Today's blog post is brought to you by a worrisome soon-to-be-grad. Hi GC, I already accepted an offer from one of the Big 4 firms. When I did, my GPA was very solid. However, I took a class last semester with a professor that has the highest drop rates and the lowest grade average given […]
Greetings, GC'ers. Damn, it feels good to be back after a minor hiatus. Let's get to it, shall we? Subject: Big 4 Dilemma First off, I want to thank Going Concern for all of the public accounting insight. Now on to my dilemma. Last fall I accepted a full-time audit position with of one of […]
Today's advice column started off with the subject "Accountants with beards." My first thought was "damnnnn that'd make a great Tumblr," one that could rival the creeps at Messages from Match and the political poignancy of Kim Jong-un Looking at Things. WE COULD TAKE OVER THE WORLD. But…then I continued reading. Wait. This is about an otherwise qualified […]
Ed. note: Looking for above average advice from some snide, know-it-all hipster doofi? Take a number by emailing your problems to [email protected] and, if you're lucky, your position in the queue will still be in triple digits! Hi GC, I am going into my 7th busy season at a mid-tier ("MT") (2nd as a manger) […]
Happy Friday folks. Hopefully you're reading this from one of three places: 1. Your Couch2. Gate 23 on your way to St. Louis3. The Bar – any bar. But regardless of where you are today, we just know your holiday weekend wouldn't be complete without knowing how much cash money The Powers That Be at […]
Hopefully this week is light for you and your cohorts, giving you some time to clean up your inboxes, hide frat party photos from your new Facebook Timeline, or finish up last minute holiday shopping. Here at GC we are already feeling the holiday hangover so luckily the email and “official” attachment below provided us with a good ol’ fashioned “WTF.”
After our post on PwC’s credibility crisis we received a number of emails regarding the other firms’ initiatives and programs (keep the hacked love coming). We started breaking it all down for your enjoyment but stopped dead in our tracks when we came across the following slide: Deloitte – Women PantsIt was from a 2010 […]
Yesterday we touched on E&Y and Deloitte's breakthrough discovery that women are underrepresented in leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies. WELL. PwC thinks its entire female workforce needs to establish some damn credibility before it's too late. Hi Daniel,Just read your post regarding Avon's CEO being ousted and Deloitte and E&Y's reaction. I wanted to share with […]
You might have read this morning that Avon's CEO Andrea Jung is being forced out. Okay, so MAYBE earnings are down more than 42% on the year. And suuuuure, the SEC is investigating the door-to-door crew for “bribing foreign officials and improperly disclosing information to Wall Street analysts.” But forget the investment story here. This is a […]
Need some advice? Email the GC team with your burning questions. Just be warned – our advice might rain on your parade. Dear GC, I am on my 6th month with a Government Audit team and got an offer to join one of the Big4. The job is of the same nature and the pay […]
It's that time of year again, folks. Holiday parties are wrapping up. Some of you are trying to squeeze every drop of water out of the CPA stone. And from the chatter we've been hearing, this busy season could be one of the hardest in years. Chalk this up to the fact that voluntary turnover shot […]
Ed. note: Looking for career guidance from a couple of Big 4 expats or our resident permanently ink-stained wench? Email us at [email protected].
I have become an avid reader of your website and need your help regarding an opportunity. I have an engineering background and 5 years of experience in the heavy construction industry specifically oil & gas. In hopes to moving on to something different and possibly working as a consultant I have got a chance to work at PWC and Deloitte in a senior associate advisory role. I do know that these companies are primarily in audit but the sales pitch they gave me was that they were trying to build the Capital Projects Advisory division. Do you all think it is good opportunity?
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo
As a self-proclaimed avid reader, I hope you caught the post I did in June about the engineering consultant in a similar situation as yours. Check it out for feedback focused on what to do once you start at your new gig in a Big 4’s advisory practice.
That said, you’re asking if the chance to work at the #1 or #2 public accounting firms in the world are “good” opportunities. I follow up your question with one of my own:
If working for #1 or #2 is not a good opportunity, what more are you looking for?
So yes, they are great opportunities to jump start your career into the “consulting” slash advisory biz. Sure, they crank out audits and tax returns, but those are very different revenue generating streams than their advisory practices. To put things in more engineering terms – wary of working in the advisory group of PwC or DT because they perform assurance services is like turning down an aerospace engineering job at GE because they also make light bulbs.
Assuming the offer details are similar, look at each firm’s Capital Projects practices. Which group is more established? Have they made other external hires recently? What is each group’s current market share/focus, and what are long term plans?
Good luck with whichever role you pursue, and welcome to the Big 4 community.
Ed. note: Welcome to the final edition of Decide My Life For Me for this week. Thanks to all of you for keeping the shenanigans to a minimum while I attempted to fill Caleb’s comically large shoes (come on ladies, you know what they say about a man with big feet…) as editor this week. I will still be running the show for the first half of next week so if you have a question for me, DWB, Caleb or the homeless guy I let be my “Associate Editor” in exchange for cigarettes and half-eaten sandwiches, get in touch. Have a great weekend.
Dear Going Concern,
I am a third year auditor at a regional accounting firm. I was recently contacted by one of the Big 4 and decided to interview with them. Two days later, they called and gave me an offer. I told them I would think about it and get back to them. Well, here is my dilemma. I am very well respected at my firm and was awarded a mid-year bump in salary due to my outstanding performance. The partner’s [sic] at the regional firm tell me that I have a great future at the firm. However, it has always been my goal to work for the Big 4 and I finally have my opportunity. As far as compensation goes, the Big 4 company is bringing me in at roughly $7k more than I make now. The question is, should I continue to work for the regional firm where I know I have potential and respect, or should I go into the light and work for the Big 4?
Dazed and Confused
Here’s a baseball story for you.
Essentially, you’ve been playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the past three years. You have a small (but dedicated!) fan base, a decent stadium, and food court options that – depending on the season – are the reason fans even come to games. Your coaches are “good, not great,” which is basically a phrase that can be used to describe most aspects of your team. It’s a good job, you can pay your bills, and generally enjoy coming to work every day.
But you just interviewed with the in-state Philadelphia Phillies. League dominators, more fans, more national exposure, higher-caliber players, and oh yeah, a big bump in pay. Your coaches in Steel Country are all telling you that you have a bright future there, but you don’t have to look at the last 20 years of business to realize it doesn’t compare to the past five in Philly. Of course you have potential and respect in Pittsburgh, and sure, your teammates might verbally crap on the fan base in Philly (who doesn’t, amiright?), but come on – why wouldn’t you move?
Back to reality: better clients, better pay, better opportunities, bigger network, more resources.
You can always return to Pittsburgh.
(Only until Caleb stops hitting on hot Polish girls) Ed. note: if you have a career question for our team of accounting drop-outs plus the one loser who never took the CPA exam, get in touch.
I am a young professional, I have an undegrad [sic] degree in finance and am finishing a masters in accounting. I’ve worked for 2.5 years in corporate accounting and 3 years in accounting/finance for a university. I have no public accounting experience. I want to gain a role in transaction advisory or the like.
I was recently offered a job with a small/mid size public firm in a Senior Associate role for their transactions group. The offer is 60k. should i jump at this offer, am i lucky to get a senior role? Should i hold out for a public firm in an associate role?
Can i make the jump from the midsize firm as a senior to a big 4 as a senior in a few years?
[Name redacted for privacy reasons. Let’s call him Barnabus]
I’m going to keep this short because the financial world might come to an end before I reach the fourth paragraph.
I suggest you heed the Blacksmith’s advice and strike while the iron is hot.
The transaction advisory groups across the public accounting spectrum are heating back up from their frigid days of ’08 and ’09, with hiring numbers up for both the experienced and entry-level channels. Although your degrees will serve you well in your career, your 5.5 years of experience don’t bring much relevant experience to the table. Would it be nice to wait and see if you can land a transaction advisory role at a Big4? Sure. But with the market down
200 300 400 OMFG 500 POINTS TODAY, unemployment spreading like viral Bieber videos, and the economy stuck in park with four blown out tires and an elephant sitting on its trunk, you take the open door and thank your lucky #*&@ing stars your particular iron is hot. You have an opportunity to make a move right now in your career that will put your career on the track you want.
