Performance reviews

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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 […]

Survey: Performance Reviews Cause Millennials to Complain, Curse, Cry

A survey from HR service provider TriNet found that performance reviews cause all kinds of negative reactions from Millennials. I know, I can hardly believe it myself. Here's the rundown: 62% felt “blindsided” by a performance review. 74% feel “in the dark” about how their managers and peers think they’re performing. 47% feel that receiving […]

Reminder: Parents Meddling in Your Careers Will Not Help You

For all intents and purposes, it is summer. In the circle of life (or Hell, if you prefer) of an accounting firm that means two significant things are going on: 1) performance reviews and 2) summer internships. One disturbing trend that we've covered in the past is that of heli-parents who intervene into salary negotiations/interviews/performance interviews, […]

How to Find Value in the Otherwise Valueless Performance Rankings

Good day, fellow capital market servants. It’s been some time, hasn’t it? To those of you that are new-ish to this corner of the Interwebs, my name is Daniel Braddock, the resident Human Resources semi-professional. I typically cover HR related topics like compensation, recruiting trends, and topics like the always popular “how do I switch […]

Severe CPA Cheapness, Fiscal Cliffs, and Big 4 Houses of Hogwarts: The Ten Most Popular Going Concern Posts of 2012

It's the last week of the year and that means no one is doing much of anything besides exchanging gifts for stuff they actually want and planning all the New Year's resolutions they won't keep.  Your humble servants here at Going Concern are attempting to recharge our batteries this week, but we know you can't […]

(UPDATE) Comp Watch ’12: PwC Auditor Wants to Load Up for His Sit-down

With fifteen days to go in the fiscal year, one capital market servant wants to go in with guns blazing:   I know some people are starting to have discussions this week at PwC on ratings (not sure of compensation) at least in the Greater Chicago Market. Mine isn't scheduled until next week, but would like to have […]

Promotion and Bonus Watch ’12: Here’s a Confidential Guide for PwC’s Performance Review Process

Early last week we kicked off the compensation season 2012 discussion, thanks to the anxiety that is circling among the rank and file of accounting firms. Along with concerns over cold hard cash, some of you are probably curious about promotions. Luckily, someone was kind enough to leak us PwC's "FY12 ARC [Annual Review Committee] […]

Partner Criticizes Subordinate for Dressing Like Peasant, Eating Like a Wild Beast

For the most part, performance reviews are a fairly disappointing affair. You walk in, prepared to explain why you’re such a badass CPA only to be informed that you’re pretty average. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that your auditing/tax/advisory skills could use some improvement and there are many, many other people that deserve more money than you. For whatever reason, occasionally a performance counselor will take the opportunity in the review process to get a little personal. Feedback like, “Personal hygiene needs work,” or “Dresses like a slob,” or “Sucks as a human being,” is hardly constructive but has been known to happen. This morning we have yet another example of someone getting a little nasty.

Here’s our recipient/tipster:

I have gotten some interesting evaluations by the Partner in my office over the last couple of years. I would be curious to know if other public accountants get the same amount of candid feedback that my partner is willing to provide. Here is a sample of what I received on a recent evaluation:

“I have also commented to ___ on his professional dress. It appears he was compliant with firm policy regarding attire without collars, but I must admit that the overall choice was on the very low scale of professional dress. I believe ___ has taken action to correct this matter and I encourage him to “dress for success.” I also encourage ___ to place greater emphasis on proper table manners. In particular, not eating french fries with your hands while with a client at a nice restaurant.

Our tipster explains that his dress “was a nice, crew neck sweater with brown slacks, [the partner] was pissed off that there was no collar. I sent him an email with the firm dress policy to prove that it was within the guidelines.”

But really, our reader admits, “the french fry comment is the best. The restaurant was middle-tier at best.”

As our reader said, he’s looking for similar stories, so if you’ve been admonished for rocking a turtleneck or ignoring your knife and fork, share your stories below. And then you should feel shame. SHAME.

Burned Out KPMG Associate Looking to Extend Stay in Public Accounting Purgatory with Another Big 4 Firm

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us [email protected].

Dear GC:

I am an associate working for KPMG. During the past 13 months of my career here, I’m just tired of using their outdated office technology, audit tools (an electronic audit system that was made in 2010 when all other big 4s started at least 5 years ago), unfriendly people culture (politics and white-eyes), and stingy meal reimbursement ($14 for dinner). I often work really late hours (utilization rate more than 180%), at the year-end review, I am really unhappy for the rating and raise they gave me.

But still, I want to work in public accounting for the next 2 to 3 years. My question is, do Big 4 recruiters share their employee’s review? Does a recruiter at DTT/EY/PwC know what the employee’s performance is at KPMG (maybe a call to his/her close-friend in KPMG to find-out)? Also, while I’m choosing my next target, which Big 4 has better people-culture so that I will be motivated to work hard for the 2 or 3 years?

