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Showing posts from December, 2008

client service part deux

Sure, auditors are a pain in the arse for clients, but it definitely goes both ways. I'd pay a good amount of money to get 5 minutes to yell at/ream out/insult/put them in their place. They get to say whatever they want to, but we can't..and it's really painful to hold it in. I can understand the Ari Golds of the world, and the 'client/customer is always right' phrase...but seriously, these contracts should come with a clause w/ 5 free minutes to say whatever I want to say to the controllers and VPs of the world. Ari Gold, Entourage

Client: "I don't understand why you want this"
What I say: "Well, this is why.."
What I want to say: "Well you dunce, instead of wasting time asking why I want it, just give it to me and move on with your life"

Client: "I don't think that's right. Let's ask your partner/snr mgr if he wants to do this"
What I say: "Sure...let's touch base with him/her right now"
What I want …

Delegation - it's a beautiful thing!

One of the perks of being in the audit practice is the ability to delegate work so early in your career. There are many parts of this job that can be done mindlessly, and although some people like doing these elevator-man tasks, it tends to frustrate me. The beauty of this job is the ability to push such tasks down to the staff associates, which only leaves us with the review process. I don't really think one can achieve this early in their careers in other fields. Sure, I hated doing this my first couple years, and you will too. But somebody has to do it.
Hey, gotta give this profession some props, however rare that may be.

love thy self?

What's with the people who love patting themselves? Come to think of it, what's the terminology used to describe someone like that?
"Look at my reviews, they know I'm good". "Now the solution that I recommended"...repeat that 10 times over a 3 hour meeting. "The partner said that I was one of the best here". Maybe it's insecurities..maybe it's competition? Okay, I understand insecurities...but competition? Come on now, this is auditing...even if you're albert einstein you still have to have the organizational skills of an administrative assistant to do well in your first few years. Heck, even if you are "really good", there's no real competition between your fellow auditors. You are not going to gain anything out of it. This is not a Jack Welch organization where only the cream of the crop survive.

There's a saying that floats around within our firm, and I'm sure..at some other companies too.."All the muscl…

college career fairs

Conducted another round of interviews this week...man it really looks bad out there. Both said that the companies coming to career fairs have significantly reduced. Most companies out at undergraduate business schools are hiring only accounting majors. One of the candidates said that it was either this or grad school. All four candidates had only one-two interviews lined up. What a bad time to be looking for jobs.
For those of you who have CNBC, there was a really good documentary this week called "The Money Chase - Inside Harvard Business School" . Check it out on replay or on dvd. Even the Harvard mba candidates are having a tough time finding jobs. Ibanking jobs have dried up, consulting's a little slow. Most are taking jobs that were not their first choice. For those of you joined bschool this september, we're all hoping it'll get better by the time you graduate.

change in mindset

What a difference a year can make. Due to client scheduling conflicts, a week opened up in my schedule. Once I voluntarily let a couple managers know, I got put on a client immediately to help out on some pending issues. If this was any other year, I would have been mad since I lost out on some extremely rare unassigned time where I could relax during the holidays. This year, I'm actually okay with it since it'll keep my utilization rate humming along. Bad times, sad times.

client service

Client servicing? Do we really have to be nice and polite to clients all the time? Sometimes I just feel like reaming them out for their necessity to give us a hard time for even the simplest requests/questions sometimes. It's almost like a memo goes out to half the clients out there to be hard-asses even though they really have no need to be. If you can easily answer our question/provide documentation, but are just too lazy to do it, then don't stubbornly defend against taking 5 minutes to help us help you. The more you piss us off, the more our "professional skepticism" increases. Seriously, aren't we supposed to be independent and not have to appease them every so often?
There is this very thin line between independence and client "service", and I don't like it when we have to bite our lips and not speak our mind when they go off on one of their tantrums. Oh well, I guess, doing just enough to maintain client relationships while being as professio…

interviewing (part three)

Answers to some questions posted by a reader -

"a) Do you think that passing the exams (all 4 sections) would give an advantage for the entry-level job seeking? "

Absolutely, I'd be pretty impressed as an interviewer if you already had your CPA by then. That's pretty huge.

b) "What were the questions that you asked by candidates when you were interviewing them?"

Well, I did have a standard list of questions provided by the firm, a list of recommended questions I should say. That was a basic list of questions..example of your strengths and weaknesses, example of a time you worked in a team through a stressful project, etc...essentially the questions on leadership, teamwork, communication, etc. that pop up in a google search.
I'm not a fan of these questions because I remember making up canned answers and giving them out in every interview. So I primarily focused on getting a sense of their personality, intelligence, motivation and communication skills.

pragmatism vs theory

I've been running into this issue every now and then...the issue of following the guidance word-for-word or being more pragmatic and coming up with some reasonable procedures. I fall under the pragmatism umbrella and really can't find a good way to essentially say that sometimes, it's just not practical to follow the guidance to a T. There is a lot of judgment involved in our work, and one of the principle tenets in accounting, if I'm right, is cost-benefit. Sometimes it's just not worth the hours. Aiming for perfection at the expense of hours and hours of time is just plain ridiculous and unreasonabe. I'm currently dealing with a senior who needs everything to be spotless, perfectly documented, and literally stresses out if he doesn't find what he's looking for in the guidance. Seriously, we're not saving lives here.

Interviewing

This is to address a comment concerning the interview process

"just curious how hiring has changed, if at all, since the massive layoffs? "

Hiring students at the staff associate level has dipped a little bit, but nothing out of the ordinary.
At that level, billing rates are the lowest and so we can afford to have staff at different clients. The 2nd year associate position is a little more tricky because billing rates are higher and they can't senior engagements. Since we really need a new influx of staff every year, there can never be a hiring freeze.

I was wondering how you choose which candidates to recommend for offers? Is it a gut feeling? or are there guidelines that you have to follow?

There are guidelines...it should be similar at all firms..but communication skills, leadership skills, teamwork, and a few other skills are what we focus on. You have to make a good impression on the interviewer, that's really the biggest key. Don't show off too much nervousness,…

interviewing the new factory workers

Interviewing college kids for a job is always fun. Been doing it for a couple years now, and it's really interesting to see them come in and lie their tails off. "I really find this job interesting". Oh come on now, don't bullsh*t a bullsh*tter. One individual I interviewed said that he was looking forward to an opportunity to police the industry. One didn't even know what auditing was. It's really interesting to be on the other side of the interview process. I feel bad everytime I don't recommend somebody I interviewed..it's almost like I'm essentially shaping their lives. But, it's for the better. They're better off doing something in which they excel, that's a Jack Welch philosophy, and I subscribe to it.

PS - To the college kids interviewing out there, if you get a job offer, and the interviewers send out a congratulatory email, reply back even if you're already sent a thank you note.

rough sailings

Budget cuts, layoffs, veiled warnings from partners...should I actually be glad I still have a job? It's amazing how things can changer in a year. There were more layoffs this month, especially at my firm's non-audit departments. Some groups got cut by 20%, one got virtually shut down.
Emails are being sent out once a week stating that expense policies have changed, and have gotten much stricter and cheaper now. This is great given that I have a list of expenses to run through in the coming weeks. Stay at a preferred choice hotel, use a preferred choice airline..even if it's more expensive than flying something like say..Southwest? We can't even expense gps devices while using rental cars now? Should I just expect to land in a city and know my surroundings? Okay, I get it..we have to be conscious in the current environment, but it's not like we're flying business class or staying at the Waldorf Astoria? I mean..come on. Haven't you hurt us enough?
A partner r…