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, […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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
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.
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 ha y 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]
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]
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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