Poll

After reading the post below should I:

Quit now before busy season
5 (35.7%)
Quit, but only after lining up another job
8 (57.1%)
Stay until after busy season and then job hunt
1 (7.1%)
Other - Please post below
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 14

Voting closed: October 26, 2014, 05:34:07 PM

Author Topic: To Quit or not to Quit  (Read 12955 times)

Scotch & CPA

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To Quit or not to Quit
« on: October 02, 2014, 11:34:53 AM »
Hello All,

So this isn't a standard FIRE question, as I'm not at that point yet. My question is, if you were in a job that you found miserable, would you quit without having another job/career lined up? Obviously, this will probably change my early retirement goals, but if I can't enjoy saving along the way, what's the point? At this point in time, I have almost a years worth of expenses in cash,and a little over a year's worth of expenses in retirement accounts (traditional/roth 401ks).  To answer the question as to what I'm currently doing, I'm an accountant (CPA) at a big 4 as a manager. I've really lost the desire to do anything accounting related in the future, so I'm contemplating a career shift, but it's hard to look for jobs while working all of the time. Also, busy season is just around the corner, so I really don't want to put myself through that if I'm not pursing a long term accounting career. Thoughts / concerns are appreciated.

Thanks!

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2014, 11:41:02 AM »
You're late. About 2-3 months ago there were 2 or 3 other "I'm an unhappy CPA" threads. Maybe a quick search can get you some decent general feedback from those posts. Not sure what the titles were.

Impressive you made manager at big 4 by 28. I understand your desire to get out though. I'm audit principal at "not big 4" or "Little everyone else".

I don't have any advice other than if you can't see yourself doing it until FI, get out as soon as you can. I'm in it for the long haul at this point, and it really ain't that bad for me.

NumberCruncher

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2014, 11:45:39 AM »
I am not an accountant, but I have accountant friends at the big 4!

Yeah, the lifestyle sounds crazy, and I don't blame you for looking for alternatives. There's definitely something to be said about paying for your sanity. :)  My gut reaction is "go for it!" It sounds like you have enough for several months of expenses, if not more? You could also probably get back into the field if you needed to without too much hassle, yes? If you have a plan and a backup plan, you're set. :D

I would consider quitting without having another job lined up, but I also have a spouse who earns enough to take care of monthly expenses. I'm risk-averse enough to otherwise try to have something lined up, but then again, I've never been in a job I've absolutely hated.

CPA CB

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2014, 12:15:17 PM »
As a previous Big Four CPA - RUN!

Actually I'm half kidding - if you leave any time between November/December to April (assuming you're in audit) you're really torching the bridge with your firm. This may or may not impact you down the road, but it definitely is something to be aware of.

I would recommend leaning out of the job a bit and start up an exit plan for the next six months. The firm is likely desperate to keep you around over busy season, so even if you aren't operating at the 'optimal' level (i.e. 100 hour weeks). What's your career shift? What is it you want to do? Use your role at this firm to develop a network in that business, and then pull the plug when you can transition a bit more effectively. I just left a role about 2 weeks ago in a specialized practice to start my own shop, but spent a few months developing business to make sure cash flow wasn't 0 from the get go...

Would you want to be self employed?

Remember that future employers may see you as volatile or risky if you leave with no alternate plans. If you did it once, they'll be scared you'll do the same thing with them...

Good luck!

mxt0133

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2014, 12:18:54 PM »
Since your on this blog I assume personal finance interests you, would you consider being a financial advisor?  I know a lot of CFPs (Certified Financial Professional) that are also CPAs because their clients need both services and better to get paid for both than refer a outside CPA.  I know you state that you don't want to do anything account related in the future but who knows you might change your mind, if it's just a small portion of work.  I would look into get a CFP certification if you are interested in being a financial advisor.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 12:20:36 PM by mxt0133 »

juuustin

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2014, 12:22:17 PM »
This thread scares me! I am starting at a Big 4 in January!  I hate my current job though so I think I will have a different perspective on my new situation.  Also, the practice I am going into seems incredibly interesting so hopefully I enjoy it!!

