Careers

cryptocurrency consulting accounting job

Should Cryptocurrency Consulting Be the Next Phase in Your Accounting Career?

Think the hype over cryptocurrency has reached its fever pitch? Think again—the crypto craze has only just begun. Businesses are increasingly viewing cryptocurrency as a viable investment. New tokens are gaining steam, and Bitcoin, the OG crypto cash, continues to trade at a frenzied pace. More than 200,000 Bitcoin transactions occur every day, and investors like […]

Mastering Data Analytics Can Make You a More Valuable Accountant

What can you do to make yourself more valuable to your organization? If you’re an accountant or if you work on a corporate finance team, becoming a master in data analysis is a big step forward. But why? And what does data analytics have to do with accounting? Accountants use data analytics to help businesses […]

DePaul University - Artificial Intelligence article

Should Accountants Be Worried About Artificial Intelligence?

Financial disciplines have long been the first thought-of areas where technology like artificial intelligence will cause dramatic disruption and upend entire ways of thinking. Accountancy is certainly no different from others in the finance umbrella, and we continue to see headlines explaining Why Artificial Intelligence is the Future of Accounting.  In many ways, the AI […]

MAC new jobs

How Deep Accounting Skills Can Help You Unlock Cool New Jobs

There’s a lot of upside to adding deep accounting knowledge and skills to your resume—impressive credentials, prospects for higher pay, and a chance to take your career to the next level, among other positive career boosts. If you already have solid work experience and have developed expertise in certain areas, adding accounting knowledge—and a Master […]

startup accounting job

Get an Accounting Job with Startup Perks–Minus the Startup Risks

Looking for a job in the accounting field where you’ll get to interact with a wide variety of clients, gain a foothold in the ever-expanding tech market, and enjoy the benefits of a startup lifestyle without the fears of working for an unstable company? If that sounds appealing, FloQast may have a position for you. […]

what is a homebuilder

What Is a Homebuilder, and Why Should Accountants Work For One?

I’m interviewing Megan Scheiderich, director of internal audit at PulteGroup. If you didn’t know, PulteGroup is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious homebuilders. So I have to open the interview with THE question. One of those questions you dread asking because the answer is so obvious and self-evident. But you have to ask […]

These 10 Accounting and Finance Jobs Are Hot, Hot, Hot

So say the folks at recruiting firm CyberCoders, so plan your career accordingly: In 2018, the CyberCoders data shows that the most in-demand accounting and finance position is financial advisor, with an average salary of $85,860, followed by loan officer at $68,000 and tax supervisor with an average salary of $96,944. The job of financial […]

remote working

Embracing Remote Accountants Can Benefit Your Business

Remote working is on the rise. In 2016, 22% of American employees did at least some of their work from home. And for those with advanced degrees over the age of 25, the number is even higher—a full 43% reported working remotely at least some of the time. It may feel natural to some accounting […]

horne joey havens

Accounting: Is Our Client Experience Future-Ready?

Earlier this year I read an article in CFO that brought pause. Actually, it brought a lot of pause and for two distinct reasons. Not because I didn’t agree, but because I so definitively did agree. First, what struck me was that this major influencer, among our profession’s key stakeholders (CFOs and Controllers), was telling […]

transaction services

Should You Make the Switch to Transaction Services?

I’m not too far removed from Big 4 Audit. I remember what it was like. There were some aspects of it that were appealing: I enjoyed having a mix of projects and clients. I worked with a lot of great people. But the thing is, I knew about three months into my audit career that […]

accounting firms management millennials cpa

Accounting Firms Need to Change Their Approach to Managing Millennials, Or Else

With so many articles written about how to manage millennials, what’s wrong with millennials, etc., it’s easy to assume that there is something difficult about the millennial generation. Some say it’s the millennials’ fault for being so damn entitled and not showing respect for the “way things are done” while others say it is a […]

Assurance Dimensions timesheets auditing

Like Auditing But Hate Timesheets? This Florida Firm Wants You

Ah, the timesheet. Not the CPAs worst enemy, but certainly in the top five. You already know why timesheets are such a pain, but just to torture you a bit, here are the reasons we don’t like them: They’re (ironically?) time-consuming to fill out They punish CPAs who work quickly, regardless of the value of […]

resume public accounting

Are Résumés Obsolete in Public Accounting?

Okay, maybe not quite obsolete, but they absolutely should be. Résumés don’t convey much. Did you work Big 4 or not? Did you have a high GPA in college? They’re the only truly socially-acceptable way to brag about an award or study abroad experience. Beyond that, a résumé isn’t very helpful. You can tell by […]

biting co-worker

If You Find Yourself Biting a Co-worker, Maybe It’s Time to Find Another Job

I’m sure some of you work in dreadful conditions. Sure, you still have access to running water and a toilet, but sometimes it’s the mental and emotional toll that makes for of a terrible work environment. Now, before we let you all loose on your own personal stories of workplace horror, let’s enjoy the story […]

whole foods cfo amazon

Whole Foods CFO Is Going to Be Fine

Don’t you hate it when you start a new job and then, seemingly out of nowhere, another company comes along to buy your employer, likely eliminating the need for your position? And don’t you hate it when that all goes down and you pull in a few million for your trouble? That’s what Whole Foods […]

donald trump big 4 trade war

Are You Working for a Donald Trump?

Oh, Mike. You don’t know what’s coming. By now, you’ve probably heard the news that President Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to end an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. In a memo, Comey wrote that Trump said, “I hope you can let this go.” This is problematic because presidents are not […]

accounting-busy-season-cpa-performance-reviews

Is There Anything Worse Than Busy Season? Yes, Performance Reviews

Please enjoy this sponsored content from Beech Valley Solutions. You can read more their partnership with Accountingfly here. Cancer, terrorists, undigested corn – all significantly worse than busy season. But what about within the confines of public accounting? Is there anything worse than busy season? Yes, and it’s formal professional feedback. A late 2015 survey […]

how-to-adjust-reorginazation-new-boss

Reorganization – What to Do When You Get a New Boss

Pray you don’t end up with this guy. Sooner or later it happens. Your company gets acquired, the division is closed or senior management announces a reorganization. Welcome to the “New Normal” where loyalty is a negative. You are back to your first day at a new firm. Adjusting can be tough, but with effort, […]

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Considering an MBA? 3 Key Questions to Ask Yourself

Please enjoy this sponsored content from Beech Valley Solutions. I’ve never been water-boarded (I keep begging my wife…), but I’m guessing it’s a lot like busy season. I’d say just about anything to make it stop…like, “maybe I should get my MBA?”. Should you? Maybe (probably not). It truly depends on a series of questions […]

How to Prepare an Exit From Public Accounting Into a Government Position

This is sponsored content brought to you by American University. Let’s face it, sometimes your chosen career path just isn’t what you imagined: The challenge of the job fades, the income doesn’t quite equal the time expended, the sexiness of working for a big firm didn’t last. And sometimes you just hate your job and […]

accounting-career-paths

Can Starting Over Lead to a Better Balance of Career Ambition and Lifestyle?

Need some career advice? Email Rachel at [email protected] and your question may be featured on Going Concern. I feel like the traditional accounting career paths are getting a bit stale. In my experience, it seems accountants are always trading career risk with a poor work/life balance. For example, you can land a partner-track public position […]

How to Handle a Mistake After Receiving Offer From Big 4

Ed. note: A conundrum from the Going Concern mailbag we’re throwing out here for the readers to answer. Need advice? From us or from anonymous strangers on the internet? Email us at [email protected] To whom it may concern – I was recently charged with a DUI-D (driving under the influence of marijuana) in a southern […]

Sponsored: The CFO Track Demands More Skills Than Ever

Have you considered changing your career track or expanding your skills profile? Please enjoy this sponsored content from Georgetown University about their Masters of Finance program. If you’re an ambitious accounting professional, you might have the title of CFO on your career bucket list. Chief financial officers are quickly becoming the most indispensable and sought […]

Join Us for an Exclusive Webinar Featuring Facebook’s Controller

Accountingfly’s Meet The Firms Week is coming to an internet near you from Monday, October 3rd, to Friday, October 7th. There will be five great webinars to check out including Facebook controller Matt Banks who will be presenting “How I Became Controller at Facebook.” Going Concern interviewed Matt earlier this year and now you’ll have […]

Why Your Friends Don’t Want to Be Your Clients

You are an accounting professional. Unlike your friends with the title “vice president,” you actually earned your designation when you became certified. Your skills are portable. You can hang your shingle in any state, subject to your credentials being accepted. The term “accountant” covers many aspects of the profession.  Most newly minted CPAs work at […]

Double Threat: An Interview with an Accounting Graduate Who Went Straight Into Law School

Ed. note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Are you an accountant who's thinking about law school? We were curious about the transition from accounting into a legal career, so we found someone who could answer a few questions. GC caught up with Pamela Burneski, a second year law student at Michigan […]

Are You Startup CFO Material?

I like this CFO article on finance chiefs who prefer startups. Had I not bailed on my accounting and finance career for the glamorous world of writing on the internet, I think I would've pursued this route. The reasons for preferring smaller companies offered by the CFOs in the article are what you would expect: […]

Senior at B4, career advice needed

I’m currently in a specialty Tax/Audit support group (to keep it somewhat vague) at a B4 firm in one of the large markets for just about two years. I received an early promo to senior this year, but I’ve been really considering leaving and moving somewhere else, possibly a different service line or out of […]

The Rise of the Lifestyle Accountant

You probably spat out your cornflakes reading this. I know I would. Like you, I clock a pretty standard 80 – 100 work week. I look at my friends who work 40 hours a week who complain about 5 hours overtime like this: I have a friend who, like me he worked in public, then […]

Would You Work for Revenue Share?

This post is inspired by Jeff Maddux CPA, so you can send your hate mail there. Just joking keep it coming, I love it! His idea (see tweet exchange) was actually really good. You don’t need me to harp on about value based billing (It’s almost as played out as "cloud"). Our firm was on […]

New Study Validates Old Accountant Joke

This morning I linked to a story about a study that ties the willingness to manage earnings to successful careers in corporate accounting departments. This is not a remarkable study because of its findings insomuch as it is a remarkable study because of its timing. I just figured the equation CREATIVE ACCOUNTING = SUCCESSFUL ACCOUNTING […]

Why You Should (and Shouldn’t) Accept a Full-Time Offer From a Public Accounting Firm

Public accounting firms are wrapping up their summer internships and unless one did something horrifically wrong, most can expect full-time offers. Most will accept without a moment of thought or hesitation, but a few perplexed summer interns may be wondering if they should take the offer or not. If you have an offer and are feeling unsure, consider the following when making your decision.

Should CPAs Consider an Executive MBA?

In my last post I answered the question of whether CPAs should get an MBA.  I said that an MBA makes sense for young CPAs who want to make a career change, provided they go to an MBA program ranked in the top 25 globally. 

Let’s Hear Your Stories About Reneging on a Job Offer

We linked to a WSJ article this morning about corporate recruiters complaining about people who renege on their offers. It's somewhat surprising that recruiters don't chalk these up to a cost of doing business but I suppose it's always irritating when someone has verbally accepted or signed an offer then just up and bails on […]

Can Accountants Job Hop Without Worry?

I like this Harvard Busines Review post that questions some of the conventional wisdom on switching jobs. Tropes like, "Stay in a job for at least two years" and "Never leave a job until you have your next one lined up,” feel like they're from the same era as "Best practices for sharpening pencils," and, "How to keep your adding machine from jamming."

