Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why I Write About My Stint in an Auditing Firm

I’ve been writing in this blog for over a year now. I’ve received my share of comments and emails, some nice, some not – quite – so nice. But this latest email I received had me thinking. The sender was telling me something like he or she kind of find my posts funny because I seem to encourage people to work with the Big 4, at the same time, I seem to be scaring them from working with the Big 4.

Well, I know I kind of get this kind of reaction from the readers sometimes. I mean looking back on the things I wrote, I get it why I received this kind of email. In some, I’m telling people why I like working in an auditing firm. In the others, I tell people what are the not – so – good things about working in auditing firms. Funny? It seems so. Confusing? Well, for me, not really.

You see, just because I liked my stint with this auditing firm, my former employer, doesn’t mean I couldn’t see what was wrong with it. Before I started working for this firm, I already had a fairly good idea of what to expect. I mean between members of my family who worked for the same firm and a brother – in – law who is still working in the same firm, it was nearly impossible to ignore the negative side of auditing.

Unfortunately, not everybody is in the same boat as I was. The proof? I’ve seen some of my co – juniors (when I was still one) and my juniors resign after a short time (one even resigned barely two weeks after her first day) because auditing work was not the way they envisioned it to be and the auditing firm we were in was not the kind of employer they would have wanted to get. Oh I know they were aware at some level just what they were going into but, without personal knowledge really they didn’t quite digest this kind of information.

It didn’t help that during career orientation programs, the HR people (and even the partners) from these firms won’t really tell you the negative side of working with auditing firms. They will tell you how many public companies they audit, how many big companies they audit, how many people they have, how many branches, how many affiliates, how prestigious it is to work for this firm, etc., etc. They won’t really tell you that you will work until 2:00 in the morning or that you will work for 48 hours straight or that during the busy season, you’ll get an average of 4 hours of sleep every night and that you will work your @ss off even during the week-ends.

And during my time (that was more than a decade ago), there was no blog such as this (or such as those in the links below), or comments such as those we received here. And that is why I write these things. I know that new graduates are excited to get into auditing firms, let alone the Big 4. I also know that it can be quite disappointing when you see and experience stuff you didn’t expect to see and to experience. That’s why I’m writing about both the good things and the bad things. And that’s why I’ll keep on writing about the positive side and the negative side when you’re working for an auditing firm.

To the one who sent the email, thank you for sending that email. Hope you get to work in one of the Big 4 firms and good luck!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why I Can’t wait for the Slack Season to End!

First of all, I’d like to apologize for not making a new post for the past 2 months. In fact, I haven’t posted anything for the past two months, not in this blog and not in other sites where I write.

Though I’m pretty sure nobody really missed me here. Not when there’s an interesting topic somewhere in this blog where a lot of people are really giving it their all in terms of their comments (hint: that post already has *gasp* almost 460 comments as of the date of writing of this post).

Okay so it’s now November. Less than two months away from Christmas and two months away from the busy season. Two months away from the end of my not – so – busy season a. k. a. slack season, which is something I am really, really looking forward to.

Hmmm, I can just see some eyebrows rising. I mean who in their right mind would say that they want their slack season to end? Well, I do. Oh don’t get me wrong. I like slack season. This is the time (I think) when overtime is down to a minimum, I get my Saturdays and Sundays back and the pressure is virtually non-existent. But, on the other hand, what we sometimes think is different from what really happen to us and over the years, I started to see that this time is really my worst enemy when I was still in this big accounting firm. Let me tell you why.

First of all, this is the time when I see (and receive) resignations left and right. Resignations abound during the slack season, from the partner (yes, even partners resign) to the staff. I know high turn-over rates is a way of life for accounting firms, but, heck, it’s really quite hard when you see your friends leaving the firm (and you).

Second, these are the months when I have so much time on my hands that I start to think about whether I really want this career or not. I can’t count the number of times when I honestly thought of resigning from the firm and even on embarking on a career that’s different from accounting. The fact that I promptly forget about these thoughts once busy season starts mean that I was not as serious as I thought I was.

Third, the special jobs (Argh!). I mean I’m all set to file for a vacation leave. And then my boss suddenly tells me that one of our clients is going public in August or September or October. Meaning? We have to prepare the comfort letter, prepare the working papers, prepare interim consolidated financial statements and all that stuff during the slack season. So, it’s goodbye vacation for me. And to top it all, I always seemed to be assigned to a special job during this time and it got to the point when I no longer anticipated having a full blown vacation during this supposed – to – be slack season. Oh well.

Fourth, this is the time when you don’t know where the heck you will charge your hours (if you don’t have a special job that is). Chargeable or non-chargeable? Which of my clients can still take my charges? I know, I know, charge based on actual hours and work done but realistically speaking? This is not true all the time. Especially if you’re an audit manager with a much higher rate than the staff and you can see your charges starting to go up and up (and it’s not the busy season yet).

Lastly, this is the time when I get bored with my career, with my life. Yes, B-O-R-E-D. Despite the special jobs, despite the challenge of planning for the next busy season, despite having more time to do other things, I feel restless and bored (there’s that word again) during this time.

So now you see why I’m looking forward to the end of my slack season?