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Why is private better than public?

"Could you elaborate, why your life is better now?"

Here are some of the various differences between public and private-

a) The work itself - The work is significantly better. In public, you spend half your time on documentation and controls. That's all essentially Cover Your Ass work so the PCAOB or your internal reviews don't deem it to be a deficient audit. You're essentially trying to figure out ways to say that you are comfortable with your client's work. While you get a high level overview of the various processes, you don't really dig into it or have the power to change things. In private, you're actually making decisions - whether it comes to accounting conclusions or process improvements, and what you prepare or review actually makes it into our financials. Yes - we're not the revenue generators, but there is something more intangible in coming up with the financials than reviewing it once it's done.

b) On call - In audit, you're always on call. If a client calls you on a weekend, you answer. You're always checking your phones at night and making sure you have substantive responses in case your team or the client emails. And when there's offerings, forget about it. In private, unless it's during monthly close or whatever, you're generally in good shape in the evenings or weekends. You likely won't even be receiving emails (unless there's an imminent deal or offering), and even if you do, the expectation is that you will only respond on Monday or when you're back.

c) Vacations - In Private, vacations are vacations. People rarely bother you when you're out. In audit, at a certain point in your career, you don't really have work-free vacations. Goes back to b), in a sense, you're always on call.

d) Not being hated - Auditors are a necessary evil, and no group in the Company really likes dealing with the auditors. I was fine with it as an auditor, but there are always conflicts. Client service is a misnomer with the PCAOB breathing down the auditors' necks. It sucks when you're trying to push the Company to do something that you think is a waste but needs to be done so we can cover ourselves from a bad rating. 

d) Bonuses and pay - The bonuses in Public aren't much, it just isn't. The Firms make it up by increasing the base by 10-15% every year, but it's still an absolute pittance. In Private, the bonuses are where it's at. It's a great feeling when you find out about your annual bonuses (until you see the after-tax numbers, but that's a different conversation). Yea sure, the base pay usually doesn't increase that much in most companies, but I would argue that if you're good, it will increase since the Companies would want to keep you. It's not like a factory model where they can spit you out and hire another one to replace you immediately.

e) Stability - After a certain age, you'd probably not want to be placed on random engagements in the middle of nowhere, or have a small sense of uncertainty if there are open slots in your schedule for whatever reason - your existing client got bought out, the Company moves to another location to cut costs, etc. etc. In Private, you go to the same location essentially every day. While that gets boring when you're young, it's something you will appreciate as you get older.

Exceptions...
There are two things that I miss from Public - 

a) Back office - Accounting in Private is the back office unfortunately. So we're not the drivers of major decisions for the Company, and just have to deal with what the Company does from an accounting standpoint. In Public, the auditors are essentially the front office, although it doesn't really feel that way.

b) Flexibility - While you can get flexibility in Private, it's nothing like the flexibility you get after a certain level in Public. Once you have self-sufficient teams doing the day to day work on various engagements, you can basically work from home a good of time, or take days off here and there for various errands. You know you're going to working like a dog on random days anyway, so enjoy this flexibility.





Comments

Himani Sharma said…
The post is written in very a good manner and it entails many useful information for me. I appreciated what you have done here. I am always searching for informative information like this. Thanks for sharing with us.
rohan said…
Enjoyed reading your blog,you have touched various aspects of an auditor.Very useful information for people like us who want to be a auditor.I would suggest you to go to http://www.lacaco.com/ were you can find many Auditors,you can contact them for any queries or suggestion for future career growth.
Violet M said…
Thank you for the information! http://estates.uonbi.ac.ke/

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