Today’s edition of “Accounting Career Couch” brings us an experienced and passionate auditor who has been out out public accounting for spell, getting ready to back in the game. He’s looking at PwC or Deloitte but is worried that his non-Big 4 background will hold him back.
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Back to our passionate public accountant:
I worked for 6 years at a national top ten firm (Non Big 4, Non Grant Thornton, Non Mcgladrey, Non BDO). I have a lot of passion for public accounting, and really loved the work. Last April I feel victim to the downsizing present at our firm and was let go. I just made manager the year before, and reviews were very solid, I transferred to the Mergers and Acquisitions group from Audit and we all know what happened to that group. 80% of our group was terminated and we were not allowed the option to transfer back to audit.
I have been working contract work for the past year and a half, and am looking re-enter public accounting. I am looking at PWC and Deloitte as they are hiring for audit positions but am concerned that I might not fit in and my skill set won’t be advanced enough to adapt to their methodology.
I have managed audits of companies which range from 10 million to a 1 billion, both public and private. I am also concerned that the culture might be too cut throat and a new person would be thrown to the wolves. My firm was sophisticated in terms of our documentation but not as technical as I imagine the big four would be given a lot of our clients were private.
Any thoughts from your readers here?
“Passion” and “public accounting” are not words that often collide in the same sentence, so we obviously have a special breed on our hands here. Let’s do our best, shall we?
Your experience sounds pretty solid. A top ten firm will provide good experience and while methodologies at the Big 4 firms are more rigorous, your background should be good enough that you’ll be able to adjust accordingly. Also, your M&A experience is something that many Big 4 auditors won’t have, so that’s also an advantage.
You’re shooting for PwC and Deloitte, which many will argue are the top dogs. Personally, we think you’re capable of making in there but not with your current attitude. You sound like you’re selling your experience short just because it wasn’t with a Big 4 firm. If you have managed audits of the size you claim and have the M&A experience both of these firms will give you a serious look. Big 4 firms have plenty of private clients that your experience would be perfect for.
As for your concern about the cutthroat environment, we feel it’s a little overboard. Will it be competitive? Yes. Will there be unscrupulous people that will step over their own grandmother to get ahead? Of course. But do you know of any company that doesn’t have people like this? It really depends on the market you’re in; if you’re in NYC, Chicago, L.A. San Fran, etc. things will drastically more cutthroat than if you’re in Oklahoma City or Portland. If you’ve navigated politics and assholes before, you can do it again.
Regardless, when you meet with the firms talk up your experience, passion and your accomplishments without being self-deprecating. Learning a new methodology and culture isn’t like learning Mandarin. New jobs always mean adjustments and if you’re determined and ambitious, there’s no reason you can’t kick ass inside either PwC or Deloitte.