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Any accountants on CS from whom one can obtain career advice from?

Discussion in 'The Pavilion' started by Savak, Apr 17, 2019.

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  1. Savak
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    Savak Emerging Player

    Feb 26, 2013
    967
    Looking forward to getting career advice from accountants on CS especially those in Canada and the US
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2019
  2. Munna
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    Munna Moderator-e-Aala

    Oct 4, 2014
    28,487
    Then go to PP and ask there
     
  3. Gotham Cronie
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    Gotham Cronie Youngsta Beauty

    Jan 14, 2015
    312
    I'm a CPA in the US. Would be glad to help.
     
  4. Savak
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    Savak Emerging Player

    Feb 26, 2013
    967
    A brief background, i completed my Bachelors and MBA from IBA in Pakistan in 2010. I then immigrated to Canada in 2012 after having worked in a bank in Pakistan for 2 years.

    When i decided to pursue the accounting field and main accounting designation in Canada i.e. CPA way back in 2012, i did it primarily because of family pressure as everyone has this idea that is the golden ticket to riches. I also went through the main accounting bodies brochures in Canada back then where they constantly presented statistics i.e. the average salaries CPA's make upon designation, in 5 years and in 10 years i.e. $120,000-140,000 plus and how the designation open's doors for you. Ideally speaking one should do what they love to do and have a passion for but that was not the case with me, i followed the herd and of course my parents themselves being highly successful doctors kept impressing on me on the need to constantly upgrade your skills and qualifications in today's very competitive world where just a simple Bachelors or Masters was not enough and given that all my aunts, uncles were PHD graduates from the top notch universities, there was that pressure to keep up. The other problem was that i was always a very shy, introverted individual and my social skills were far from ideal and it was always drilled in me that i would be a complete misfit for a sales, marketing role and that i was far better off doing something like numbers crunching, something that was prescribed and involved basic compliance and therefore accounting was a better fit for me and my personality. Bottomline is i didn't put a lot of thought into what impact my decision to pursue this field would have in the long run for me back then and had i known the true realities of what life in an accounting was like back then and had i known what i would go through, i may have made a different decision in hindsight.

    I have worked in accounting in an accounting firm environment for 4 years now and i am approaching my 5th busy season as the tax filing deadline in Canada is April 30th. Since 2015, i have worked in 5 small sole practictioner accounting practices where i quit one firm and got fired from 4 others. I had absolutely zero idea about the pressure cooker working environment realities of accounting firms. It was way too fast paced for my liking, no concept of training and mentorship, you were basically thrown into things from day one, files were slammed on your desk from day one and then it was basically sink or swim. Having a really bad senior or manager or partner to report too makes the problem ten times worse and can really break and shatter your confidence.

    The present accounting firm i am working for is a mid sized accounting firm and it is the largest and the best accounting firm i have worked in so far in my career for now where even though the work can be stressful at times, the working environment i have to say has been the best so far.

    Unlike a few people i was fortunate enough to break into various different accounting firms but the bulk of my experience has strictly been related to Personal Tax Returns, Corporate Tax Returns, Notice to Reader Engagements, Financial Statement Preperation and Year Ends, Book Keeping tasks, Doing supporting work related to Tax Reviews, Audits for Personal and Corporate Tax Clients. The vast majority of customers i have dealt with all individuals and small business corporate clients. The biggest frustration is dealing with messy, unorganized small business clients and figuring out the errors they have made and then trying to correct them and fix their books. The other frustrating thing is that most firms don't charge them as much as they should for clients with messy documents, files and the end result is that the pressure falls on me to try to do the work accurately, fast, efficiently in record time when at times its not humanly possible and unnecessarily increases the stress level on me.

    I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndromme a few years ago and the reality of this problem catches up on me at times, it is very hard for me to work in a highly fast paced environment, it is a big struggle for me at times to note down super fast, highly technical instructions word for word with 100% accuracy and sometimes that can result in mistakes. I have found a way around it which works for me but there are times like right now in busy season where there is such a high volume of work and where everyone is on edge and under stress that it is not humanly possible to not miss something, or to not misunderstand an instruction and boy when that happens, you get roasted even if you have done a great job on 100-200 files and tasks before.

