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Weekends Big 4 vs Private

Man there is such a big difference between being in Public vs Private when it comes to weekends. In public, you're always on call - and always have to keep checking your email. Okay, maybe you don't need to, but it's implicit that the best performers invariably end up with work on their mind - all it takes is one email from the client to piss you off or take up the rest of your day.

In Private, I'm still checking my emails frequently during the weekend, a habit I wasn't able to get rid of. But it's so radio silent since almost everyone else in Private truly takes the weekend off. I almost feel guilty shooting an email, and that's a good sign.
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How to stand out in Private Accounting

In private accounting, what do you think is the most important thing someone can do to make sure their voice is considered in the planning stages of a project and not just brought in at the last moment for a "heads-up" as described in your article.


There are a few factors at play here. 

1) You always have to do well in your job. This helps establish your rep. All you need are a few rumors flying around, and you're done.

2) You have to have a good mentor who has influence - one who is willing to talk you up to other groups. This will get the other groups to come to you directly for questions, if any.

3) If another group comes to ask you a question, prioritize it if possible. You'll be judged on the limited interactions with them.

4) Whenever you get a chance, instead of emailing them, swing by their offices and discuss your questions with them, this helps build rapport.

5) Put yourself in their shoes whenever the groups battle with each other - see if you can work out a com…

Personality or Quality - what matters more in the Big 4?

In your experience how much of "getting on a partner's good side" do you attribute to consistently completing quality work versus getting lucky and happening to connect with someone on a more personal level? Did you feel the people receiving the partner's attention were those who deserved it?
Great question - at the end of the day, the quality of the work will always win. This is what partners are judged on. If they know that you have it taken care of so they can spend time with their kids, work on their book of business,or go golfing, that'll always win out at the end of the day. Now, they may not take you golfing with them, or spend a quality amount of time mentoring you (since they may not have a personal connection with you), but you'll be the first one they go to when they have complicated engagements that they need some top talent on, especially in the PCAOB world

Let's compare a few different individuals-

Alex Smith crushes audits. He is the type …

Private vs Public politics

So how do you view the politics in the private as compared to the public? 


Great question, made me want to post again. I realize it's been six months, time flies when you don't need blog therapy anymore. On to the question - there's a lot of politics in public and private. On a high level, there's more red tape in public and in private.

Public - The Big 4 firms are big organizations - so it's much harder to cut through and get what you want. If you want to get on a particular engagement or industry, it's not as simple as going through the schedulers. The key is to get on the good side of partners, who can then make it happen. While that's simple enough, the issue is that it's not like there's just one partner..while the partners have a lot of power, there's a more concentrated group of partners that have even more power. Now it's a battle of trying to latch on to the right partner so he or she can win a battle against other partners. That'…

Promotion in Private

Working in private can be better although it can also be hard as a staff person. I'd wait for the manager title and 5 years of experience. That way you can have staff people under you. You don't want to be a staff in private because you'll be doing the work for a lot longer in your career. It's much harder to get a promotion in private.


Agreed, a lot of individuals who switch from Public to Private (especially after 3-4 years) struggle with the idea of not getting promoted every year when they switch to Private. It's absolutely true that you will not get promoted every year, especially if you're average. It's not like a factory where people go in and out all the time, there just aren't enough slots. Stay until manager in Public, then switch to Private if you don't want to be partner. It's a common trope that the Big 4 put out there, but it's somewhat true. The way to succeed in Private is to quickly be good at whatever you're doing, and t…

Should I leave after 2 years as senior?

I'm currently working in KPMG Philippines, will about to start my fourth busy season and it'll be my second year as a supervisor/senior. I would like to know if it'll be a good idea to go work for a private company by this time. My only concern is that work outside audit may not be as enjoyable for me. However, I am starting to get tired of too much workload. 

At this point, stay until you get a year as manager under your belt and then leave. You could leave now and start as a senior accountant somewhere only if it's not a regular operational job where you'll do the same thing every time. Over the next few years, you'll pick up a lot of soft skills and technical skills that will be critical to your growth. If your only goal is a 9-5 workday and the money isn't all that important to you, then leave now, but if you can tolerate the workload for 3 more years, stay. It'll benefit you a lot long term.

Why is private better than public?

"Could you elaborate, why your life is better now?"

Here are some of the various differences between public and private-

a) The work itself - The work is significantly better. In public, you spend half your time on documentation and controls. That's all essentially Cover Your Ass work so the PCAOB or your internal reviews don't deem it to be a deficient audit. You're essentially trying to figure out ways to say that you are comfortable with your client's work. While you get a high level overview of the various processes, you don't really dig into it or have the power to change things. In private, you're actually making decisions - whether it comes to accounting conclusions or process improvements, and what you prepare or review actually makes it into our financials. Yes - we're not the revenue generators, but there is something more intangible in coming up with the financials than reviewing it once it's done.

b) On call - In audit, you're alw…