Ed. note: Got a question for Dan Braddock or anyone else on the GC advice team? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll get to your query in due time.
Dear Going Concern,
I am currently a sophomore in college and am interested in a Big 4 internship (Chicago) for the summer of 2012. This means that I will be
involved in the heavy recruiting season this coming fall. I have a 4.0 GPA, am on my way to becoming Executive VP of Beta Alpha Psi, am a member of the Accounting Club, and have done some volunteer work. Any tips on how to stand out from the sea of other students just like me? Should I do anything else before recruiting season besides networking? Any advice would be appreciated ver
Big 4 Lover,
Glad to see that GC has some young people in the audience. Take what you read here with a grain of salt and shot of tequila – adulthood makes people cranky, not just public accounting.
Be cognizant of the fact that there are two versions of you that every recruiter sees: the version of you on paper and the version of you in real life. Either version can make or break your candidacy. Let’s break it down:
You on paper: At first read, the “résumé” you describe seems just fine – you’re maintaining strong grades while being involved in extracurricular activities outside of the classroom, even holding a leadership position. I wonder if your “volunteer experience” was only due to the Beta Alpha Psi volunteer requirement or if you do it on your own; either way, this is minor and I’m nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking. Any Big 4 recruiter will have your résumé sitting in their “yes” pile going into the fall recruiting season.
However, your résumé is strong on the “I am just trying to land an internship at a Big 4 firm.” What are your interests outside the realm of debits and credits? Unless you are a living, breathing calculator, I’d like to think that you have hobbies other than what is described above (this is assuming you did not leave any experiences out when describing your background above). I encourage you to diversify your experiences in college – not just for the sake of your résumé but for the sanity as well. VP of the Wiffle Ball Club? Great. Part of the campus sewing circle? Fantastic. Genuine, non-accounting extracurriculars will not only enrich your life but they’ll be great conversation starters when you begin meeting with recruiters and Big 4 professionals on campus.
You in real life: As you mentioned, you’ll be in the thick of the recruiting process this fall. Being that you’re only a sophomore (and probably on the 5 year track due to Illinois requiring 150 credits for the CPA), you’ll be interviewing for the “leadership” programs at the Big 4. These lead to internships which lead to job offers which lead to high-fives and back slaps for everyone. Here’s what you need to do when you meet the firms:
Do not regurgitate your resume – let your strong résumé speak for itself. No one likes a bragger, not even your mother.
Do not be too transparent – 99.99997% of Beta Alpha Psi members join the society because it looks good on a résumé. DO NOT TELL THE RECRUITER THAT. Unless you want to come across as an internship-chasing fool, then by all means go ahead and say so.
Do not suck up – There is a subtle difference between saying, “I’m only a sophomore, but I have heard positive things about your firm from my professors and older classmates and I’m hoping to learn more,” and “OMFG your company is so cool!!!”
Be yourself – you are more than accounting. The best people you’ll ever work with in the industry will also be much, much more than debits and credits.
Ed. Note: Give DWB a warm welcome back to regular posting. If you’ve got a question for the advice column, email us at [email protected].
Good afternoon, everyone. Caleb must have tripped and knocked his sombrero-wearing-head last night, because he has invited me back for a weekly post. Regardless, I’m excited to be back. Let’s knock the rust off, shall we?
I am a 2nd year senior associate at a Big 4 firm. I like doing public accounting but am thinking that at my level and performance I am underpaid. I’ve several offers in hand but I do like what I am doing.
Now this does seem like a silly question – how do I go about asking for a raise without making it sound like that all I care about is money? In this economy…what are the chances that I am gonna get what I ask for?
Thanks a bunch!
You don’t specify whether your “several offers in hand” are for positions in the private sector or with other public accounting firms, so I’m going to address both.
Private sector – why are you interviewing with companies if you “like doing public accounting?” Turn these down.
Public accounting – you should be considering these offers if they are with another Big 4 firm. Do not go from Big 4 to mid-tier. Don’t have any offers with the other Big 4? See your own comments above and interview with the other firms. All four have problematic staffing issues this spring as the young guns continue to burn out. Sure, you’ll receive a nice little bump in pay when you transfer from one firm to another, but remember you’ll be down at the bottom of the networking food-chain.
Considering both the fact that you work at a Big 4 and it’s only a few months away from mid-summer raises and/or compensation restructuring, asking for a raise now will probably not lead to much. You work for an international firm responsible for more than 100,000 employees…you are one person. Granted, you are a second year Senior, which is one of the areas that all firms have a shortage at.
It also depends on your what practice line, your performance rankings and industry, as all of these factors play into how much leverage you will have. If you’re a top-ranked staff member with your CPA and on track to be a lead senior in the fall, your firm may toss you a $1,500 bone to keep you salivating for summer raises. If you’re more of the middle-of-the-road-and-I’m-studying-for-BEC type it would not totally surprise me if you were not given a raise or even shown the door. It would take the length of an episode of “30 Rock” for the word to spread through your office that all it took to get a bump in pay was to claim you had an offer from another firm. Leadership isn’t stupid.
Regardless of where you stand when compared to your peers, be absolutely certain you’re comfortable taking one of the offers you have should the latter situation happen. Your best bet is to wait until summer raises come through. The other firms will still be hiring experience staff in September.
Ed. Note: DWB was sober long enough today to pen this post for the Friday edition of Accounting Career Couch. If you’ve got a question for us email us at [email protected]. We’ll dispense with further pleasantries and get right to it.
I just received three offers from two Big 4 firms in San Francisco (Deloitte and KPMG) for audit and one Big 4 firm for advisory internal audit in San Jose. I really like the idea of going into advisory but the problem is that I live in San Francisco and the advisory clients for this firm are all located around San Jose and the Silicon Valley. This would likely mean at least a one hour and 15 minute commute every day each way from SF to SJ and back again lients I would likely be working on from SF are all located within 20 minutes of my apartment in the city. Moving to San Jose is out of the question for me because my wife works in SF and I’m not ready for a divorce just yet. My question to you and Going Concern readers is should I take the advisory job despite the crazy commute or should I take one of the audit positions?
I’d still be very happy taking one of the audit positions but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the more consistent working hours of advisory internal audit didn’t appeal to me much more than audit (no insane busy season in advisory). Much of this benefit would be negated by my much longer commute though. Also, if I choose advisory I would be likely getting reimbursed $0 for my commute since the job is based out of the SJ office and I am based in SF. Although $0.50 a mile doesn’t sound like a lot, it really does add up to several thousand dollars in missed reimbursement expenses for such a long commute (assuming 80 miles a day in reimbursable driving). Also, the advisory position pay is slightly less to begin with (approximately $1,500 less) than my audit offers. Other considerations that I am thinking about are that many people from the Deloitte office (mostly associates) have said that the Deloitte SF office is understaffed. To me this means more opportunity for advancement but also more hours of work. Also, I feel that if I started in audit I could do two years of audit and if I didn’t like it then could jump ship to advisory in SF rather than having to start at advisory in SJ and beg to get a transfer to the SF advisory practice in a year or two. So what should I do? Should the lengthy and costly commute for advisory versus audit be a deal breaker? Will I struggle to break into advisory after two years in audit if I decide to make the switch?
Hopefully I’ve given enough info about my choices so that DWBraddock will stop complaining about us not saying enough in our requests for advice.
Kudos to you and your detailed email. Peons of the accounting world – take note [Ed. note: but there is something to be said for brevity. Yeesh.].
First off, my advice is from the “this is usually how it works” camp. Are there exceptions? Of course, and I’m sure that commenters will point them out.
Are you sure you will be reimbursed for every single mile that you travel? The HR policy is typically the net difference between your home to the office and your home to the client site. For example if you live 50 miles from the office and the client site is 53 miles from your home, you are reimbursed for the three mile difference. I strongly encourage you to consult HR before you go re-adjusting the all-in value of the advisory offer with thousands of dollars of mileage.
