bowling tournament – and the trophy – is what really got our attention. Of course the Wii hasn’t been around forever and prior to such technological miracles, JJW had actual bowling tournament every tax season. And fortunately for you all, we were able to obtain some footage of two JJW partners from the late 80s in an especially competitive match:

Trade journal chooses Las Vegas accountant best place to work in U.S. [LVRJ]

Plante & Moran Encourages Employees to Make Tax Season a Family Affair

Plante & Moran, PLLC is encouraging its accountants and staff to bring their children to work on Saturdays during tax season, a tradition the firm has practiced for almost 20 years. The certified public accounting and business advisory firm offers free Saturday daycare in 11 of its Midwest offices – including Grand Rapids – during the height of tax season. Children ages 6 months to 18 are welcome to attend the drop-in program, which offers games, crafts, snacks, activities, movies – and an opportunity to enjoy lunch with Mom or Dad. [P&M]

Despite the “Horror Stories,” an Eight-year Tax Vet Wants to Know How to Jump to the Big 4

Welcome to a special Thursday the Thirteenth edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a tax veteran who has spent their career working in smaller firms is looking to make a move to a Big 4 firm since they “can be even more flexible with schedules.” The problem is, our aspirant is having trouble getting any of the firms’ attention.

Want to know if you’re stuck in a dead-end job? Looking for some good press? Need help writing a farewell email? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll help you keep your valediction out of these pages.

Returning to the Big 4 wannabe:

Dear Caleb,

I am a tax senior who has eight busy season and a CPA license under their belt. I have always worked for the smaller firms because of all of the horror stories I have heard regarding the Big 4. Lately, I have realized that I really don’t work that much less than they do and sometimes the Big 4 can be even more flexible with schedules because of the size of the workforce. (If you are one of several, there is not a lot of room to move stuff around.)

The problem is I have never been through the recruiting process with the Big 4 and don’t know where to begin to try and move into an experienced position. I have applied on the website but have not had any responses. Any thoughts?

Sincerely,
Lost in Transition

Dear LiT,

So the Times convinced you, eh? It’s a good paper (is that still the correct terminology?), we’ll admit but even the Gray Lady can find itself wandering into uncharted waters. ANYWAY, this problem you have – no communicado so far from the Four Horsemen; we can help.

Our first suggestion is to work with a professional recruiter that has placed others with the Big 4. A good one will be able to take one look at your résumé and flat out tell you if you’ve got what it takes to get in the door. Then it’s up to you nail the interview(s). Done and done.

The other thing you can do – if you prefer to avoid the recruiter – is to use LinkedIn to find who the experienced-hire Big 4 recruiters are in your market and contact them directly. You could get started by looking at some recent posts that have emails from recruiters that are floating around this here site but we realize that may be a longshot.

So off you go, Big 4 hopeful. We hope you hit the work-life balance jackpot.

The New York Times Takes the Big 4’s Work-Life Balance Bait

Late(r) on Friday, the New York Times published an article championing the accounting firms for their commitment to providing a flexible work arrangements for its employees. The article, as you would expect from the Times, provides numerous examples of how the policies of the Big 4 and other major accounting firms make life extra-peachy for their employees.

The article leads off with none other than a firm who has been in desperate need for good press:

As the peak season for the nation’s accounting firms begins, David Leeds’s team at Ernst & Young is once again bracing for two months of 60-hour weeks auditajor bank in Atlanta.

In years past, those grueling weeks often fueled nasty marital spats about missed dinners and children’s tantrums over forgotten basketball games.

Not any more. At Ernst & Young, as at the nation’s other major accounting firms, workplace flexibility has been built into the culture — even during crunch time. [our emphasis]

Every Monday morning, the 15 people on Mr. Leeds’s team meet and lay out the personal commitments that might interfere with work — basketball games, teacher conferences, Pilates classes, weddings. They arrange to cover for each other, helping make the busy season tolerable for everyone. Despite the auditing team’s six-day weeks, one Auburn University graduate, for example, is taking next Monday and Tuesday off to see the school’s football team play in the national championship bowl in Arizona. And Mr. Leeds plans to escape to New Orleans for three days to see his daughter run a marathon.

