October 3, 2022

Life is all about choices

Big 4 Newbie Wants the Scoop on Choosing an Industry

Welcome to the whose-missing-fingers? edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. Today, a fall new hire is asking about industry placement at his Big 4 firm. How to choose, what to avoid, you know, the ushe.

Feeling violated? Is your firm’s macho culture cramping your delicate sensibilities? Need to get something off your chest and want a partner to be the one who hears it? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll share some magic words.

Meanwhile, back at school:

Dear Going Concern,

I’m going to be starting as a college [i.e. new] hire in assurance at a Big 4 firm in the fall (I was not previously a summer intern). I still haven’t heard any information about what industry I will be placed in. Which are the most desired industries, and which should be avoided like the plague? Do the firms have any methodology in in placing new hires in industry groups?

Thanks,

Procrastinating Exam Studier

Dear Procrastinating,

Why you felt the need to hint at your lack of CPA exam preparedness is curious but that’s AG’s beat, so take it up with her but prepare yourself for a verbal assault.

As for the question at hand, you have to look at this like you’re choosing from a lineup of people with whom you’ve gotten biblical to be your significant other. None of them are perfect but there are definitely pros and cons to each. It’s best to experience a few of your interests before you jump in head first with one particular option. Then, after playing the field a bit, you can determine: 1) Are you pursuing one possibility knowing that it’s a dead end? 2) Is one option hot for you but things aren’t mutual? 3) Is another choice easy but doesn’t have much going in the way of intellectual stimulation? You get the idea.

One other consideration is the city where you live. If you’re interested in the energy business, New York City isn’t going to have much to offer. Likewise, if you would like to explore things in the entertainment industry, you won’t find much in Kansas City. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Most cities will have the following industries: Financial Services, Consumer and Industrial Products, Information/Communciations/Technology, Healthcare/Public Sector/Governmental. Of course certain places have a higher concentration of these industries (e.g. NYC and Financial Services, DC and Governmental), so that will determine demand for particular areas. Lots of people get roped into F/S in places like New York and Chicago because there is lots of work, thus the need for warm bodies. That’s basically how firms decide who goes where – the need. Managers tell schedulers that they need a body and your name just gets thrown on a job. Unless you speak up, to your career/performance counselor. Be sure they know what you’re interests are, otherwise you’re just a new name that will end up wherever there is demand.

I’ll leave the “good industry v. bad industry” debate to the peanut gallery, as that varies by city but I will tell you that if you are in a market like New York, working in Financial Services is the best route simply because you’ll have many options when you decide to leave your firm. The work is hard and it’s competitive but it’ll be worth it long-term. Choose wisely.

IRS Announces New ‘Come Out with Your Hands Up Holding Your Offshore Bank Account Number’ Program

Back in 2009, the IRS ran a relatively successful program that encouraged those with offshore bank accounts to cop to their shady tax evading ways and all would be forgiven…with the exception of a small penalty of the assets stashed out of sight. This particular program was primarily focused on UBS customers and for those not willing to play ball, the IRS and DOJ put the screws on the Swiss bank and got them to name names.

The IRS had been hinting that maybe Offshore Amnesty 2.0 was coming and today, they made it official.

From the Times:

The Internal Revenue Service announced a new initiative on Tuesday intended to lure tax evaders, but with stiffer penalties than those offered by a previous program. Under the initiative, Americans with hidden offshore accounts have until Aug. 31 to come forward voluntarily and report the accounts to the I.R.S. in exchange for penalties that, while below what they would ordinarily pay, are still higher than those offered in an earlier amnesty program.

The good news is that the IRS swears – SWEARS! – that you’ll come to no harm, in the criminal sense:

The program makes clear that Americans who come forward will not to face prosecution for tax evasion — something tax lawyers say was more of an open question under the previous program. “When a taxpayer truthfully, timely and completely complies with all provisions of the voluntary disclosure practice, the I.R.S will not recommend criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice,” the I.R.S. said.

So unless the possibility of jail time sounds inviting, we suggest you get on this. We’re all dreaming of August right now.

I.R.S. Offers New Amnesty Deal for Offshore Accounts [NYT]

PwC Will Be There for You When Your Gridiron Dreams Come to an Abrupt Halt

PricewaterhouseCoopers understands that their employees have big dreams. But if those dreams come crashing down into a heap of flaming shit on the doorstep of your life that they’ll be there for you when you have nowhere else to turn.

Case-in-point, Danny Brannagan is a football player. A Canadian football player. And he has a dream to play in the CFL for the Toronto Argonauts. He also has an opportunity to realize his dream to become an auditor for a Big 4 firm but PwC is accommodating his desire to be a tackling dummy until his knees need replaced:

[PricewaterhouseCoopers] is willing to wait while the young quarterback sees how far his skills can take him in the Canadian Football League.

“They (PricewaterhouseCoopers) understand I have a limited window to participate at a high level in sports and they told me to take advantage of that,” the Queen’s graduate said on Wednesday.

Brannagan will get to experience the life of a CFL quarterback while on the practice roster, but more importantly continue to develop the skills that helped him take Queen’s all the way to a CIS title in 2009.

“It will give me an opportunity to learn and develop as a quarterback, get used to the system and get used to the professional aspect of the game,” he said.

Brannagan will be paid the handsome sum of $500 a week while on the practice roster, which is undoubtedly less than he would be making at PricewaterhouseCoopers, even at an entry-level position.

“I don’t know if it’s a sacrifice, necessarily,” Brannagan said.

“PricewaterhouseCoopers has been very accommodating. They have allowed to me to have a flexible start date there. I don’t necessarily look at it as giving something up as much as I’m postponing a career after football.”

Argonauts head coach Jim Barker was thrilled to be able to accommodate Brannagan on the practice roster.

“It’s a lot better than working for an accounting firm,” he said half-jokingly.

$500 a week to get crushed by the defensive starters? Picking up the starting QB’s leftovers (if you catch my drift)? Get snapped on the ass by a linebacker’s towel who may want to get to know him a little better in the shower? These are the things dreams are made of.

Fortunately for Dan-o, PwC has elevators in its offices because he probably isn’t going to be able to walk up stairs after his “football career” is over.

Plus, the nerve of this coach. There was no half-joking there. He was dead serious. Would the Argonauts be there for Danny if he was part of the next round of PwC layoffs? Not likley.