October 22, 2020

Three Things to Remember When Changing Accounting Careers

Happy Friday, folks. Hopefully with busy season ending soon, this marks the end of your work week. If not, well, keep reading. Maybe we can change that.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, you might be feeling the tides of change in the next few weeks in your office, whether that be with your personal career or with co-workers dressing better than usual.


It’s about the total package – Even in the glory days of post-SOX rulings and lush amounts of advisory services work, public accounting has never paid close to what the private sector provides. When looking for new positions, know that you should not be expecting to find 50%-100% salary increases. It can be expected to find base salary increases to fall into the 10-15% range. Why? Because honestly, the stories told over warms beers at your last work function were grossly overblown. Sure, the occasional rock star accountant makes the leap from newly christened manager to controller of a small fund and landing on a cushy financial pillow. The monetary difference between public and private (and I’m speaking of financial services) rests in the annual bonuses:

Senior Associate, Big 4: $70,000 salary + $5,000 bonus = $75,000

Fund Accountant, XYZ Hedge fund: $80,000 salary + $30,000 bonus = a no brainer

These numbers are general but realistic for today’s market. Keep these in mind as you reach for that red wax pencil.

Be realistic about your next job title – You’re an accountant. No, you can’t be a trader. No, front office is not for you (yet). You need to be honest with yourself and really scrutinize the experience you’re building in your current role. Working on a private equity fund-to-fund will not prep you enough to slip into a fund accounting role at the P/E firm of your choice. Mold your career experiences to fit what you want to do. The right recruiter will manage your expectations, which leads us to…

Start out with multiple recruiters – Finding the right recruiter is like finding a career counselor. Some will be pushy and force unwanted jobs on you. Others will take the time to polish your resume, help you realize the steps you need to take to work toward your ideal job, and only pass along relevant job opportunities. Consider a recruiter like this a blessing. And don’t forget to pass that person’s contact information on to your buddies. They helped you; return the favor.

Happy Friday, folks. Hopefully with busy season ending soon, this marks the end of your work week. If not, well, keep reading. Maybe we can change that.

As I mentioned on Tuesday, you might be feeling the tides of change in the next few weeks in your office, whether that be with your personal career or with co-workers dressing better than usual.


It’s about the total package – Even in the glory days of post-SOX rulings and lush amounts of advisory services work, public accounting has never paid close to what the private sector provides. When looking for new positions, know that you should not be expecting to find 50%-100% salary increases. It can be expected to find base salary increases to fall into the 10-15% range. Why? Because honestly, the stories told over warms beers at your last work function were grossly overblown. Sure, the occasional rock star accountant makes the leap from newly christened manager to controller of a small fund and landing on a cushy financial pillow. The monetary difference between public and private (and I’m speaking of financial services) rests in the annual bonuses:

Senior Associate, Big 4: $70,000 salary + $5,000 bonus = $75,000

Fund Accountant, XYZ Hedge fund: $80,000 salary + $30,000 bonus = a no brainer

These numbers are general but realistic for today’s market. Keep these in mind as you reach for that red wax pencil.

Be realistic about your next job title – You’re an accountant. No, you can’t be a trader. No, front office is not for you (yet). You need to be honest with yourself and really scrutinize the experience you’re building in your current role. Working on a private equity fund-to-fund will not prep you enough to slip into a fund accounting role at the P/E firm of your choice. Mold your career experiences to fit what you want to do. The right recruiter will manage your expectations, which leads us to…

Start out with multiple recruiters – Finding the right recruiter is like finding a career counselor. Some will be pushy and force unwanted jobs on you. Others will take the time to polish your resume, help you realize the steps you need to take to work toward your ideal job, and only pass along relevant job opportunities. Consider a recruiter like this a blessing. And don’t forget to pass that person’s contact information on to your buddies. They helped you; return the favor.

Latest Accounting Jobs--Apply Now:

Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.

Related articles

Ding Dong the Open Office Is Dead

… and the ‘Rona killed it. In a Fast Company article this week, we find that the much-hated open office is likely in its death knell, just another victim of that pesky global virus. It’s been embraced for saving money, hated for its lack of sound privacy, blasted for reinforcing sexist behavior, and even cited as a […]