“We face very tight deadlines from our clients, but at the same time we try to make sure that team members have the flexibility they need,” said Mr. Leeds, a partner at the firm.

Parent-teacher conferences! Pilates! The Bowl Championship Series! From the sounds of it, you’d think being the an E&Y partner on a banking client was like whistling dixie (in Atlanta anyway). We’ll give this Atlanta team the benefit of the doubt (unless someone wants to email us with a different story) but the Times gives you the impression that the gambit of the industry is sympathetic to your family time and college gridiron road trip ambitions. Even during busy season. More untrue, this could not be.

We could go on with anecdotes about a senior manager’s spouse being in the hospital or the lack of flexibility given to a single dad OR not allowing someone to scoot out an hour early to see their girlfriend because she’s in from out of town but that really isn’t necessary. Examples such as those are simply provide you with a the spectrum of firms being at their absolute worst. What about the lion share of employees at these firms? Chances are, if you walked over to 5 Times Square and pulled aside the first person you saw with a E&Y backpack, they’d tell you that they are preparing to be sleep deprived for the next three months and if you told them they would get a dozen days off in that time frame, they’d be thrilled. Furthermore, if you were ask them if their partner had weekly meetings to ensure that everyone’s extracurricular activities were being respected, they’d look at you like you had three heads.

We won’t dismiss the firms’ efforts entirely because as we said, the Times cited several examples of employees who have taken advantage of the flexible schedules but the article is full of the rhetoric candidates and employees hear regularly when it comes to work-life balance. The best example being one of the last quotes from E&Y partner Brooke Sikes, who is out of Dallas:

“The firm very much rewards you for your performance,” she said. “It’s not about punching a clock. It’s not about face time.”

Not really much needs to be said. Reactions to this statement and any other thoughts on the current work-life efforts by your firm are welcome at this time.

Flex Time Flourishes in Accounting Industry [NYT]

Decision Time for One Recruit: Deloitte or KPMG?

Returning again with another edition of accounting career therapy, a recruit has two offers – one from Deloitte, one from KPMG. Rather than speak to their friends, family or flip a coin, they emailed us.

Need help making your next career move? Been taking a beating at work and need inspired? Need help deciding if you’re too hot for accounting? Send us your query (and pictures) to advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll be happy to help/judge.

I have an offer from Deloitte and KPMG. Where I reside, the local Deloitte is almost twice as large than the local KPMG, but is also known to work longer hours. Of course, rankings will say that Deloitte is better than KPMG and seemingly pays more according to my research done on this very site. I don’t want to seem shallow, but I am at the moment. Should I go for the money/prestigious name or the shorter hours?

On a side note, I’m honestly only looking to a 5- to 6-year plan in public accounting (hopefully to make manager). With that in mind, what route would you take between Deloitte and KPMG?


Ahhh, the firm versus firm debate. One of the oldest and stupidest to be had. But it’s fun, so let’s indulge, shall we?

Regardless of the back and forth you might read in the comments, judging the firms collectively is a waste of time. There are “good offices” and “bad offices” at each firm. How you choose to define “good” and “bad” is up to you but it sounds like you’ve painted yourself into a corner, saying “Big prestigious firm = good,” “Money = good” and “Long working hours = bad.” Choosing a firm based on this perception is futile exercise. The difference in money won’t be life changing and “shorter hours” probably won’t feel shorter. Trust us.

And you know who agrees with us? DWB.

Clearly in this situation, the KPMG recruiters did a better job managing (i.e. bullshitting) the “long hours” argument. Long hours are a simple fact of life. Unless you want to work at the Post Office, you’ll be hard pressed to find 9a-6p. Also, remember that regardless of where you start your career you will find yourself at the bottom of the food chain. Welcome to the Big 4, kid.

