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Showing posts from July, 2007

CPA

The Certified Public Accountant, or CPA for short, is an interesting certification. It certifies that you can check beans within a reasonable variance? To become a Certified Public Asshole, sorry, Accountant...one must pass four sections...Financial Accounting , Regulation (Law and Taxes),Business Environment and Concepts (Economics, Cost Accounting) and Audit. Now, I passed it on the first try. Was studying for it painful? I felt the pain towards the end of the fourth exam. The worst part about it was auditing during the day and studying about it at night. That's straight up painful. Now that I have it, what's next? Well, I can't put it on my business card or my email signature because Big 4 firms, or atleast the one I work for, don't allow that. I'm not going to argue against the reasoning because it makes sense. Most clients expect public accountants to have CPAs, so it wouldn't be favorable to the firms to have their employees distinguish themselves from th…

stress balls

What a week! Every co-worker I know has had audit dreams, some have a lot of them. An audit dream is when you go back to bed after auditing the whole day...and dream about auditing the very workpapers you worked on. Not good, not good. I rolled around in my bed because that's one of that last things I wanted to dream about.
Now, why did I have an audit dream? Try auditing till 10pm and sleeping by 11...your brain gets so wired that you become an audit robot even at night...except you're not really working. This just increases the number of customers going into Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts every morning.
You know it's bad when your client admits that the accounting system is inferior and needs to be improved.
I ran on fumes most of the week, it isn't fun. As much as I like the rush aspect of work, this just wasn't one of those weeks, it was more like a mental beatdown week.

so, what do you do?

"So, what do you for a living?"
I hesitated, struggled to come up with an answer, then said that I worked for a certain Big 4 firm. "Nice, so what exactly do you do?" Damn, looks like that didn't answer the question. "I ummm...I audit." It has been historically proven that there is a 98% chance the person has no idea what auditing really entails. I have to try again. "Accounting..Public Accounting."
"Ahh..",the person goes," taxes and such." What a douche. "Umm...yea..sure, taxes."
Then there are times when I actually feel the need to explain it to them. "No, well, see...you know how companies have financial statements. Now, we have to look over and make sure everything's okay." At this point, I'm spoonfeeding them, hoping that they get the gist. If they don't, I'll just give up and say..yea, taxes.
Seriously, come on people, you have to know what auditing is. If you want US Weekly type sca…

charlie and the audit factory

I was conversing with a co-worker the other day and we realized that the public accounting was a well-oiled machine, a factory of sorts. Our reasoning was this - the firms go out and pick up as many clients as they can, without thinking too much about their resources to handle an abundance of clients. Why? Since they know they can just beat their current resources to death. The seniors and above on these jobs somehow end up feeling morally obligated to stay on at least until the completion of the audit in question. If they leave after that, that's okay, they'll just give the person one level below them additional responsibilities, albeit at the same pay rate. Now, to replenish the bottom of the resource pool, they go out to colleges and woo them with their reputations and with carrots that look good to college students. PWC and Ernst & Young have been hiring around a hundred plus entry-level staffers a year in recent years. Now, 80% of them become disgruntled in their firs…

audit supplies

When we first walk into our hallowed offices, we are given an orientation of the office setup and certain relevant areas that might be helpful to us as we proceed along on the partner-track. I remember getting introduced to the supply closet, which is like a Bertie Botts gift shop for auditors. Swipe your badge, and you have access to a vast array of supplies that will enhance your arsenal while you audit a myriad of companies. Red pencils, blue pencils, green pencils, pencils, erasers, post-its, mini post-its, staplers, mini staplers, staple removers, rulers, erasers...and the list goes on. Apparently in other companies, people steal supplies from supply cabinets for their personal use at home. I'd honestly rather not. Dealing with these familiar supplies the whole day is enough, but if i see another colored pencil at home, i'm more likely to break it into half and throw it away. Tell you what though, you know there are some brilliant marketers when they can make auditing att…

salaries

It amazes me that the big 4 get away with such a ridiculous salary structure. Props to the accounting firms for perfecting such a structure. It makes sense though, they hire so many graduates now that replacing entry level employees is not much of a problem. Where it hits them is when seniors/senior associates and above start quitting. They can't be replaced immediately. The stress and number of hours they put in is not reflected in their salaries. That is why, sometimes, we are curious by and do not mind those myriad calls by recruiters with offers from "financial service companies" with offers 30% above our salaries and way less hours. That's when a work-life balance and higher salary requirements really kick in for us. I'm okay with the salaries offered to the staff associates for the first two years. But after that, the salary levels are absolutely dismal. By that time, most would have had or in pursuit of their CPAs, and thus are highly lucrative targets for…

tick tock

You sit there, staring at your screen for hours, staring at pieces of papers for hours, marking things on your excel sheet and on those papers that you sometimes want to curl up and toss into the nearest trash. Halfway through, you slump in your chair, not realizing that this might just destroy your spinal construction. But...it has to be done, these spreadsheets have to be documented, screw our back. And during our "busy season"...january-march officially, january - late april/early may for most, you absolutely destroy your back. Busy season hours usually average around 55 hours a week, sans lunch. That's right, we're not supposed to count our lunch hour, so our 8:30-6 days end up becoming 8-6 days, which per my mathematical skills, amount to 10 hours a day. But..oh no..you can't count lunch, so it's just 8 hours. So 2 hours of our lives are a waste every day just so our venerable partner can meet his budget so he can buy that additional condo near the beach…