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Showing posts from December, 2012

Different types of partners

Eight posts in 2 days, not bad. Since I've caught up on questions, wanted to blog about something I've been meaning to touch on -

Partner personalities fascinate me. In the beginning, I thought it took a certain kind of personality to become a partner. But having worked with so many partners over the years, I've realized that there is a wide diaspora of personalities that make it to the big leagues. Let's break it down -

a) the partier - These are the partners that are all about client service, not so much the audit work. They come in, chat with the clients, set up dinners, hang out with the audit team, talk about the issues at a very high level, and then head out. They are rarely in the office, and you always wonder what they do on a daily basis.
At the same time, you really want to be like them. These partners are great to have when you're hoping to reduce work, set up happy hours, etc. but when it comes to accounting issues, good luck.

b) the i-don't-give-a-…

Is the CPA critical?

Is having a CPA absolutely crucial when thinking about leaving big 4 public accounting for private/industry? How important is it to get that CPA done?

Absolutely critical. I cannot stress how important this is. I know of many companies that will refuse to see your resume if you do not have a CPA. I know a few individuals who couldn't get their CPA done and thus struggled to find a job elsewhere. They did, after months and months of job searches, but it's hard for a recruiter to sell you if you don't have your CPA.

Unfortunately, people associate CPA with competence, and so regardless of your experience, if you are in the accounting world, the lack of the CPA is looked at as a slight.

Personally, I think it's overrated. I still remember this one individual who passed his CPA within a few months of starting at the Firm - he asked me about the debits and credits of some basic accounting issue. And I thought to myself, how can you reward CPAs to such individuals? If you memor…

choosing your sector

I have a question about new hires. If an individual is hired into audit can they select the sector they wish to work in? Or are you assigned a certain sector? I personally would love to audit either manufacturing, or oil and gas.

For some of the Firms, you "choose" a sector,  and your clients will primarily be in that space. I say "choose" because it sometimes depends on the Firm's needs. If everyone chooses banking, they will have to move you to a different industry group since every industry has needs.

In Firms like PWC, you are assigned sectors (yea you can "choose" but let's be real, all about demand and supply). In certain other Firms, you can ask to be in certain sectors, but it depends on whether there's a need there to be honest. So if you want to be in oil & gas, reach out to the senior  associates on those teams, and ask to be placed on them. Or try your scheduling liasons. Be aggressive as soon as you join, and this will go a long…

experienced hires

On to the November questions...


I did have a question regarding applying for Big 4 as an experienced CPA. I've heard from a few sources that Big 4 are hurting for seniors, but how long is the turn around for hiring people from the outside to take their places? Better yet, how long in advance should a person apply to a senior position. 1 week? 1 month? 6 months>? 

Probably a month. This includes the time it takes for the recruiter to get your resume, determine whether you qualify, choose time slots and check schedules of individuals available to interview you. It's really up to you, whether you want to drag this out or whether you're ready to start immediately. 

We definitely are hurting for seniors right now, but this could change during the next economic cycle. It's not the M&A group where they'll lay you off if the economy's going downhill, but the hiring definitely slows down. 


should you do a masters in accounting?

I recently landed interview with a large (non-Big4) firm for an audit position and sadly did not receive an offer. I felt that the conversations and interviews were flawless and smooth. I believe one of the main reasons I did not get the offer is due to the fact that the other people interviewing for the job were enrolled in a masters of accounting this year, while I was just taking extra accounting classes at a community college (to reach the accounting units for the CPA as I graduated with a BA in Econ in Spring '12). Would you think I would have a better chance next hiring season if I enroll in a Master of accounting program for the Fall and try again next years hiring season or continue taking community college classes?


The Masters degree honestly doesn't matter, the recruiters do not look at that. It's all about the 150 credits, every one knows the masters is just an additional degree to provide as an excuse for you to get to the 150. At the end of the day, the letters…

big 4 hiring

Would it be out of line if I currently work for a private company to ask one of our Big 4 auditors if they are hiring? 

The Firms are absolutely dying for people these days, so go for it. Definitely not out of line, but funnily enough, it's against policy if it's the other way around. I know of an auditor in an other office who got fired for reaching out to the client and asking if they had available positions. This is a breach of independence, and is thus a good reason to fire you. Yes, a lot of auditors go work for clients, but this is usually because the partners put in a good word for you, and the client is usually not the particular engagement you worked on. In fact, this is pretty common. There have been plenty in the past year. I know of many clients that are looking for senior accountants/assistant controllers with 2-4 years of Big 4 experience.

PS - Stay in private, public sucks.

client size

I've got a question about the teams and who they audit. Does the size of the client you have audited make a large difference in future career prospects? And if so is is just a select group that gets to work with relatively large corporations? I mean, is it likely you'll end up with a team working on small accounts and never really advance into the higher levels of a career? Or well basically, how much of an impact does client size have on job prospects outside of the Big 4? 


I'd highly recommend that you get on public company engagements. This is absolutely critical in order to open many doors for you post-audit. There are many reasons why - this includes a working knowledge of 404, SEC rules and regulations, and working under deadlines. 

The size of the client doesn't matter as much as the industry type, so if you're primarily on software clients there will be plenty of doors open for you in the software world. At the same time, assuming you lack expertise on  manuf…

Excess documentation

Sorry for the delay, it's been a little crazy. Still on the questions from early October.

The amount of documentation required during audits seems outrageous to me. I must spend half of my time tidying up documents, making them look perfect, and get called out if one little item is not formatted properly. And so much of it seems redundant. Especially for workpapers that really go nowhere. Maybe it is just my organization, but can you touch on audit workpaper documentation? Thanks.


Some people are real sticklers for documentation, but that's the nature of the job I guess. As auditors, we're trained to be anal. So when you take people who are already anal in nature, the job makes them uber-anal.
You know the ones I'm talking about - notes shouldn't be in text boxes, fonts should be the same, columns should be set in a particular manner, absolutely no decimals, not more than two tabs per excel workbook, indexing your paragraphs, no uneven spacing, I could come up with 10…