In regards to your situation, shouldn't a Big 4 Manager be having job offers come across their desks almost weekly?  I know I have heard from some accountant friends that headhunters love poaching managers from the Big 4.  Maybe dust off the LinkedIn profile and slowly decide whether you want to leave or not?

catccc

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2014, 12:37:11 PM »
Public accounting can suck the life outta you.  I would line up an industry job and see if that makes for a better work/life balance.  I know it really did for me.  I work 37.5 hours a week, rarely any overtime (just the one-off overseas teleconference due to time differences, which has occurred once in the last 7 months.)  Jovial co-workers.  It's almost so easy I sometimes think twice about RE.

Scotch & CPA

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2014, 12:37:55 PM »
Thanks for the responses. I have considered the CFP, and am definitely thinking a financial adviser is pretty high on my list of potential career moves.

@Juustin - What practice are you moving into? There are definitely people who find the work interesting, but that's on a per person basis. Also, yes, I do have job offers coming through all of the time, but they are for very similar positions in industry, which isn't really what I'm looking for. Internal audit and financial reporting are not very exciting, no matter how many times a recruiter tells you they have a very exciting unique opportunity to prepare 10-k's for a public company.

Regarding leaving now, I figure if I give notice in October, it's still almost 3 months before busy season. Obviously it isn't ideal, but my busy season goes through June, and lets be honest, there is a one month ideal window to leave (mid July to mid august) before every job has already been scheduled for the next year.

ch12

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2014, 12:56:31 PM »
Quit

You could make this a poll question. :)

I just quit my job two months ago as of yesterday. You'll have other opportunities, and you can give yourself time to decide on a new path. You have FU money. You don't have to go through busy season again.

Mustachianism is about the journey, not the destination. It's about reasonably maximizing happiness. You don't just hit FI and then chill forever. You don't have to accelerate towards FI at maximum speed.

From the JD Roth guest post:
 
Quote
Itís more important to be happy than it is to be rich

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/06/19/j-d-roth-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-mustachianism/

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2014, 03:02:48 PM »
IT instead of Accounting but I was in a similar circumstance a while back.  It definitely sounds like you should leave, it's the how/when that's tricky.  What percentage of your income are you living on?  How low can you go?  These may determine your options.  What I did, which may not be possible, is start what little job searching I could while working full time, but the first interview I had I was honest with my boss about why I was taking off half a day.  I knew they wouldn't put up with that and they laid me off, which gave me unemployment till I found another job 5 months later.  The only reason I had that option though was because I was saving 50%, so I knew I could survive on unemployment easily (which pays 50% of your salary).

lhamo

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2014, 05:22:30 PM »
You might also consider looking at non-profit sector work.  Pay will be less, but my sense is that generally it isn't as hectic/stressful as other types of finance related work.

mozar

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2014, 05:54:51 PM »
I work in Internal Audit and while it's not that interesting, I go home at 5 or 5:30 every day, year round. What about part time CFO positions? I see ads for that pretty often. Yes a non profit would definitely be interested. One thing I like about accounting is that (almost) no one enjoys it. I never have to pretend I'm excited about the work, just in it for the money.

I left my accounting job back in May 2012 because I was so stressed I was having suicidal thoughts. I thought a lot about what I wanted in life and researched various jobs. I decided to try accounting again because I didn't want to start all over again in a different field. I started looking in November and got a job in December. No matter what you do, you're going to be pigeon holed one way or another, my choice is to suck it up and FIRE asap. But do get a different accounting job.

Oh and it's never too late to post, CPA's who hate their job are a recurring theme here.
p.s. I never have had trouble explaining why I quit my job to employers, but boy did my bank give me a hard time when I refinanced. Went through though.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2014, 08:35:50 PM »
One thing I like about accounting is that (almost) no one enjoys it. I never have to pretend I'm excited about the work, just in it for the money.

I used to enjoy it a lot. I still enjoy small parts of it. What I hate is the monotony. Same work, new year/month/employer/irs agent/client/whatever. I know other professions must be similar, but I feel like Sisyphus.