Accountants Prefer Their Own Kind

A Robert Half survey of U.S. CFOs found that the “greatest challenge” for finance personnel “when working with other departments,” is the interaction “with a variety of personalities.” Probably explains why so many accountants end up marrying other accountants. [CGMA]

If You’re ‘Bored Stiff’ Working at a Law Firm, the Next Logical Step Might Be to Get a Job at EY

It's rare, I think, to encounter a person who finds a particular career path boring and abandons it for another path that is similarly boring. EY's Central Region Managing Partner for tax is one such person: Marna Ricker “always had natural gravitation toward math and numbers.” After a short stint in a law firm, where, […]

Donald Trump’s Accountants Should Quit

Yesterday, shaved orangutan Donald Trump announced that he's running for president. No, not of the local billionaires-only KKK chapter; of the United States. Yes, the country that most of you currently reside in. President of the United States. It's not a joke. Well, on second thought, it actually is.  During his gold-dusted self-orgy of narcissism, Trump […]

Thinking About a Small Firm? Check Out This Virtual Career Fair

If all the recent talk about small firms has got you curious, AccountingFly is hosting a virtual career fair called Advance this Thursday from 1 pm to 5 pm ET that features 68 firms from across the country. You'll have the chance to chat with hiring managers from firms that have current openings, it's free and you […]

Counteroffers Rarely Work for Employees Jumping Ship

A recent Robert Half study found that 78% of CFOs don't extend counteroffers to employees who are leaving. Chris Jensen, CPA, cgma, explains: “In most cases, when someone leaves and gives you the heads up, it’s probably best for both parties to separate,” said Jensen, the CFO at Pinnacle Exhibits in Hillsboro, Oregon. “They’re ready […]

Who Wants to Work at a Small Accounting Firm?

They could use some help: Finding qualified staff ranked as one of the two most pressing issues for all firms with more than one professional, topping the list for firms with two to 10 professionals and ranking second among firms with 11 or more professionals (see chart below). Firms in the two largest size categories […]

Ironic (or Genuinely Interested) Accountants Can Learn About Working at the IRS Today

If you are interested in a job at the IRS because you can't help but live your life to its full hipster potential, there's a webinar at 2 pm ET today just for you. It's put on by AccountingFly, an online job board that specializes in accounting and stars Chris Lezovich, the Program Manager and National […]

Hiring Watch ’15: H&R Block

Earlier this week, tax return assembly line H&R Block announced that it was looking for a few good accountants to join its Block Small Business service. They'll be filling six positions in the next six weeks and "an additoinal 15 to 30" in the next 12 months.   This includes Accounting Operations Managers who "are […]

Should CPAs Consider an MBA?

In the next few weeks, business schools around the world will be starting the application process for the MBA class that will start in the fall of 2016. Most MBA programs do admissions in rounds, with the first round applications due by October, and second and third rounds coming later.  Only 30% of applications are […]

What’s the Hardest Part of Starting a New Job?

Right now, accountants all over this great land are thinking about their careers. On the one hand, some are reflecting, preparing for the dreadful experience of performance evaluation. Others are preparing to be promoted.  And many are thinking — not without some apprehension — about a new job. But let's skip all the hemming and hawing about […]

What Do You Wish You Knew Before Getting Promoted?

Promotions are something that most people are willing to sacrifice life, limb, and select loved ones to win. When you do get promoted, it's indicative of your developing skills, the growing trust that superiors place in you and, in many cases, the ability to brownnose the right people. It also means a new title, a […]

What Career Questions Do You Have for the PCAOB’s Director of Inspections?

As we've discussed, it's time for you to look for a new job; yes, even if you're not interested in leaving your current gig. For the auditors out there, you may or may not have considered the possibility of joining the PCAOB. While the mere mention of the Board causes some auditors to fly into […]

Do Any Millennials Want to Work at the IRS Non-ironically?

Hating the IRS is as American as baseball and capital punishment. This almost universal derision may be part of the reason the Service has such a hard time finding younger employees. Bloomberg reports that more than half of IRS employees are over 50 while only 3% are under 30, citing a recent speech by IRS […]

Opening Day, Accounting Career Edition

Today we welcome back Paul Gillis, best known for his China Accounting Blog. He is a former PwC partner, former member of PCAOB SAG, and accounting professor at Peking University.   Today is opening day, the beginning of the Major League Baseball season for 28 teams.  The loveable losers the Chicago Cubs opened yesterday; they can’t […]

The Evolution of an Auditing Intern

This is not meant to be all-inclusive. But for those of you that don’t know how, or are too afraid to take charge of your career, this is the dark and dirty road you’ll be heading down very, very quickly…   The Internship The smiley, enthusiastic intern. We all remember them. They are grateful for […]

Should You Be a Freelance CPA?

Companies like The Siegfried Group have been poaching people from accounting firms for years, offering them 10% raises and quarterly bonuses. But for many of you, there’s an even better deal than they can offer. If you work for just 3 months next busy season, can you make 75% of an employee’s annual income as a […]

Congratulations, Your Job Has Been Arbritrarily Chosen as One of the Most Underrated of 2014

Long hours, repetitive work, lack of sunlight… what's not to love? Job site CareerCast has proclaimed your job as one of the most underrated jobs of 2014. What does that mean? Glad you asked: The most underrated jobs span a variety of different disciplines, but they all share common themes. One such theme is high […]

The Rise of Commuter Marriage or, Alternatively, How to Get Away From Your Annoying Spouse

A friend recently announced that she and her spouse are entering into a “commuter marriage” because her husband landed a job in Kentucky. He would be moving to the land of horse racing and finely-aged bourbon, and she would be staying in Detroit to “focus on her accounting career.” “We’re starting a commuter marriage and […]

FLASH: Accountants Are the Most Low-Key, High Wage Workers in America

I wish they would have published this stupid article at the peak of busy season. Since some of you spend your lives in perpetual busy season, you should get a laugh at this. And by "a laugh" I mean a cry. Yahoo (yeah, I know) published a list of "low-key, high wage" jobs and you'll […]

It’s Not Too Late to Apply For the 2014 AICPA Leadership Academy

Your deadline to apply for this year's Leadership Academy is actually May 31, so you have plenty of time left to procrastinate. Of course, if you're the type that would want to attend, then you probably already filled out your application your senior year in high school: The four-day program engages candidates in a self-examination […]

Five Tips for First Year Accounting PhD Candidates

This is the latest post from Dr. Emelee, a former Big 4 employee who is in process of obtaining his PhD. Read the rest of his posts here.   The first year of a doctoral program is rough. Public accounting experience will make the transition easier in a lot of ways because ridiculous hours, lots of […]

Accounting Student Whose Awkward Email Made the Rounds at Big 4 Firms Makes Fitting Retaliatory Video

Though it is never our intention, there have been a few times when news published on Going Concern has a life-shattering effect for some people. You know, like that weirdo who was filming coworkers in the bathroom stall next to him and young people stressing about retirement. Heck, even I suffer consequences from being associated […]

Greener Grass: Is It Time Mowzy on to Your Next Accounting Job?

Now that it's October, many of you are getting serious about finding your next job. The best thing to do, we think, to get started on your search is to head over to Going Concern Jobs and see what's listed there. Then set up an account, upload your résumé, create a shortlist of the jobs you're interested in, and set up some email alerts so […]

Recruiting Season: Be Wary of Accounting Firms ‘Looking for a Fit’

And then Jesse said, "YO! MR. WHITE! LOOK OUT!"  Hahaha. No, no he didn't. But here's something interesting not related to Breaking Bad that we read on Twitter this morning:  Spoke to @UChicago MBA students Sat. about patsy "rogues". Surprised when I said walk away from recruiters looking for "fit". #RedFlag — Francine McKenna (@retheauditors) […]

Apparently a Good Accountant is Hard to Find

You guys have it pretty good, you know. While the Big Law kids are graduating from college a hundred thousand dollars in debt with no job in sight and it takes a college degree for a barista to get a job slinging burnt coffee, finance and accounting professionals have plenty to go around. Plenty. So […]

Life After Public Accounting: Harassing Auditors For a Living Isn’t a Bad Gig If You Can Get It

All busy season long, we'll be discussing exit opportunities for those of you feeling like overworked Chinese slave labor counting down the days from your cubes. Remember, there is life after public accounting, even if it doesn't feel like it now. If you've made a break for it and are living the life of your […]

Study: Competing Forensic Accounting Bodies Pretty Much Hate Each Other; Regulation Needed

The continued prevalence of fraudulent activity in business will undoubtedly lead many of you to a career in forensic accounting and/or fraud examination. Because of the nature of their work, you might be under the impression that the organizations in this little corner of the sandbox would be above reproach and bickering over petty differences […]

Regional CPA Firm Rescinded Offer for DWI? Is That What Really Happened?

You just call on us brother, when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on, I just might have a problem that you'd understand, we all need somebody to lean on. So go ahead and call on us brother with an email, I just might have a problem that you'd understand. And […]

Twin Brothers Not Identical in the Eyes of Public Accounting Firms

When everyone else has an offer and you don't, maybe you're feeling like a reject. It's OK, darling, we still love you. Reach out and let's try to puzzle this out together, we promise we'll be nice. Unless you are in fact a loser, in which case we'll mock you but hey, that's the risk […]

CPA’s Law School Dreams Are a Nightmare for CPA Wife

Earlier today, we shared a nice little story of an accountant who hustled after his dream of playing Major League Baseball. Heart-warming, really. It just goes to show you what can happen when you've completely given up on your dreams, made a practical decision because, you know, life and all, and you have a support […]

Recruiting Season: There’s No Crying in Accounting

Are you desperate for an internship, full-time position, ANYTHING that won't have you slumming it as a freeloading 47%er? Email us your questions about getting a job, leaving a job or making hummus. I'm in need of some serious help. Tonight was one of the most humiliating experiences I have had in recent memory. It was […]

Recruiting Season: When an Accounting Firm Has Multiple Openings, Be a Decider

Is your career stuck in neutral? Looking for a way to convince your boss that Fantasy Football strategizing is legitimate billable hours? Need ideas for accounting-themed names for your two Pomeranian puppies? Email us your questions. Hi Colin,   I'm going through campus recruiting as we speak and was curious what your opinion was on applying […]

FYI: The University of Georgia Is Offering a CMA Prep Course

UGA's Center for Continuing Education is proud to offer "an instructor-led course to prepare interested professionals" for everyone's second-favorite accounting credential on the Gwinnett campus: “Introducing this program is part of our initiative to provide professionals with pertinent, cutting-edge knowledge that is directly applicable to establishing and maintaining a successful career,” said Denise Logan, department head for […]

Four Things to Remember Before You Leave Public Accounting

This is our second submission from the stable of Going Concern freelancer candidates. The following is by Bob Loblaw. Notwithstanding a few e-mails I’ve written in the past that had a wider circulation than intended, this is my first piece of journalism (Ed. note: relative term). With that in mind, it’s important to my unpaid […]

Sorry To Say, More Women Are Likely To Say They Are Sorry

I came across an article over the weekend that I thought might be interesting to the four or five women who read Going Concern. The basic premise – if you're too lazy to read it – is that women are more prone to issuing apologies than men. Sorry we need to ask a colleague a […]

Verdict: Why You All Got Into Accounting

Can I just say when I posted last week's Serious Question: Why Did You Become an Accountant? I had absolutely no idea so many of you would weigh in. Let's be real, I was hung over, I had to write something and have been meaning to ask that for a while so it seemed to […]

Protip: Don’t Bring Your Mom To Job Interviews

I read an article over the weekend that really disturbed me. I mean actually disturbed me, so much so that I found myself thinking about it on my commute to work yesterday and all the way back home in the evening and again last night when I sat down to pound out the blog post […]

Who Are All These Happy Accountants and What Are They On?