    This is my biggest frustration with working for an accounting firm, you can do a great job on 100-200 files before, but one mistake and it gets highlighted and you are put on edge that you are going to be kicked out any second should the person you are reporting too lose it. The other biggest stress and frustration is that you are constantly working on so many files day in, day out and out of the blue your manager, partner calls you and starts querying you on a file you worked on 5-6 months ago and starts asking questions and you have to urgently refresh your memory in terms of what you were thinking off at the time when you worked on that file. The other frustration i have is that you have managers who themselves are extremely unorganized, who don't put in the time, effort to streamline things in advance so that we are prepared to handle things when the volume comes in during busy season and the end result is they end up taking their stresses and frustrations out on you. For e.g. just today my boss out of no where mentioned he gave a few files with respect to a couple of clients a month ago and i know full well he didn't and i would have remembered it or known about it if he did, he unnecessarily put me under pressure for one whole hour blaming me for misplacing the files apparently whereas i knew for a fact that he never gave me the files he was talking about, after coming to my desk and searching for it myself, he had no choice but to accept that perhaps he was mistaken and that he never gave me the files in the first place. But this is just an example of the stupid stressful things i have to underservedly deal with it and put up with and it really gets to me now.

    By nature i am a very calm, easy going guy. I don't like confrontration and i am the first person to make peace and pacify a situation and with that i know full well that in the professional workplace you cannot disrespect hierarchy and given that i have been fired before in the past i.e. 4-5 times in Canada, some in very very brutal circumstances, i know full well if you **** off, offend, upset your seniors, boss, they can become very vindictive and personal and regardless of whether you are decently competent at your job, in a desire for vengeance they can kick you out any second and half you replaced in a jiffy given the massive number of fresh accounting graduates in the market available. This is why i have developed the attitude and ability to control my stresses, emotions, frustrations at the work places with my seniors and bosses and do whatever it takes to suck it up.

    However, the other reasons why i am this way is sympathetic and emphatetic as well. I have seen seniors, managers and senior managers in the firms work under severe stress for partners and a lot of them don't have any lives outside work, they have a lot of responsibilities and i have seen spend insane amounts of time working away late at night even outside busy season. Intitially i was thinking as i was going through my accounting journey that i will get as much experience in an accounting firm, get my designation and then one day look to open my own practice but now i am not so sure.

    I have been questioning myself for a long time whether this is what i really want for myself down the line in the future, the answer is No, Hell No certainly not for an accounting firm. One can make $80,000-100,000-120,000 a year but it is not worth it if you are working late hours almost everyday and working from home even and are always on edge.

    My family circumstances have changed now as well, i will definately be getting married next year and i have one parent who is extremely unwell and i need to be around for her and cannot be stuck in the office working away till late hours and even working on Saturdays for a measly annual salary less than $40,000. Initially my plan was to stick to an accounting firm for at most another 4-5 years, to try and get some experience related to Audit and Review Engagements, try to get exposure on how to deal, negotiate and talk to clients and then explore the possibility of opening my accounting practice from home. I felt this route would be a better idea for me given that at the age of 34-35, the Big 4 route was not worth it and the hours are not going to be any better over there either and the amount of work you will be forced to do will be way more than your compensation.

    But now i am having second thoughts as to whether will it be as easy or lucrative as one thinks, will it be any less stressful as working for another accounting firm. The other option i was considering is after obtaining the CPA designation, was to obtain the US CPA designation and if my family circumstances are such that if i need to move back to my home country i.e. Pakistan, then i would look into getting into the education industry where i can consider teaching accounting and related subjects to students in different high schools, universities and maybe even offer private tuitions to ACCA students. I thought that perhaps acquiring the Canadian CPA, US CPA and maybe ACCA qualification combined with my MBA from IBA and working in different accounting firms in Canada for a number of years might help give me some credibility. I believe this route would give me a better chance of helping me to maximize my potential and earning capacity rather than aimlessly working 10-12 hours a day for an accounting firm being paid a very measly salary and dealing with too much fast paced stress, time pressures and deadlines which i will not be able to cope with in the long run. Besides at the age of 35 now, i don't think trying to aim for a career in the big 4 is wise because working in the big 4 will mean working away very very long hours on a frequent basis.

    So bottom line, i now need to make smart and best decisions for myself given my circumstances. If i am going to be staying and living in Canada, US for the rest of my life, then maybe i can think about working for another 3-5 years in an accounting firm and try to get more experience and then gradually take steps to try to establish my own accounting practice at home and see how it goes. The other option is to try and get into the govt i.e. CRA or Auditor General's office, enjoy a very good work life balance and then use the extra time to get into teaching like i know some people do and this way they manage to augment their incomes.

    In the scenario if i am required to move back to Pakistan, then i think working for a company in Pakistan will be a backward step and the better idea would be to try and get into the education industry.

