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Conspiracy of Fools

Jumping off my negativity track in this entry, this past week has actually changed my perception of this job, well…at least a little bit. Dealing with/Understanding slightly more complex accounting issues is much better than ticking and tying pieces of paper. Sure it can be tough to put your head around what companies do at times, but the frustration that accompanies staff-level work is just as painful, but not as stressful.

Also, I’d like to recommend the book “Conspiracy of Fools” by Kurt Eichenwald. It’s a book that details the rise and fall of Enron. For the .02% of the auditing populace who don't know, the Enron debacle changed auditing forever.
And trust me, this is not a dry read. I’m barely through with the book, but it is so engrossing that I find it hard to put it down at times. This is a book you have to read as an auditor, especially for those who don’t like what they do. It has honestly made me respect my job more, at least for the time being. The accounting tricks they pulled off at Enron are absolutely astounding. I had to go through what they did at least 3-4 times to understand it. Again, this is not an auditing book, nor is it really an accounting book, think about it more as an entertaining fiction novel, except it’s true, yet unbelievable. Like they say, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
Read it, and I promise you it will encourage the discouraged and frustrated auditors, to trudge on for a little longer. Oh and set up time aside for it, it’s up there with those huge Harry Potter books in size, albeit more entertaining and more scandalous.


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career progression

"What can you tell me about the different possible tracks a person would take at the Big 4 in regards to tax vs. audit? Is there a difference in career progression among the two specialties? How about career potential? Workload?"

Loaded question. In terms of career potential, they're both pretty potent. Audit leads you to controller/accounting manager/ VP - accounting positions at companies if you choose to quit. Tax can lead to tax manager positions at various companies/ help them minimize taxes and exploit tax loopholes. It's a pretty important position in many companies...I'm not an expert on tax careers though, so you might want to ask somebody in a tax related position.
In terms of career progression, it's the same as audit...start off as a staff associate...move to senior..manager..snr mgr..partner.
In terms of workload, my friends in the tax department seem to work two busy the fall and in the spring. So I think they work more than i…


As a big four employee, lately, I've been hearing a lot about "boomerang" employees. Those who, for some reason or another, decide that leaving work when the sun is still out is not for them and alas, return back to the firm. Yes, the grass is not always greener on the other side, however, is this trending upward or about the same as it always has been? I think, also, that the firms really do a good job in highlighting those that do choose to return to make it appear more common than reality. Can you please speak about how you've seen the trend of "boomerangs" amongst the big 4? 

Good question. A boomerang, as the commenter pointed, is one who quits a big 4 Firm and then decides to return (or boomerang) back to the Firm after getting a taste of work life in the non-public accounting world.
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I was wondering if you could break down the career opportunities in auditing and consulting (in a big 4). I know that consulting pays more in a big 4 and has more interesting work, but it seems that auditing has extremely good exit opportunities (Financial controller, CFO etc). Any thoughts on which is better in the long run?

Well there's different consulting services offered by public accounting companies - the most popular being IT consulting and risk consulting. There are also other consulting services offered, but these two hire the most. Do they pay more? Yes, but not by much. Not enough for you to say: Shoot, the $$ is a huge reason for me to move over. Is the work more interesting than audit? Yes. You're actually looking over a company's processes and telling them what to do instead of what not to do (audit). Everyone I know who's made the switch likes it waay better than audit.
In the long run though, choosing audit vs consulting really depends on what you want t…