Purveyor of ego-stroking profiles Forbes, has a list of 20 Happiest Jobs in America and despite the misery you've seen all around you for the past three months, three years, or three decades, accountants are 8th on the list. Yep! There are capital market servants all over this great land who are whistling their jovial asses […]

IRS Office of Chief Counsel Not in the Market for Any New Blood

After just telling you why an accounting career path may be a little more secure than law, a friend of GC passed along this little bit of news from the IRS’s Office of Chief Counsel:

From: [IRS Office of Chief Counsel]
Date: Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Subject: RE: Chief Counsel Honors Program
To: [IRS Counsel Hopeful]

Thank you for applying to the Office of Chief Counsel. Unfortunately, we will not be hiring under the Honors Program for fall 2012. We appreciate your interest and hope that you will consider us in the future. Thank you.

Attorney Recruitment & Retention Office
Office of Chief Counsel, Internal Revenue Service

On the other hand, if you’re interested in running a IRS garage sale, they do have some extra junk on their hands.

Former Big 4 Auditor Who Took a Break Needs To Get Back In the Game

Sometimes, life is more important than work. For this former Big 4 auditor, a little life situation forced him out of the game before he got his 2 years and now he’s trying to elbow his way back in.

Hi Adrienne,

I worked in big4 audit for just over a year, but I had to leave the firm soon after that for family reasons (to care for a loved one). It’s been 2 years since then, and I haven’t worked at all (my choice). The good news is that I just passed 3 of 4 sections of the CPA, and I expect to finish it up this month.

The thing is – I need help getting back into the work world now. Do you have any tips for getting back “in the game,” so to speak?

If it helps, I’m really looking for a huge change of pace from big4 auditing – something where there’s little travel, and that’s not nearly as stressful as Big4. I think I would like something where there’s only a one or a few persons I’m reporting to, and where the nature of my work is much more technical/specialized. Something that involves technology would be a big plus (I love Info Tech, and I’m good with it). I’ve looked at private accounting/finance-type positions, but it seems many of them want a minimum of 2 years of working experience. Having Big 4 is great experience, of course, but is 1 year worth much? I also worry about what they will think of a 2 year gap on my resume.

I know a few small mom&pop-type tax CPA firms I could work for, but I worry the work-life balance in these jobs isn’t going to be too much different than Big4. I am also considering government positions.

Do you have any tips for someone like me?

Thanks very much.

~ newbie/CPA2be w/ ONLY 1 year of entry-level big4 audit experience

First off, it depends on where you are. If you’re in the middle of bumfuck nowhere, your options are limited (as I’m sure you’re aware) but if you’re in a major market, you’ve got the option to start networking. Like we’ve advised other folks, you can do this by hitting events held by your state society of CPAs, the AICPA, or other professional organizations.

Second, you’ve got a great excuse if anyone actually asks what you’ve been up to lately. Be honest but not too upfront about this; meaning you don’t have to badger HR about it but have a good explanation ready if you are asked.

You are correct that smaller firms aren’t much different than Big 4 in terms of the amount of work you’re going to be doing, the only difference might be travel. It sounds to me like you have some options, so I’d start by exercising those. Depending on how long you took off to care for your sick family member, you may not have to put in a full two years to get your license.

Based on what you’re looking for, I would suggest seeking out a small (not mid-tier) firm with a couple partners, not some multi-national with tons of clients. If you love IT, try to find someone already in this area willing to take you under their wing, or at least give you some good guidance from their perspective.

I’m not too worried about you, sounds like you have it figured it out and just wanted us to confirm that you aren’t completely fucked. You aren’t.

Smart Guy With Useless Masters Wants to Know How to Break Into Public

This is a good one. A really good one. If you have a good question for us (none of this crap we’ve answered before nonsense), please get in touch.

The lesson we learn here is that: A) not all Masters degrees are created equal and B) appreciate those networking and recruiting events you get at school because not everyone is so fortunate.

Hi GC,

Just need some advice and suggestions on how I should approach my accounting future. I finished my MBA – Accounting from Keller (Graduate division of Devry) about 2 years ago. I have a really good GPA (3.72), and I have some years of experience of accounting in private industries under my belt (3 years of being staff act a job recently as an Senior Accountant in a non profit organization. However, my true goal has been to get into public accounting, and I have tried and tried to breakthrough with no avail. Even before my recent job, I have applied to many entry level positions at any and every accounting firms (small, big 4, and in between) and no response. NONE… Networking and job assistance at Keller/DeVry is a joke… I sometimes regret going there…

As for the CPA exam, I am working on them right now. None passed so far, but I am really aiming for finishing it by the end of this year.

Something that piqued my interest recently is that CSUN is offering a Master’s in Accounting program this fall. I have already applied, and I have a good chance of getting in. However, I don’t know if its a worthwhile endeavor.

My question is, should I go back and get another master’s for the whole chance of getting networking and interning opportunities? It feels like it might be a waste of $20000 just for that… but then again, I spent about $50000 at Keller/DeVry for hopes of getting into public accounting with no result… and just because I’ll be attending an MSA program doesn’t mean that it’s a lock in getting into public accounting either…

Another thing that interested me is a MST program, possibly from Cal State Fullerton, or again, CSUN. However, time is an issue for me. I’m in my early 30’s already, and waiting another year seems like a death knell to my already slim window of opportunity in getting into public accounting.
Does anyone have advice on how I can get my foot in the door into public accounting?

Any feedback will be appreciated!

Thanks!

Sincerely,

Hopelessly Frustrated

Dear Hopelessly Frustrated,

If I spent $50,000 on a degree that won’t help me get a job, I’d be Incredibly Pissed Off so congrats on taking this so well. Your frustration is warranted, however, I have seen that Keller complaint before – did you do your due diligence before you forked over that kind of cash or was this a case of you getting suckered into their Masters/CPA review package without reading the fine print? Either way, I am really not going to tell you to go get another Masters just to bump into a few recruiters on campus, that’s a dumb idea and you don’t seem like a dumb guy. I mean if you’d do that just to get a Big 4 job, why not just bring a suitcase stuffed with $100 bills to your nearest Big 4 office and tell them you’ll work for free in exchange for work experience?

You’re right that at 30-something your chances of breaking into public are slipping by the day, old man. My thought on this is that at 30, you have pretty much formulated your opinions on the world, lost the idealism of your youth and settled into who you are pretty comfortably. Of course, the Big 4 don’t like hiring people with solid opinions about how the world works, it’s much easier to take on an army of starry-eyed 22-year-olds eager to be told how they feel and what they think.

That being said, sounds like you have a lot to offer, especially if you knock out the CPA exam. I have difficulty believing you cannot get in with any firm; when you say you’ve been trying, what exactly have you been trying? Lingering outside of recruiting events pretending that you attend that school? Waiting outside in the parking lot to pounce on HR people?

If you haven’t already, I would get your ass on the good old Internets and start networking like a motherfucker. There are tons of recruiters lurking on Twitter and LinkedIn, and the better your professional presence on these sites, the higher your chances of bumping into one. It can’t hurt.

Firms do troll the schools you mentioned (both CSUN and Cal State Fullerton have – believe it or not – decent accounting programs, at least by California standards) but do you really want to be elbowing 25-year-olds out of the way at awkward recruiting events? Instead, I would advise getting active with CalCPA and hitting any other professional networking events (like AICPA conferences) you can afford. It’s all about who you know, and if you know enough people, eventually one of them is going to know where you can get in and be so impressed with your decent GPA, previous experience and communication skills that they will put in a good word for you. It can’t hurt. Another $20,000 on a second degree, however, sounds pretty painful.

Good luck!

Corporate Accountant With a Broken Shift Key Seeks New Career

(Only until Caleb stops hitting on hot Polish girls) Ed. note: if you have a career question for our team of accounting drop-outs plus the one loser who never took the CPA exam, get in touch.

I am a young professional, I have an undegrad [sic] degree in finance and am finishing a masters in accounting. I’ve worked for 2.5 years in corporate accounting and 3 years in accounting/finance for a university. I have no public accounting experience. I want to gain a role in transaction advisory or the like.

I was recently offered a job with a small/mid size public firm in a Senior Associate role for their transactions group. The offer is 60k. should i jump at this offer, am i lucky to get a senior role? Should i hold out for a public firm in an associate role?

Can i make the jump from the midsize firm as a senior to a big 4 as a senior in a few years?

Thanks!
[Name redacted for privacy reasons. Let’s call him Barnabus]

Barnabus,
I’m going to keep this short because the financial world might come to an end before I reach the fourth paragraph.

I suggest you heed the Blacksmith’s advice and strike while the iron is hot.

The transaction advisory groups across the public accounting spectrum are heating back up from their frigid days of ’08 and ’09, with hiring numbers up for both the experienced and entry-level channels. Although your degrees will serve you well in your career, your 5.5 years of experience don’t bring much relevant experience to the table. Would it be nice to wait and see if you can land a transaction advisory role at a Big4? Sure. But with the market down 200 300 400 OMFG 500 POINTS TODAY, unemployment spreading like viral Bieber videos, and the economy stuck in park with four blown out tires and an elephant sitting on its trunk, you take the open door and thank your lucky #*&@ing stars your particular iron is hot. You have an opportunity to make a move right now in your career that will put your career on the track you want.

So You Want to Work for the PCAOB…

You could have a worse career path… like this lady.

Currently, the PCAOB is seeking the following professionals:

* Accountants and Auditors, especially those with extensive auditing experience in:

* International Financial Reporting Standards
* Industry expertise (banking, insurance, oil and gas pharmaceuticals)
* Fair value measurements
* IT auditing
* Forensic Accountants
* Enforcement Attorneys and Accountants

Their own employees say great things about their employer, like Greg, an Associate Director out of Atlanta who gushes “the most exciting part of working here is that we are still a fairly new organization. My experiences with the PCAOB have enabled me to utilize and expand on the skills I acquired both in industry and public accounting and still make it home in time for dinner.”

Or Todd, an Inspections Specialist out of Denver who says “When I was recruited and interviewed, they talked about work-life balance. Everybody talks about having work-life balance, and I think as auditors, we all took that talk with a grain of salt. But then to come here and see it’s actually true, well, that was a nice surprise. At the same time, I continue growing here and developing my career. It really is a nice balance.”

Well then, sounds like a sweet gig.

The PCAOB offers all kinds of benefits such as tuition assistance, 401(k) and retirement, a PPO health plan and a metric shit ton of paid time off.

You’ll probably have to actually apply with them to get any real salary info, so if big-time bureaucracy and work-life balance are what you’re after, get on that.

Have You Considered Working For the FDIC?

We talk a lot about the Big 4 and even crappy IRS jobs but we here on Going Concern tend to avoid a very lucrative corner of accounting work: government.

Specifically, I’m talking about the FDIC. Peep this job post (and if you can decode its requirements, you’re probably hired) and tell me if it sounds like something you’d like to shoot for:

Financial Institution Specialists participate in the assessment of financial institutions to determine:

* safe and sound practices, violations of law and regulation
* the adequacy of internal controls and procedures
* the general character of management
* compliance with consumer protection, fair lending and civil rights laws and regulations, and the Community Reinvestment Act

To carry out these responsibilities, Financial Institution Specialists:

* review, monitor and provide analysis of information pertaining to resolutions, settlements, pro-forma preparation, information package preparation, and deposit insurance claims.
* write comments and analyses for inclusion in reports and meet with insured depository institution officials to discuss the findings of an examination and, if necessary, any corrective programs.

