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Accounting Career Conundrums: Is Getting the Boot From the Client a Career Breaker?

There are times in life when we have expertise and wisdom to share. And there other times when we don’t and need to pull in resources to support us. To help out the following worried reader, how about we try out both in this week’s accounting career conundrum?

I'm an S2 at a big4, large-ish office (300 in audit).  Word is my one and only client may be giving us the boot.  Unfortunately I transferred to this office last year and on account of this being my only client I know few managers outside my comfort zone, and almost none in a professional manner (ie we get ****showed at office events together and that's that). Lastly, the office went through a hiring spree last year and then we went through a roundof layoffs in the summer to thin the heard of minions.

My question is, if I lose this client, am I screwed? Rating is good, etc but if I don't have another lifeline/managers asking for me on jobs is it a matter of time?  Any suggestions?  I'm aware I should expand my circle, but I fear that might not cut it and that my number may be up in March.  What say you?


Rather than pontificate about something I know little about- I.e. how the Big Four reallocates staffing when clients give them the boot- I will speak to what I do know something about—building your network and the comfort zone. I trust that our readers have lots to say about whether you are screwed or not given the client circumstances. Chime in oh wise ones.

In regards to building your network, I see that you know you should expand your circle and you have not yet. I suspect that what has gotten in the way is the choice to stay within your comfort zone. And guess what, that is totally normal. By nature, human beings tend to dislike change and want to stick with the things that are known. Toss in conservatism, an underlying principle of accounting work, and the problem becomes exacerbated.

Choosing to stay in your comfort zone is a problem because it is a stagnate place. Everything you already know is in the comfort zone, so how can you grow there? If you reflect on some of your greatest times of professional or personal growth, I’d imagine they are all times when you were outside of your comfort zone taking on the unknown like a boss.

What keeps us in our comfort zone are fears about what others might say or think about us. In your case, there are likely fears that stop you from connecting with more managers and, I am going to guess, even partners.

What has gotten in the way of you building your network? If your answer is time, that is wrong. Not making the time is a choice. Instead the answer might be something like commitment or fear. If you are committed to a career with this firm, you will make the time to build your network within it. If it is fear, what will it take for you to overcome your fears and start creating those lifelines? Have you thought about the pain of losing your job in comparison to the mild discomfort you might experience when connecting with potential lifelines? Those cost benefit analysis can be handy in your life, too. And what is scary about connecting with a more senior person? Sometimes authority figures make us go crazy on the inside but they are people too. Those with more life experience have all sorts of sage advice. If you are in the position to make their future wallets fatter and make their professional lives easier, they may be willing to take your under their wing. Once you strike up a conversation with them, how can you demonstrate the value you will create for them?

On a final note, this seems like a perfect time to share one of my all-time favorite leadership quotes from Noel Tichy’s book “The Cycle of Leadership:

You need to consciously create opportunities for your own learning.  At times, this will definitely take you outside of your comfort zone.  But once you have risked doing it a few times and realized the
amazing results of new insights and experiences, you will relish the experience.


Good luck!