HERE. WE. GO.
With PricewaterhouseCoopers’ communication about raises behind us, the proverbial dam of anticipation, expectation, and hopefulness gets closer to cresting. From the sound of things though, disappointment and frustration might be joining the flooding the gates as well.
Debate all you want about how much gravy is (or isn’t) on the train, but the partners in your respective firm will tell you that times are still tight. And to be, they’re probably not stretching the truth too far. Here’s what we know:
Revenues were down in 2009 for everyone. Want a re-cap?
Professional service firms are lagging in the market. When Wall Street (and the rest of America) began melting in 2008, accounting firms were still collecting on contractually agreed upon
procedures fees. Fees were slashed when contracts were negotiated over the course of the next year, and it was these cuts in services and fees that cost employees their raises, bonuses and sometimes even their jobs. Fees might be back on the uptick; you would know better than me. But the general consensus in staffing camps around the country is that teams are doing more work with less billable hours in the budget. Less billable hours means…less revenue. Less revenue means…double digit bonus season? Doesn’t add up.
Expenses were cut but will the savings make enough of a difference? Recruiting budgets, headcounts, national trainings, corporate donations, and holiday parties – all areas of cost-savings. The financial faucets to many of these areas were adjusted; how soon they’re opened up again is hard to gauge. “Slowly” is the first word that comes to mind.
Raises will be purpose-driven – The vast majority of – if not all – well performing employees will receive raises this year. The pot will be spread out, but don’t be surprised when more love is thrown at strategic groups. Sorry, healthcare auditor, you’re simply not generating as much revenue as your firm’s M&A tax group. Fatter raises will be given to those that the leadership thinks are vital to generating continued revenues and/or will be expensive to replace should they move into the private sector.
The one upside to raises, small as they may be, is that they will drive up your base salary. If you do decide to test the job market, the last two years of effort in public accounting will be mostly represented in your new target number which will lead to a higher base elsewhere.
Stay tuned as we learn more about the state of raises across public accounting. As always, share your thoughts in the comments.