And yeah at this point I'm just in it for the money. I would not do it for free.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2014, 09:24:52 PM »
Edit-prior post was removed. Removed mine to avoid confusion. All apologies.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 09:40:04 PM by Cheddar Stacker »

retired?

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2014, 02:02:16 PM »
I did that recently - quit with no next job lined up.  I am 45.  Did an updated net worth calc afterwards and by many standards, I could FIRE.

I wouldn't have done it at 28, but now I felt like I had a cushion so that if things didn't work out (new job), I could downshift quite a bit.

Now that I am looking again, I do have to explain why I quit.  Most friends said to me "why didn't you just keep working til you found something new?". 

I'd find it hard at 28.  Just make sure you have a decent explanation.  And, I think many people will understand the drudgery of PA.  If you've been with same firm since 22, that should help.  i.e. not job hopping.

RiskDown

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2014, 03:02:10 PM »
I recently quit a professional accounting position, which allowed me to work a standard 8-5, zero travel...roughly 99% of the time.

As someone with a bachelors in Accounting, 7 years of working in the field, and several decades of (somewhat) advanced IT experience, as a hobby. I felt like the profession was a complete farce.

Whether it was auditing or financial accounting for a business... I consistently felt like analytically savvy IT gurus, could run circles around teams of Accountants. Ability to focus, process mass amounts of data, and perform logical checks = what computers are for... Yet most accounting positions = manually/tediously doing exactly that...All because they don't have the IT chops to pull and manipulate data from any data-source... In my vision of the future, I see a far bigger niche for hybrid positions, which are (roughly) 80% IT (pulling and translating data) and 20% accounting (research codification+outsource the 1% heavy lifting to professional specialist CPA/actuaries).

To make matters worse -- think about the IRS. 5 minutes of daydreaming and anybody with a pulse and rudimentary understanding of the system = realization that we could eliminate damn near every single tax accountant/IRS employee in the US AND create a more fairer system. If we were going to rebuild a system from scratch, to do the goals of what the IRS does... it would look NOTHING like it currently does.

Needless to say, I'm very happy with my decision. I personally think much more like an engineer... I'm lazy, I want efficiency and simplicity.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 03:21:42 PM by RiskDown »

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2014, 03:17:28 PM »
I consistently felt like analytically savvy IT gurus, could run circles around teams of Accountants. Ability to focus, process mass amounts of data, and perform logical checks = what computers are for... Yet most accounting positions = manually/tediously doing exactly that...All because they don't have the IT chops to pull and manipulate data from any data-source...

I worked for a couple years in an accounting office with split IT and Accounting duties, working directly with/under the CFO (my degree is in accounting, but I worked my way through school in IT and by the time I graduated I was worth more in IT, so kind of got stuck there, but that job was a good split).  I agree w/ most of the above, although the CFO who was not technically minded was extremely good at what he did, even if he did prefer paper over a screen.  We made a good pair, I brought streamlining and automation that greatly reduced the time to handle things like daily cash flows and month-end closing, which gave us time to clean up some years-long messes (old/missing assets and depreciation) that the office just never had time to properly deal with.  That was my first and last accounting job and I left that place so much cleaner than I found it, so it's surprisingly easy to answer the interview question of 'why are you in IT if you have an accounting degree?'.  'Because the gap between those two fields is quickly decreasing so the two skills are highly complementary'.

Cap_Scarlet

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2014, 03:27:02 PM »
Well ....as a partner in a big 4 I would say don't quit without having something in the pipeline.

I was an auditor and hated every minute of it so I switched to corporate finance and have really enjoyed it for the last 15 years.  I expect to retire very soon but there are lots of things behind that.

We all have our difficult days but when you are as young as you and looking for work you need to look from a position of strength and not a position of needing to find work to pay the bills.  So suck it up until you find something else.

RiskDown

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2014, 04:27:06 PM »
Well ....as a partner in a big 4 I would say don't quit without having something in the pipeline.