Now that I crushed your dream of banking $1,000’s, let’s discuss the audit vs. internal audit battle. You make a lot of assumptions in your email, but I think these bullets cover everything you discussed:
• Internal audit should not be looked at as a green-lighted pass to jump around the advisory practice. Many advisory roles are target recruited and are very specialized from a work capacity point of view. The name “advisory” doesn’t mean the roles are similar; it’s simply a nicer way of saying “everything that’s not audit and tax.”
• You will not be fast-tracked at Deloitte just because they’re short staffed. You will work your ass off.
• It’s easier to go from internal audit to external audit, not the other way around (the way you mentioned).
• Don’t think a transfer is a simple process. There has to be a need in the office you want to transfer to, and considering you’re contemplating and office and practice switch-a-roo in one swift motion…really? This is not a game – this is business and not everyone gets what they want.
• PS – I forwarded this to your wife. She said you’re sleeping on the couch for the next week.
Ed. note: I’ve been called to an emergency meeting in an undisclosed location, so here’s a guest post from your friendly human resources professional, DWB.
Caleb interrupted my weekly Wednesday tradition with the following reader submitted question:
I am an undergraduate at a pretty big school and recently decided I want a job when I graduate so I switched my major from History to Economics with the intent on minoring in Accounting (it is too late for me to officially major in Business Economics but I plan on taking all the relevant classes anyway).
I am entering my junior year this fall but right now, my accounting academic career puts me with about a freshman level of re my belt.
Normally, next summer would be the internship phase of a student’s life but I’m wondering if I should put off graduation by a quarter and/or go to grad school so that I might also push off my internship applying to a different summer when I have more than GC-provided gossip to offer a firm.
If I do this, are there Big 4 or mid-tier firms who would look at me for summer leadership programs (and other sophomore-oriented recruiting) or have I missed the boat on that?
I’d appreciate anything you have to say on the matter — snarky or otherwise.
Dear History Buff,
You wanted a job, so you decided to major in Economics. That statement is so conflicting I can’t tell whether it induced my headache or I simply need a third cup of coffee. The reason I say this is because I see my fair share of 3.95 GPA Econ majors from “pretty big” schools every day, and they’re desperate for work. Your accounting minor is a start but like you pointed out, it’s lacking in worthy experience. Your consideration of internships/grad school demonstrates that you’re looking beyond the remaining cup on the beer pong table and thinking about your future. Kudos.
I’m going to assume you’re considering a career in public accounting, because why else would you be on GC in the first place? You’re certainly not here for the chicks (“Chicks, man.”). If I am wrong on this assumption, follow up with me and we’ll discuss.
So, assuming the above, I suggest a few things:
1) Start talking to recruiters: They should be all over campus by this point in the semester. Make it known to them that you are pursuing a Masters in Accounting following your undergraduate degree. Ask questions about leadership programs and internships. Remember, the general timeline for Big 4 programs is leadership program two summers before graduation (for you – summer ’11); internship the summer before graduation (summer ’12).
2) Make it easy for the recruiters: Want to make a recruiter’s day easier and better position yourself in their pool of candidates? List all of your ongoing and anticipated education on your résumé, like this:
“Pretty Big School” – Anywhere, USA
• Masters in Accounting – XYZ School of Business Anticipated Graduation: May 2013
• Will be CPA eligible upon graduation
• Bachelor of Science – ABC School of Economics Anticipated Graduation: May 2012
• Economics major, Accounting minor Overall GPA: X.Y | Major GPA X.Y
Formatting your résumé in this fashion provides the reader with answers to key questions – what is this candidate majoring in; when are they done with their education and ready to work; what is their CPA eligibility.
3) Follow up: Your educational path is not the road heavily traveled by most students with dreams of Big 4. Keep yourself in the conversation with recruiters by occasionally updating them through your process. Tell them when your GPA improves after a strong semester, when you get into grad school, etc. Don’t expect a response right away but rest easy knowing that they’re updating their records. Sharing this information can be done formally over email or informally during a conversation with a recruiter while they’re on campus.
4) Talk to Career Services: Be sure you’re taking the right classes to become CPA eligible in the state where you want to be licensed. Nothing worse than taking a counselor’s word on Ballroom Dance 201 counting toward the 150 credit requirement.
Go forth…and one more piece of advice if you’re following college football: Stanford over Oregon this weekend. Do it.
I received the following question last week from a GC reader:
I don’t know if this is up your professional line of expertise, but could you touch up questions that auditors should expect to get in an interview?
Expert I am not, but I’ll do my best to help you all out.
Interview questions you should be ready for:
1. Why are you looking to leave your current situation?
DWB: Whatever you say, never speak poorly about your current situation. Many people make the transition from public to private; harp on the positives (great people/ great client exposure) but explain that you’re looking to transition into a good private situation.
2. Tell Me About Yourself
DWB: This is not an opportunity to rant and rave; no one cares that you were on the club water polo team in college. Provide a short, organized statement of your education; professional achievements and goals- describe your qualifications for the job and contributions you could make to the organization.
3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
DWB: With questions like this, you need to be careful not to threaten your interviewer, as it is likely that they will be your immediate superior and the natural promotion for you in a few years. It’s in your best interest to speak about long term growth with the company. i.e. – “I’d like to position myself in a firm like (Name) where I can learn, grow and be challenged – If I work hard and do my part, then I’ll grow with the firm and my future will take care of itself.”
Your goal should be to make it clear you’re thinking about the company in a long term sense, but not so much that you’re a threat to your soon-to-be boss.
4. What are your strengths?
DWB: Similar to the previous question, this is an opportunity to self yourself to the company. No one wants to hires someone that plans to come in and shake things up (unless it’s part of the job description). Focus on your natural, daily tasks – Team Player, Quick Learner, Efficient, Organized. Convince your interviewer by providing a real world example.
5. What are your weaknesses?
DWB: Do you sleep in on Fridays? Do you smoke 14 times a day? Whatever your real weaknesses are, avoid sharing them at all costs. Focus on the more HR-friendly ones – Trouble Delegating Work- Take too much on for yourself, etc. I suggest providing an example of how you recognize the weakness and what youre currently doing to make the best of the situation.
AccountingWeb’s UK site discussed a recent survey detailing the mixed emotions surrounding the typical work happy hour:
A new study entitled “Health of the Workplace” undertaken by insurance firm Aviva found that although nearly three out of five managers take staff to the pub for team building purposes, just over half of employees are not so keen on going out with their workmates and one in five actively dislike it.
The research also revealed that only 23% of bosses think that such socials create a positive sense of team spirit anyway, a third find them a bit of a drag and one in 10 feel obliged to attend to keep their staff happy.
We’ve all been there – out with “the team” to a half-assed planned happy hour finagled into that one Wednesday night between interim work and busy season. Or maybe it’s the Thursday-after-working-32-straight-days-up-to-the-filing-deadline party. Whatever the situation, I feel that many of you can relate to the rough statistics above.
I’m not saying that going out with coworkers is a bad idea, because it’s not. Interpersonal relationships with colleagues is an important factor in building trust and camaraderie on an engagement team. But if a bar scene is not the ideal environment for the group, what do you suggest?
The article continues on to say, “With budgets being tight, it might be better to spend the money on initiatives that benefit both employees and the company, for example, by providing `workplace wellness programmes.’” Big 4 firms have these initiatives already, and do you know who attends them? Certainly not the staff employees who are working from the client site!
With enough team planning, smaller engagements could work from the offices during these programs, but what about the larger, more permanent field sites? Why not have the “yoga at your desk” or “financial planning for your first child” programs visit the larger engagement sites? Book a conference room; make these events work free (no shop talk allowed); encourage people to interact with one another on a personal level.
Or we could all just sit at our desk and bitch about the mandatory Wednesday night happy hour.
While you were sitting at your desk yesterday doing whatever it is you do in August*, countless Americans quit their jobs. Due to the state of our barely-above-stagnant economy, it can be assumed that the majority of those who put in their two weeks actually had another job lined up in the wings.
Neither Steve “I always wanted to use the slide” Slater nor Jenny the Hot Piece of Ass assistant had a job to wake up to this morning yet their stories are the talk of your water cooler. Airport security and Internet privacy issues aside, it’s impossible to deny that Slater and Jenny both quit in style.
