Author Topic: Career Advice  (Read 4089 times)

Accountant

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Career Advice
« on: March 05, 2016, 03:34:06 PM »
I am new to the site and forum and would appreciate any opinions on this situation. 

I'm a 42 year old accountant, wife and one child.  I own my home free and clear and have no debt with a pretty decent cash / 401k savings.  This was mainly due to my wife and i both making good salaries and not being extravagant.  We could have saved a lot more had we been true mustachians all these years. 

My career dilemma is this -- i've been a Corporate CPA type for the better part of 20 years.  I have had a number of jobs in that time and have seen it all -- mergers, acquisitions, terrible management, insolvency, etc.  In 2013, the company that i had been with for 7 years was purchased by a larger company.  At that point i left and went to a smaller company as the controller.  That was an awful fit for my skill set as the company was old and refused to change.  After two years, i took a job with a midsize company last May as a senior financial analyst.  It seemed like a great fit but has been a bad experience so far.  Without getting into all of the gory details i'm wondering if i am just burned out on the whole corporate paradigm.  i feel like a job hopper and really have no desire to look for another job doing the same thing again -- the past couple of years have taken all of my life and made me feel like crap and a job hopper to boot. 

I'm trying to figure out what is the right way to handle this.  I'm only 42 and have had some success and have done well with personal finances, but i feel like a failure.  Any perspective from this story would be appreciated.

Thank you.

marty998

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2016, 04:05:46 PM »
You say you've done well on the finances...

Consider contracting. 6 months on and 6 months off.

Corporate accounting is very much changing as the pace of automation quickens. 5 years ago my team posted 240 journals to close off a month end. Last month we posted 24.

Budgeting morphs into forecasting. Analysis morphs into business partnering. Lots of accounting jobs are changing from BAU to specific projects.

You're a smart man, you'll figure it out. Failing that, see if you can take directorships.... Boards need at least 1 trained accountant to help explain the numbers to them, and to keep Management on their toes.

Cannot Wait!

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2016, 08:25:47 PM »
You say what you don't want to do; but what would you like to do?

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2016, 08:46:34 PM »
I relate to your current feelings and situation a lot. Unfortunately, companies are also sending their "representative" (Chris Rock reference) during the interview process. Most interviewers aren't going to be honest about any of the negatives about the job or company. If you're applying to a large company, you can find employee reviews online. You'll have to sift through those reviews for information that's pertinent to the position you're considering, but they're helpful for insight into the corporate culture, benefits and any organization level issues.

Personally, I am sick to death of the "job hopper" concept. Most companies will eliminate positions whenever it suits their needs, and yet many still look down on applicants who haven't logged several years with each of their previous employers. I'm right there with you in the "job hopper" camp.

I left my last position after less than 2 years because the employer wanted 60 hrs/week and 50%+ travel, and I hadn't agreed to either of those terms. The company I worked for immediately prior was bought out by their biggest competitor. The new upper management told me that they planned to either cut my base salary significantly or eliminate my position, so I found another job. I was only there for a year, but I'm not sure what the critics would have suggested that I do in that situation. Stick around and accept the pay cut or layoff?

Unfortunately, I also resigned from the job prior to that. The employer (a union) was a terrible fit for me (long hours, tons of drama and ethical concerns). I had accepted the position because it was one of my only options in the area that my husband had relocated to for his job. I stuck it out for much longer than I should have because I was afraid to quit and wanted to find another job first. In summary, my full-time jobs in order have lasted over 3 years (no problem there), 10 months, 1 year and almost 2 years. I can't change my history and don't regret leaving any of these jobs, but it's still a complete mess to explain.

TL; DR: You've stayed with one company for 7 years and stuck out a job you didn't like for 2 years. As far as job hopping goes, your history could be much, much worse. Two bad fits don't necessarily mean there's anything wrong on your end.

mozar

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2016, 09:02:01 PM »
7 years, then 2 years, and another 2? That is not a job hopper. You have to move more often than that to be called a job hopper. And don't label yourself a job hopper. If a potential employer asks you about it come up with a brief explanation, say it confidently, and leave it at that.

Accounting is changing really fast. It's really crazy out there. Do you have enough money to go to part time? Personally, I would stick it out until FIRE.

You're being way too hard on yourself.

Accountant

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2016, 05:03:44 AM »
Thank you to all that replied.  I truly appreciate the feedback.  A couple of follow up thoughts or comments to the responses.

1.  Good question -- what do i want to do.  In a perfect world, i would want to consult or do contract work.  I'd love to be able to take assignments and if they were good, the company would see the value i provide and likely try to get me to do assignments in the future.  if they were awful, i finish the assignment then don't have to worry about leaving and what the reasons for it were.  I'd be willing to bet on myself and have my work be the determining factor as to whether i get paid in the future.  That would allow me to skip most of the company culture BS.  It is just scary to think about giving up a 6 figure job to go out into the unknown.  my wife has a six figure job as well, she makes a little less than me, so we have cushion.  Hopefully i can get a plan together at some point to give me confidence to execute this plan and leave the fear behind. 

2.  Agree totally on the job hopper commentary.  It is an old baby boomer concept that has no place in todays economy.  Accountability is a one way street nowadays.  If you can't perform, they get rid of you.  If you can but they don't, how do you hold them accountable?  I think that we are now becoming a consultant driven or a skill driven economy which will help to alleviate this old stigma and i also believe that the newest generation in the workforce will crush this old concept.  Loyalty and dedication are totally one way measures in the old paradigm that had one party holding all the cards.  I really don't like any of the old work concepts that are now being phased in that were alive and well when i came out of college in 1996 -- wear a tie just to do it, if you aren't working 11 hours a day despite your production you aren't working enough, how long have you worked for this company. 

nanana13

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2016, 12:42:04 PM »
*waves* Fellow accountant and CPA here.