I was an auditor and hated every minute of it so I switched to corporate finance and have really enjoyed it for the last 15 years.  I expect to retire very soon but there are lots of things behind that.

We all have our difficult days but when you are as young as you and looking for work you need to look from a position of strength and not a position of needing to find work to pay the bills.  So suck it up until you find something else.

Purely depends on the person and situation. I've seen enough dysfunction, poor management, long tedious hours, horrible work, etc, etc...to know, that sometimes its better to get the hell away, clear yourself of the negative vibes, and reset. Sometimes pouring your most efficient 60-100 hours per week into doing something you don't want to do, sucks the life out of you, and leaves you in a rut.  Also, I'd like to think most people would rather work at a job they love for 30 years... vs... one they could tolerate for 20 years... vs one they hated for 10. Purely depends on Quality of Life and how you define it.

mozar

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2014, 09:03:21 PM »
I appreciate the IT comments. When I talk to people in accounting they say "oh, there will always be accounting, it't not going anywhere." I am seeing accountants being automated out of their jobs already.
I wouldn't be surprised to see an 80% reduction in accounting jobs over the next ten years. The accounting profession will be in crises just like law is now. The very elites will work, there will be very few accounting jobs. Just AI assistants. I have no IT chops whatsoever which is one reason I want to FIRE.

juuustin

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2014, 05:44:56 AM »
Thanks for the responses. I have considered the CFP, and am definitely thinking a financial adviser is pretty high on my list of potential career moves.

@Juustin - What practice are you moving into? There are definitely people who find the work interesting, but that's on a per person basis. Also, yes, I do have job offers coming through all of the time, but they are for very similar positions in industry, which isn't really what I'm looking for. Internal audit and financial reporting are not very exciting, no matter how many times a recruiter tells you they have a very exciting unique opportunity to prepare 10-k's for a public company.

Regarding leaving now, I figure if I give notice in October, it's still almost 3 months before busy season. Obviously it isn't ideal, but my busy season goes through June, and lets be honest, there is a one month ideal window to leave (mid July to mid august) before every job has already been scheduled for the next year.

Scotch:  I am going into Federal Audit.  Totally different busy season than commercial and supposedly the worst of it is 55 hour weeks.  My calculus in taking the job is based on total time commitment, however, and the new job is going to offer a drastically shorter commute (2 hours total) than my current job.  It will also offer flexible work options and telecommuting.  I also currently work a pretty decent amount of OT at my job now, but it is sporadic and unpredictable, which I dislike.  After adding it all up, I can work an eleven hour billable day and be home at the same time as a standard eight where I am now.  Here's hoping I enjoy the work!!

mozar

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2014, 02:26:37 PM »
I'm in Federal Audit too. I haven't worked more than 40 hrs a week in years. But the OP said in a different thread that he used to have a cushy job but he hated it and went back to PA. What did you hate about it?

Scotch & CPA

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2014, 05:32:17 PM »
Ok catching up on a few posts

@Ch12 - I like it, that's the benefit of FU money. It's definitely nice to know you can and have the option.

@RyanatTanagra - True, I wish my company would lay me off, but they would just try to talk me into staying. There is actually an online resource for managers to have talking points with an employee when they are thinking of leaving. Current savings rate between 60-70%, depending on how frugal I'm feeling that month :)

@mozar - True. I don't think I would enjoy internal audit, but the part time CFO position, or working with small businesses is something I've considered. I think it's a bit more entrepreneurial, and I like that. P.S. are you at a public company? Sox and COSO 2013 (if you're implementing it) are the devil... just my 2 cents.  Also, I think I'm probably along your career path. It's just that accounting sucks so much, I think a good 6 month break might make it easier to accept a different position that I'll be able to bear for a bit while I work on FIRE-ing.

@Cap_Scarlet - That's good to hear. Corporate finance peaks my interest the most of any of the services that we provide, and maybe forensics.

@Juuustin - Good luck! Everyone enjoys different work.