We have all been there: at the same job for two, five, ten, maybe twenty years and that moment – clear as the cloudless sky – happens that makes the tiny voice of
reason insanity common sense scream I’ve HAD IT with this job.
What were your “I’ve had it!” moments? Have any of your colleagues or friends outside of public accounting ever gone down guns ‘blazing? Would you hire Jenny? Share your stories, tales, and opinions of the mystery passenger** who drove Slater nuts below in the comments.
* – No, seriously – help us out – what do you actually do in August? [Ed. Note: Tax peeps, forgive him, he knows not what he says]
** – Does anyone else want to hear from the moronic passenger that rose from their seat prior to the plane being gated? How shitty does that person feel? My guess is that they are too dense to realize they did anything wrong.
UPDATE: By now, you may or may not be aware that the entire Internet was duped by the “Jenny” quitting tale. We’re completely okay with this, mostly because it’s August and there really isn’t anything else going on.
Final reviews are a thing of the past and – at least for some of you – so are the days of terrible raises. Things seem on the up and up at most firms. That said, focusing on FY2011 is crucial for your career. Hopefully the potential for raises will be consistent if not better than this year’s, and but you need to be thinking about everything now.
The typical HR mantra is, “your goals need to be realistic and attainable but should also stretch you to push yourself.”
Yes, finding the middle ground between cruisin’ down Easy Street and setting yourself up for failure is crucial. So, what are you supposed to do?
1. Firm recommended goals: Every firm supplies their employees with suggested goals, and I’ve always recommended that people should use these at a starting point. Why? Two reasons:
a. Your managers and partners know them. While going through performance management training, partners and managers receive the outline of sample goals as part of their training materials. HR says, “Look, these are the goals your staff members should be shooting for” and the room goes “Ahhhhhhhhh.” Using these goals will be familiar to your superiors as you begin the review process. However, it’s important to…
b. Customize the goals to be you As valuable as the sample goals can be as a template for you, it is important that you adjust them to focus on your unique ambitions. This is your opportunity to voice your needs, i.e. – involvement in planning the audit, volunteering at firm events, or getting involved with recruiting. Showing your commitment to the firm away from the day-to-day engagements is just as important as being committed to busy season.
And for the sake of everything holy – PROOFREAD. Passed your CPA this year? Remove all of the passing-the-CPA related questions. Missing details like this will make your superiors question the effort you put into the process; don’t give them that option.
2. Review last year’s goals: Roll-forward successful goals. Re-evaluate goals you didn’t reach or didn’t surpass to your satisfaction. Demonstrating and documenting continual improvement is key.
3. Speak with your mentor: If you were promoted this year, congratulations! Newsflash – you’re in for an incredibly difficult year. New senior staff members and managers are put through the wringer, and rightfully so. Senior management doesn’t like being wrong and weeding out misguided promotions early is important to their long-term planning. Seek out the guidance of at least one person who was in your situation the previous year. What would they have done differently? Did they overshoot on a particular area in their goals? What’s one thing they recommend including in your goal setting?
Still unsure of what you should do? Talk to your peers, flip a coin, or Google it. Whatever you do, don’t miss the submission deadline.
Unless – of course – you actually want to be blacklisted.
What happens when you’re the Prized Catch of the New York City real estate market? You threaten to move your operations to New Jersey or Connecticut, of course!
Per a report on GlobeSt.com: “According to IDA documents, Deloitte notes that it is ‘currently assessing options’ for its metro area real estate strategy, ‘including the evaluation of existing in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.’”
One could assume that this is just a ploy by Deloitte to frighten the IDA into approving $21 million in tax benefits, but Deloitte – currently in four different buildings around the city – bit back with teeth:
In New Jersey, Deloitte US firms “have significant operations, including recently expanded, underutilized class A office space.” Similarly, Deloitte has more than 30,000 square feet of “underutilized” office space in Connecticut, and adds that “various other jurisdictions are being considered” for future growth.
Now before you East Village wannabe socialites and Park Slope stroller pushers freak, let’s break this down.
Deloitte isn’t going anywhere. Corporate Tax breaks are nothing new, right baseball fans?
Even if it were to move across the Hudson to New Jersey, it is doubtful the firm would go farther than Jersey City. Sure, there are comrades in Parsippany; but it would be very difficult to maintain a city presence from exit 45 off of Rte 80. But from a staffing perspective, this would be corporate suicide. What University of Texas (“at Austin” – sure, sure) graduate wants to move to New York City and Not. Actually. Be. In. New York. City?
Recruitment – shot.
Talent retention – HAHAHA.
A handful of current employees thankful their NJ Transit days are over – okay, I’ll give you that one.
Listen – in reality, this is a rather simple case. Manhattan is bleeding vacant office space; Deloitte is promising 2,100 new jobs; no one really wants to take the PATH train to work every morning. This should be a rather slam dunk case.
Unless, of course, Connecticut governor Jodi Rell catches wind that the Green Dot is looking for a new home.
Here are some accounting jokes for you. Why? Because this is a blog, dammit; we need to lighten things up around here.
10 explanations that employees might say when they’re caught sleeping at their desks.
1. “They told me at the blood bank this might happen.”
2. “This is just a 15-minute power nap like they raved about in that time management course you sent me to.”
3. “Whew! Guess I left the top off the liquid paper. You probably got here just in time.”
4. “This is in exchange for the six hours last night when I dreamed about work.”
5. “It’s okay … I’m still billing the client.”
6. “I wasn’t sleeping! I was meditating on the mission statement.”
7. “I was doing a yoga exercise to relieve work-related stress.”
8. “Rats! Why did you interrupt me? I almost had figured out a solution to our biggest company problem.”
9. “The coffee machine’s broken.”
“And there are a lot of new taxes coming. California state legislators want to solve our state’s giant deficit by taxing marijuana. Meanwhile, Oregon wants to increase a tax on beer, while New York wants to tax Internet porn. You know what this means? By the end of spring break, this whole thing could be paid for.” –Jay Leno
“Regis Philbin’s back in primetime, hosting 11 new episodes of ‘Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.’ But because of Obama’s tax plan, it’s been re-titled ‘Who Wants To Win Just Under $250,000.'” –Jimmy Fallon
What’s the definition of a good tax accountant? Someone who has a loophole named after him.
Your lawyer friends might tell this joke:
What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer? The accountant knows he is boring.
May I suggest this be your rebuttal:
What’s the difference between an accountant and lawyer? The accountant is never unemployed.
Partners, feel free to use this one at the next compensation meeting:
When do accountants laugh out loud? When somebody asks for a raise.
Accounting and Relationships
If an accountant’s wife cannot sleep, what does she say? “Darling, could you tell me about your work.”
When he arrived at the hotel, there was a letter waiting for him that read as follows: “Dear Husband, I too am 54 years old, and by the time you receive this letter I will be at the Savoy Hotel with my eighteen year old toy boy. Because you are an accountant, you will surely appreciate that 18 goes into 54 many more times than 54 goes into 18.”
By the time you read this, Monday will be one foot in the bag for most of you. So not to hurt your already-tuned-out minds with, I wanted to report on something that probably comes as no shocker to you: the difference in working attitudes between generations continues to cause grief for company leadership across the country.
The full FINS article can be found here, but here’s the bit I want to discuss:
Another issue that cropped up in the survey is the subtle generational shift evidenced by more Gen Y’ers infiltrating the accounting pool. The survey concludes that members of a younger workforce have different expectations about their careers, insofar as they’re more focused on work-life balance and not bound to a “work is all I am” mantra. When asked about reasons for voluntary turnover, 45% of respondents said a poor work/life balance, including excessive hours, was responsible.
65% 55% listed “working for cranky old farts that have no concept of a balanced life” as the reason for looking for a new job. But really, there is obviously a clash in working styles and expectations between the different generations.
Older generations worked their way through school, and many were the first in their families to attend college. This work ethic carried over into the workforce, as Baby Boomers competed against one another for everything; jobs, money, social and economic status, etc. Boomers were raised on the concept of “you eat what you kill.” Simply put, they were a generation pushed and pushed and pushed to work and work and work; by parents, peers, and society alike.