Try this on for size – forget money, prestige and long hours. What about – gasp – choosing the firm that seems like the best fit for you? Did you like the Deloitte people or were they snooty two-shoes? Did the KPMG people seem like a fun bunch or were they all work and no play, thus a bunch of dull mofos? You’re going to have to work with these people EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And many nights. And weekends. Do you want to be around people that you think you’ll enjoy working with or that you’ll consider suffocating with pillow or poisoning their late-night food?

With that in mind, make your choice. Hell, maybe it won’t be either firm but forget about money, perception and hours. If that’s your measuring stick for choosing a firm, then you may have bigger issues on your hands.

Is Life at the Big 4 Really What Working Mothers Want?

Let’s just say we weren’t surprised to see all 4 Big 4 appear on Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies list, nor were we surprised to see list favorites like Grant Thornton and McGladrey joining them. As is my wont, however, I’m loathe to point out that the definition of “working mother” is a vague one.

It would be ignorant to assume that all working women want are flexible working hours and more than 12 weeks off after squeezing out another kid but once again it appears as though that is the yardstick we’re using. Know what would have really come in handy for me when I first had my son? Time off for his dad so he could stay home with my infant while I escaped to work for a little quiet time with irate customers. Maybe I’m not your average working mother and you are as always welcome to correct me if I don’t represent the status quo but in my view, moms with jobs want more than just a cookie cutter work-life balance. I don’t even know what work-life balance is and am pretty sure the term was made up in some HR braindump meeting, but somehow it exists to this day and supposedly remains the definitive goal of most working women even though it doesn’t even really have a definition. Sorry but I don’t buy it and I don’t know many working women who do.

What working mothers really need is the respect of their peers, opportunities to advance through the firm that are in line with those of their male peers and a work life that doesn’t stress them out to the point that they want to shake the baby and slap the hubby by the time they get home from a grueling work day.

Is that work-life balance? Maybe. Don’t get me started on the idea that all women are motivated by a desire to raise a family either because for some of us work-life balance means being able to balance a cocktail in one hand and the remote in the other at the end of a long day. Where’s the list of top companies for Dads? Bunch of sexists. Oh and pay equal to their male counterparts would also be nice but since we’re still caught up in this antiquated notion that women desire more time off to raise their families, it really shouldn’t be reasonable to expect women to receive equal benefits if they are also requesting special treatment.

Anyway, congratulations to Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Grant Thornton, McGladrey and PwC for making the Working Mother list and I’ll keep waiting for the day when we can get over ourselves and admit that we all have unique goals that aren’t always easily defined by nonsensical terms and preconceived notions of what people should desire.

Family Planning and the CPA Exam

For this particular post, as much as I would love to throw my experience with CPA exam candidates and children (sometimes interchangeable, mind you) around, I’m going to do something a little bit different. Would any of you with experience in the following care to weigh in and help?

Here’s the question via a CPA Exam Club member:

I am having a baby in 2 months and wasn’t planning on taking any parts of the exam until 2011, when I will hopefully have more rested nights and energy to study. However, after starting to do research about the CPA exam I discovered all of the changes taking place in 2011 and decided that it seemed prudent to get FAR out of the way in 201and can basically devote all of my time to studying until I have the baby and after I have the baby in order to take the exam in November. I am a pretty disciplined person with good time management. I am pretty quick at getting things done. I also got a 2nd bachelors in accounting and just completed a masters in accounting as well. Do you think I am being unrealistic in my pursuit of passing FAR in 2010?

If you think I can achieve this goal, what do you advise CPA hopefuls to do in order to pass? I am very determined to try and pass on the first try and would do whatever it takes in order to do so.

