Defection

Aspiring KPMG Manager Needs Help Defecting to Another Big 4 Firm

Welcome to another round of Accounting Career Emergencies (aka: “Decide My Life For Me: GC Edition”). Today we have a KPMG Senior Associate who badly wants to make manager except for the small matter of not being able to stand her client, manager, partner and basically everything else. Jumping over to another Big 4 firm is an option but how does one convince them that you’re worthy of the new stomping grounds.

Looking for an extra edge? Concerned that your performance isn’t up to snuff and need a contingency plan? Working in an environment that makes you uncomfortable? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll try to explain how poles and porn fit into “team building.”

Back to our Benedict Arnold du jour:

Hello dear friends at GC,

I am beginning my fourth year with audit at KPMG and would like to make it to Manager, if for no other reason than the title’s weight on the résumé. If I were to stay with KPMG and made manager in the average time frame, I would be here for another two years. To be frank, I can’t stand my client, manager, or partner and want nothing more than to quit tomorrow; I’ve already spoken to my PML (direct supervisor, basically), but there really isn’t an option for me to get out of working on this client and or this team any time soon.

My job is ok when I’m working on other clients, but this engagement is so terrible that I’m not sure I’m willing to stick it out long enough to get to my other clients. Like so many others, my primary goal is to make it to Manager at a Big 4 (have no idea if I will stay after I do, but that’s the goal at this point). There are needs for audit seniors at the other Big 4 firms in the city, and I’m thinking about jumping ship to another one. If I do this, I figure I’ll at least get a fresh start and shake things up a bit, while still working towards my Big 4 Manager goal.

So here’s the question: how do I convince another Big 4 firm to hire me? Also, if I were to get hired by the like of DT, E&Y, or PWC, could I feasibly expect to make Manager within two years? I have my CPA out of the way, so that shouldn’t be a big factor…

Help me, Going Concern. You’re my only hope.

-Big4FlipFlops

Dear Big 4 Flip Flops,

Your problem is easy, ring up PwC. They picking off KPMG people like a WWII sniper. But seriously, I’m a little perplexed by your question. When you go into an interview with any potential employer, how do you convince them to hire you? You research the company. You smile big and are ready to talk about things other than work. You discuss your accomplishments at KPMG, you play up your strengths, admit that you’re working on your weaknesses but ultimately, that you’re bringing A-1 talent to this organization and they’d DAMN FOOLS to pass up the opportunity to hire you. There will probably be a curveball question or two in the interview and those may help/hurt your chances but it’ll be a pretty standard interview.

As for your promotion timeline, I think you can safely ask your potential new firm about that without fearing any repercussions. If you adjust to the new firm quickly (e.g. new methodologies, navigating political waters) and are a performer there’s no reason you shouldn’t be considered for a promotion in another two years. Good luck and may the Force be with you.

PwC Snags Another KPMG Partner

Is PwC offering these partners a lifetime supply of Girl Scout Cookies or something?

Ellen Rotenberg will join PwC to head up the Banking, Capital Markets and Insurance group as a tax partner in New York. She was most recently the National Tax Leader for Banking and Finance at KPMG. Prior to that position she did a stint in KPMG’s Washington National Tax Practice.

If you’re keeping score at home, this is the fourth KPMG partner/principal to join PwC since February (that we know about). Kinda makes you wonder if Tim Flynn is really retiring. [PwC]

McGladrey Suing Three ‘Rainmakers’ Who Defected to JH Cohn

That, according to a report in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal:

At risk are millions of dollars, the company’s reputation and the entire health care practice now led by a Minneapolis partner, according to a lawsuit recently filed by the accounting, consulting and tax firm against the three rainmakers who went to New York-based J.H. Cohn. Bloomington-based McGladrey and the former partners said they’d rather not discuss the dispute. Public records show that McGladrey is seeking a federal court order to keep the partners away from their clients

And unfortunately, that’s all we know. The MSTPBJ is behind a paywall (and my publisher is currently not springing for a membership) so we can’t really tell you much more than that. But we do love a good Benedict Arnold story, so we called around and are anxiously awaiting both firms to call us back. In the meantime, if you’re in the know get in touch or discuss below.

What Do Libya and KPMG Have in Common?