Fast forward to the Generation Y and Millenials that are currently entering the workforce. The large “complaints” of senior leadership about the new waves of workers are the necessary changes that must be made – flexible work arrangements, work/life balance initiatives, community outreach programs, etc. All of these HR-friendly programs have one thing in common – they cost time and money. Upper management and partners of the accounting firms complain frequently (even here in the comments) that the Y’s and Me’s are a lazier, more high maintenance group of professionals.
Newsflash, Baby Boomers: you’re responsible for this. This was to be expected after years of an upbringing centered around access to things, supply of stuff, and promises of you can do whatever you want to do. Baby Boomers saw an advancement in education and the quality of professional training required in the workplace. Today’s generations are seeing another advancement; this one being the quality of the workplace.
But I digress. Perhaps we should all agree to disagree on the continued generational differences and focus on these lines from the FINS article:
The survey found that praise and attention from managers can have a more positive effect than cash bonuses and increase in base pay, for example. To that end, CFOs are focusing more on gold stars and less on pay stubs.
Sounds like parenting, doesn’t it?
Slow Monday, GC’ers? You’re damn right. Call up your buddies and make today Margarita Monday. What better way to prepare for Tequila Tuesday, amiright?
I received the following question in my inbox from a recently unemployed reader:
I was let go from my firm in the fall of 2009. I have since found a part-time job but am struggling to secure full-time work. I’m afraid that if I go too long without finding a new job that I’ll have a hard time explaining the gap in my resumé. What do you suggest?
My two Lincolns follow:
Part-time work is better than nothing – If you have ever been between jobs, you know that job searching is not a 9-5 ordeal. After the first few weeks of searching the Monster’s and CareerBuilder’s of the online world, one becomes very efficient in their respective search capabilities. Jobs are not filled in a first-come-first-served manner either, so it becomes a matter of searching new jobs (typically Monday and Friday are the most popular posting days) once a day to make sure you’re on top of the newest opportunities.
That said, you’ll find yourself with a lot of time during the days. Rather than catch up on your Netflix account, find yourself a part-time job or volunteer opportunity. It will keep your mind active, your spirits up, and even some extra change in your pocket. This also shows that maintaining a work ethic and staying professionally active is important to you
Update your resume on a regular basis – On the flip side of the online job market pool, employers know the last time you updated your resume. Revising your resume once a week will ensure that it remains near the top of searches. I’m not saying you should re-work your work experience every week; changing even the slightest detail is enough to register as an update in their system.
Be honest – Whatever you do, do not lie to your recruiter or the HR professional representing a potential job. In addition to background and credit checks, employment verification checks are becoming ever more popular. Don’t feel like you need to lie about when you lost your pervious job; you’re not the only person that has been affected by the recent recession. Which brings me to my last point.
You’re not alone – Sure, the recession has led to a saturated job market; employers understand this as they begin to re-hire individuals. Recent gaps in your resumé are not scarlet letters (like they would have been in 2007) for your chances of landing an interview.
Once that interview is secured, be honest and upfront about the missing time pieces in your work experience. And whatever you do, hit home the fact that you’re hoping a new role with ABC Inc. will lead to a successful future of stability and growth for both you and the company.
Good afternoon and Happy Thursday, people. For the sake of your sanity I decided not to write about LeBron James and his impending decision*. Today I wanted to focus on something that is plaguing all of us right now – the summer months.
What the devil are you talking about, Daniel?
You heard me, my accounting cohorts. The summer months are traditionally a down time for most public accounting professionals due to the accounting cycle combined with the influx of extra hands on deck (i.e. peppy interns). The lack of significant workloads during July and August can be enough to drive even the most motivated accountant to the breaking point of boredom.
Here are a few tips to get you through the days ahead once you reach the max weekly usage on Pandora:
Five before 5 – Things never feels slower than when there seems to be nothing to accomplish through the course of the day. Avoid the “I did nothing for 8 hours” by setting out a list of five things to accomplish during the day, trivial or not. List items can include everything from contacting your scheduler or manager about the fall client schedule or rolling forward workpapers in preparation for the 2010 year end. Creating the list the night before will also help set the tone for your morning routine.
Volunteer – The effects that volunteering has on one’s mind and well being are well documented. In short – it’s good for you. Check in with your local HR rep or watch out for the monthly emails about volunteer opportunities. Want to look outside of your firm? Volunteermatch.org is a wonderful resource.
Mentor an intern – See that bright-eyed and bushy-tailed intern in the cubicle passing time by reading through 10K’s on the SEC website? Do their internship experience a favor and walk them through one of your clients’ workpapers. Carving out time in your day to explain the steps and processes documented in your work will help them better understand what they can expect in the future. Anything you can do to expand their exposure beyond cas rec’s is an accomplishment; and trust me, they’ll remember and appreciate the fact that you took the time to explain the process.
Get out of the office – If nothing else cash in a chunk of your vacation days and take a week off. Even if you don’t travel, use the time to catch up your personal life. Read a book, sleep for 16 hours, I don’t care. Just get away from the office and turn off your Monday-Friday mindset.
*That said, I hope he comes to New York
Welcome back, people. Stuffed with watermelon mint juleps, fireworks and Klynveldian meats, most of you probably returned to full stomachs and fuller inboxes. That said, I hope your day is as painstakingly slow as mine (HR is a beautiful thing).
My morning news feed (i.e. Caleb’s morning news round-up) contained a story that is all too familiar – graduating college with an accounting degree is a safe bet. Of course. This report could have been 10 days or 10 years old; the song and dance would be the same. Consistently one of the best (meaning safest) bets for an undergraduate degree, the report from National Association of Colleges and Employers that, “jobs in accounting paid an entry-level salary of $50,402.” (It should be noted that – rumor has it – NACE pays a circus monkey to regurgitate these statistics EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.)
Not too shabby, 50 grand a year after college. This number obviously comes with a salt shaker, as those entering into a career in public need to factor in their location and the fact that the number is pulled upwards – at least to a degree – by private salaries. My beef is not with these numbers but with the parents, high school guidance counselors and university staff that use these numbers as a means to push their products on to naïve students. Alas, my list of Flakey Reasons You Should Be an Accounting Major:
“My (insert random acquaintance reference here) is an accountant, and he/she does just fine.” That’s wonderful for your barber’s cousin’s friend, but really the success of one accountant means nothing. Doctors are successful, as is the 15 year old kid bagging my groceries. This “Mr. Smith is successful” argument is generally used as a conservative reference to a job that is less popular. Quality of life is a relative term; so who’s happier, the produce bagger or the family tax accountant?
“You need to graduate with a degree that will earn you a job.” I understand this argument; however isn’t the point of college to study a subject which you actually like? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being realistic about this, but the long-term consequences of studying a particular subject and focusing on an industry cannot be overlooked. This leads me to…
“You can work in any industry with an accounting degree.” I like Skittles. I am downright passionate about Skittles. Skittles are my life*. Is an accounting degree the only way to work for their producer, Mars Inc? Umm. No.
“You need a job to pay back your student loans.” No argument here, except for the one about overall crisis in higher education (you know, no big deal really). A recent CardRatings.com poll showed 36 percent of college graduates are carrying student loan debt on a credit card. Sleep soundly knowing the remaining 64 percent of the group is simply burdened by lower interest rates.
But I digress. The loans should be considered a necessary means to an end (i.e. – finding a job and career of interest). If you’re majoring in a subject so you can pay down the debt…that you took on…to earn…said degree…you’re vastly missing the point of going to college.
Study for the CPA exam: July is a testing month, so study up on whatever exam is hanging over your head. Your firm is giving you time off – stay sober for six of those hours and cram some knowledge.
Spend The Man’s money: Are you done with the CPA exam and now have an incentive check for doing so burning a hole in your madras shorts? Cash it in, treat yourself to something nice, and begin the b*tching about fulfilling upcoming CPE requirements.
Eat some meat: If you’re a lucky KPMG Kamper that already received your Omaha Steaks package, light up the grill and cook up a feast. (I hear outdated Becker CPA review books make excellent fire starters.)