Think about it… you get to roll into a bank on a Friday with the rest of the FDIC task force, take over a bank and spend the rest of the night counting your loot. Sounds awesome!

If you are in Atlanta, Boston, New York, Chicago, Dallas/Memphis, Kansas City, San Francisco or Washington, DC, now’s your chance to get in on this hot bank failure action.

To qualify, you must be a federal level grade 7. Here’s all you have to do for that:

A college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and without previous experience can expect to start in the GS 5 grade, unless they meet the criteria for Superior Academic Achievement or finished a year of graduate school, but did not receive a degree, in which case they will start at the GS-7 level. A college graduate with a Master’s typically starts in the GS-9 grade. More information about the amount of qualifying education for each pay grade and what constitutes Superior Academic Achievement can be found at: http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/SEC-II/s2-e5.asp.

Now the important part… the money. I know that’s all you pricks care about, and/or the only reason you don’t mow down a bunch of people on the freeway with an AK-47 on your way to your cube:

The top four steps of a pay grade are higher paying than the bottom steps of the next highest grade. For example, step 10 in GS-7 pays $44,176/year, step 1 in GS-8 pays $37,631/year.

You can follow the link for specific cost of living numbers based on the area.

Now, as far as I am aware, Big 4 new hires in the San Francisco area get offered $50 – $55,000… generally speaking. In comparison, this gig doesn’t look as good on the surface. But think about it… you’ll have work for life. And benefits that you might want when you’re 50 (I know, that’s a long way off).

If the government makes it to you turning 50, that is. Think about it.

Let’s Try to Talk This Soon-to-Be CPA Exam Candidate Off the Ledge

I’m no longer surprised by the fact that otherwise (allegedly) rational human beings think it is appropriate to ask a bunch of assholes on the Internet what they should do with their lives. No offense to any of you but I’d hardly bet my life’s decisions on the input I get from a bunch of Internet trolls hiding in cubes around the country making dick jokes amongst themselves.

That said, I’m hoping you guys have some good input for this guy. And by good, I think you know what I actually mean.

Dear GC,

I’m a B4 intern graduating in May 2012. Unfortunately, I won’t have 150 credits by that time, but I’ll hopefully have a full time offer from the firm. While this doesn’t seem like an uncommon problem, I feel like I’m between a rock and aof hefty Master’s programs’ tuition rates and the intensity of CPA studying. Therefore, I have the following dilemma…

I could take the CPA right after graduation (to become NY certified) and take a one-semester Master’s program in the Fall. I’d have the whole summer to study and pass the CPA, but I’d be paying $15K for the Master’s and delaying my start time (and future promotions/bonuses) to January 2013. I want to start making money sooner rather than later to pay off my mounting college debts.

The other option is finishing off my last 12-15 credits at a local community college (far cheaper obviously) immediately following graduation. I could then study for the exam either during or after the extra courses. I would be able to start (I think) around October and avoid the massive MAcc tuition. However, I don’t think I’d have enough time to study and pass before beginning full time work, and I’ve heard the longer into your B4 career, the harder it is to find time to study and pass the first time.

I have a tough decision to make and enough time to become more well-informed. People have been telling me it’s all about preference, but I don’t think that’s a good enough answer. There are strong pros and cons in both, but I’m worried my mind will continue to stagnate as it gets closer to decision time. Do you have prior-experience-related advice that will lead me in the right direction? Thanks in advance.

Sincerely,
TooYoungForThis

Where do we start with this? First of all, you’ve a) already fallen into the debt trap and b) totally fallen for the myth that you’ve got to get a MAcc to get anywhere in this industry. You’re tripping. Nowhere in the NY exam requirements does it state that you have to take on more debt and another degree to be a CPA in the state:

A bachelor’s or higher degree from a program that is registered by the Department as meeting New York’s 150 semester hour education requirements; or a Masters degree in accounting from an AACSB accredited accounting program; or a bachelors or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university and completion of 150 semester hours in the following content areas, including the following:

* 33 semester hours in accounting with at least one course in each of the following areas:
• financial accounting and reporting
• cost or managerial accounting
• taxation
• auditing and attestation services
* 36 semester hours in general business electives and
* The curriculum must also include, either as stand alone courses or integrated into other courses, the study of business or accounting communications, ethics and professional responsibility, and accounting research.

(Acceptable course work is detailed further in the 150 semester hour course content table.)

As for the rest of it, anyone who has taken any of the routes you mentioned will probably have some advice for you related to their experience but please keep in mind that it is just that: their experience. Your own will be based on a lot of factors, such as the actual level of debt you are willing to sustain, your motivation to get a CPA/MAcc/awesome Big 4 job, your skills and how committed you are to any of the decisions you make. So that’s probably why you’re getting really vague answers on this from others.

What’s this about your mind stagnating? Knock it off, take responsibility for whichever path you desire to take (not which path the Internet or your parents told you to take) and take that path like a motherfucker. It sounds to me like you’re not all that into any of these options, and that’s probably the biggest cause of your inability to make a decision right there.

Do you want a MAcc? Do you want to get through the exam in less than a year? Do you want to take Advanced Accounting from some musty community college teacher? No one can answer those questions for you. You’re a grown up now and obviously NOT too young for this if you managed to get this far, so grow up and decide already.

You are doing the right thing by reaching out but what I mean to say with all this yelling at you is that, ultimately, the decision is yours. I would always advise you to avoid as much debt as possible at this stage in your life; you are already assuming you are going to have to slave away to pay it off, why would you want more unless you either absolutely have to or truly desire a MAcc? It doesn’t sound to me like you do. So don’t.

New Audit Associate Details Her First Busy Season Via the McGladrey Blog

Who knew that being able to ask all the questions you want is how you have a good busy season?

Via Success Starts Here, the McGladrey career blog meant to give you “[a] view into what it’s like to work for McGladrey”:

Starting as a new hire in Audit at the beginning of busy season was a little intimidating since not only were the hours lengthy but there was so much to learn. Would I be able to learn and understand things quickly? Were the clients nice? Would my team have the time or patience to sit down and teach me about the Financial Services industry? Those were the questions running through my mind during the first few days of orientation.

As I progressed through busy season, the hours got longer and the work load became heavier. I noticed the more work I was assigned the more questions I would ask. Thankfully, my team was very easy to work with since they were more than happy to take time out of their busy schedules to sit down and walk me through certain audit procedures. Knowing that I was free to ask any of my superiors questions made my first busy season experience that much easier.

The associate goes on to describe a bright spot in her busy season, 20 minutes taken to eat cupcakes sitting outside with the Private Equity gang. “Sitting outside and eating a simple cupcake made a world of a difference for the rest of the day,” she writes. Can you imagine having the kind of job where you appreciate the opportunity to take a cupcake break? Oh wait, I forgot who I’m writing for…

Not to be distracted by memories of that cupcake, Emmy wraps up on a positive note (it is unclear whether or not this is a requirement to post on the Success Starts Here blog) “As busy season came to an end, not only had I learned so many new skills but I also kept thinking to myself ‘It wasn’t that bad.’ Even though the hours are long and the work can be a little tougher in the beginning, working with a great team can make a world of a difference. It reminds me that I’ve made a great choice by choosing to work at McGladrey.”

Conveniently enough, McGladrey has added a jobs tab to its Facebook page if this entices you. All you self-loathing masochists out there know what to do.

What Your CPA Exam Scores Say About You

Since it’s score season, here’s an overly appropriate question from the mailbag:

Just a quick question. Does CPA exam score reflect one’s ability at work? Does 76 on AUD necessarily mean one would be a bad auditor?

90 on REG means one would good at tax? Not sure how should I choose career-path between tax & audit.

The short answer here is that a 76 on AUD means you studied just enough to pass (congratulations) and has absolutely nothing to do with how good (or bad) of an auditor you might be.

Remember that the CPA exam tests entry level knowledge required to be a CPA. An 88 or even a 99 doesn’t mean you’d be a better auditor than someone who failed that section, it just means that you have a better command of entry level skills. That’s great as far as passing the exam goes but has little to do with your career.

The CPA exam and the real world are two completely different places. The exam assumes scenarios that you will never see “in the wild,” as it were, an environment where companies always do the indirect method and auditors always do more testing than necessary.

A higher score on one section could mean that this is a better place for you to look when it comes to picking a career path if, say, you barely studied to get that 90 and actually enjoyed taking that section. Just like you shouldn’t rely on your score report as the gospel, you shouldn’t take that to be a sign that you’re destined for a life in tax but you can certainly take that as a strong hint if you didn’t mind sitting for that section, understood the concepts and kind of liked the process.

Hope that helps!

‘Chartered Global Management Accountant’ Is the New Credential from the AICPA, CIMA

Back in March, we reported that the AICPA and CIMA were kicking around the idea of working together on a new global management accountant credential. Today, the two organizations have officially rolled out their plans.

[T]he two accounting bodies will create the new CGMA designation to give management accountancy a higher profile in the United States and promote the professional development of management accountants across the globe. Backing the new CGMA designation will be an AICPA-CIMA joint venture with international resources and experience in management accounting and business.

This will compete with the IMA’s CMA designation which has proven to be a valuable credential, although not a very sought-after one. The CGMA won’t be available until 2012 but the press release doesn’t give a lot of details about how the designation will be earned:

It is proposed that the new CGMA designation will be issued to members early in 2012. AICPA voting members with at least three years working in management accounting or a financial management role would qualify for an accelerated route to obtaining the new designation. CIMA members, all of whom hold either an ACMA or FCMA, will be entitled to use the letters ACMA CGMA or FMCA CGMA if they wish to.

Those holding the new designation will commit to a program of developing and maintaining competency in management accounting as well as leadership and strategy. This knowledge base will be derived from an expert-panel assessment of skills and competencies needed to succeed in various career paths in management accounting.

The new CGMA will be issued by the AICPA and CIMA through a license with the joint venture, with membership remaining with the existing organizations.

So, anyone interested?

[via AICPA, CIMA]

How Bad Are the Odds of Making Partner at a Big 4 Firm?

If you’re a (senior) manager at one of the Final Four horsemen of the accounting firm apocalypse, you may have asked yourself this very question. A reader recently dropped some quantitative analysis on us, writing, “I tried to step past anecdote and see how bad things really were.” This is specifically for the audit practice and is fairly large office, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

Using commonly available data from my firm, I decided to create a quasi-statistical analysis of the likelihood of senior managers making partner in the near future.

There were, as of the date I pulled this data, 843 senior managers in our audit practice. It’s too time consuming to divide these among starting classes, so I’ve made the following simplified assumptions:

Tenure:
9 year – 30% of the population, or 253 senior managers
10 year – 25%, or 211
11 year – 20%, or 169
12 year – 15%, or 126
13 year – 10% or 84

Let’s consider half of year 11 and all of year 12 and 13+ to be “in the pipeline”. That’s 295 senior managers competing for a given number of partner/principal/director (“partner”) spots.

Our tipster used a sample of approximately 200 partners (out of an assumed total of ~1,000) to conclude that approximately 14% of them would retire in the next five years (assuming 30+ years with the firm, mandatory retirement at 62) and assumed a 6% growth rate (which he/she admits, is on the aggressive side).

