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Big 4 Wanna-Be with Displaced Apostrophe Disorder Wants to Make the Jump From a Regional Firm

Ed. note: Welcome to the final edition of Decide My Life For Me for this week. Thanks to all of you for keeping the shenanigans to a minimum while I attempted to fill Caleb’s comically large shoes (come on ladies, you know what they say about a man with big feet…) as editor this week. I will still be running the show for the first half of next week so if you have a question for me, DWB, Caleb or the homeless guy I let be my “Associate Editor” in exchange for cigarettes and half-eaten sandwiches, get in touch. Have a great weekend.

Dear Going Concern,

I am a third year auditor at a regional accounting firm. I was recently contacted by one of the Big 4 and decided to interview with them. Two days later, they called and gave me an offer. I told them I would think about it and get back to them. Well, here is my dilemma. I am very well respected at my firm and was awarded a mid-year bump in salary due to my outstanding performance. The partner’s [sic] at the regional firm tell me that I have a great future at the firm. However, it has always been my goal to work for the Big 4 and I finally have my opportunity. As far as compensation goes, the Big 4 company is bringing me in at roughly $7k more than I make now. The question is, should I continue to work for the regional firm where I know I have potential and respect, or should I go into the light and work for the Big 4?

Dazed and Confused

Dear D&C,
Here’s a baseball story for you.

Essentially, you’ve been playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the past three years. You have a small (but dedicated!) fan base, a decent stadium, and food court options that – depending on the season – are the reason fans even come to games. Your coaches are “good, not great,” which is basically a phrase that can be used to describe most aspects of your team. It’s a good job, you can pay your bills, and generally enjoy coming to work every day.

But you just interviewed with the in-state Philadelphia Phillies. League dominators, more fans, more national exposure, higher-caliber players, and oh yeah, a big bump in pay. Your coaches in Steel Country are all telling you that you have a bright future there, but you don’t have to look at the last 20 years of business to realize it doesn’t compare to the past five in Philly. Of course you have potential and respect in Pittsburgh, and sure, your teammates might verbally crap on the fan base in Philly (who doesn’t, amiright?), but come on – why wouldn’t you move?

Back to reality: better clients, better pay, better opportunities, bigger network, more resources.

You can always return to Pittsburgh.

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.


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.