That was the question posed to us by our tipster. The answer: more and more defections. The latest is James Draper, per an internal email sent to us this morning.

Welcome new Risk Assurance Principal James Draper

The ranks of Risk Assurance continue to grow with the addition of accomplished professionals. These catalyst and experienced hires are helping us to evolve our services, and impress the marketplace with the expertise in which we deliver them. James Draper is our newest edition, joining us as a principle [sic, Jimbo is now a PwC “pal”] in our San Francisco office.

Jamie’s focus will be on helping to grow our IT&PA/ERP Controls services, particularly in the areas of SAP and JD Edwards. He joins us from KPMG where he has logged over 15 years experience assisting clients with technology risks. Instrumental in helping clients implement controls and security, Jamie has effectively managed the risks associated with large system implementations. In fact, he has assisted a number of global companies across a variety of industries through complex implementations, among them: Chevron, eBay, Nestle, Rolls-Royce (Aerospace) and Dolby. Jamie will help us to help our clients become more efficient in their control processes, leveraging system functionality including SAP’s Governance Risk & Compliance (GRC) module.

[The part where they talk about his personal life]

Please join me in welcoming Jamie to our firm, and to Risk Assurance.

If history is any indicator we’ll see a press release from PwC at some point but in the meantime, reactions to the latest KPMG turncoat are welcome at this time.

More competitive poaching:
PwC Lands Another KPMG Partner; Steven Tseng Joining Transfer Pricing Practice
PwC Picks Up Thomas Henry from KPMG; Will Lead Global Incentives Practice

Should a Big 4 Audit Associate Ditch His Firm for a Client?

Welcome to the I’m-just-sick-about-the-Mad-Men-situation edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a Big 4 associate wants to apply for an analyst position at his client and wants to know if there will be backlash or independence issues that would accompany such a move. What’s in store for our turncoat? Let’s find out!

Have an interesting career dilemma? Need some ideas to cheer up the troops? Looking for some ways to offer some constructive criticism without resorting to veiled insults? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll help you squash any temptation for name-calling.

Meanwhile back at traitor island:

Dear Going Concern,

I’m an Associate at a Big4 looking to do something more exciting. After checking out at my clients website, they seem to have a lot of entry-level analysts positions that interest me.

I was curious as to what your thoughts were about applying to one of your clients, and how my team might react if I get the job before busy season. Also, do I have to worry about independence issues if I’m only an Associate?

Thank you,
Extremely Bored Associate

Dear Extremely Bored Associate,

You think an entry-level analyst position sounds more exciting than Big 4? Your bar for thrills is awfully low, my friend. Never mind that you lack an inner Indiana Jones, I’m here to help you.

For starters, I’m not really sure what you mean by “just before busy season” since it’s March and busy season is all but over. However if you do ditch your team prior to busy season, some will sneer at your timing and then forget about you. And then there are the people that will hate you just on principle. You simply have to accept that as a cost of doing business. As far as independence is concerned, I don’t see any issues since you’re pretty low on pecking order but your firm may have a cooling off period or some other policy that forbids you from taking a position for a certain amount of time, so consider that your homework assignment.

Have said all that, I should tell you that it’s possible that your client may not be interested in offering you a job simply because you worked for the audit team. The argument being that maintaining a good relationship with their audit provider trumps any cog in the wheel so poaching you from their professional services firm is something they simply won’t do. Now are there exceptions? Probably. So the only the way to know is find out; run it up and see what happens. Good luck.

Should a Big 4 Auditor Jump Ship for a Rival After Four Months on the Job?

Welcome to the you-better-get-work-done-today-because-no-one-is-doing-shit-tomorrow edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, an experienced Big 4 auditor has recently gotten the interest of a rival firm after just four months on the job. Does he risk a disloyal reputation if he jumps ship again?

Have a career question? Trying to deal with a troublesome co-worker? Concerned that your firm isn’t offering you enough chances to crush some Chardonnay at the office? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll attempt to find you a firm that isn’t full of teetotalers.

