Have you ever worked for a boss* who literally doesn't give a shit? I mean, calling in sick or just disappearing with no explantion during crunch time, never offering to help when you're swamped, never actually reviewing anything you send them (i.e. just signing it and saying "it looks great!"), never saying anything in meetings, […]
Hi all: Ive been in public for about a year+ now and I am having many issues. Maybe some of you can empthasize with me; I dont know if my situation is unique or not, but I highly doibt it is. About myself: I work for a mid size firm (about 250 employees) in the […]
Hey all, Just wanted to get some outside perspective on the situation I am currently facing. I just completed my first busy season as an audit senior at a Big 4 in a decent sized market in the Southeast. Started searching pretty vigorously after busy season for other opportunities. Found a job at a Fortune 30 Company […]
Here goes nothing: I am a Senior in Nonprofit, been doing Audit and Tax for about 7-8 years. I've gone from a small firm to a mid-size firm to a Large (right under Big 4) firm. At this point I'm very burnt out by the long hours and lack of social life (aren't we all?) to […]
Do you think I should inquire with my interviewer or accept the fact that I wasn't selected? I had an interview at BDO 3 weeks ago. I think it went well, sent my thank you emails, got some nice replies. Nothing ever since. Should I email the person that interviewed me? She had the title […]
I am currently in the search for new jobs, in hopes of cutting the ridiculous amount of travel that I am currently doing with Big 4. I was referred to the Chief Audit Executive for a local company by a partner I know at a mid-tier firm for an internal audit position. The partner sent […]
From the tip box: "Can someone please address Obama's new overtime pay rules for salaried workers and whether it actually means anything to us? I keep seeing conflicting information and the proposed rules appear to lack bright lines that would define what population this applies to." Here is your NYT article on the matter: "On […]
Here's an email we received recently. Anyone got any insight or advice? Good morning. I just finished reading your article. I am actually working towards my master's of social work degree in the Chicagoland area. However, the closer I get to finishing I realize more and more that it is not for me, and I […]
Aside from my stinky feet, can anyone give tips on why accounting firms won't hire me? Or rather, you probably can't since you don't know details about me and I simply wrote that question as a way to grab your attention. Indeed, what I really want to ask is: what can I do to increase […]
Can anyone explain to me what a day in the life of a TAS associate/senior associate would do? Is it very similar to financial statement audit? Are there different projects you would be put on or would you focus in one area, such as financial due diligence or valuation? Is there lots of travel involved? […]
I received an offer for an internship but I still have 2 more office visits for other firms. The offer deadline is right before the office visits, so I need more time. I want to ask for an extension but am just wondering the best way to phrase it. I did like the firm that […]
Tax intern here. I've been really debating asking HR about the possibility of transferring my offer from Tax to TS-Val/Financial DD, or Capital Markets/Accounting Advisory. I like tax, but the two practices I referenced, do work that really interests me. Unsure about the possibility of this yielding good results, I've heard of people transferring from […]
I'm going to be starting in Big 4 risk assurance after graduation this summer, and I'm hoping to get a little better idea of what it's like day to day. Do they have a true busy season like core assurance? What are the engagements usually like?
GC Community, What are some good questions to ask an interviewer? I know I should ask things such as: -What do you like the most about working here? -What is the most challenging aspect of your job? etc etc However, I think most people ask these type of questions. Any tips to stand out from […]
I would like to know more about FAAS (as it's called at EY, I'm not sure of the analogs for other firms). What kind of work does it entail? What are the hours like? How interesting is the work and how satisfied are the people working in this service line with what they do? How […]
Hi all, I am researching on a career path in technical accounting which involves knowledge in both world: Programmer and Accountant. Is it a thing? are there demand for such skills? I saw some job postings months ago for system accountant, where they require knowledge in accounting and ability to write/read programming languages. 1) How […]
I'm considering throwing out some applications for an Internal Audit practice (whatever it is called at the diff firms Risk Assurance/Risk Advisory/etc) at a Big 4 or mid tier firm – preferably in St. Louis or maybe Chicago. I have some industry experience, and am hoping to join as an Experiened Staff. A few […]
Health insurance is just a guarded secret. No one talks about it. I think the reason is, most health benefit packages are a piece of crap! And if the employer ever divulged what the deal is, the offer would look less inticing to newcomers. Here is the format I want to see: 1. 1-49 […]
Which cities do you guys see as the best to start out in the Big 4? I am curious about this in terms of reputation, resume value, etc. Any opinions? It seems to me that different cities are seen as providing more/less of a valuable experience and what not. For example, having EY in Des […]
Obviously a very subjective question but in your opinions what are the best jobs for audit seniors that want out of public?
Commenter question (presumably a serious one): can someone please explain to me how senior managers add value to their jobs? i've dealt with them for years now but i'm beginning to wonder what the heck they are doing all day. it seems like besides reviewing, they just run around like chickens with their heads cut […]
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 […]
This is already after the fact for me already. But thought I'd contribute during my lunch break since I have been a long time passive GC fan. I interviewed with E&Y's FSO Advisory group (senior positions) last year, and it was the most ridiculous interviewing experience I have ever gone through or heard of. I was […]
It's common knowledge that most executive recruiters are terrible at recruiting. As many in the GC community use the services of executive recruiters, what advice can we give them to be better at their job? A few pointers I can think of are: (1) let the recruit get a word in every now and then […]
I'm sure that many of us feel as is we're miserable at our jobs, but would we really be happier doing something else? I've gone through the anguish and expense of changing careers in the past, and it turned out that it didn't really make a difference. I think that the problem is me! What […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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) […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ac t 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!
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.
(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?
[Name redacted for privacy reasons. Let’s call him 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.
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.
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.
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 a of 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.
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
• 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.
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.
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!
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]
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:
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.
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 mi S 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.
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 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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 and aiting 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.
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]
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.