First of all, I remember what being 7 months pregnant felt like and while I loved being pregnant with my son, at that point the very last thing I would have been able to do would have been to study. So my first piece of advice not just to our little CPA exam candidate friend above but all of you with family plans on the horizon is to WAIT until you have passed the CPA exam to start cranking out the tax deductions. The exam is hard enough on its own, add a career and kids into the mix (especially for Moms) and you have a recipe for disappointment. Or at least a nervous breakdown, which you probably don’t want either.

I often tell candidates to be prepared for any and every possible thing to go wrong and mess up their perfect plans along the way. For parents, it’s almost a guarantee that even our best-laid plans will somehow be ruined, delayed or otherwise compromised.

Discipline is a requirement to get through the exam but even your best intentions can’t fight the inevitable. I could barely function once my son was born (waking up every 2 hours to feed will do that to you), let alone actually do anything productive.

So my advice to you is to wait. Wait until your child is a little older (or at a minimum sleeping through the night) and hopefully you have a supportive partner who will happily babysit while you head off to live CPA review classes. I can’t tell you how many Moms I have seen in live classes, most of whom refuse to take advantage of the convenience of online, on-demand review simply because they are desperate for a break. You know it’s bad when you’d take 8 hours of government and non-profit accounting over being at home with your brood but let’s face it, this Mom thing is the world’s roughest gig.

It sounds to me like you have a plan and that’s awesome but be sure you are being realistic. It’s already almost September, meaning the last window of 2010 is close upon us and if you haven’t already made an appointment at Prometric, you might run yourself into the ground trying to squeeze FAR in (that’s if you can even get in to schedule). And let’s just say you pass (which I’m confident you will once you get off the ground) and then have the baby. What happens when motherhood takes its toll and you aren’t able to resume studying until your child is a year old and your 18 month window is fast approaching?

Enjoy these last two months, take care of yourself and bask in your baby once he or she arrives. The exam will be here waiting patiently in the meantime and by then maybe the AICPA BoE will have ironed out all the IFRS kinks or thrown out new content altogether. Trust me, the changes next year are not that big of a deal and CBT-e will actually be easier than 2010’s exam if I’m guessing correctly (I usually do). You will put in no more effort in 2011 to pass than you would have in 2010 so better to spend the energy when you actually have it instead of running yourself into the ground at a time when you need to be in fighting shape.

Hope that helps!

If you have a CPA exam question for us, get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer.

Dog Days: How Are Accounting Firms Helping You Enjoy Summer?

A fellow Big 4 expat once told us that Tuesday was the worst day of the week. The logic was essentially that Tuesday was no man’s land – you weren’t catching up on your weekend with your co-workers like on a Monday, Friday is an eternity away and plus Tuesday has no feel.

And since the summer months tend to be slower, the days can drag.

With that in mind, a current Big 4 soldier wanted to find out what firms were doing to help pass some of the hours either through internal initiatives or on individual teams. She was kind enough to share with us her team’s Friday ritual:

Every Friday we head out early to get manicures. Just wanted to know how/if other teams or firms were letting people blow off some steam this summer.

For the gents that aren’t so in touch with their delicate sensibilities, this probably sounds awful. Regardless, it beats the hell out of being the office, yeah? And spending over half of your day on Deloitte’s Fantasy Football doesn’t qualify as a substitute.

You may remember that KPMG is letting the troops don their best denim – baggy, skinny, nut huggers – whatever and they also shipped out some sweet flesh that Klynveldians may have burned on over Memorial Day.

So whether your summer consists of extra-casual dress, afternoons at the $5.99 buffet strip club or double-duty on your office’s landscaping, discuss how your firm is helping you enjoy (or not) months 6 through 8.

Hey Ladies, Have You Thought About Working for BDO?

As most of us know, women are overrepresented in public accounting yet not necessarily rewarded for their hard work, dedication, and deftness in handling both career and family (for first and second years, substitute “family” for “sleeping with hot coworkers”). Knowing that, we’re thrilled to tell you that BDO has been chosen as one of the 2010 Best CPA Firms for Women by the American Society of Women Accountants and the American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants. The award is an initiative of the ASWA and AWSCPA joint Accounting/MOVE project, a national research effort to measure progress and advance women at public accounting firms and corporate accounting employers.