Jump Start things early: E&Y, PwC, and Deloitte are all closed tomorrow and Monday (at least that’s the case in New York City), leaving Uncle Peat as the lone office stuck with just a three day weekend. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that…sucks? Skip out early, Kampers.
Click on the ads all over Going Concern. Come on, Caleb deserves your ad revenue.
Network you patriotic pants off: Holiday barbeques bring together both friends and strangers. Also be open to the possibility of talking shop with the acquaintances you meet; you never know when a job or new client opportunity will present itself.
Work on your resumé: Your resumé should always be updated; simple as that.
Spend time with family and friends: No, really. You public accountants work too hard and spend too much time together (yes, I’m referring to the romantic couplings occurring at Thursday night happy hours). Branch out and reconnect with your friends – you know – “those people” with 40 hour work weeks. They miss you. Plus, the tan-less look you’ve been rocking since busy season is so February’s look.
Share your plans or off-the-cubicle-wall ideas below. See you all on Tuesday. Cheers!
The Harvard Business Review’s blog (Harvard blogs?) ran a piece earlier today about a recent Pew Research study that claims more women are not having children.
The HBR brushes over the whole birth control thing and serves its best interest by focusing on what they consider having it all (an advanced degree and at least one child), picking the following statistic out of the hay stack, “in 2008, 24% of women ages 40-44 with a master’s, doctoral or professional degree had not had children, a decline from 31% in 1994.”
This had me thinking about the benefits that the Big 4 provide to their employees going through early parenthood. What might surprise you (or might not) is how similar the firms’ services are.
Parental leave of absence: “Eligible primary care parents with three months of service can use six weeks of paid parental leave during the year following birth or adoption placement (three weeks for non-primary care parents). This is in addition to maternity disability benefits, if applicable, of 60% to 100% for approximately 8 weeks. Paid parental leave runs concurrently with any job-protected time under family and medical leave.”
Provided by every Big 4 firm:
Adoption assistance – Per EY’s site: “Pays expenses up to $5,000 per child (with an additional $1,000 for special needs children), with paid leave available for the caregivers, along with resource and referral services.”
Lactation program – PwC’s program, explained: “Access to educational materials, unlimited pre/post-birth counseling from nationally recognized lactation specialists and breast pump discounts are available through this program. Private mother’s rooms are also available in many of our offices.” Do conference frooms count as “mothers’ rooms?”
Parental paid leave of absence
Deloitte – 2 weeks (this is all I could find – can anyone prove differently?)
PwC – up to 6 weeks
KPMG – 8 weeks “Professionals who plan to return to work after the birth or adoption, are eligible for two weeks (10 days) of paid child care leave.”
E&Y – 6 weeks
Family time off – The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 promises 12 weeks of unpaid leave for those employees who need to take care of a sick family member. E&Y extends this service to 16 weeks.
Back up Child and Elder Care – many of the firms provide some kind of support for employees when family care emergencies occur. KPMG takes things one step further by allowing employees to share their unused resources with colleagues that have depleted their resources.
Note – I used external websites when reviewing the different options – these might outdated from what you have internally. Does your local office offer something unique that is not listed here? Share details in the comments.
It’s raining bonuses and raises over at PricewaterhouseCoopers these days. Unfortunately, all I’m seeing are news tips (monetary tips or buybacks at the bar are always appreciated). All of my sources are from the NYC office, so if you’re elsewhere in the country, please share your numbers in the comments below. Here’s what we know so far:
• Advisory/Consulting senior associate received a raise north of 18.5%. No, that is not a typo. So in the advisory practice it’s safe to assume the spread is 0% to 19% for raises this year, with the average being about 6% as reported by Caleb earlier.
• A recently promoted associate to senior associate in advisory received a 10.5% raise and a $3,000 bonus.
• Tax bonuses are being handed out now as well. Size matters in this instance, people. Cough up the details below.
This indicates that resources are being spent on what is being determined to be the right people in the right practices. Average performers should expect to receive 4-6% and take it to the bank.
Audit people, what are your numbers looking like? Email us or post your comments below. Practice/office/level are always appreciated
Thanks to everyone that is sharing information. Enjoy the weekend.
As if PricewaterhouseCoopers hasn’t been popular enough around the GC community, I received the following letter from an Advisory practice leader out of their New York City office yesterday:
You know what it takes to succeed here. Smarts. Flexibility. Teamwork. Excellence. Leadership.
Sounds more like a description of the US Soccer team, no? My emphasis and notes below.
That’s why we’re turning to you to help us find our next new hire, that future teammate, a qualified colleague. And, beyond the reward of perhaps having a friend work here and enhancing our level of talent, we’re making it more worthwhile to recommend a friend by temporarily increasing the referral bonus for client service p sue our growth goals and win more work, our staffing needs are growing too.
In Advisory, our business continues to grow and we need the right talent to fill the dynamic and challenging positions we have open to support our continued growth for the remainder of the year and beyond. As we communicated to you, we recognize the need for additional resources in many areas of our practice. Referring qualified candidates has always been one of the best sources of candidates for us, and an important way you can help.
Refer someone you know for a client service position, and you can earn up to a $6,000 referral bonus if they accept the position, depending on the level of the position, from June 14 through September 30. Asking you to help is just part of our push to find new ways to bring talent in faster and through different channels.
So, take a minute and think about people you know from your professional and personal networks. Use LinkedIn or Facebook to connect with a former colleague, a friend, or someone you volunteer with who has the skill sets we need. We all know people who could achieve personally and contribute to the success of the firm, whether in our line of service, or in another. (And, we could all use a little spending money.)
Not sure you want to comb through all your contacts? You may want to think again. As additional incentive, for client service referrals, you’ll:
§ Receive a $100 American Express gift card for any client service referral who is submitted between June 14 and September 30 and interviewed for a position other than partner or principal in any line of service other than IFS [Internal Firm Services] by October 31, 2010. These will be awarded on a monthly basis after the interview takes place.
DWB: Tell your buddies at other firms to apply, interview, and take you for $100 worth of drinks.
§ Be entered automatically into announced prize drawings for each new client service referral who accepts a job offer (other than as partner or principal) for the position which you referred them in any line of service other than IFS. And these aren’t just any prizes: the first drawings will be for $15,000 or one of four iPads, per line of service of the referrer. There’s no limit on how many acceptances gain you entry, either — so if you refer three new people who accept the client service job offer for which you submit them, you’re entered into the drawing for your line of service three times (though you can only win one prize per drawing).
DWB: Uhhhh. So you can win either $15,000 or an iPad? Fifteen THOUSAND dollars or a personal computer? What pains me is to see the money they are throwing at this process – surely one would assume PwC has an internal recruiting team to fill these needs. Right?
Wrong. My source was kind enough to check their internal job directory, and there are multiple experienced recruiter positions for the Advisory line up for grabs. This makes sense, as these glorified internal “head hunters” are cut early on when times get tough (no sense having recruiters when there is no need for new personnel). These roles were probably canned in 2008 or ’09 when the Advisory sector was bleeding resources.
So get on the horn, PDubbers – call up your friends at the other public accounting shops and cash in on this opportunity.
I’ve always been a nerd.
Not a dork, a nerd. The financial services industry and its incredible economic influence (from tax structuring to secondary industries like cab drivers and event planners) has always interested me. So it should come as no surprise that I am an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal (I have the dual paper/online subscription…obviously).
There was an article in today’s edition that has to do with getting “the salary you want.” If only it was as easy as these five points. For what it’s worth, here’s my summary of, and input on, how these
rules suggested guidelines if you are looking to transition out of public accounting:
• Do your research – The article makes a point to research what current salary ranges at the potential place of employment could be. Salary.com, Payscale.com, and Glassdoor.com are all mentioned. My advice – remember to do your research with grains of salt in easy reach. The greater number of employees that contribute their statistics will lead to a more accurate number. (Glassdoor.com lists PwC’s “audit associate” salary average salary as $53,358. Is that accurate? You tell me.)
