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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 recently told me that given utilization rates, more layoffs will be imminent...and it can range from top to bottom. They've been sending out spreadsheets asking us to figure out our target utilization over the next year, even though our schedules keep changing all the time.

But hey, for now...I'm not worried about losing my job. And that's something that I appreciate, and most people in the auditing field should appreciate. (Unless you're really bad, or if your utilization is really low, or if you underperform)


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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.
I have seen a few return this past summer, but didn't really notice a trend until you mentioned it. It's definitely been higher than past years, but not enough to s…

auditing vs consulting

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…