Here’s an extrapolation of open spots based on turnover and growth:

1,000 partners x 14% turnover = 140 partners turn over due to attrition, or 28 partners per year
1,000 partners x 6% growth = 60 partners per year, ignoring compounding

84 new partners sounds like a lot of partners. That’s because it is. Those in the know put our planned crop of partners at ~50 for 2011. At best, you’re looking at 1 in 4 of those high performing senior managers making partner, based on our assumptions. More realistically, it means that 1 in 6 can make partner.

Maybe you’ll take those odds, maybe you won’t but like we said, if you’re working in an office that is a fraction of the size in our tipster’s pattern, your odds could be worse depending on the situation in your office. Our tipster continues:

These odds are much worse than anyone is willing to admit, and simply making promotion a war of attrition by extending the partner track to 15 years isn’t going to do much to clear up the pipeline, since very few senior managers are going to find an opportunity that presents the chance of making $300k plus within 2 or 3 years. The situation gets even more grim for senior managers in their 9th and 10th year, who have a huge backlog in front of them and a glut of peers who were hired in the SarBox days of senior managers leaving for 30-40% raises and expect the same in their own careers.

Experienced seniors and new managers should very carefully consider the extended consequences of this data, and what it’s going to look like in 7-9 years when they are trying to make partner. The days of 15% growth in our industry are over and aren’t coming back, and the reality is that many Big 4 senior managers simply are not employable in industry at their current salary levels. Think through your career decisions in the coming 18 months very carefully.

As we’ve discussed, the firms know full well that not everyone has the goal of becoming a partner but if you do have partner ambitions, you’re in a pretty select group. The problem is, the odds still seem to be against you. Now with busy season winding down and three of the four firms closing in on fiscal year-ends, this year’s performance (and prospects outside the firm, depending on how promotions fall out) will be weighing heavy on the minds of many.

The AICPA Is Giving Future Accounting Rockstars a Shot at Free Money

Let’s be serious for a moment, who doesn’t want free money? And if you could also advance your own knowledge base, further your career and benefit the profession in the process, why wouldn’t you take it?

The fact that we are facing a shortage of accounting faculty to teach future beancounters is not newsworthy as the AICPA is now in its fourth year of the Accounting Doctoral Scholars program. Launched in July of 2008, ADS provides funding for four years for up to 30 new candidates each year, incubating a total of 120 newly educated PhDs in audit and tax. Thirty candidates with an average GMAT of 718 were selected for funding in 2009 and 2010, with twenty-seven candidates placed in 2009 and 29 in 2010. If you are interested in taking advantage of some $17 miS will begin providing information on applying for fall 2012 in May of this year, stay tuned to their website for more details.

But we aren’t all cut out to be accounting professors. Many of you know this because you learned accounting from folks who had no business teaching. Did you know the AICPA also provides scholarships to minorities, those with little accounting education seeking to get into the industry and outstanding accounting students with a 3.0 GPA or better?


From This Way to CPA, we have four major scholarship programs and deadlines are fast approaching so you better get it together if you want some of this. Each scholarship has different requirements so please read them carefully before applying and you must be an AICPA student affiliate member to qualify. If you haven’t yet joined, you may do so here.

AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop

Held June 2-4, 2011 at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham, NC on the Duke University campus, the AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop is an annual invitational program for minority accounting students who plan to pursue the CPA designation. This event aims to strengthen students’ professional skills and understanding of the limitless possibilities and benefits of earning the CPA credential.

Participants will gain confidences and an enhanced understanding of the varied accounting career paths to help them make better career decisions after graduation. An all-expenses paid event, the AICPA covers the cost of student attendees’ transportation, hotel accommodation and meals.

Deadline to apply:
Fri, May 6 2011

The AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship

The John L. Carey Scholarship was established by members of the accounting profession to honor John Carey upon his retirement from the AICPA in 1969. During his 40-year tenure at the AICPA, Mr. Carey served as administrative vice president; executive director; and as editor and publisher of the Journal of Accountancy. Mr. Carey dedicated his entire career to serving the accounting profession and made it a priority to encourage outstanding students to become CPAs.

Recipients receive $5,000 for one year. Scholarship aid may be used only for the payment of expenses that directly relate to obtaining an accounting education (e.g.; tuition, fees, room and board, and/or books and materials only).

Deadline to apply:
Fri, Apr 1 2011

AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students

The AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students provides financial awards to outstanding minority students to encourage their pursuit of accounting as a major and their ultimate entry into the profession. Scholarship funding is provided by the AICPA Foundation, with contributions from the New Jersey Society of CPAs and Robert Half International.

The AICPA Minority Scholarship was created in 1969 with the purpose to increase the representation of ethnically diverse CPA professionals. For over four decades, this program has provided over $14.6 million in scholarships to over 8,000 accounting scholars.

Recipients receive individual awards of $3,000 per academic year.

Deadline to apply:
Fri, Apr 1 2011

AICPA/Accountemps Student Scholarship

The AICPA/Accountemps Student Scholarship program provides financial assistance to outstanding accounting students who demonstrate potential to become leaders in the CPA profession.

Recipients receive $2,500 for one year.

Deadline to apply:
Fri, Apr 1 2011

You’re welcome!

Measuring the Career Value of the Big 4 Experience on a Scale of 1 to 5

As most of you are acutely aware, your humble editor is a KPMG alum. By virtue of said alumni-ness, occasionally, I’ll receive an email from the old firm informing me of this or that and the occasional invitation to an event of some sort. Recently, I was asked to participate in a survey called, “The Career Value of Big 4 Experience” and since the firm said that for my participation they would donate a brand new children’s book to First Book, I figured it was worth my time. ANYHOO, since it’s a painfully slow day out there and you guys aren’t making squat happen (with the exception of tax returns, audit workpapers, due diligence and whathaveyou) I thought I’d share my answers with you and put Big 4 career value idea out .


Apologies for the various sizes, clipping these screen shots were a bitch. And full disclosure: there were six additional questions to the survey that asked about my salary, my company, etc. that are of little consequence.

Now then – the 1 to 5 scale was only offered for the first six questions:

Now, let’s be honest – I wouldn’t be where I am without my experience at a Big 4 firm, so answering #1 was easy. Question 2 on the other hand is a little tricky, as my “current skills and experiences” involve reading blogs, figuring out WordPress, tweeting and stringing together mildly amusing run-on sentences with the occasional quip or pun. Some of my friends describe it as “shit-stirring” but I prefer…well, that about covers it. Is this valuable in the current job market? Sure. But probably not in a way any a Big 4 firm would have imagined. For question 3, it’s simple – I’m satisfied with my job. I don’t make as much money as a Big 4 baller but I don’t have a second job, my work/life is good and it’s fun. Not much else matters.

Moving on:

Career advancement isn’t really an issue since I only have to deal with TPTB if the lawyers come calling. Again, not exactly typical for a Big 4 alum. Question #5 is more or less a joke. Question #6 was interesting. Many people argue that manager is the ideal point to the leave the firm and I suppose if I had become a manager maybe I’d have a little better perspective of the management team but I know enough people at that level to get the gist and if I have questions, they can give me the lowdown. So had I stayed at KPMG a couple more years (I wasn’t given the option, btw) perhaps I’d be marginally better at my job.

And finally:

Okay, so #7 – had I not been shipped off in the fall of ’08, would I have stayed longer? Probably not. I was burned out and had explored as much of the firm as the bureaucracy would allow so it was a good run. Question #8 – after talking to MANY people who have gone on to new careers, I’ve concluded that leaving as a SA is best but I should qualify by saying that you should at least be an SA2 and SA3 is probably ideal. Sure you might be on the cusp of manager but by becoming a manager, you’re fully saturating the Big 4 indoctrination and some employers would prefer if you still have a shred of impressionableness in you. With the manager title and experience, your ideas (right or wrong) about audit/tax/advisory are pretty steadfast and you may be an old dog already. That’s not to say that you people aren’t flexible but I’ve been around enough of you to know that getting into mental ruts is a specialty.

So wrapping up, I’m very grateful for my Big 4 experience. It was unimaginably valuable, I met a lot of great people and have no regrets (except for a few brutal hangovers at national training). So, I’ll give it a 5. But most of you aren’t me so feel free to discuss your own experiences. I need to get back to ignoring AOL/HuffPo headlines.

Are Carbon Accounting Services the Next Hot Career Path?

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

Although the future of the controversial Cap-and-Trade bill is in limbo, particularly with a new Congress that might not be as anxious to pass the legislation as the previous group of legislators, many companies have already begun measuring and reporting carbon emissions. California andaiting for federal legislation and are initiating their own statewide cap and trade system. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort among 10 states in the Northeast, is helping to develop and implement a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Other areas of the country are in various stages of regional carbon trading programs.


According to a recent report in the Fast Company Expert Blog, “An overwhelming majority of Fortune 500 companies now voluntarily measure, manage, and publicly disclose their carbon emissions.” This provides an exciting opportunity for accountants to provide an important service in the growing area of carbon accounting.

A recent article published by the GreenBiz Group, a media company that reports on sustainability, points to a shortage of greenhouse gas (GHG) professionals who can measure, report, and verify emissions. Results of a recent survey of greenhouse gas professionals show that “Most respondents believe GHG auditing has insufficient oversight.”

Gillian Marks, principal at The Climate Advisor, speaking last fall at the American Women’s Society of Certified Public Accountants/American Society of Women Accountants Joint National Conference (JNC) in Nashville, TN, spoke of President Obama’s Executive Order signed in October, 2009, requiring Federal agencies to set a greenhouse gas emission target for the year 2020 with specific energy, water, and waste reduction targets that must be included in the overall plan. The Executive Order requires agencies to measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a commitment to leading by example.

Lynne McIntosh, president of Excellerate Energy LLC, joined Marks on the podium at the JNC and emphasized the opportunity for accountants to add carbon accounting services to their practice. She suggested that revenue generated by providing carbon accounting services could reach $7 to $9 billion by 2012.

“Just because carbon cap and trade legislation didn’t make it through the Senate, it doesn’t mean this stuff is dead,” said Paul Baier, vice president of sustainability consulting at Groom Energy, an energy consulting and design firm, in an article that appeared in TheStreet.com.

To assist companies with the mission of measuring carbon usage, a new crop of software programs called enterprise carbon accounting (ECA) is showing “explosive growth” according to market research performed by Groom Energy. Groom maintains a vendor list of software companies providing GHG, Carbon, and ECA software programs – so far there are 75 companies on the list. Groom predicts that the purchases of ECA software will increase 600% over the next year.

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued guidance requiring public companies to warn investors of risks that climate change could pose to their business.

Accountants have a two-fold purpose with regard to carbon accounting. Not only are the accounting firms setting goals for themselves, but accountants are primed to serve as advisors to clients who are ready to get busy with carbon accounting. Taking sensible steps toward conserving energy is the starting point – an obvious one because it can save a company money. Moving into the field of carbon accounting, where carbon emissions are actually charted and measured is the direction in which we all are headed. Getting ahead start today could position accountants for a lucrative career move.

Survey: Young Accountants Think Big 4 Is Overrated

Most people choosing the art of debits and credits as a career path, likely had aspirations for working for one of the illustrious Big 4. Fame, prestige, working with only the finest accountants that Omaha Steaks can buy, are all par for the course. This has been accepted as truth for many years.

But now – if you can believe this – this truth is being called into question in the UK – a part of the world that you might not expect.

Accountancy Age reports that a recent survey has found that young accountants (less than three years experience) are not as hung up on working at a Big 4 firm:

Only 40% of accountants with less than three years’ experience surveyed by recruiter Marks Sattin said it was important to work for a big firm — compared to an average of 67% for all of the 450 accountants surveyed in practice and industry.