• Don’t give out the first number – When you get beyond the confusion of that statement, you realize the article is referring to the pay day you would love to receive if given the job. My advice – Don’t give a number. Here’s exactly what you need to say if asked “what is your ideal salary:” “For me the role and opportunity is what is most important.”
Yes, that is a vague statement. But it is your recruiter’s job to fight for your salary; remember their pay day is dependent on yours.
• Don’t lie – Listen to your mother. My advice – this is self-explanatory. Your current salary will be verified. Lying to your recruiter about anything – most notably salary and background check details – is a way to sever ties indefinitely.
• Don’t take the first offer – The article goes back and forth about negotiating salaries, something that you won’t do if you use a recruiter. However, if you are not using a recruiter, I recommend reading this bit. My advice – People typically have two magic numbers in their head: 1) the salary they’ve dreamt of and 2) the number they really need to receive in order to commit to leaving. Be honest with your recruiter. They will fight for you, or they will talk you off the ledge of asinine expectations.
• Once that’s locked in, go for other benefits – The article pretty much shoots itself in the kidney on this one. Read it. It’s 17 seconds you’ll never have back. My advice – consider the benefits part of your total compensation. More or less vacation days? Summer flex programs? Cheaper health benefits? Better 401k? List everything out and compare with your current situation. Due to fair employment practices, companies are usually hand-tied to offering equal employees different (or “better”) benefits.
That’s all I have. Oh and for the record, the difference between dorks and nerds is simple. Dorks read the Journal with coffee. Nerds read the Journal with scotch.
World Cup fever is sweeping the world, if not your office. Sure it’s not March Madness and a much needed relief from busy season but it is the world’s biggest athletic event. And regardless of whether you are wearing your country’s colors to the office or still confused as to what FIFA even stands for, your friendly employer should be paying attention; there’s plenty to learn from these games.
Loud noise is a powerful distraction – It’s rumored that Human Resources departments around the country are placing obscene orders for vuvuzelas, the long plastic horns that are causing a stir at the opening round games (and being banned at practically all future sporting events). Their hopes are for all Big 4 partners to use them when year 2010 bonuses and raises are announced. The news is expected to be rather bleak and disappointing, but the hope is that the horns make everything seem so much more FUN!
Seriously though – those horns sound like a swarm of drunk, football loving bees.
Timing is everything – The worst part about the World Cup games for football fans in America has been the timing of games. The first round games have been beginning at 7:30 am on the east coast and a bright 4:30 am in sunny California. Satyam hopes no one is watching their recent restatement troubles, much like West Coasters likely snoozed through Argentina/South Korea this morning.
Moral victories are still acceptable – In fact – if you spin things well enough – a moral victory is a real victory. (See Example A here) So what moral victories have we had recently?
E&Y is hiring…sorta. We still don’t know what that’s all about.
KPMG is making the suburbia-to-city commute just a thing of the past. How nice of them!
PwC raises might be decent after all. Or at least less awful than EY’s.
Deloitte made impacting the community a requirement.
McGladrey is on fire. Everybody out!
Hmm. Suddenly that 1-1 tie with the Brits doesn’t seem so mediocre, does it?
Happy MOANday, everyone. If you missed Friday’s post because you were enjoying summer hours, be sure to get caught up on things before anything else.
I left of Friday’s post leaving up to you, the readers, to discuss which person would be better qualified for the situation. I did my best in laying out assumptions for the hypothetical, and many of you responded with wonderful feedback.
Here’s a taste:
Just for fun, let’s tweak the assumptions a smidge. Same 4 years of public experience, except the job offer has a 30% bump in total comp. Also, the person in the position before you was essentially like you (i.e. 4 years of experience, even came from the same firm as you) and they got promoted within 2 years with a 15% increase in pay. The hours are better (average 45-50 hours a week rather than 60 or so with more consistency), but the new job is less flexible (i.e. less vacation). Would you jump ship?
DWB: SouthernCPA brought up an important aspect that I overlooked – non-financial perks like benefits and – in this case – vacation days. Public accounting firms are generous with vacation days because they know many of you will have stretches of non-chargeability. Private industry average two to four weeks. But like in Southern’s case, a 30% bump in salary more than offset the vacation day situation. And remember what I mentioned above – benefits. Find me a hedge fund that doesn’t completely pay for or greatly subsidize health benefits and I’ll take you to lunch (no, really). This is savings that offers both more money in your wallet and peace of mind.
I would also agree with Southern CPA to the extent that it depends on the experience gained in industry vs public accounting as well as the bump experienced by leaving at a senior vs a manager level. However, there are also other factors that should be considered as well such as the ability to find a job at different levels (senior vs manager). While few talk about it within the big 4, I have personally watched over-specialization as well as too much public experience become an issue when searching for jobs, particularly for individuals at a manager/senior manager level.
DWB: This is the precise situation I wanted to hit home. Sorry, Jeff. Tanya is by far the more qualified candidate. And here’s why:
• Tanya has an ideal mix of public and private experience – assuming the private role is not a demotion – she can hit the ground running at the next level. She understands her respective industry from both the public and private side. She can come on board at the next role (most likely a promotion) with an easier transition than Jeff.
• Jeff spent two years managing – budgets, staff, expectations. Very little of this matters. One could argue that senior staff members are the real managers of engagement teams anyway, as they are forced to handle the demands of staff, partners, and managers. The longer you’re a manager, the longer you’re away from the nitty gritty hands-on work.
• Audit is reviewing other people’s work. Tanya has two years of doing.
• Tanya will require a slightly higher salary, but oftentimes the private/public mix of experience is worth the cost. The more technical the role, the more private experience that will be required.
Please, leave your comments below. Let’s
hug talk it out.
You should stay until you at least make manager.
How many times have you heard those words? Whether in a partner’s office or at the bottom of a happy hour drink, it also seems as though your best interests are being put first. But really, is that the case?
Before the comments state “every market is different, how dare you make a generalization,” guess what? I’m going to generalize. Sorry, but unless a 2nd year senior in St. Louis emails me with market data, I have no data to base an opinion on. I write about what I know, and what I know is financial services. Kapeesh?
(Send me info…please).
Let’s compare the career paths of two auditors, Jeff and Tanya. Both started at the same time and are now 2nd year senior associates, entering into that dark year before potential promotion to manager (notwithstanding personal performance or economic indicators, of course).
Both had “the talk” with leadership about their respective careers and receive the you should stay to make manager conversation. Jeff decides to stay and put in at least another year to receive the promotion, but Tanya decides to enter into the private industry. Fast forward a few years:
Tanya, 2006 college graduate, CPA
Fall 2010: Four years of public accounting experience
Fall 2010: Lands job in private industry
Fall 2011: In private industry
Fall 2012: Still in private industry, wants a new job
Jeff, 2006 college graduate, CPA
Fall 2010: Four years of public accounting experience
Fall 2010: Stays in public accounting
Fall 2011: Stays in public accounting, promoted to manager
Fall 2012: Still in public accounting, wants a new job
Make the following assumptions:
• Tanya received a market-rate bump in pay when she left public (10-15%).
• Tanya stayed in the “typical” career path with someone with her experience (i.e. she didn’t leave financial services audit to work for Teach for America).
• Tanya did not receive a promotion while in private (although possible).
• Jeff stayed for a year after making be promoted because he bought into the “you need to stay one year after making manager” mantra.
Now, who do you think is the more attractive candidate for a job in private for someone with six years of financial services experience? Discuss below. My opinion and follow up will kick off Monday’s blog post.
If you’re reading this from the (un)comfort of your desk, please let me know why in the world you’re not doing one of the following:
a. Drinking with interns
b. Drinking with strangers at a crowded World Cup bar
c. Instituting your own summer hours and – yup, you guessed it – drinking
Cheers to your weekend and the World Cup team of your choice.
Summer interns are en route to an office near you; either already on board or on their way this week, sporting their early summer tans. Just in time for the work load to shrivel up to next to nothing and summer hours to be instituted – gotta love the timing! But nonetheless summer intern season is a wonderful time of year, and I want to make sure GC helps celebrate the summer.
