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September 25, 2023

Vault Survey: Male Big 4 Partners Most Satisfied; Female Senior Associates Least Satisfied

Our friends at Vault will release their Accounting 50 ranking on Monday, but if you simply cannot contain your excitement until that day comes, they've got a little teaser in this post that reveals Big 4 men are happier than Big 4 women. Is this a shock or is it more predictable than a creep with "free candy" written on the side of his windowless van?

As usual, all findings—as well as the forthcoming rankings—are based on results of the annual Vault Accounting Survey, which was administered earlier this year to nearly 8,000 accounting professionals across 85 firms. The survey, along with asking professionals to rate their competitor firms in terms of prestige, asks accountants to evaluate their firms in various workplace areas on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest and 1 being the lowest.

Now, to the good stuff. The data show that not only are Big 4 men happier than Big 4 women, male partners are the most satisfied while female senior associates are the least.

Interestingly, female accounting professionals tend to be most satisfied with their firms' promotion policies when they have just one year of experience and are least satisfied in the three to five year range. You'll notice that blue is the highest ranking for each area and yellow is the lowest. We need not point out what these results are saying based on that information:

Both men and women are obviously pooping rainbows over their firms early on, sputtering out to piss-colored misery at the 3 – 5 year mark and coming back around to feel all warm and fuzzy around by the time they've served 10 years or more on their life sentence. It is unclear how many of those in the 10+ year range are suffering from late stage Stockholm Syndrome.

Vault's Derek Loosvelt has a guess as to why the 3 – 5 year professionals are so unhappy in comparison to those fresh-faced first years:

As for what could be causing this dip, my thoughts are these: It’s likely that first-year accounting employees begin their initial jobs out of college with a lot of hope and promise and are pretty darn pleased that they’re getting paid some quality cash to work in a professional setting with smart colleagues and sharp managers, not to mention that they're getting to work on accounts involving giant, household-name clients. Soon, though, like a piece of sugar-loaded chewing gum, all this loses its flavor, as newbies become experienced professionals, meaning they get a couple of tax seasons in them and realize that life in a professional setting, even when you’re taking home a good amount of dough, is not all that their cheerful colleagues in HR cracked it up to be when they handed over that crisp offer sheet with a bunch of zeros to the left of the decimal. However, despite the thankless overtime and busy seasons that seem to never end, seniors keep cranking out those long hours, fighting for those promotions, navigating the tough cultures, the tough managers, all in hopes of becoming a big swinger—that is, a partner. And if they can stick it out long enough and make to that highly desired destination, they'll find that the long hours at work lessen, while the hours on the golf outings and at home increase, and of course they start taking home salaries that are not just nice looking but dashingly handsome.

In other words, if public accounting were a dog turd, it would start turning white around 3 – 5 years.

So this of course begs the question: what color is your dog turd and do you agree with these results?

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