Public Accounting to Private Industry


J

Jim

After six years in public accounting, I'm ready to make a move into
private industry. A little background first:

I started out in accounting working for a sole practitioner who
eventually merged in with the firm that I'm working for now. At first
I was doing write-up work and tax returns, but now I'm almost doing
100% audit work. And to be honest, I don't enjoy doing audits very
much. Not only are audits boring, I don't like working out of someone
else's office all the time and usually you're looked at as more of a
nuisance than anything else. And not only do you feel like a stranger
in your client's office, but you feel like a stranger in your own
office once the engagement's over.

So I have two questions for those of you who made the switch to
private industry:

1) Did you regret going into private industry at all?

2) I'll be taking the computerized CPA exam within the next couple of
months. Should I make a move now for the sake of my sanity, or should
I wait to start looking until I have passed all four parts of the
exam?

Thanks,

Jim
 
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P

Preston

After six years in public accounting, I'm ready to make a move into
private industry. A little background first:

I started out in accounting working for a sole practitioner who
eventually merged in with the firm that I'm working for now. At first
I was doing write-up work and tax returns, but now I'm almost doing
100% audit work. And to be honest, I don't enjoy doing audits very
much. Not only are audits boring, I don't like working out of someone
else's office all the time and usually you're looked at as more of a
nuisance than anything else. And not only do you feel like a stranger
in your client's office, but you feel like a stranger in your own
office once the engagement's over.

So I have two questions for those of you who made the switch to
private industry:

1) Did you regret going into private industry at all?

2) I'll be taking the computerized CPA exam within the next couple of
months. Should I make a move now for the sake of my sanity, or should
I wait to start looking until I have passed all four parts of the
exam?

Thanks,

Jim

Jim,

If you are going to go through all of the trouble to pass the CPA exam
then why are you so anxious to get out of public accounting? I would
suggest you stay in public accounting not only until you pass the CPA
exam, but also a few years longer until you gain enough knowledge to
be able to move into private industry at a high level, such as a
Controller or CFO. You are also better off remaining in audit while
you are still in public accounting because in audit you get exposure
to more areas of accounting and you get to meet more people and make
more connections. (I'm sure I'll hear it from the tax people who read
this but I can't think of anything more boring than sitting in the
office day after day doing tax returns, and I've done that before.
Tax people are also pigeon-holed in that their knowledge is so
specialized.)

Here's another point. As an accountant in industry, you will be doing
the same thing every month. Month after month you will be closing the
books and preparing the monthly or quarterly financial statements. I
did the opposite of you, I went from industry to public accounting,
and I may never go back. The variety in public accounting is really
refreshing.

Maybe you should try changing CPA firms after you pass the exam. Give
yourself a chance to really use the CPA designation if you earn it.
For right now though, I wouldn't make any job change at all while you
are studying for the exam. That would only make your studying and
your efforts for your new employer suffer.

Preston Singleton, CPA
 
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W

Wolfgang Rochow

Preston said:
Jim,

If you are going to go through all of the trouble to pass the CPA exam
then why are you so anxious to get out of public accounting? I would
suggest you stay in public accounting not only until you pass the CPA
exam, but also a few years longer until you gain enough knowledge to
be able to move into private industry at a high level, such as a
Controller or CFO. You are also better off remaining in audit while
you are still in public accounting because in audit you get exposure
to more areas of accounting and you get to meet more people and make
more connections. (I'm sure I'll hear it from the tax people who read
this but I can't think of anything more boring than sitting in the
office day after day doing tax returns, and I've done that before.
Tax people are also pigeon-holed in that their knowledge is so
specialized.)

Here's another point. As an accountant in industry, you will be doing
the same thing every month. Month after month you will be closing the
books and preparing the monthly or quarterly financial statements. I
did the opposite of you, I went from industry to public accounting,
and I may never go back. The variety in public accounting is really
refreshing.

Maybe you should try changing CPA firms after you pass the exam. Give
yourself a chance to really use the CPA designation if you earn it.
For right now though, I wouldn't make any job change at all while you
are studying for the exam. That would only make your studying and
your efforts for your new employer suffer.

Preston Singleton, CPA
I agree with Preston whole-heartedly. Another consideration: in industry you
are liable to get stuck in one vertical market, unless you become a job and
industry hopper, which is not appreciated by many employers.

Conversely, if you should land a job with a good public accounting firm, you
are likely to obtain broad industry exposure. Depending upon your mental
makeup, you could aim to become a highly experienced consultant. I went that
route and I have not regretted it.

As Dr.Laura would say, "now go and do the right thing."

Wolfgang Rochow
(e-mail address removed) (remove contact)
www.gestalt.com
 

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