July 18, 2018

Transition from Big 4 to owning own firm

I’m looking for more perspective and insight from other’s experiences. Please respond if you have relevant experience. If you don’t then please don’t waste everyone’s time including your own.

I’ve been working for big 4 in one of the largest private wealth tax practices in the country. I worked on private companies mainly pass through entities, individuals, gift/estate and trust taxation. I’ve loved it and I can honestly see myself staying for a long time. I love it because of the clients and colleagues that I deal with. I also love all of the training and professional development that comes with being at big 4. My father is a CPA who has his own small practice. I worked for him for 4 years as I worked through college. I got my undergrad and macc with emphasis in taxation. I passed the CPA exam without failing any sections. I paid for my own college, graduated debt free, got married, and have a two year old boy. I say this not to brag but to help explain that I’m extremely motivated to succeed in my career. I want to make a ton of money, build meaningful relationships, and spend as much quality time with my family as possible.

Now my dilemma and ultimate question is this: should I leave big 4 one day to buy out my father’s firm? I think I’ve subconsciously taken the path I’ve taken because I do want to have my own firm but I’m torn because I love big 4 too. When I was working at my father’s firm I remember getting anxious to leave for big 4 cause I felt that I had outgrown his firm but after drinking from the fire hydrant at big 4 for two years I’ve only realized how naive and stupid I was in college and that there is so much opportunity out there for me to be successful with my own firm. Downside is in my opinion – the quality of some of your clientele is lower with smaller firms cause you’re dealing with people who either don’t make a lot of money and don’t want to pay you or they don’t respect your services or the fact that you’re a CPA. In addition – your competition is filled with dumbass enrolled agents who think that tax software does everything for you – you know – your local plumbers who work for H&R Block. If I’ve offended any of you then good – rest assured nobody cares about your feelings.

I guess to make a long story short – I’m hesitant to leave big 4 because I don’t want to feel like I wasted my potential. At the same time I think that having my own firm would be very rewarding but quite frustrating at times when you have to deal with some of the menial things that come with a smaller firm. I’m confident that there’s so much I need to learn and that professional development never stops – I would love some insight from people who have made the transition from big 4 to owning their own firm. I’ve also thought about if I went out on my own maybe I would like to merge my firm with a larger local or maybe even a regional firm.

Anyway any insight would be great! Thanks in advance.

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