Thanks,

An Escaping Klynvedian

Dear Soon-To-Be-Escapee,


Oh, the woes of a being a first year associate: you think the hours/pay/bennies can be substantially better at another firm in your area, but really where you’re at now is oftentimes par for the course. Yes, the audit tools at KPMG are antiquated compared to the others (to their credit: they’re desperately playing catch up now), but with the other areas of complaint I doubt the GC crew has much sympathy for you. Your $14 Per Diem rate is not a KPMG decision but rather based on rates set by IRS. As someone who has traveled extensively for my firm (and uses the IRS rates), I’ve never had a problem ordering in or dining out within the rates set for any given city. Hellz, you could live on $14 a night in NYC if you had to (street meat, anyone?). On to your other concerns:

1. Hours – going to be bad wherever you are. 180% chargeability bad? I don’t know. Talk to anyone you know at the local offices of your competitors and ask about their busy seasons. Also ask if they’re hiring.

2. Unfriendly culture – I think we can all agree that this is different for every office, for every firm, for every city. Best way to find a better one is to look around.

3. Sharing employee reviews – it’s unlikely that one HR professional will call up his/her counterpart at your firm and inquire directly about your reviews. However, they will most likely ask that you provide copies of past reviews before making you an offer. This is a legitimate request and you should be prepared to cooperate. Based on your expressed concern, I’m going to guess that your reviews are not that…great. If this is the case, be prepared to explain any average/less than review points made by your manager(s).

GC’ers – who has some advice for our fleeing first year? Hit up the comments below.

Tax Professionals Should Keep One Simple Thing in Mind When Assessing Their Performance

It’s getting to be that time of year, after all:

We’re doing reviews performance reviews, and the first item to assess is, “Knowledge and application of applicable accounting procedures and law.” First you check the appropriate box: Needs improvement; Meets expectations; Exceeds expectations; Far exceeds expectations. Then you have to write a comment. Here’s what I’ve got:

The Internal Revenue Code is 4,212 pages in 2 point font, I think the fact that I know any of it qualifies me to check the box – FAR EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS

Other responses are welcome. Or send them our way.

Apparently, Sport Coats Can Go a Long Way for Big 4 Auditors

And finger quotes are obviously an effective way of communicating.


Someone is wasting some billable hours in a very fine manner this August.

Earlier:
A Brief Moment in the Life of a Big 4 Auditor

Forced Rankings Appear to Be in Full Effect at Ernst & Young

Confirming some discussion in the comments from last Friday’s Ernst & Young compensation post, a source got in touch with us with more details on some rankings getting chopped:

I’ll confirm what your sources are saying about reviews being available in fso. Not only that, but forced rankings are in full effect. While [there] was less pushback during roundtables earlier (which was accurrate at the time), the ratings for at least 5 people were lowered by a notch from what was agreed to by the full committee at the end of may. (5 to 4, 4 to 3) While they do say after all people are discussed they’ll assess the levels to ensure the same criteria is being used, I firmly belive its being used as a way to lower ratings (and raises). Why have the formal review committees (roundtables) if the partners are going to have the ability to act unilateraly to ‘right size’ the ratings?

We’ll still have to wait a couple more weeks before we find out if the forced rankings actually translate into disappointing raises, as the official communication won’t come until August but this news surely doesn’t bode well. If you got knocked down a peg, discuss below and as always, keep us updated.

Three Ways Accountants Can Use Performance Reviews to Polish Their Résumés

One of the complaints I oftentimes hear from my colleagues who begin the job search is, “I haven’t updated my resumé in (insert absurd amount of time here) years. I don’t have a clue where to begin.” Combine an outdated resumé with the fact that speaking highly of oneself without sounding pompous can be difficult at best, and it’s understandable why putting a resumé together is typically the biggest hurdle in committing to looking for a new job.

Today’s lesson in common sense – use what you’ve got. No, not those red pencils. I’m talking performance reviews.


For those of you who are KPMG Kampers, Down Towners and the GT shipmates, you should all have your performance reviews signed, sealed, and stamped with a rating. (Sources say that Uncle Ernie’s are ongoing; calls in to P. Dubs were met with a “We do not participate in surveys, sir.” So let us know where your processes stand). Here’s what you can do with your performance reviews when drafting a resumé:

Keep the technical – Remember how you’re constantly being reminded that you need to stay until making manager in order to develop your people skills? Or that rebuilding New Orleans makes you a well-rounded employee? No one cares. Okay, okay – people care, but these are not the skills that should dominate your resumé. Recruiters and their clients want to see technical marks. Talk about the FASBs you deal with; the financial products your banking client invests in; the material mistakes you uncovered. Anything soft skills related should be pushed towards the bottom of your bullet points.

Sell your resumé like you sell your peformance – It’s probably safe to assume that you spent more than 12 minutes on your performance reviews. For this reason and others, your performance reviews are a detailed, year-by-year, role-by-role account of your accomplishments. Scour through them next time you look at your resumé. Don’t be scared to brag on your resumé like you do in your reviews. If you’re not bragging, you’re selling yourself short. You have to be true to the work you’ve accomplished. With enough effort you’ll be able to understand where your strengths lie; working with your recruiter to understand how these experiences fit with target jobs is the next step.

Ask for feedback – The hardest thing to do is honestly capture your personality and experiences on a few pieces of paper. That said, no one knows you better than your peers. We all have former colleagues who have moved on to the private sector; seek their feedback. It’s one thing to have your significant other or a family member proofread your resumé (and you should seek this kind of advice), but unless your mother is a senior partner in the firm, there’s little feedback she can provide about the technical weight of your resumé. Seek the advice and critical eye of someone who worked with you. Most importantly, be open to criticism; it’s for your benefit.