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Should a Big 4 Associate Leave the Cush Life in Bermuda for an Opportunity in a New City?

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Dear Caleb,

I really need some advice with a career decision I have to make. I currently work for one of the Big 4 offices at the staff level in Bermuda and have been offered the opportunity to move to a bigger office in a major city in America. While I am excited at the opportunity to move to a new city and experience everything there is to do there, I am hesitant about the increased workload that would entail. Here in Bermuda we work about 60 hr weeks for two months during busy season and then work around 40 hr weeks for the rest if the year. In addition, because of the no income tax in Bermuda, this new job would actually mean a pay cut. So is the prospect of a new city and new experiences worth being overworked and underpaid?

– Undecided

Dear Undecided,

Ahh, Bermuda – beautiful place.

Your situation is not unique by any means. I have spoken with a number of people within Big 4 audit groups that are stationed in Bermuda and are being “encouraged” to return to the States via internal transfers. This has been due mainly to the loss of offshore work on the asset management industry. Seeing how the firms are all on hiring sprees, it’s not surprising that leadership is looking to capitalize on your generous work/life balance for the sake of the Greater Good.

The main difference that I sense in your case is that you refer to the transfer to “a new city” and not “home.” Either you are originally from one area in the US and were offered a transfer to a new city, or you are native to Bermuda and this would in fact move you away from your established roots. If it’s the former, consider asking to move to closer to “home”? Would you even want that? If you’re from Bermuda, then you have more to details to weigh.

You also raise two red flags that damn near every commenter on this site will tell you ARE major concerns: more hours for less money. If we polled the audience for their responses to your question of “is the prospect of a new city and new experiences worth being overworked and underpaid” – the response would be a resounding “no.” After all, you’re listing the two main reasons people leave public accounting. But you’re still young in your career. Think about your long term plans – where do you want to be in 5, 10, 20 years? Not firm-wise, but geographically. What is the long term career potential if you stay in Bermuda? Do you want a career in public? What city does your firm want to ship you to?

Let’s open it up to the Peanut Gallery: has anyone been in this situation before?

PS – If you do transfer to the States, please sneak me a bottle of cologne from your local perfumery. Amazing stuff!