What’s It Like to Work at an Accounting Firm?
December 10, 2013
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Interested in working at an accounting firm when you complete your degree program?
You might want to learn a little bit about the work environment. There are differences between small firms and large firms, as well as local and nationally owned firms. Learning those differences now can help you tailor your skills to the specific environment. In the future, it can also help you search for professional opportunities.
Gain some insight into the environment by reading more here:
CPA TJ Miller works at a small, four-person public firm. He notes that working environments vary, depending on the small firm, but that it is much more dependent on client demands. On his blog, he writes: “accounting is definitely not a 9-5 job. A client could call up anytime with a request (financial statement, tax issue, etc.) that they may need the next day that may require you to work late that day.”
Accounting Web’s editors seem to agree with that sentiment, saying “Small- to mid-sized firms generally serve private clients whose day-to-day-demands do not require the long hours that can be necessary for SEC-registrant clients served by the larger firms.”
Smaller firms are based on client needs and accountants at these firms should be flexible to meet those demands. These firms are often community-driven as well, especially for extended learning. Rather than participating in formalized programs like accountants at larger firms, you would be responsible for seeking learning opportunities from senior accountants and partners.
If you are interested in specialization, small firms can be a good opportunity in the right niche market.
Larger firms can be much more demanding, especially during the busy tax season. Accounting Web notes that accountants at larger firms can expect travel requirements and commutes. Simultaneously, accountants can expect a broad range of clients at a large firm; clients could range from personal to corporate accounts.
David Satava, of New Accountant, reviews whether or not young accountants should pursue jobs at national or local firms. Larger firms tend to be nationally-affiliated accounting firms, meaning they have “a large number of partners, managers, seniors, staff accountants and support, and typically operate in a more structured manner.” The organization is much more structured and less community-oriented, in most cases.
In conversation with Accounting Web’s editors, President of the National Society of Accountants Jim Nolan says, “Some may choose a large firm in the same way they chose to attend a large university. Although many small schools have outstanding accounting programs, and their graduates are successful in many different environments, the larger firms have an advantage in compensation packages.”
To learn more about the differences between small and large firms, talk to your Accounting degree program advisor at Briarcliffe College.