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Pivot

So I quit.

After years of anguish, ups and downs, various emotions, I decided to move on. 

As if it wasn't obvious already, I never liked this job. I still made sure I was really good at it though - made sure my teams liked me, the clients liked me and that the audit was a quality audit. I went back and forth on it for years. I even started blogging as a form of therapy years ago so I could vent about some of the absurdities of this job. I struggled because I was debating whether it was worth it to become an Audit Partner - were these short term pains all worth it for the long term gains. So I stayed and kept plugging away, working my way up the ladder. Then, as the industry changed, the work became more and more unbearable. The client service went away, and our work became more fear-based. The auditors were doing audits to present a product to their auditors (the PCAOB). While some saw this going away, I didn't. I tried to visualize myself as a Partner going through this, and I just couldn't. I started to value happiness more over money. I spoke to several partners during this time, and heard their cases to convince me to stay. I spoke to several other individuals who left the audit firm - the one thing they all shared was that they were happy they made the move.

To some, it may have been just a matter of time before I quit, but there was a period when I genuinely believed that in spite of the job itself, the holy grail (partnership) would be worth it. This kept me going. I couldn't do it anymore. 

I have more to say here, but I have to go. One thing though - I'm considering pivoting to write about working in private and dealing with the auditors - let me know if this is something you'd be interested in. If that is the case, I'll keep this blog alive. Otherwise - it's been a fun ride...


Comments

Anonymous said…
I recently left a big four firm for industry. I am now working with several of my former coworkers as they have just taken over my company's audit. I'd be very interested to hear your perspective from "the other side."
Anonymous said…
I found you're blog only recently and read all the way through it. I am about to start at one of the big four in a few months (in Switzerland) and thought your insider perspective was very interesting. I really hope you keep up the blogging. I'd be keen to read both about the switch, what's different and of course also about you being on the other end of the audit. Whatever you decide, I want to thank you for keeping it up so far and hope your new job is going to be more fulfilling for you!
Anonymous said…
Yes, please share what it is like from the other side. It may even convince those on the fence to make the move or not.
Buena Park Guy said…
LOAA:

I subscribed to your blog about 8 - 9 months ago. I have worked as an internal IT auditor for a large insurance company until about 2 years ago and started that about the time you started your blog. I'm currently mulling over an offer to go work for one of the second tier audit firms on the consulting side doing IT security consulting (pen tests, vulnerability assessments et cetera) . When I was an IT auditor, most of what I did was the testing part of the audit, not the report generation and the actual SOC reports et al. With that said, I have been wanting to get more on the consulting side doing IT security work, and it looks like this offer is a good one. I guess my point is that there is life outside audit and I hope you find something that brings you more professional satisfaction and maybe a gig where you look forward to going to work. If you want to compare notes offline, give me a shout here and we'll figure out how to connect offline.

Best,

Jim
Anonymous said…
Sorry to hear that you quit the blog, glad to hear that you might be posting again with the point of view “from the opposite trench”!!!

I think your blog has been very helpful to all of us working on Auditing (whether Big4 guys or not), for the prospects on the practice or even for all those interested on understanding how things work in Audit firms and how to work hand in hand with auditors when asking us for additional work when auditing the companies we work for. 

I would really appreciate if you could share with us the insights (or at least some tips) on how to deal with them based on the experience on this new stage on you career.

Cheers and thanks once again for you blog.

P.S.: You might not have a blog called “Life of a Partner” at the end of the day, but I wish you the best with this new challenge, hope you enjoy your job and hope you have a better work-life balance from now on.
Anonymous said…
You should definitely blog about "the other side"! I'm sure it'll be fascinating.

I left PwC UK after my 3 year training scheme was over and went into "industry" as it is described over here.

In my current role I dealt with a fantastic director at one of the big 4 firms. To tell the truth he was much better than the parter on the account.

Anyway, this director left his firm citing similar reasons to you. he was in the partner promotion process which sounds like a long road, but the allure wasn't enough for him and now he's found a good in-house role which he seems to enjoy as it doesn't involve the degree of box ticking.

So I guess you aren't alone in having stuck around for a while only to make the change later on.

Having worked at the big 4, I think the only thing that makes it hard for staff is partner greed. they are massively rewarded yet pay their staff very poorly and don't offer a compelling bonus scheme.

It need not be this way, but I'm not sure that many people would be selfless enough to improve the lot of others at their own expense!
Anonymous said…
Hi,

Im an auditor too, currently in senior associate year 2 in PxC. Its 11.30am now on my peak season. I cant stop thinking about quitting and was doing random search on the net and came across your blog, (i should be working really hard now to meet the unreasonable deadline and so)
Do help me out abit here, I really hope i can just quit. But my current situation is like im stuck at here. I just joined this Big 4 firm from another Big 4 firm 6 months ago. Bonus and promotion period is coming up soon in July, but Im mentally and physically so dead now I dont wish to see the next day sun every night when i go to bed around 2-3am.
Please share with me where are you now ? In what field ? And how did you land that job offer ?
I have this awful thought of myself about quitting, how would other people see me, am I a quitter ? am I a loser ? am I a lazy person who just want to run away ?
I know I shouldnt have care so much about how others view, but the things is I have no clear direction about my life or my career ? I dont know what I like, I dont know where I want to go and so on.

Desperately need help here.

Harry
Varun said…
Hey! I used to work for a Big 4 firm in India as a part of their audit team till 2013. This was during my 3 years of "training". I moved to the forensic department post my accounting qualification.

I came across your blog and its an interesting read! I, personally, would urge you to write whenever you feel like. Its very rare to get a fellow auditor/accountant's view on things.