“We are entering a new era in financial services…in which candidates want to sell themselves not by reeling off lists of FTSE 100 clients, but on their experience on smaller accounts providing higher levels of responsibility,” said Laura Wilson, associate director of the professional services division at Marks Sattin.

Granted, this is the pulse of the UK but there’s always been a large firm vs. small firm debate and this a trend that makes its way to the States (if it hasn’t already).

The reason for young accountants’ attitude, it turns out, is that they don’t care if they are working on prestigious clients; they are looking for more expansive professional experience:

“Whether it’s true or not, candidates think they’ll be doing work that is more involved at an early stage in their careers by joining a smaller firm. The perception is counting against the Big Four because candidates think that smaller firms offer more variety and more autonomy – and candidates are increasingly willing to sacrifice exposure to the FTSE 100 to get it.”

According to one person quoted in the article, part of this is a generational attitude but we’re not convinced that’s entirely the case. Sure, Gen Y wants to have more responsibility as quickly as possible but it’s not as though the Big 4 are taking on the same number of new recruits each year. As a result, a competitive recruiting process has made smaller firms a very good option. Plus, news about layoffs and a slow climb up the corporate ladder at the largest firms might have some students looking for opportunities.

Make no mistake, working at a Big 4 firm will always be goal number one for a lot of students and young CPAs. Regardless of what any survey says, many still have ambitions to be a partner in one of the largest firms or to work in some of the world’s prestigious companies. But the more informed students and young professionals are about career options, the perceived need for Big 4 experience on your résumé will be less compulsory.

Young accountants shun Big Four firms [Accountancy Age]

Need Help Choosing Between a Career in Audit and Advisory at a Big 4 Firm?

Since we’ve already checked out for three-day weekend and a reader needs advice ASAP, we’ll dispense with another edition of “Accounting Career Couch.” An aspiring accountant is trying to decide between joining the advisory and audit practice of a Big 4 firm but – surprise! – can’t decide since she likes both. Sigh.

Have a question about your next career move? Worried that you’re not doing enough for your clients? Need help casting a satirical political ad? Email us at [email protected]. Like donuts, there’s nothing we can’t do.

Back to our indecisive co-ed:

Hi Caleb:

I feel as if I am facing a small dilemma at a pivotal point in my young accounting career. I am interviewing with one of the Big 4 tomorrow and have been asked which service area I would prefer to go into: Audit or Advisory.

To be honest, with this job market, I would love either and I am 100% sure I would be a good fit for either type of position. I am very actively involved in Beta Alpha Psi and my resume is very “plump” with positive customer service experience. I posses very strong soft skills at quite a young age and have a lot of leadership experience in school and through my role in BAP. The company I am interviewing with is my #1 and I have built two strong relationships, each in each service area. For my high interest in Advisory, I can say, I always gravitate toward the headlines that have become the new hot topics that include, fraud, forensic accounting, and investigation. This is consistent with my very investigative and curious personality. However, on the other hand, understanding and learning the breakdown of a specific client’s company as I am involved in an audit interests me very much. The point is, what are the pros and cons for the two different services: Audit v Advisory. What is the opinion for a positive, fulfilling career in each service area, as public accounting is my interest for a lifetime? Am I hurting myself by letting the company choose where to put me by saying I am interest in BOTH opportunities?

To answer your last question – yes, it’s our feeling that you are marginalizing yourself by saying you’re interested in both practices. If you’re on the fence about which to join, other candidates that are more sure about their preference may have an edge over you. Make a choice for crissakes.

With that in mind, let’s break down a few pros and cons.

Pros

Audit – Your schedule is more predictable; less travel.

Advisory – Money is better; work is sexier; better reputation.

Cons

Audit – If you’re the type of person that is easily bored, then you will eventually get bored with auditing; auditing practices are bureaucratic nightmares – keeping up accounting and auditing rule changes; audit does not enjoy a sterling reputation.

Advisory – Hours can be unpredictable – you might work late nights for weeks (sometimes months) away from your home office or quite the opposite – you might find yourself with nothing to do for weeks at at time; the advisory practice is more susceptible to changes in the economy which means if things get bad, layoffs are more likely in advisory than in audit.

The real question is – what path do you want your career to take? You say that “public accounting is my interest for a lifetime.” Call us cynical but we’ll be shocked – SHOCKED! – if this is true in 3-4 years. If you really, really, really think that it is true, then audit is probably the choice for you. You’ll find a business line you like and if you’re ambitious and active within your firm, you’ll be on the partner track.

On the other hand since you say you’re drawn to fraud, forensics, investigative nature etc., we feel you should go with your instincts and go for advisory. Granted, Sam Antar will also tell you that you need the proverbial ironclad balls but those come in over time.

Anyone else faced with this dilemma? Anyone made the choice and got some input? Fire away.

Grad Student Wants to Know if Previous non-Accounting Chops Will Help Him Land Big 4 Gig

Back with another edition of “Help! My career is in shambles,” an MSA student has a background in “project management” and wants to know what their options are upon graduation. Will the professional experience make a difference?

Have a question about your career? Need ideas on how to improve the prestige of your firm? Thinking about running for office on the lawyers suck platform? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll get you the prestige or public office you so desire.

As for our seasoned soonockquote>I’m currently in a one year MSA program. I am in my late 20s, so not exactly a professional spring chicken. I went to a liberal arts college for undergrad, and I got really good grades there. Prior to enrolling in the MSA program, I worked for 5 years doing Project Management. I (finally) realized that line of work wasn’t for me and didn’t see where I could go with it that would make it for me, and so decided to go back to school in something more practical than my undergrad. Right now, I’m beginning to explore my options for after I get out of the MSA program. Ideally, I want to try to get to a place where my previous experience is appreciated and valued right away, but am wondering if that is possible if I go Big 4. On the other hand, I keep seeing on job boards that previous Big 4 experience is a crucial requirement for many experienced accounting openings.

My questions are: will the Big 4 look favorably or unfavorably on my previous experience? Are they more likely to fill their entry level positions with younger graduates as opposed to those that have many years of professional experience behind them? If I’m a more attractive candidate, can I leverage that into better starting salary/benefits? Finally, is it worth it to do Big 4 for a couple years knowing that in the long run it will probably help with job prospects, even though in the short term I might be giving up potentially more lucrative possibilities because of my past experience? How can I use my past professional experiences to my advantage as a “non-experienced” hire – Big 4 or otherwise?

Interesting dilemma. We’ll do our best here and invite our readers to share their thoughts on this particular situation. We’ll address the questions one at a time.

Is your experience viewed as favorable or unfavorable? – In the opinion of this blogger your experience is valuable, no matter what it is. Dealing with stupid people, managing various resources and being familiar with a professional routine puts you light years ahead of any grasshopper that just did half a dozen keg stands over the weekend. That being said, a Big 4 firm (via a recruiting professional) might not share our perspective. Depending on what your “project management” experience entails, it could be viewed favorably or unfavorably. Have you managed groups of people? Do you have any client-facing experience? Any leadership roles? These are all good (and partly addresses your last question) and can be perceived as key strengths. If the answer is no, no, and HELL NO, then your experience is less meaningful.

Are they more likely to fill their entry level positions with younger graduates? – Yes. YES. YES. It isn’t unheard of for the Big 4 to hire someone with your background (i.e. older) at the entry-level and in fact, we’ve seen instances where non-traditional types skip ahead of others in their class but as a general rule, you’re at a big disadvantage here.

Can I leverage previous experience into better starting salary/benefits? – The Big 4 firms have plenty of options for benefits packages. The “super-secret project management experience benefits package” does not exist. As far as salary is concerned, you can leverage your experience by applying for jobs that require previous experience. If you go after an entry-level position you will end up with an entry-level salary.

Is it worth it to do Big 4 for a couple years even though in the short term I might be giving up potentially more lucrative possibilities because of my past experience? – Look friend, we hate to be the one to break this to you but in the short-term, your life at a Big 4 firm could quite very well be hell. The Big 4 provides professional services; is that the kind of job are you looking for? Do you really want to be an auditor? God, I hope not. Tax? Again, you’re looking at quite a bit of pain here and your experience could be marginalized. A position in the advisory practice would be ideal for you but without more details on your experience, it’s hard for us to gauge if that’s a realistic possibility.

How can I use my past professional experiences to my advantage as a “non-experienced” hire – Big 4 or otherwise? – Like we mentioned above, push any leadership, management and client-facing experience. These are crucial for an aspiring Big 4 rock star.

Bottom-line here is, what is it that you’re trying to achieve with this MSA? Is a Big 4 firm the ideal place for you to land out of school? Maybe. Maybe not. Finding the right fit of your past professional experience combined with your brand-spanking new advanced accounting knowledge will take some work on your part. While a Big 4 firm on your résumé will open a few doors down the road, a job in-house may make more sense with your PM experience. Choose wisely.

Is Life at the Big 4 Really What Working Mothers Want?

Let’s just say we weren’t surprised to see all 4 Big 4 appear on Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies list, nor were we surprised to see list favorites like Grant Thornton and McGladrey joining them. As is my wont, however, I’m loathe to point out that the definition of “working mother” is a vague one.

It would be ignorant to assume that all working women want are flexible working hours and more than 12 weeks off after squeezing out another kid but once again it appears as though that is the yardstick we’re using. Know what would have really come in handy for me when I first had my son? Time off for his dad so he could stay home with my infant while I escaped to work for a little quiet time with irate customers. Maybe I’m not your average working mother and you are as always welcome to correct me if I don’t represent the status quo but in my view, moms with jobs want more than just a cookie cutter work-life balance. I don’t even know what work-life balance is and am pretty sure the term was made up in some HR braindump meeting, but somehow it exists to this day and supposedly remains the definitive goal of most working women even though it doesn’t even really have a definition. Sorry but I don’t buy it and I don’t know many working women who do.

What working mothers really need is the respect of their peers, opportunities to advance through the firm that are in line with those of their male peers and a work life that doesn’t stress them out to the point that they want to shake the baby and slap the hubby by the time they get home from a grueling work day.

Is that work-life balance? Maybe. Don’t get me started on the idea that all women are motivated by a desire to raise a family either because for some of us work-life balance means being able to balance a cocktail in one hand and the remote in the other at the end of a long day. Where’s the list of top companies for Dads? Bunch of sexists. Oh and pay equal to their male counterparts would also be nice but since we’re still caught up in this antiquated notion that women desire more time off to raise their families, it really shouldn’t be reasonable to expect women to receive equal benefits if they are also requesting special treatment.

Anyway, congratulations to Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Grant Thornton, McGladrey and PwC for making the Working Mother list and I’ll keep waiting for the day when we can get over ourselves and admit that we all have unique goals that aren’t always easily defined by nonsensical terms and preconceived notions of what people should desire.

Accounting News Roundup: GOP Senators Not Caving on Tax Cuts; NY Court of Appeals Hears In Pari Delicto Cases; Convicted Ex-PwC Employee Loses Case to Get MBA Back | 09.14.10

~ Good morning capital market servants. It’s Dan Braddock’s favorite day of the week. Just another reminder that we’ll be on a lighter posting schedule today as TPTB continue to interrogate us about our lack of influence. We’ll pop in from time to time today to make sure everyone is playing nice and be back to a full schedule tomorrow.

A Career in Accounting [WSJ]
“[W]hile jobs dried up during the economic crisis, hiring in accounting wasn’t hit as hard, and cutbacks have created a need for more hiring as the econmy Thompson, the U.S. campus recruiting leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She’ll be hiring 3,000 people this year, up from 2,600 last year.”

