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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].
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 During the past 13 months of my career here, I’m just tired of using their outdated office technology, audit tools (an electronic audit system that was made in 2010 when all other big 4s started at least 5 years ago), unfriendly people culture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?
An Escaping Klynvedian
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.
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.
And finger quotes are obviously an effective way of communicating.
Someone is wasting some billable hours in a very fine manner this August.
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.