Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Quote of the Day: ‘The Message Conveyed is That Firms Will Work You to Death with Minimal Pay Increases’

Unhappy face icon on a wooden cube with cross x sign in a speech bubble.

Check out this brutal honesty in CPA Journal today:

The message conveyed is that firms will work you to death with minimal pay increases, there is little long-term career pay-off for the majority of new hires, and the work is mundane and boring.

OK, context. The article “What Can the Profession Do?” is predominantly about the profession’s diversity problem and how despite “decades of effort” to diversify accounting programs and CPA firms, Black representation is still low. Great topic and they did a great job laying it all out but should you scroll down, you find a criticism of the overall messaging that deters not only Black students but, well, everyone (see also: Research: Why Students — Particularly Diverse Ones — Aren’t Pursuing Accounting). By “messaging” they mean all the negative things accountants talk about on the internet like “I feel so trapped. I worked so hard in college to still not be able to afford to live comfortably. I hate my job” and “I had a manager last year who had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized, but was back at work after a week to keep the partner happy and he’s on his way towards another breakdown. It’s not normal.

TLDR kids are hearing horror stories about accounting on social media and it’s scaring them away.

This is exactly what was said about messaging:

And what if the messaging has some truth to it? What if TB4A has 665,000 followers because the memes are relatable and painfully accurate? There are 428,000 members of the AICPA (as of 2020) which means TB4A beats them out in followers by 237,000 people. What does that say?

Messaging is not the problem. Stop blaming the messengers.

7 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: ‘The Message Conveyed is That Firms Will Work You to Death with Minimal Pay Increases’

  1. Exactly. Pay is the only problem that needs to be fixed in order to address all the other problems boomers keep complaining about. Make the pay competitive with other professions and I bet all of a sudden you’ll have all the talent you could possibly need.

    1. In order for the firms to pay what people want and deserve for the ridiculous hours that they work, clients have to be willing to pay higher fees. It would take all the firms collectively increasing fees (substantially, not just your typical COL increase) to achieve this, which I can’t see happening. If one firm raises fees, clients will leave and there will always be another firm willing to do the work for the lower fee. Firms know this and won’t risk losing clients, so I can’t see fees being raised across the board significantly enough to effect compensation increases big enough to attract more people to the industry.

    2. If firms indexed public accounting pay to Boomer property values they would solve their talent shortage almost instantly.

  2. Staff accountants may perceive that they are working long hours but right out of the gate they are not really producing that much value. I know that last year of school is expensive and grads are looking to recoup that, but it’s worthless to me as an employer. The work at the staff level can easily be done overseas for 1/3 the cost. Big 4 managers are incented to do just that. In my experience it takes 1-2 years before a staff accountant is earning their pay (and that’s their pay, not their bill rate).
    The Grads flock to Big 4 and they are pushed that way by their professors (those accounting dept. chairs don’t fund themselves ya’ know). I know we (regional firm) are paying more per hour to beginning staff than big 4, largely because we don’t crush them with OT, and we pay for OT when they work it.
    Might want to give a regional firm a chance.

  3. I entered public accounting in 1986.
    Around that time, I remember a partner saying the United States needed to solve three big problems:
    Funding social security, the rising cost of education, and the rising cost of healthcare.

    Almost 40 years later none of those problems have been addressed adequately. And there have been numerous discussions about the severity of those problems.

    I imagine it will be the same with public accounting. Like education and healthcare they will keep things the way they are as long as they can. That’s why the accounting profession is rife with consultants cannot come up with an effective strategy to solve its own crisis.

    The world existed before public accounting, and will exist afterward.

Comments are closed.