Does Anyone Really Want to Be an Accountant? A Tailgate Survey [Re:Balance]
Jim Peterson articulates two time-honored traditions: college football and accounting. The former’s popularity is never in question but Jim talked to some young tailgaters that might make you doubt the substantive popularity of the latter.

Senate Republicans firm on tax cuts for rich [Reuters]
“Republicans in the U.S. Senate poured cold water on Monday on hopes for a compromise with President Barack Obama that would have allowed Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire.

Taxes have become a flashpoint going into a November 2 election in which Republicans are seeking to wrest control of Congress from the president’s fellow Democrats. Obama says the cost of keeping the tax cuts for the rich is too high as the United States emerges from recession with a massive budget deficit.”

AIG Plots End to U.S. Aid [WSJ]
“American International Group Inc. and its government overseers are in talks to speed up an exit plan designed to repay U.S. taxpayers in full while enabling the giant insurer to regain independence, according to people familiar with the matter.

Under the plan, which could commence as early as the first half of 2011, the Treasury Department is likely to convert $49 billion in AIG preferred shares it holds into common shares, a move that could bring the government’s ownership stake in AIG to above 90%, from 79.8% currently, the people familiar said. The common shares would then be gradually sold off to private investors, a move that would reduce U.S. ownership and potentially earn the government a profit if the shares rise in value.”

Auditors Anticipate NY Ruling on Malpractice Exposure [Compliance Week]
“A group of investors in the reinsurance firm American International Group are suing the company’s audit firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, for failing to detect a long-running bid-rigging and accounting fraud scheme at AIG. PwC won a dismissal of the suit contending AIG shared blame because it was AIG employees who carried out the fraud that PwC failed to identify, a common defense for audit firms against shareholder claims.

The investor group, led by the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans Employees’ Retirement System, appealed the dismissal and will have their day in the New York Court of Appeals this week. A Delaware appeals court handed the case over to the New York Appeals court, saying ‘a resolution of this appeal depends on significant and unsettled questions of New York law.’ ”


Seeking An Equitable Outcome: NY State Court of Appeals Hears In Pari Delicto Cases [RTA]
Francine McKenna’s take on the case above.

Verizon Finance Chief Joh Killian Announces Plan to Retire After 31 Years [Bloomberg]
Get your résumé in now.

So Then I Guess Accounting Is Mostly Influenced By Middle-Aged White Dudes? [JDA]
“I’m on a roll with offending people lately so let’s just take this all the way and pull the diversity card, specifically when it comes to Accounting Today’s recent list of 100 Most Influential in accounting.

OK so some faces were predictable and totally warranted; soon-to-be-former FASB Chairman Bob Herz (we’re talking about influence in the profession, not sexiest), GASB Chairman Robert Attmore, PwC Chairman Dennis Nally, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman… you get the idea. No, I mean you really get the idea, as the rest of the list is comprised of middle-aged white guys too except for 13 women and 3 1/2 black men (Barack Obama counts as .5 if we’re looking at this in a strictly statistical way). Yeah, we noticed.”

Convicted Accountant Loses Legal Bid for MBA Degree [BusinessWeek]
“A certified public accountant who hid his conviction for insider trading from his teachers at New York University’s graduate business school wasn’t entitled to the MBA degree that he thought he earned, a judge ruled.

In February 2007, three months after completing his course work at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Ayal Rosenthal pleaded guilty to charges that he leaked to his brother secret tips that he learned at his job at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Rosenthal never told the school about the investigation of him or his guilty plea, even while serving as a teaching assistant in a professional responsibility course, according to a court ruling.”

The IRS Asks Applicants: “How Much Ya Bench?”

Actually they ask you a lot questions but as FINS tells us today, there are far more interesting qualifications to join Doug Shulman’s brigade than, say, one of the Big 4.

For example, if you’re the ripe old age of 38 and you’ve never served in law enforcement, you’re out. Sorry but this is the Criminal Investigation Division and we don’t need your old college intramural energies acting up on raid where someone might get killed.

That being said, just because you happen to be in the “prime” of your life, that doesn’t mean you get a free pass. The Service does require that you be in “prime physical condition” and your slow, uncoordinated ass will be tested on it.


Here’s the lowdown:

If any of this is confusing (we know some of you haven’t exercised in you life) jump over the website where there are videos demonstrating the vertical jump, bench press, situps, The Illinois Agility Run, and simply running. Again, the Service appears to be under the impression that plenty of you only break a sweat when you eat, hence the videos. Feel free to apply but only after checking with your doctor.

IRS Hiring Special Agents for Criminal Investigation Division [FINS]

When Should a Big 4 Auditor Mention That They Are More Interested in Tax?

Today in “Help me if you can” a soon-to-be Big 4 auditor wants to know when to broach the subject of…not wanting to be a Big 4 auditor. Rather, the young grasshopper would prefer to switch to tax, pronto.

Have a question about your career, how best to decorate your cubicle or how you can show your face again after your latest embarrassment at the most recent happy hour? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll put you on the path to success or marginal respectability.

As for today:

I am starting in the audit department of a a Big 4 firm in a major market next month. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity, however I’m not too interested in audit. If I want to switch over to tax, how do I go about doing that without giving a poor impression of me? Is this a common enough request that it shouldn’t be a problem? Is it better to bring it up sooner rather than later? Do I bring it up with my recruiter before I start? I’m concerned that if I wait too long to bring this up I’ll end up wasting a year (and a promotion) before being able to switch to tax.


First of all, congrats on not opening your mouth during the recruiting process. Interviewing for an audit position but admitting that you’re really interested in tax would have been akin to handing your interviewer a 3×5 with “DON’T HIRE ME” written in your own blood. Braddock’s response to this question was, “Then why are you here for audit? Why didn’t you apply for tax?” which is valid. So if you don’t want to give a bad impression of yourself, don’t bother discussing it with the recruiter. You’re already hired, there’s no sense admitting that you pulled a fast one on them.

In a previous post, we discussed how difficult it can be to get into a Big 4 tax practice. In your case, since you’re already inside a Big 4 firm and claim to being in a “major market” the path will be a little bit easier. That being said, we’re wondering why you’re in such as rush.

The best thing you can do is hang out in audit for awhile, meet some people and see how it goes. You were hired for audit, so you might as well give it a shot and build your network within the practice before changing your career path when it hasn’t even started.

Once you’re working it won’t be long before you’ll be asked to document some of your career goals. When you’re discussing these goals with your performance counselor (or whatever they’re called these days) discuss your interest in tax but try not to make it sound like the audit practice has been the worst experience of your life (even if it has). Since you’re in a larger office, it’s likely your counselor knows someone (or knows someone who knows someone) who has done a rotation or transfer to tax. These people will be able to talk to you about their experiences: the pros, the cons, the whathaveyous. Also, because you are in a larger office, your request isn’t that unusual and the office may even hold an informational session about rotations to other practices.

Your concern about the timing is valid (i.e. waiting too long). If you complete one year in audit and you are still jonesing for tax forms, you can safely express your interest about a rotation to the tax practice If you wait too long, you are correct – you may end up wasting an additional year and possibly a promotion.

So summing up – do some time in audit and get your feet under you; you never know, you may discover that you – gasp – enjoy it. When it comes to discussing your career goals, mention your interest in tax and find other professionals who have been through the process so you have an idea about what it’s like. Good luck.

The Scam That Accounting Education Isn’t

I complain about a lot of things in the industry that I probably should be grateful for instead: Sarbanes-Oxley, the PCAOB, the IASB and the AICPA Board of Examiners… the list goes on. I’ve done my fair share of complaining about accounting education as well (even offending some by implying professors were cheap and lazy though I certainly did not mean all or even most accounting professors) but I think it’s safe for us to say that we have it a lot better than some other professions. Like law.


Check out Critical Mass on the law school scam (the entire thing is recommended reading):

Over the years, I wrote countless law school recommendations and very, very few grad school recommendations. I never worried too much about the ones who were law school-bound–the students I worried about were the ones who decided to go for PhD’s in English. Grad school in the humanities is a scam. There are simply no jobs, tenure is disappearing, the culture of the academic humanities is pathological, and the sort of academic life grad students hope to acquire is ceasing to exist. But law school, I felt, was a safe bet–and would also offer its own variety of intellectual thrill. Who wouldn’t want to learn to think with the precision, capaciousness, originality, and historical-mindedness that the law requires? It’s beautiful and powerful and very, very useful. When done well, it’s applied scholarship, scholarship with decisiveness and impact.

But bubbles are bursting everywhere we look these days. Last month I posted about how Loyola’s law school is cooking transcripts to give its grads a leg up on the job market. Now comes word of widespread cynical profiteering at the expense of students’ futures.

Accounting education doesn’t appear to be so neatly packaged as the debt factory that law is, nor does it seem to produce too many rats to fit in our particular race. Sure, there are plenty of unequipped idiots who get through (shouldn’t professors exist to weed these out if education is, in fact, meant for the greater good of our economy and not just to create more perpetual debt?) but that happens in any profession, no more in accounting than elsewhere as far as I can tell.

Do a Google search on the law school scam and you’ll get pages upon pages of results. Do one on the accounting education scam and you’ll get one question about DeVry’s accounting program (I won’t say a word). Does that mean accounting is any better off?

Somewhere between this depressing March 2010 report from CPA Trendlines on how actual firms held up through the recession in 2009, and the rosy reports from hijacked media like CNN about how great the industry is handling this mess, lies the truth. Some areas are better than others and some accounting grads just don’t deserve a job. With the firms lining up the lawyers instead of the staff, you can bet the days of skating your way through 2 years of easy work experience are pretty much over.

Hopefully this means fewer unqualified future accountants being pushed through accounting programs that will soon be starving for qualified educators and better prospects for the bright, talented future CPAs who actually deserve a job in this industry.

Will the Big 4 Take a “Late Bloomer” with a Low Undergrad GPA?

Today from the mailbag we have a Big 4 hopeful that – like many of you – enjoyed the splendors of undergrad life to the detriment of their GPA and want to know if this will dash their Big 4 hopes and dreams.

If you’ve got questions about your career, a problem at work (romantic, political or otherwise) or what you should have for lunch, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We will ignore pension accounting questions with extreme prejudice.

Back to our friend:

I just started an MSA program this summer after graduating with a BA in Economics. My cumulative undergrad GPA was 2.78, which is certainly not helping me attain my goal of Big 4 employment. I’ve been told that talking to recruiters now would be certain career death and I’m hoping on using the “late bloomer” story whenever I do begin the recruiting process. I can honestly say my attitude towards academics has improved tremendously over the past year or so. In the two graduate summer classes I’ve taken so far, I’m pulling a 3.85 GPA.

My question is, how long will it take for my improved academic performance to become substantial evidence of my matured academic attitude? Should I hold off on fall recruiting? Go for an internship instead of FT? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

While a 2.78 isn’t the end of the world, you are correct in your thinking that most Big 4 recruiters will turn their nose up at you. That being said, talking to recruiters is not “certain career death.” Quite the opposite, in fact. The more face time you get with these Big 4 types, the more they will remember you. Your “late bloomer” story certainly holds water now but you admit that you’ve only taken two classes. If you can maintain the GPA, then great, you’ll be in good shape. And yes, recruiters will see this is as a positive direction. If you revert to your keg standing ways (some people never get over it) then hopefully your guessing skills on exams have gotten better.

