January 18, 2022

From public to private after 7 years

Long timer lurker, CPA here with two Bachelor’s degrees (no Master’s) and 7 years of experience in small public accounting firm settings. I want to switch to private. I have been looking for a director of finance/controller role for a company, however I have no “on paper” managerial experience. I have done audits/reviews/compilations of companies and feel my skill set is on par with a lot of people in those positions. Also, I do all the accounting, administration, income tax and SALT returns, and project management for my husband’s budding business, so I do have a familiarity of general cash flow, AR/AP, budgeting, financial reporting, business operations etc. I enjoy that type of work.

I could probably stay at my current job and get promoted to tax manager, however, I’m in this weird limbo where the owner is wanting me to do more managerial/supervisory tasks without stepping foot on the current tax manager. For example: the owner wants me to take over staff scheduling/project management and help craft an employee compensation program to reward performance. During all this I am reviewing simple income tax returns while still having to prepare returns too. I don’t particularly like the owner or manager on a personal level, plus I think that for what we charge our clients, firm service is not up to par. Both owner and manager are often inaccessible and hard to get a straight resolution from when I need help with a project. The firm has 10 or so employees, and I have second highest seniority time-wise (2 years at this firm, every one else has worked here a year or less. Red flag, perhaps?). I am looking forward to getting out of here soon. I don’t want to get stuck in public accounting in general OR here.

What’s my best bet for the next step into private, where I can get paid about the same but work less? Is a director of finance/controller role too lofty? Do I need to take an “entry level” position at a private company and move my way up? Should I take a “Controller” position at a temporary accounting/bookkeeping firm that doesn’t do income taxes (this job is available currently)?

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