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Small Firm Associate Concerned Her Employer Is Turning into a Mini-PwC

Welcome to the let’s-dig-up-the-waterboarding-debate edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a young associate’s small firm is being overrun with PwC alumni. The firm now has a P. Dubs feel sans the P. Dubs prestige and our associate wants out.

Need some career advice? Do you (or a co-worker) need a business casual/professional makeover? Having a disagreement with a client? Email us at and we’ll send SEALs over to take care of it.

Back to our PwC-adverse associate:


I have been an ongoing reader of Going Concern for a while now. I need some advice and to know my options. I had an excellent internship with PWC alumni which landed me a job in audit at a small local firm the last year of school. I have since graduated college and enjoyed working at the small firm occasionally talking to recruiters but not really giving it much thought on leaving. Why leave 40 -45 hour work weeks non busy season and a 10% contribution to salary? Then my small local firm started hiring a group of PWC alumni to where it is now 75% ex-PWC.

They are taking over and making it feel like big four without the big four caliber of at least getting to list big four on your resume. So now I find myself wanting out of my small local firm and going else where. I still have 2 sections left to pass on my exam and I am not sure 2 busy seasons of experience but not even a year out of school really counts as an experienced candidate. Do you have any suggestions or career advice?

– Desperately wanting out

Dear Desperately,

Your concern feels a little reactionary. Surprisingly, not all PwC people send around misogynist emails, are workaholics or work their staff to death (debatable!). However, you do have a unique problem so I’ll see what I can do.

You are in a bit a jam since you don’t have your CPA and very little experience so I advise you to stay put at least until you get your CPA and you should really stay for at least one more busy season. If you leave, most likely, it will be a lateral move and you’ll be back to cubicle one. Not an ideal situation. Having said that, here’s why I think you should stay:

1. With all this PwC talent around, some of their expertise is bound to rub off on you. Lots of small firms don’t have Big 4 caliber talent at manager or staff levels so you can learn a lot from these people while you’re working with them. If you can’t stand them after one more busy season, at least you’ll have a little bit of their wisdom to take with you.

2. If you ever decide that you want to make a jump to a Big 4 firm (it could happen), these PwC alum are your ticket. They’ll still have friends and former colleagues at PwC and probably elsewhere and they’ll be able to get you in touch with the right people. Don’t forget that, whether you like it or not, these people are part of your network and you need to use that network when you can. If you bail out now, you’ll simply be a blip on their radar.

So get your CPA and stick it out one more busy season. Who knows, you may end up being completed satisfied working for mini-PwC. Good luck.