In the meantime, here are a couple of things you can do to hopefully marginalize that 2.78:

List your summer course GPA on your resume – leave the undergrad GPA off, but be honest if and when you’re asked about it.
Major GPA vs. Cumulative GPA – We’re assuming the 2.78 is your overall, or cumulative, GPA. Calculate your major-specific GPA (the classes that differentiate you from another business degree) – if it is above a 3.0, list it on your resume.

The problem with your situation, Late Bloomer, is that you don’t know what the thought process of the Big 4 recruiters, employees and partners that you meet are. Some of them may love you and others will take one look at your undergrad GPA and will respond not with “no” but “hell no.” Typically when a recruiting team is split on a candidate, the hierarchy trumps and if you didn’t impress the pants off that partner, you’ll be out.

Considering all that, you should absolutely attend the fall recruiting events and meet as many different firms and make as many contacts as possible. Also, be realistic with them – it’s okay to admit that you faltered a bit during your undergrad – just know that you’re going to have to prove it to them in the long run that you can keep things on the up and up.

Whether or not you should go for an internship or FT is your call. Will you be graduating in spring or summer of ’11? Then going for full time is probably the best move, regardless of the not-so-stellar undergrad GPA. If your MSA program can be stretched out, go for the internship. Even if you don’t get it, you’ll make plenty of contacts in the Big 4 so that when recruiting comes around for next year, you’ll be a familiar face and the recruiters will get a sense that you’re committed to academics and that you are a solid candidate for their firm.

Have You Considered Becoming an Accounting Professor?

We already did a series on credentials for accountants if you’re looking for add letters to the end of your name but if you’re not looking to take that route or looking to get out of it after you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, you may want to look into a PhD in accounting. We’re serious.

The Accounting Doctoral Scholars program, a joint project by 70+ accounting firms, several state societies of CPAs and the AICPA, wants to help you. $15 million has gone into their efforts to fill a much-needed gap in accounting education and if you don’t quite fit in to the cube, you may be one of the chosen ones.


That means they have money to help you through school so get in touch with them if this sounds like you:

If you are someone who loves learning, generating new ideas, and setting your own agenda you may want to seriously consider pursuing a doctoral degree in accounting. While all academicians can make their mark in a field, those with a Ph.D. in accounting have the opportunity to influence both accounting education and public accounting practice.

The ADS Program will provide funding for selected individuals, with recent meaningful experience in public accounting in auditing and tax, to help them make a permanent transition to teaching and research at the university level. The funding will support application to doctoral programs in accounting and also provide a stipend of $30,000 per year for up to four years of enrollment to individuals committed to teaching and research in auditing and tax—the areas of greatest need—upon completion of their doctorates. The Program will support its third class of Accounting Doctoral Scholars for Fall 2011.

No one can tell you how far to take your education. We know CPAs with PhDs who love teaching and we know teachers who have their CPA and don’t realize they practice education. It is difficult enough to decide between a Masters in Accounting and an MBA (or so we hear), how many of you are really thinking of a PhD?

If just one of you are, hopefully this helps. We’d be curious to hear what career paths you plan to take if you are and always defer you to friend of Going Concern Professor David Albrecht if you want to talk to someone who does it for a living.

This does mean you’ll actually have to teach.

Last year, AccountingWEB identified 5 reasons why we’re so desperate for PhDs in Accounting including the lifestyle change required to pursue one and the economic cost of funding it.

The New York Society of CPAs’ CPA Journal gets into what is required and what to expect if you take this route here and you can check out earlier posts that GC did on the pros and cons of the career move into academia. Good luck!

Another Survey, Another Reason Parents Will Pressure Their Kids into Accounting

Welcome back, people. Stuffed with watermelon mint juleps, fireworks and Klynveldian meats, most of you probably returned to full stomachs and fuller inboxes. That said, I hope your day is as painstakingly slow as mine (HR is a beautiful thing).

My morning news feed (i.e. Caleb’s morning news round-up) contained a story that is all too familiar – graduating college with an accounting degree is a safe bet. Of course. This report could have been 10 days or 10 years old; the song and dance would be the same. Consistently one of the best (meaning safest) bets for an undergraduate degree, the report from National Association of Colleges and Employers that, “jobs in accounting paid an entry-level salary of $50,402.” (It should be noted that – rumor has it – NACE pays a circus monkey to regurgitate these statistics EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.)

Not too shabby, 50 grand a year after college. This number obviously comes with a salt shaker, as those entering into a career in public need to factor in their location and the fact that the number is pulled upwards – at least to a degree – by private salaries. My beef is not with these numbers but with the parents, high school guidance counselors and university staff that use these numbers as a means to push their products on to naïve students. Alas, my list of Flakey Reasons You Should Be an Accounting Major:


“My (insert random acquaintance reference here) is an accountant, and he/she does just fine.” That’s wonderful for your barber’s cousin’s friend, but really the success of one accountant means nothing. Doctors are successful, as is the 15 year old kid bagging my groceries. This “Mr. Smith is successful” argument is generally used as a conservative reference to a job that is less popular. Quality of life is a relative term; so who’s happier, the produce bagger or the family tax accountant?

“You need to graduate with a degree that will earn you a job.” I understand this argument; however isn’t the point of college to study a subject which you actually like? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being realistic about this, but the long-term consequences of studying a particular subject and focusing on an industry cannot be overlooked. This leads me to…

“You can work in any industry with an accounting degree.” I like Skittles. I am downright passionate about Skittles. Skittles are my life*. Is an accounting degree the only way to work for their producer, Mars Inc? Umm. No.

“You need a job to pay back your student loans.” No argument here, except for the one about overall crisis in higher education (you know, no big deal really). A recent CardRatings.com poll showed 36 percent of college graduates are carrying student loan debt on a credit card. Sleep soundly knowing the remaining 64 percent of the group is simply burdened by lower interest rates.

But I digress. The loans should be considered a necessary means to an end (i.e. – finding a job and career of interest). If you’re majoring in a subject so you can pay down the debt…that you took on…to earn…said degree…you’re vastly missing the point of going to college.

*Don’t judge.

Credentials for Accountants – Your Wheelbarrow Barrel Needs Tech Tools

Over the last couple months, GC has been profiling various accounting-related credentials. CPA, CFP, CMA, CIA, CFE, CVA, CFA… it’s a veritable alphabet soup of designations and employers are more and more likely to ask for a second helping these days. And you might want to pick up an MBA while you’re at it too. Y’know, in your spare time. In Canada, you can go ahead an//www.cga-canada.org/en-ca/Pages/default.aspx”>CGA, CA, and CBV to the mix as well.

Another day, another designation for yet another self-regulating body.

We’ve all heard of “grades inflation.” Well, in my view, we’re currently subject to “credentials inflation” at a rate that would make a Banana Republic cringe. In contrast, Zimbabwe Ben would likely nod in approval.


Beyond credentials though, there’s another critical piece in the employment puzzle that you would be well advised to consider as you venture into the field. Tools.

What are an accountant’s tools?

I’m not talking about the wheel barrel you’ll need to cart all those credentials to your job interview. I’m talking about the business software that more and more employers want pre-installed on their prospective employees.

At the entry level, it tends to be more of a ‘nice to have’ than a ‘must have’. But more and more, your progressive career path is affected by the type of tools you learn early in your career. There’s just no way to separate accounting and finance from the technology that facilitates accounting and finance work.

In the small business space, this is less of an issue. One small business accounting package is much like another. The “canned” reports (built in) will largely suffice, point and click. Just get yourself a healthy functional skill level with MS Excel and you’re ready to go.

Moving up into the enterprise, it’s a different story. The difference between having experience with Quickbooks versus SAP is akin to the difference between a degree from Eastern Michigan University and Princeton.

Think about that when you are venturing out into the job market for the first time. What are your aspirations? Where do you want your career to take you?

It’s difficult to blame employers for this predilection. Enterprise software is complex, subject to cryptic reporting languages, and training is expensive. The expertise is seldom institutionalized within the enterprise instead residing in the head’s of one or two key people. The “gurus.” Sometimes the expertise just walks right out the front door. It’s just way, way easier for everyone when “the new guy” can hit the ground running.

We may see this sad reality change in time.

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, is a key person leading the charge for change. He is an out-spoken advocate of the “consumerization” of enterprise software. In Benioff’s view, enterprise software should be as easy to use as Facebook and we’re seeing this manifest with every iteration of the Salesforce.com platform.

Unfortunately, Salesforce is the exception rather than the rule and the incumbent systems are deeply rooted in business. The technology “stack” as it’s called is built up over time and choices of enterprise systems are traditionally big, capex decisions. Change is rarely proactive and technology is normally kept well beyond the end of its useful life.

The complex enterprise systems will continue to be persistent for sometime to come. So be prepared to factor this into your career calculations. When you’re out there looking for work, ask the question of prospective employers. What systems do you use? Then, research that system to figure out its prevalence in the market: Are they using some niche software product built upon an ancient architecture? Is it a proprietary system that you’ll never see again? Is it a “legacy system”? Is it vertical specific?

Don’t underestimate the importance of these questions. No one has the bandwidth to learn all the tools currently offered. Examine your career aspirations carefully within the context of these technology tools because it can be difficult to backpedal. The tools you learn have just as much bearing on your career as the credentials you chose.

And inflation is a fact of life.

Geoff Devereux as been active in Vancouver’s technology start-up community for the past 5 years. Prior to getting lured into tech start-ups, Geoff worked in various fields including a 5 year stint in a tax accounting firm. You can see more of his posts for GC here.

So Your Firm Is Going to Pay For You to Take the CPA Exam: Four Things To Remember

Have a question on the CPA Exam? What section is easiest? How should I study for Regulation? Are pants mandatory at the testing site? Shoot us an email with your query.

Not only do you have a job (congrats!) but you have a job that is willing to pay for you to take the CPA exam. Awesome! But before you load up on review materials, be sure you know what your employer expects and understand that there are situations where you can be held liable for materials if you don’t live up to your employer’s expectations.


This is Business – First of all, though you can’t claim a deduction, reimbursement of your CPA exam expenses (education, exam fees, etc) is treated as a business expense, just like any other training. If you’re desperate to get someone to help out with review course or exam fees, try selling this point to your employer.

Make the Most of Time You Have Now – If you’re in the Big 4 or anywhere down to the middle, chances are your review course fees are covered and your performance on the exam might be rewarded with a bonus. Don’t blow this! It’s easier for you to study and pass exams before you are loaded down with responsibilities and managers are much more lenient with first years looking for time off than they are if you’re in your 4th consecutive year of failing FAR. Take this seriously and realize that your firm will probably only pay once; blow it and you’re going to have to come up with retake fees on your own.

This Isn’t 2006 – Several years ago, firms would happily pay $3,000 and up for overpriced review courses with all the bells and whistles but since belts have been tightened, some are reluctant to cough up a chunk of cash without a guaranteed return on their investment. Look at this subsidy not as a gift but as additional income. Would you blow $3,000 of your own income on something and then never use it?

Ask Your Firms Lots of Questions – If your firm does not already have an agreement with a review course but is willing to pay your fees, ask lots of questions upfront and find out if you can invoice for repeats or supplemental products if you need them. One of the larger firms has a “we’ll pay for anything once” rule meaning they will only cut one check, regardless of whether it’s for $2 or $2,000. Other firms have strict rules about what you can order and when you can start (think government agencies). Regardless of how your firm works, ask about what is covered and what is expected in return.

In this economy, you can’t afford to blow a free review course and discounted or all-expense-paid trips to Prometric.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor . You can see more of her posts here and all posts on the CPA Exam here.