Ed. note: Today we debut a new contributor to Going Concern. Rachel Andujar, CPA decided to jump off the accounting career ship after 9 years. Her career strategy and leadership coaching firm, Rethink Nine to Five, helps professionals figure out what they really want in their careers and love it. She is passionate about helping people improve work flexibility and balance, and closing the gender pay and partner gap in the process.
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was a 21-year-old intern ready to conquer the world. I marched into my internship feeling confident and excited to start my career in public accounting. But from the beginning, I met people that did not love what they were doing. They were stressed out, pissed off, and pretty much miserable. And honestly, many had good reasons to be. I started to gather a clear picture about this public accounting world and what it does to a lot of people.
The public accounting staff factory is broken. According to the Inside Public Accounting 2015 National Benchmarking Report, professional staff turnover rates in the largest firms averaged 17.0%, with one in six of them experiencing turnover rates above 20%. If you’re sitting in a windowless conference room with your four closest auditor friends, at least one will leave in the next year. Now split the work between the rest of you. Ok, great, thx.
It’s extremely hard to keep staff engaged and inspired with such high turnover rates. The conversation was never, “Yay! We are such a great team and made it through busy season!” It was, “Wow! Busy season sucked and I wonder how many people are going to leave!” According to Gallup, only 32% of employees were considered engaged in their jobs during 2015. And honestly, it’s not surprising. With such a high attrition, public accounting firms not only struggle with employee engagement and satisfaction but succession and recruiting issues, too. Not to mention what all this overwork is doing to the future of the industry in general. But let’s table that discussion for next time, ok?
I always told myself that I wouldn’t become disillusioned and try to remain positive and engaged. Time has a funny way of changing things. Fast forward 9 years, a promotion to manager, and two tiny human beings later, I couldn’t fake loving tax returns anymore. And boy, was I a good faker. I almost convinced myself.
During my public accounting days, I always enjoyed helping people — especially the working moms — navigate their experience and try to improve it. While knee-deep in tax returns, I could not stop thinking about these big issues and what I wanted to do to help change them. So I finally got the guts and took the leap.
So thanks for the warm welcome, Going Concern. I’m your resident career coach to help with all of your career concerns. I’m here to help you navigate this crazy accounting world, to make it work for you, and maybe even love it. And if not, find something that you do love. Because if you hate your job, seriously do yourself a favor and find something else to do. Or become the solution, that’s a great option too.
To get your career questions answered, email Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be featured on Going Concern.