Back to our Judas-in-waiting:

Hi Going Concern,

I recently made the move to a Big 4 firm after completing two full years at the largest mid-size firm in the U.S. I was promoted to Senior right before I left my old firm but was offered a position as a Staff 2 (with a nominal increase in pay). I am in the middle of my third busy season (assurance) and I just got an e-mail from one of the other Big 4 firms I was in communication with when I was looking to split from my previous firm. The e-mail is describing an open position that they have in a client acceptance specialty group, based in the NJ office (I currently live and work in NY).

I have only been at my current firm for about four months – is it too early to contemplate considering the opportunity? Of course I would have to go through the whole interview process so this could be a moot point but I can’t help wondering if the move would be a bad idea? Would it limit my ability to work in the private sector later on? Would my résumé scream DISLOYAL? My main incentive would be a pay/title increase (opening is for a Senior position) and what I would hope would be a less stressful “busy season” but at this point I have no clue what to do.

Thanks,

Ship Jumper in NY

Dear Ship Jumper,

Simply put: when given an opportunity, I a big believer in making a run at it. I don’t see anything wrong with going through the interview process with your prospective firm and seeing where it leads. If you don’t get the job, what have you lost? The answer is “nothing,” and you won’t wonder whether or not you should have gone on that interview. I’m not really sure how you feel about being an auditor but joining a speciality group could be a nice change of pace.

Scenario B is that you land the gig and you’re worried about the appearance it will have on your résumé. First of all, you make it sound like you’re one of those bounders who jumps around because they hate every job they’ve ever had. Two years here; eighteen months here; six months here. If you end up going down that road, the answer is yes, that is a warning sign to potential employers. If this opportunity is really the direction you want to take your career, then there’s very little risk of that. In the future when discussing the brief stint to an interviewer (if they even ask), you’ll be able to explain it this way, “The opportunity came up and I went for it. I’ve been working in this group for X number of years and have enjoyed my time there. This is just another opportunity.”

I think future employers should be interested in someone who recognizes opportunity when they see it as opposed to someone who is content to sit back and wonder what might have been. This goes for aspects in your work, not just career moves. As long as your intentions and ambitions about this opportunity are sincere and not simply opportunistic, employers won’t be worried about the brief pit stop at your current firm.

Will Defecting from E&Y to PwC Change Anything?

Today in makeshift accounting therapy, a fed up E&Y vet is contemplating a move to arch-rival PwC and wants to know if this is a suicide move.

Have a question about your career? Need advice on how to explain why your Fantasy Football league is always up on your laptop? Looking for advice on how to best flirt with recruits without being creepy? Send us an email with your query to advice@goingconcern.com and will give you the best free advice you’ll ever get.

As for our potential E&Y Benedict Arnold:

I’m at EY, looking at a position one-level above where I am at PWC. Is this a frying-pan/fire situation?

EY as “more people friendly” is a concern, because EY is horrifically NOT people friendly.

I’ve know the guy I would be working for at PWC very well and I think I’m maxed out at EY.


Okay, so not a lot to go on here but we’ll take a stab at this. First off, if you’re maxed out at E&Y then looking for a new gig is the right move. The timing isn’t bad (assuming you’re not in the tax practice) and it sounds like you’ve got a decent lead at PwC. That said…

What makes you think PwC will be better than E&Y? Has the guy that you would be working for told you explicitly that he’s having the time of his life over there? That, besides the PwC Experience, you’ll be getting 40-50 hour weeks, happy hours devoid of assaults and access to professional oral sex providers on a regular basis?

More questions to consider: Does “the guy” stand to get a referral bonus for poaching you? Can you see yourself working for him? This could turn out to one hell of an epic mistake if he gets a few thousand bucks and you end up working for a whip-wielding taskmaster.

Now that we’ve planted the skepticism seed, if “a position one level above” is a legit promotion (title and salary bump), that might be worth considering. If it’s more of a lateral move, then we’d suggest passing unless there were perks like we described above.

Other important things to consider: 1) You will be torching many bridges at E&Y. Are you okay with that? 2) Is your potential new job really what you want to do. We’re making the assumption that you like your work but you’re over life at E&Y. If you don’t like your work then you’ve got a whole other problem. 3) Do you really, really, really, really want to stay in Big 4? Have you seriously asked yourself that question?

Ultimately, the opportunity may be a great one but you’re still taking a big risk assuming your life will be infinitely better working at PwC over E&Y. Proceed with caution.