Today’s post is a cry for help on two different levels (has my job really come to the point of groveling?). Here’s the scoop:
What’s the concept?: The main drive behind this blog is to provide insider information on the public accounting industry to those who work in the trenches every day. What better way to do that than by listening to you, the summer intern? Your senior manager might ignore you all summer, but we won’t.
What we’re looking for: Summer interns at public accounting firms (Big 4, mid-size, anyone is welcome) to contribute short, bi-weekly write-ups about your summer experiences. We’re not looking for firm bashing information or juicy details about co-ed hookups but hey, if you have dirt, we’re always here to listen. Write-ups should touch on your experiences, both firm related on your respective engagement teams.
How to get involved: Email me here and include the following information:
Firm and Location:
Dates of internship:
Best email to contact you on:
*See my note below about confidentiality
Advice for Summer Interns
What’s the concept?: I’m in the process of putting together a “guide” for summer interns. What do they need to know before starting at your firm? What industries should they avoid or gravitate towards? How should they handle being snagged into a drunken conversation with a partner about his three kids and pending soccer tournament? Most of you here have not only worked with/ hated on interns before, but you were one at one point in your career as well.
What we’re looking for: Share your advice or your stories of interns past. The dirt. Everything. From serious career advice to informal tongue-in-cheek statements, nothing is off limits.
How to get involved: Email me feedback and include your firm’s name and office location. Feel free to leave stories below in the comments.
*Please note: As a member of the public accounting industry myself I understand the importance of confidentiality when it comes to something like this project, and I understand the concern that I might release names either publicly or to the respective firms. Simply put, I will never do such a thing. The success of this website rises and falls with the trust of our readers. No one would ever take action to hurt our relationship with you, the readers. Please have faith in us as I ask for your participation. Any feedback or comments are assumed to be private.
That said, I look forward to your feedback. Cheers and Happy Moanday.
Chances are good that at this time yesterday you didn’t know anything about James Joyce III. Today, America can’t stop talking about the poor sap. His Wikipedia page has been frozen and he’s a trending topic on Twitter.
BP sent Joyce a bottle of tequila this morning, the card reading, “Thank you for taking the heat off of us. Enjoy the spotlight. Remember to wear sunscreen. XOXO – BP”
Experts have varying opinions on what this means for baseball and the implementation of instant replay. What is easier to agree on is that Joyce deserves respect not for his poor call but for the fact that he was humble enough to admit that he was wrong, saying, “I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay. Biggest call of my career, and I kicked the shit out of it.”
If nothing else, Little Leaguers everywhere can learn from this moment. But the lesson doesn’t need to end there. What can every accounting firm take away from this situation in hopes of never pulling a JimJoyce* themselves?
Admit when you are wrong – Listen to your mother, George Washington, or whatever truth-telling role model you have in your life and fess up when you are wrong. Deloitte did just that back in April when they admitted to handling the “headcount adjustment” in poor fashion.
Don’t point fingers – I don’t know if you’ve noticed the bickering going on between E&Y and PwC recently, but it’s kind of…what’s the word for it…pathetic? First there was the “our raises are bigger than yours” spout from E&Y leadership. Boys, boys, keep it in your pants. Size doesn’t mat…oh wait, what? It does in this case? Well then. Brag away. Then PDubs’ London arm decided to pull a Joe McGinniss and set up camp a mere 10 meters from E&Y’s fish ‘n chips office. Awkward love affair or uber-competitive personalities? Either way it’s immature to act like this. Grow up.
Hide – Joyce is probably in the process of doing this (don’t expect him to return to the field anytime soon). But the newly branded McGladrey is leadership’s efforts to mask the fact that cuts are affecting morale and staff ranks. Perhaps no one commented on Caleb’s putting green post because no one is left. Just sayin’.
What else can your firm learn from Jimbo? Comment below.
*you heard that phrase here first.
Last Friday’s post by Caleb surrounding the Bonus Watch at Deloitte sparked a handful of intuitive comments from GC readers.
In case you didn’t read the post and subsequent commentary, Commenter Anon51 responded to the question “what do readers suggest firms do to retain practitioners” with the following:
1. treat every team member with respect
2. you can’t just force your team to work harder year after year with fewer people and a smaller budget
3. pay 4-7 year people more, pay new hires less, so it seems there is an incentive to working harder
4. reward your people with an extra day off without having to utilize vacation time, especially after a really busy month/audit
Point 3 is bolded because it resulted in the following comment from Guest:
“That’s a really good idea, and I’m not being sarcastic. There is no reason why new hires fresh out of college need to make $59k ($55k + $4k sign-on bonus), when they would happily work for $50k. Then, a $5k bump every year would be a reward, with maybe a higher bump during promotion years…Pay disparity is a bigger issue than actual pay.”
Well said, Guest and Anon51.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the Big 4 are constantly in cahoots with one another with regards to hiring benchmarks. So I propose that TBig4PTB get together and reassess their starting salaries. Behold, a template for all Big Wigs to follow:
1. Decrease starting total packages (salary + sign on) by seven percent. Lower the bar from the get-go.
2. Now is the time – blame the decrease on “a firm wide strategic response to the economic risks of being a major player in the professional services industry. Unofficial response – did you see the DOW sink like the Titanic the other day?!”
3. Spread gap created by initial decrease in salary over the next two years. This will create an artificial sense of accomplishment and praise.
4. Send internal emails stressing the “increase in raises for well deserving employees.” Everyone cheers.
5. In three years college graduates will not know the difference; this “decrease” becomes a non-issue.
Guest’s comment that “pay disparity is a bigger issue than actual pay” can become a non-issue with very little effort. Is this fair or ethical? Mehhhhh. I personally think it would be a slap in the face to those of you who have busted your humps and sacrificed career and personal opportunities all in the name of KPDeloitterhouseErnstMG. But it certainly wouldn’t be the most desperate attempt made by one of the firms in recent memory.
Raising morale – hardly. What are your thoughts?
Welcome back from the weekend, folks. With the short week coming up, I hope this one is not terribly swamped for you.
The Harvard Business Review recently published a McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy study on the treatment of bottom-of-the-barrel workers. Its sampling followed a range of companies large to small from 2005 on through the latest recession. The biggest takeaway from the study was that every employee matters and the companies that provide every employee with a voice see the most positive improvement with their bottom lines.
Idealistic? A bit, yes. But the study’s author, Jody Heymann added, “How work is structured, how it is rewarded, and how workplaces encourage employee engagement are all central to the profitability of firms and to the quality of the daily lives of working men and women. Employees determine 90 percent of most businesses’ profitability.”
Read the article or the study if you’d like to know more. If you do, you’ll notice that none of the success stories were founded on better pay. Often times a company’s success was about listening to employees and acting on their feedback. Foreign concepts, perhaps; but this is what KPMG’s Summer Blast! program is attempting to do just that. I wouldn’t be surprised if the other firms follow suit.
The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series before my input is ever requested by a firm for programs like this, but just for kicks I’ve laid out a few ways the Big 4 could improve worker relations with minimal financial impact.
Stick with summer hours – Friday afternoons are notoriously slow; interns are hung over, partners are reviewing work from home the beach/mountains/countryside; and weekend plans hinge on the prospect of not getting stuck in traffic. And since most clients are at their slowest pace in the summer; so why force workers to be locked up until 5:00pm?
Release staff members early; 3:00pm would be a fair start to one’s weekend plans. Firms should take it one step further and adjust utilization reports to reflect this change. Is an extra half hour Monday through Thursday really necessary to the bottom line? (Blogger note – comment below if your firm adjusts utilization reports). Relieving the necessity for staff members to make up the time is a better act of good faith than the time off itself.
Leave the steaks at home – grab a (pitch)fork and volunteer – It would take some effort, but organizing a community service day for every office would provide employees with the opportunity to escape the office and interact with coworkers in a different kind of way. Volunteering in the community is encouraged by every firm and is generally a big hit among the younger staff members. Partners and managers would have an opportunity to connect with their staff on a more casual yet work-appropriate level.
Comment below how you’d like to see your firm approach the issue. If they were listening, what would you say?
Daniel Braddock is a former Big 4 human resources professional and auditor. You can read more of his posts for Going Concern here.