I agree with the other posters that three jobs in 10 years does not a job hopper make. A friend of mine (also CPA) is about to begin his 5th job in only 4.5 years. Now THAT is job-hopping.

Since you are interested in doing contract work, have you looked into companies like Robert Half, Randstad, etc., that do just that? The great thing about a job like this is that you can get exposure to different types of accounting work without having to buy into the politics at the company, or having to worry about the job-hopping reputation once the project ends. The bad thing is that it is a bit unpredictable - you may have little control over the opportunities that come your way (it's all dependent on what the market is like, since contracting is expensive), you may get a client where things are a shit show (then again, this is good if you like challenges), you may get a client with a shitty commute, and you will likely just have general overall uncertainty in your life.

I myself am currently working for a contracting company. I'm still waiting for my first client assignment.

Just something to keep in mind if you are the type that likes to be in control and prefer your life to be predictable.

COlady

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2016, 03:54:16 PM »
I'm also a cpa and switched to contract work part time since having my twins a year ago. Now I'm kicking myself - why haven't I been doing this for years? It's great! I don't have benefits of course but we're on my husband's. I setup an i401k and I'm going to be dropping $25k in it for 2015.

I would recommend against going with Robert Half or other recruiters.  Their fees are so high! Market yourself.  Send your resume and cover letter out to companies/firms that may need your services.

NestEggChick (formerly PFgal)

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2016, 08:00:18 AM »
You say you want to try consulting but you're worried about giving up your high salary. But remember, any change you make doesn't have to be permanent. Try consulting for a year. Then you can decide if you want to stick with it, or if you'd rather go back to your current type of work. If you go back, it will feel like a conscious choice, not something you're stuck with. And if you love consulting, that's great too. Win-win!

notactiveanymore

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2016, 08:15:38 AM »
Just wanted to throw another option out there... Have you considered working for a public auditing/consulting firm? You'd still have the assurance of working for a larger company, but the work you'd be doing would change depending on who you're auditing. You would be able to point out the errors and prepare a report and then peace out letting the in-house accountants deal with the fallout.

But yes, to agree with the others, your finances and the cushion of your wife's job would make this a great opportunity to switch to independent consulting if that's something you'd be passionate about.

Accountant

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2016, 02:54:16 PM »
Thanks for the great replies.  I actually have considered consulting with public accounting firms.  Had a couple of interviews with one when I took this job.  I find that since I don't work in audit or tax, they don't find my experience applicable.  I'm not sure why as I have led a financial analysis function at a billion dollar company and been a controller at a smaller company and have experience in between.  I wish public accounting firms would see the value in industry skill sets to help them get more business with industry clients.  Seems like a no brainer.

For those that have worked contract, how has the pay been?  I'm sure it depends on the assignment but does it compare to an annualized normal salary you would expect?

COlady

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2016, 07:58:12 PM »
My salary including bonus was $86k before I went to contract with the same company. Now they're paying my $75 per hour, which is much more than my previous salary even with SE tax. I think I'd be hard pressed to find another similar gig so I'm hanging on for dear life. Their thought process is.. pay PWC $130 for a staff to assist with tax preparation or pay me $75? It's a win for us both.

mozar

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2016, 07:26:22 PM »
Quote
I'm not sure why as I have led a financial analysis function at a billion dollar company and been a controller at a smaller company and have experience in between.

Are there any consulting firms in your area? I do audit consulting. We were actually looking for a financial analysis consultant for our surety bonds contract. I think they found somebody. But at least where I live in DC there are a variety of small consulting firms that do all kinds of accounting/finance related consulting. Public accounting firms won't hire me either so don't feel bad.

Accountant

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2016, 04:24:38 AM »
Unfortunately, I live in New Orleans, which is not ideal for consulting.  For better or worse we are here for at least another 8 years, which i am okay with but do realize the limitations.  I actually sent my resume to several accounting firms in the area with quasi consulting practices saying what i could do for them with my experience last year but didn't hear a peep from any of them.  i moved on after a few months.  I have four certifications including the CPA -- been a licensed CPA for 13 years but have never worked in audit and tax or in public accounting in any capacity.  My career has been spent on the inside of companies doing accounting, system implementations and financial analysis.  I find that the ability to aggregate and use large amounts of data is something that makes or breaks most organizations and one that i would think that any accounting firm with a consulting practice would want to try and exploit for future business.

mozar

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2016, 07:58:47 AM »
I don't know how true this is right now, but it seems that data aggregation has been automated, and even financial analysis is becoming automated. I think a combination of that, ageism, and living in a small city is why you are struggling. Have you heard of the Audobon zoo? My uncle is the vice president of catering, he has had a hard time retaining quality accountants and internal auditors over the years. It's all about networking in small towns. I would start going to events and start introducing yourself around. You can tell them you talked to the niece of The vp of catering. PM  me if you want his name.

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Career Advice
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2016, 11:36:55 AM »
My career has been spent on the inside of companies doing accounting, system implementations and financial analysis.  I find that the ability to aggregate and use large amounts of data is something that makes or breaks most organizations and one that i would think that any accounting firm with a consulting practice would want to try and exploit for future business.

Have you considered applying for more technology oriented roles? From what I'm reading you have solid experience in data analytics, financial analysis and some exposure to implementing financial systems. You may be qualified for a technology implementation role working on [Oracle, Peoplesoft, whatever systems you've had exposure to] projects or a position as a data analytics lead for a large corporation, consulting firm or professional services contractor. It helps to consider all of your options when you're feeling stuck.