Back to @Mozar - The work was very tedious. It was just making copies and formatting letters to investors and things along those lines. Very little accounting or other financial work. At the time, I still thought I might want a career in accounting or finance, so I didn't think the experience I was getting would help to further my career. Back to the Big 4 I went, but I think it helped me to clarify that I don't enjoy the industry.

mozar

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2014, 07:26:06 PM »
I see. My job(s) have always been implementing COSO. I prefer it because I hate spreadsheets and anything having to do with math. My company, I guess you would consider it a public. It's a top 20 CPA firm. They send me out to different clients, which can last anywhere from a week to 5 years (usually the latter). I just started though. In my last job they were pushing me toward finance which I hate. So I wanted to get back on the internal controls path. I feel that dreaded "furthering your career" business. Ugh. At least it's for ten years rather than 37 (for me).
If you want to take a break just don't more than 6 mths though. After that it's harder to get a job because you are "long term unemployed"

kwasibor

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2014, 07:37:52 PM »
I worked at a Big 4 firm and promptly quit during the middle of busy season 2 years ago and have not looked back.  I was your age when I turned in my pencil.  I saw my future, Manager, Director, Partner and I was dreading it more than looking forward to the "prestige".  i figured I needed to do something NOW, like my hair was on fire to get out. 

There came a point one weekend after weeks upon weeks of coming home and crying, while simultaneous downing a bottle of wine nightly, and working until the wee hours of the morning where I said I CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE.  I asked myself to think about the companies I really could see myself working at and then binged a whole weekend looking for roles that would match my skill set at these companies.  I applied to a lot of places and a lot of jobs and was called back by  a large tech firm and got an interview.  While I was waiting for an answer on the interview, I made the decision to quit, regardless if I got the tech job or not.  This interview with this fancy company gave me the confidence that companies wanted people with my skills and I WOULD find a job.  About 1 week into busy season, I pulled the trigger.  Luckily, I found out the same day I DID get the job at the big tech company and haven't regretted my decision yet.

I work normal hours, make MORE money (certainly more per hour but just more overall too), work for an awesome place that has fantastic benefits, do cool and interesting things.  The greatest gift was getting my TIME and SANITY back.  It freed up my mental and emotional self to find MMM and invest in my passion for buying income properties.  I spend more time with my family and friends and feel RESTED for the first time in probably years.

All around, the Big 4 experience was a great foundation, but I knew I couldn't be a "lifer".  I still know tons of people there, who for one reason or another stay and muscle it out, but I am so much happier than I was 2 years ago, like you, on the brink of another grueling busy season.

Only you can decide if you are comfortable leaving without another gig lined up but if you work in a major metro area, you will likely find something pretty easily with your background at a private company.

I think I need to scream something to reverse the brainwashing I feel we were all subjected to...  YOU WILL MAKE GOOD MONEY SOMEWHERE ELSE, YOU WILL DO COOL AND INTERESTING THINGS, YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT CAREER POST BIG 4, THE BIG 4 IS NOT THE END ALL BE ALL, YOU WILL BE OK!!!!

Good luck pulling the rip cord!


Scotch & CPA

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2014, 02:37:34 PM »
Thanks Mozar and Kwasibor.

Mozar - By public, I meant do you work with public companies, Sox and all that jazz. But if you enjoy it, then more power to you!

Kwasibor - Thanks, there is an incredible amount of brainwashing done by industry and the Big 4 in general. It's hard to ignore, but you're right, it's tough to look down the pipeline of senior manager and proposals and think about being a lifer.

I'll ponder it some more, and I just got a tempting bonus lined up that will pay out in mid February, but I'm not sure it's enough to entice me to stay. Oh well.

mozar

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Re: To Quit or not to Quit
« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2014, 07:55:51 PM »
Federal audit. I didn't say I enjoyed it!

Risk management seems to be the thing now. Fewer agencies are needing COSO implementation.

I just got an email from a big 4 asking if I was interested in doing "seasonal auditing" I heard about this before awhile ago. Just work the busy season and be off the rest of the year. I can post the info if you are interested. I like the idea of just working part of the year, but not the late hours.