The Accounting/MOVE project was especially impressed by BDO’s promotion of women within the firm tied directly to BDO’s training and retention initiative.


If you recall, BDO was conveniently left out of the Working Mother 100 best companies in 2009 list last year.

As a working mother AND woman myself, I find it appropriate to point out that not all women are mothers so it doesn’t necessarily mean any progress has been made on BDO’s work/life policies. It would be awfully presumptuous of everyone – and, frankly, a tad sexist – to assume as much. For some women, work/life balance simply means spending less time at work and more time hooking up with coworkers or pursuing other hobbies and activities that don’t involve dirty diapers and scrubbing crayon drawings off of the wall.

BDO Named a Best CPA Firm for Women by American Society of Women Accountants and American Woman’s Society of CPAs [Business Wire]

Some Feedback for PwC

From a source at 300 Mad House:

“I just took the firm wide pulse survey and I laid into them. I told them to stop falsely advertising work life balance.”

Not being intimately familiar the work/life whathaveyous that comes by way of Bobby Mo emails but acutely aware of the motivation techniques employed, we can understand the frustration. Especially judging by some of your reactions to last week’s number. If you feel like sharing your feedback for the year that was at P. Dubs, let it rip.

Do You Have Any Tips on Achieving Work/Life Balance This Busy Season?

survival.jpgAs your chargeable hours begin the steady uptick, it is naïve to think that you can take the  the same mental and physical approach to busy season that you took to the interim months. Baseball players don’t use the same training methods in September that they did in spring training, and neither should you.

“Busy season resolutions” is a loose category of work/life balance techniques that either individuals or entire teams can adopt. Silly and pointless they may seem, but resolutions, however subconscious, can benefit everyone. Before beginning the discussion, let me share of few of my experiences.


I once worked on an engagement team that instituted a “6:00pm rule.” Every member of the team had the chance to go home at 6:00pm every Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Management worked with senior staff members to ensure a balance was reached, and the early departure was enforced. Granted, the rest of the week included nights until 10:00pm or later, but it was nice to know that I had one night during the week to run errands, have a meal that didn’t arrive in a plastic bag, and mentally unwind.

Another busy season client I had was led by a partner who organized one lunch a week that the team ate together in a boardroom. The only requirement: Minimal shop talk. Talk about your families, the March Madness tourney, anything – anything but work.

As we all know, it’s easy to accept the demanding schedule of busy season and forget about the importance of keeping the scale even remotely tipped a few degrees away from work and towards the life side. So I ask you – are you or your firm doing anything to make busy season more bearable?

Share your ideas – how is morale on your team? How does the season change your gym habits? What are you doing to prepare yourself for the always-improving job market in the months following busy season?

Do leave your comments, and as always continue to send us your tips.

I’m looking forward to the conversation. Look for a re-cap later this week.
Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources Professional could very well be considered the hypothetical love child of Suze Orman and Toby Flenderson. Following his varsity jacket wearing college days, he entered the consumer markets as an auditor for a Big 4 firm in New York City. He spent three brisk years as an auditor before taking the reins of stirring the HR kool-aid. He currently resides in Manhattan. Daily routines include coffee breakfasts and scotch dinners. You can follow him on Twitter @DWBraddock.

SHOCKER: New Study Says Work Interferes with Life

ilovemyjob.jpgWe realize this is hard to believe — especially during this time of year — but yes, it’s true!
According to the University of Toronto’s new survey of 1,800 American workers, 50% of those surveyed take work home on a regular basis. Not a surprising result since the authors asked questions that easily solidified the “Americans live to work” mantra:
• How often does your job interfere with your home or family life?
• How often does your job interfere with your social or leisure activities?
• How often do you think about things going on at work when you are not working?
Scott Schiemen, one of the authors of the study, informs us of the grim but dead on conclusions:

Schieman says, “Nearly half of the population reports that these situations occur ‘sometimes’ or ‘frequently,’ which is particularly concerning given that the negative health impacts of an imbalance between work life and private life are well-documented.”


