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It’s Official, the Only Way to Get a Decent Raise Is by Leaving Your Firm

the word goodbye in plain letters

As public accountants pull the ripcord and bail out from their firms in droves for the greener grass of industry, government, and even the blissful quiet of unemployment so they can figure out what they really want to do with their lives there’s a lot of talk about the abandoned workloads being dumped on the fools loyal grunts who remain. Associates are doing senior work, seniors are involuntarily impersonating managers without manager pay, blah blah, none of this is news to any of you. Concerned about the effect mass resignation will have on already shaky audit quality, the PCAOB is monitoring the attrition situation carefully to ensure 22-year-olds juiced up on Adderall are performing appropriate procedures. There are even concerns that should the public accounting talent problem worsen the very reliability of financial statements is at risk. Not like that wasn’t the case before everyone started quitting their jobs.

None of this is your problem as a public accountant. Sorry to have to say but you are not responsible for your colleagues left behind should you leave. What’s the saying, “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” Firms failed to adequately prepare for a mass exodus and built talent churn into their business model, that’s not your fault. So what if all of Western capitalism topples because you didn’t get the raise you’re entitled to, screw ’em.

Speaking of screwing them, should you be sick of waiting around for firms to hand down more than pizza parties and -5% raises (inflation and all yaknow) Business Insider published some data this week that shows the best way to get a raise is to leave. That’s it. Don’t sit around waiting for the firm to do the right thing, don’t think if you just stick it out one more busy season things will turn around, don’t convince yourself things aren’t so bad because at least you make salary and don’t have to tend bar or dig graves. The only strategy for getting what you are worth is to walk away.

The Insider piece is behind an aggressive paywall so do what you have to do to get to it but the main takeaway is that leaving pays off. Rather, the takeaway is that if you stay you are a sucker.

Business Insider article titled If you’ve stayed put at your company during the Great Resignation, you’re paying a price for your loyalty

Included is Atlanta Fed data that confirms that the leavers are the ones coming out on top in this market. With inflation roaring and a recession looming around the corner, perhaps there has never been better sunshine with which to make hay.

In April, the wages of job switchers rose 5.6% from a year earlier, compared with a 4.2% increase for job stayers. That difference of 1.4 percentage points is the biggest since the dot-com bubble in 2001. It’s so big, in fact, that switching employers makes all the difference in whether your pay has kept up with inflation. In the first quarter of this year, the Fed’s preferred gauge for prices rose 5.2%.

Maybe that number isn’t motivating enough for you to leave your firm in the dust in which case you should scroll r/accounting and log all the people who have left Big 4 for pay increases pushing 40 and 50% (YMMV obs). Do the math on your real hourly rate and you’ll probably find you’d be mathematically better off digging graves. Side note: gravediggers make $30k a year but they get time and a half which you probably don’t plus you will get ripped from all the physical labor which you definitely aren’t.

So leave. Hell, go to another Big 4 firm. Find a buddy there to split a referral bonus with and you’ll both be better off. Miserable, sure, but miserable with more money in your pockets. Go forth and make that hay, you deserve it.*

*Going Concern is not responsible if you jump ship and are miserable wherever you end up. Maybe you’re just a miserable person. Go unpack that in therapy.