Advice for a future CA.

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by deranged, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. deranged

    deranged Senior member

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    This is a question for all you CAs in Toronto, or CAs in general.
    I've recently started a graduate program in Accounting 3 months ago after finishing my undergrad in the sciences. Recruiting season is well under way for the first coop term and I'm looking for some recommendations from people who know more than I do. I feel like all the big firms PwC, E&Y, KPMG, BDO, Richter, Soberman that recruit heavily from my program are selling the same product (Deloitte does not recruit from my program due to bad blood from before). From speaking with the firms, they all seem to offer the same support for their co-ops - i.e. support for SOA, UFE classes, etc. - and the same type of work - long hours, little pay.
    In that case, I'd like to be in a firm that can position me into opportunities of long term growth, higher pay, and more challenging responsibilities. Does that mean I take offers from the largest firm? How should I determine which firm is larger - revenues, revenues per employee, growth? I'm personally also looking to try the difference disciplines to figure out what I'm good at and what I'd like to be doing - assurance, auditing, taxes, advisory, etc so lateral mobility at least initially would appeal to me too.
    I'm looking for any advice that I can get. Thanks for reading.
     


  2. enjoiii

    enjoiii Senior member

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    You are correct, all of the big 4 are essentially selling the same thing. You aren't going to find many differences among them in terms of long term growth or higher pay.

    You will find a few differences between big 4 and mid-size firms, the pay at some mid-size firms is marginally higher for the first few years. Lateral mobility is going to be better at a big 4 firm since most mid-size firms don't have advisory. But don't expect to just be hopping over to advisory to give it a shot for a few months, it usually happens after you've got your CA. However, you will get some tax experience since it is a requirement for your CA regardless of the firm you decide on. Long-term opportunities will be better if you have worked at a big 4, but it is not end huge deal some people make it out to be.

    Using firm revenue or revenue per employee is a useless way to decide on a firm. Who really cares if EY has 1/2 billion more revenue than KPMG?

    I know it sounds incredibly cliche, but go with the firm you feel you have the best fit with. When I started the recruiting process I assumed all the firms had a similar culture but after going to events I started to notice differences between the firms. Hope this helps.
     


  3. deranged

    deranged Senior member

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    Thanks so much for your input. I just got invited to a private dinner (10 people) for PwC in 2 days. I'm really learning toward PwC as they seem to have easy going recruiters (plus they're moving into a new office in a couple of months).
     


  4. Texasmade

    Texasmade Senior member

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    One more thing to add. If one firm clearly dominates your chosen city, then it's best to try to work in that firm unless you work in a really large city. Then it really doesn't matter which firm you choose.
     


  5. deranged

    deranged Senior member

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    Thanks Texasmade. I live in Toronto and I intend on staying and living here. There are many firms here, and to my knowledge, none really dominate the market, although KPMG claims to have the most financial transactions by volume (recruiting info). What other types of things should I be concerned with when I make my decision on choosing a firm?
     


  6. Texasmade

    Texasmade Senior member

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    If that's the case then it really doesn't matter as long as you think you'll be a good fit. I'm from Houston and 3 of the big 4 employ 1100+ people with Deloitte being the biggest at around 1500. I work at the smallest big 4 in Houston, KPMG, and we still employ over 800 people. I'm assuming Toronto is probably similar where all of the big 4 are huge, so the exit opps will be good no matter which you choose.

    I agree with enjoiii about the advisory thing. Don't expect to just jump to advisory because you think it's more prestigious and the recruiter said it's possible. You'll usually need advisory partner and your current practice leader to buy off on the move. While you'll hear a lot of stories of people switching, it's still much harder to do than what the recruiters make it out to be.
     


  7. deranged

    deranged Senior member

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    Thanks again for your responses. So what would be the best field to go into? The recruiters have said that most co-ops will be placed into Audit, but a few lucky ones might be put into advisory or tax right off the bat. I've heard from many upper years that Tax is the most interesting as you work with different cases all the time while audit gets monotonous very quickly. Advisory seems to be a field where a lot of people like to go. Should I try to position myself to go into a specialty during my coops or tough it out in audit for a couple of years and then make the switch if that was what i wanted to do?

    My second question is about becoming partner. I might have the wrong impression, but it feels like if someone is able to tough out the 80 hour work weeks for 15 years, and they have adequate social skills, there are probably on route to make partner. Is this true or did I drink the kool aid?

    Thanks again and all your comments are much appreciated.
     


  8. enjoiii

    enjoiii Senior member

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    Depends what you want to do long-term whether you'll want to go into audit, tax or advisory. You are going into co-op so you only have to do 4 months and you aren't locked in so it may be worth it to try tax if you can get in and you can always go to audit later. If you do go the tax route make sure you like it because you are going to be somewhat limited with you exit ops as they will be primarily tax focused. Audit folks can do a lot different things once they leave that many tax people wont be able to get.

    I think yes and no that you have drank the kool aid. Working 80 hours a week for 15 years and having adequate social skills is necessary but there is a lot more that goes into becoming partner. I think only around 1-2 percent end up making it so the odds are pretty small. Once people get to manager or senior-manager at a big 4 it has become significantly more stressful so a lot of people are more than happy to move over to industry for a decent raise and a cushier job, since they could be stuck at senior manager for a potentially long time.
     


  9. Texasmade

    Texasmade Senior member

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    There's only one way to be "on route to make partner" and that's to sell work. There are a lot of senior managers that've been in public accounting forever who will never make partner because they can't sell shit. Just surviving will get you to senior manager but to get to the next step it takes a lot more than that.
     


  10. deranged

    deranged Senior member

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    Thanks you guys for the helpful advice. What entails "selling work"? Is how does a person go about getting new clients on board? Does the senior manager cold call companies in order to push the firm's business or is this all through connections and meeting people at dinner parties?

    Btw, a side note on my process. I had office visits with BDO and KPMG last week and have decided PwC is my number one choice. What sealed it was their new office building here in toronto. If all the work is the same, I may as well choose the firm with the best facilities. This building has partner and senior manager's offices on the interior where junior and senior staff get open concept spaces close to the windows. They move in during November and finish by the time my coop rolls around. I will however still apply to the other large firms incase they sell me on their firm during the interviews.
     


  11. deranged

    deranged Senior member

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    btw, anyone know of any good books for behavioural interviews that I can read? I have 3 weeks off of school before the interviews and would like to use this time to prepare.
    Also, how much should I research on the firms? Will they ask me stuff about the firm's history, etc?
     


  12. ginlimetonic

    ginlimetonic Senior member

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    they could ask you what you know about the firm and what do you know about the role.

    If you know nothing about the role I wouldn't hire you, as you do not seem passionate or interested.

    Then its about the fit, do you have the right skills to work in audit/tax/assurance. Describe real life situations when you have demonstrated these skills.
     


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