The study’s core findings indicate some things that may sound familiar to you:

• People with college or postgraduate degrees tend to report their work interferes with their personal life more than those with a high school degree;
• Professionals tend to report their work interferes with their home life more than people in all other occupational categories;
• Several job-related demands predict more work seeping into the home life: interpersonal conflict at work, job insecurity, noxious environments, and high-pressure situations; however, having control over the pace of one’s own work diminishes the negative effects of high-pressure situations;
• Several job-related resources also predict more work interference with home life: job authority, job skill level, decision-making latitude, and personal earnings;
• As predicted, working long hours (50-plus per week) is associated with more work interference at home — surprisingly, however, that relationship is stronger among people who have some or full control over the timing of their work;

Again, shout if this sounds familiar. The sorry thing is that 50+ hours a week is considered “long hours.” Most of you can do 50 standing on your head. Plus, those of you that are eating hours are doing yourself an even greater disservice. But that’s a whole other discussion.
Maybe we should just own up to it? We love working! To hell with family, friends, hobbies, etc. We’ve got work to do!
When Work Interferes With Life [Science Daily]
More Work/Life Balance:
Moss Adams Values ‘A Balanced Life’ over ‘Accountability’
Is the Era of Work/Life Balance Over?
Jack Welch is Not Buying the Whole Work-Life Balance Thing

Signed, Your Friendly Human Resources Professional

HR.jpgEditor’s note: Welcome to the debut post from Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources Professional. He could very well be considered a hypothetical love child of Suze Orman and Toby Flenderson. Following his varsity jacket wearing college days, he entered the consumer markets as an auditor for a Big 4 firm in New York City. He spent three brisk years as an auditor before taking the reins of stirring the HR kool-aid. He currently resides in Manhattan. Daily routines include coffee breakfasts and scotch dinners. You can follow him on Twitter @DWBraddock.
Greetings,
Please let me take a moment to introduce myself.
My name is Daniel W. Braddock, and I was a resourceful human. I was not chargeable. I was not overworked. I stroll in at 9:00am, take a long lunch, and skip out before 6:00pm. You consider me a waste; overhead expense; non-vital to the process. You have me to thank for Summer Friday’s, the crackdown on mentor-ship lunches, and for that blasted Bear Hunt. My degree can be in liberal arts, accounting, or psychology. I was from the world of H.R., or Human Resources Rubbish, as you refer to me.
You generally loathe my kind.


My name is Daniel W. Braddock, and I was on your side once. Stressed, over-utilized and under-charged. I know work/life balance initiatives are as good as the fluffy magazine rankings they earn. I saw first-hand how leadership continously drops the ball on estimates, budgets, and correspondences. I was invited to lush recruiting events, asked to slap on the charm and pretend the ship wasn’t sinking. I’ve been in the trenches, didn’t like what I saw, and left.
My name is Daniel W. Braddock, and I am adaptive. I spent years in the audit practice of a Big Four firm before transitioning my career to the the H.R. side of the house. I have traveled through the looking glass and back. Contributing to GC will shed new light on many topics, including:
Outsourcing, both foreign and domestic
• Hiring forecasts
• The world of recruiting
• Hiring cycles and leadership’s faults
• Work/life balance initiatives and the real “initiative” behind them
• Firm rankings in the media
• The next step – life after the Big 4
I’m looking forward to our future discussions, beginning with a new topic on Thursday. As always, please send suggestions and ideas for topics to tips@goingconcern.com.
Regards,
Daniel W. Braddock
H.R.

Moss Adams Values ‘A Balanced Life’ over ‘Accountability’

Thumbnail image for work life.jpgIt’s pretty much a given that all “serious” accounting firms have “values” that they pitch to their rank and file and other interested parties.

