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January 27, 2023

Rumor of the Day: PwC No Longer Pays Out a $20K Elijah Watt Sells Award Bonus

I mean, it’s on Reddit so it must be true. Let’s take a look.

Seen talk of this within the last half year and thought I should make a thread to let people know.

You can still get a CPA pass bonus of 6k (or 5k, apparently it depends on line of service), but they definitively told us they don’t offer a bonus for the EWS award anymore. No mention of it being lowered either, just that it’s no longer on the table.

Interestingly they mentioned they still draw most of the winners of this award despite no longer paying you an extra 20k. Not sure how true this is.

The last serious discussion about Elijah Watt Sells Award bonuses happened around these parts in 2012, at which time we did confirm with a PwC spokesperson that the firm offered a $20,000 bonus for its winners. We’ve also talked about the non-financial benefits to winning the tryhardiest award in all of accounting, but that’s not really relevant because the question here is about cold, hard cash.

Interestingly, I was digging through our archive to see if we ever did get confirmation of bonuses at other firms and came across this old article on why there are so many Watt Sells winners these days. I’ll save you a click and excerpt the explanation given to us by the AICPA.

If you want to go really far back, (all the way to 1924) the Sells Award was presented to the one top exam performer, then to the top 2 as a ‘Gold and Silver’ twice annually and then expanded to ‘Gold, Silver and Bronze’ also twice annually– with more winners when there were ties.

In the mid-2000’s, with the computerized exam, it was expanded to be the top 10, and often was higher because of ties for the 10th highest score.

In 2011, the Board of Examiners decided that rather than awarding the top 10 scores, it made sense to standardize the score at an extremely high level (95.50) and award all candidates who surpassed that very high bar.

As fascinating as that is, check out this prescient comment left by Going Concern’s resident troll and curmudgeon-in-chief Big4Veteran.

Hit me up to get your cookie for Miss Cleo-like psychic ability, B4V.

Now, about the claim that PwC boasts “the most” Watt Sells winners. They know we can, like, check that, right? So let’s look at 2018 winners. We’re only including Big 4 firms because that’s all anyone cares about:

  • KPMG 20
  • EY 18
  • PwC 14
  • Deloitte 10

I dunno, I’m no mathlete but that doesn’t look like “the most” to me. What do I know.

If anyone cares to confirm they’ve killed the bonus, please use the contact information below and give us a shout.

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