Big4 vs industry, career paths, people in office, holy grail of partnership, exit opportunities..and so much more!

All the best for your life ahead regardless of your decision on keeping the blog alive.
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Creet said…
Just found your blog today and will def be finished reading by the weekend. Your posts are very informative and as an accountant myself making a transition, I'd be very interested to read about you internal audit expirience in this new chapter of your life.
danny said…
Thanks for the great blog.

Hope that you will continue blogging.

I will be a fresh grad next year in Singapore.

Enjoyed reading your blog.
Anonymous said…
Hi I am an undergraduate pursuing accountancy in Singapore. I have just found your blog recently. Hope to learn more insights about being an auditor as I am thinking of going into this field.
Anonymous said…
Never posted before.
Found your blog in '07 or early '08 as a staff 2, now a Sr Mgr, always remembered to check in every few-6 months to see if there was something new. Even though most of your posts had no new info for me, it was always refreshing somebody going through and knowing the same stuff I did or felt. After 3 international moves, several firms including 2 Big4, I finally found a great position within audit, Big4, where work in rewarding and fun, and I have a good life balance. I hope you have great success in industry, something that makes you happy in and out of work, Will miss you! God Bless.
just another auditor said…
Dear Author,
Thank you for your blog. Me and my colleagues just survived the worst busy season in our audit life. We accidentally found your blog when searching for KPMG's loss of license in Uzbekistan and started reading it from the very beginning. We enjoy every single post. We look forward to hearing on private market experience. And one more question, was it worth getting CPA?
Anonymous said…
who told you partner's life is all exciting?
Seth Danks said…
Wow, what a great blog this is! Truly lovely quality stuff, the lesson given in this is pretty informative. http://aqmauditing.com
Victor Silva said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kent Gregory said…
I’m sorry to hear that. But it seems to be inevitable, given your disposition about the work itself. Nevertheless, I think you’ve done a great job in proving that you are capable of making it to the top, despite the fact that you weren’t really in to it. And I like that your opinion on the matter never hindered you from delivering great audits for your clients. I believe this is one attribute that employees should have. Thanks for sharing this with us. Good luck with your future endeavors!


Kent Gregory @ Armature
Liz (Houston) said…
Your blog helped me through the first 5 years of Big 4 Auditing, undoubtedly. I imagined you were one of my Sr. Managers coaching me through, every time you posted something. I made the jump to Advisory in my same Big 4 firm and I could not be happier. But I just thought I would check on you given busy season has come to an end, and found your "I quit" post. I wish you the best, and please know, your blogs were more than just informational for us, they were supportive. In your successful future endeavors, please remember the plethora of knowledge you learned from the years on the Big 4 Audit side, that is what I like to do.
depra parker said…
First-class website! I really love it!! Thanks for sharing such latest thing with us. AQM Auditing
Anonymous said…
Followed your blog through undergrad and grad school, through my big 4 internship, and my first couple of years at full time. Became Senior, and totally forgot about this blog. Then, as I'm wrapping up my second round of industry interviews, I suddenly remembered lifeofanauditor.

As I typed in the search in google, I thought to myself, "that ppor bastard is probably still grinding away"

Then I saw this last post and smiled. Good job man. I guess we both got out when the time was right. Needless to say I'd be immensely interested in a new direction to the blog. It'd definitely be perfect timing.

I think in your earlier years I commented that I was still in school, and thanked you for the honest portrayal of this sometimes fulfilling, sometimes infuriating, and always demanding job we do. So I have to once again tip my hat and say Thank You for writing this blog.

-Anonymous Senior leaving to industry 2015
Anonymous said…
Please keep updating us! Would love have a glimpse of you life "on the other side". :)
Anonymous said…
This is a very informative blog which has guided me immensely from college to where I am now, a staff auditor at a local cpa firm. Please continue to post and share your experiences in this blog.
Many thanks and hope you continue sharing your experiences.
bamboo said…
my god i am so glad you have started blogging again. i used to read this when i was in university and am now a first year manager in a big 4. i am about to quit, it is driving me nuts, i'm sure i will have no regrets
Anees Rahman said…
I feel the same way as You did. The Audit Profession is Great. But it is managed poorly. Yes, You get to meet a lot of Professional people (Clients & Colleagues) who knows the Nuts & Bolts of the Financial & Accounting craft. But as You sweat and work more, the more You realize that the People in the Audit firm don't just care a squat about You as long as You show the Client that the work is being done and the fees are realized in money as soon as possible even though the Quality of the Audit gets hampered.

Atleast, I can say now even though I left the Audit profession which I do respect till this day, I am glad that I left it. And I am grateful, that I have made some good friends with some Clients (of course without any conflict of Interest while in Audit) which are indelible. We still call and consult each other on many technical issues when We come across in the industry. I remember the words of my Mentor who still is in Audit (not the Big 4), : 'Always Add Value', just like You said it. That's what makes the difference. Now I try to live by it in the Industry as well. Cheers Guys.
Hahaha! I wonder who's the author of this. I'm also blogging accounting and also came from one of the Big 4, but I never thought blogging personal experiences in auditing could be this interesting. Well, just factual but the fact that I can relate is what makes it more interesting.

Visit my blog too, if you have time. ;) http://philcpa.org
Krupo said…
Good to see you still posting. I empathize with free time being taken up for various reasons. Pretty impressive breadth of audience going here.
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Anonymous said…
The life of an auditor does sound very busy. I wonder though, to become like them would you need to take a lot of quickbooks training courses? If it's true then that would be something for me to inform my daughter about since she does want to get involved in that field.
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