Rumor has it that Moss Adams has recently changed the ‘A’ in their PILLAR of values from “Accountability” to “A Balanced Life”. This may or may not be a completely arbitrary change but it does put the firm out there as a work/life horn-blower.
While we applaud the attempt of accounting firms to provide a balanced life, it is certainly a debatable reality. Besides, shouldn’t a public accounting firm be accountable before it provides a balanced life? Many will make the argument that if you don’t want to work overtime for very little gratitude you should GTFO of public accounting. Can’t say we disagree.
While the thought of accounting firms having actual values is nice, sometimes brutal honesty would be really refreshing. One would think that smaller firms would have the luxury of leveling with their employees about what the culture is like.

However, judging by the switcheroo by MA, they like to do the work/life song and dance just like the big boys.

If anyone from the Moss Adams family would care to chime in on the latest switch in values, please do so. Also, for those of you at the other smaller-ish firms, let us know about your firm’s open commitment to balanced life (or lack thereof). If you work at a big firm, just complain away about your work/life balance.

Ed Nusbaum Doesn’t Have to Sneak Out the Back Door Anymore

Not only that, he used to FEEL GUILTY about leaving early to coach his daughters’ softball games. Oh Eddie, we realize that guilt is a bitch. Personally, whenever we felt guilty about leaving the office early, we’d slap the shit out of ourselves to the point of submission. That made us realize that feeling guilty is for sissies. Glad to hear you beat the guilt too.
Some other highlights from part two of SEVEN part interview*:
• Ed says, “all the firms are great” and his head doesn’t explode. Amazing.
• He also says work/life balance is not just words on a piece of paper.
• GT is very proud of “the Grid”, their version of Facebook. Which will fail miserably now that they’ve lifted the veil on your status updates.
• Ed loves his iPod. Just like you!
• Stephen Chipman put us to sleep in about half a nanosecond.

Discuss, criticize, debunk, or air high-five the GT honchos in the comments.
*Yes, its over a week old and yes, we skipped part one but it was really boring, so piss off.

Is the Era of Work/Life Balance Over?

work life.jpgDid it ever exist? We hope accounting firms have gotten their act together and don’t have to resort to more layoffs even though rumors still persist.
Whether the shooting is over or not, it’s a pretty sure bet that, at the very least, lots of you are doing the same amount of work with less people on your team. So any illusions you had about work/life balance before have progressed to full blown poppycock.
The question remains though, is your firm still pitching this as one of their “core rhetoric values” (insert respective buzzword)?
Continued, after the jump


Call us idealistic but it seems that with everything that has happened over the last 12-18 months, most firms would want to level with their employees. You know, give them the straight shit:
“Look, we’re really sorry but we’ve got to drop this whole work/life balance thing. We just can’t keep a straight face any more.”
It’s a very tricky situation that firms find themselves in since recruiting is in full swing. Painting the rosy picture for the recruits but leveling with current employees at the same time? Is this even possible?
What’s your firm’s latest message? Are they still encouraging the work/life balance or has slowly reached the “not applicable” stage? Did it ever exist for you at your firm or have you been deleting those emails since the day you walked in the door because you knew it was bupkis? Discuss in the comments.

Jack Welch is Not Buying the Whole Work-Life Balance Thing

art.welch.cnn.jpgJack Welch, who is increasingly looking like Gollum these days, has been quoted saying that there is no such thing as “work-life” balance only “work-life choices”, according to a story in the Wall St. Journal.
The quotes were in context of women who choose between spending time with family and those that want to “reach the top” but you gents aren’t immune.
Accounting firms are constantly selling “work-life balance” as a priority but we’ll take Welch’s comments as gospel here since, nothing we’ve seen or heard makes us believe otherwise.
So next time you get the work-life rhetoric, you’ve got some published material for your back up your “I call bullshit” argument. You’re welcome.
Welch: ‘No Such Thing as Work-Life Balance’ [WSJ]