    Thought i would atleast get some feedback, tips and advice from experienced accountants here.

    I am really looking forward to suggestions and feedback from accountants because the accounting firm life is now really getting to me, it feels like torture having to deal with the stress now and i am desperate to find a way out for myself and not go on aimlessly forever.
     
  5. Patriot
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    Patriot Kaptaan

    Oct 8, 2014
    26,166
  6. Patriot
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    Patriot Kaptaan

    Oct 8, 2014
    26,166
    @Savak dont take this the wrong way but dont you have grown ups around you that can give you advice ?
     
  7. Gotham Cronie
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    Gotham Cronie Youngsta Beauty

    Jan 14, 2015
    312
    @Savak - The grinds of public accounting are definitely not for everybody. Especially during the compression periods.

    While I work at a mid-size firm in Audit and my hours max out at around 55 a week from February - mid April, larger firms and the Big 4, especially, have their staff putting in a lot more time.

    I don't believe everybody has the same experience and it depends a lot on the firm and the niche that somebody works in.

    I'm about to close in on 8 years at this firm after college, but I don't think I would have ever made it this far if I was in tax. I also maybe wouldn't have made it this far if I worked at another firm. My friend, for example, did his undergrad. in accounting and after working a few months at another public accounting firm, hated it so much, that he went back to school and pursued another career.

    Messy, unorganized business clients are the worst, but then again give us job security, I suppose.

    Realization % is a necessary evil in this field and fee pressure will always be there. I've "ate" my time too often in the past, although I don't do so much anymore.

    I myself probably have a year or so left in public accounting before I switch to private. A lot of these problems go away there.
     
  8. Savak
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    Savak Emerging Player

    Feb 26, 2013
    967
    My family is full of doctors or engineers. Only one very very distant relative is an accountant. Him and his wife are both Accountants but they both went into industry a long time ago.
     
  9. Savak
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    Savak Emerging Player

    Feb 26, 2013
    967
    Just two days left before tax season is over. This is the first time I have to admit where I am feeling very blue and depressed, three months of working 10-12 plus hours a day with just Sunday off, eating fast food, junk food and having sodas, doing well on 100-150 files but one mistake on a file and getting an earful from your manager and partner, working on 500 files in a two month period and out of the blue getting a phone call and being interrogated on a file you worked on 4-5 months ago.

    These things really add up. I now truly understand why people leave public accounting firms so early on in their careers. This is definitely not a healthy profession and can definitely have health implications down the line. I think I will have to see a shrink and then look at other options
     
  10. Savak
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    Savak Emerging Player

    Feb 26, 2013
    967
    Thought i would update everyone. I cleared my final CPA exam in Canada i.e. the CFE. Got the results today. Very happy and relieved that i don't have to give any more accounting exams in Canada atleast. I just need to complete another 4 months of audit work in this firm and then i can file my final work experience report with the institute and finally get the Canadian CPA designation.

    The plan after that is to give one exam in the US and after clearing it i will obtain the US CPA designation.

    With a Canadian and US CPA designation, i will just need to give one exam in the UK to obtain the UK ACCA designation.
     
  11. Disco Lemonade
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    Disco Lemonade Design Artist

    Dec 17, 2009
    5,902
    you give a lot of exams savak.
     
  12. Gotham Cronie
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    Gotham Cronie Youngsta Beauty

    Jan 14, 2015
    312
    Congratulations, @Savak !
     
  13. Del
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    Del Fantasy Draft Wins: 1

    Dec 21, 2016
    12,721
    Congratulations man.

    I can totally understand how difficult it is in Canada to acquire required credentials (I have spent 7 years though educational system as well), but once you accomplished those, than you can enjoy fruits of your hard work.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
  14. SwingNSeam
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    SwingNSeam Boom Boom

    Sep 12, 2010
    24,735
  15. Mad Genius
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    Mad Genius Fantasy Draft Wins: 4

    Oct 6, 2014
    10,126
    Congrats but what are you gonna do with so many designations?
     
  16. Savak
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    Savak Emerging Player

    Feb 26, 2013
    967
    Thought i could use some insight from accountants over here. Due to the epidemic, i got temporarily laid off from the firm i was working for last month, they verbally told me that this was a temporary measure till things got better and that i can use the health benefits that they had signed me up for during this time. I was actually required by the provincial institute to complete 450 auditing/review hours before i could write my final work experience report to them and apply for the CPA designation with the right to perform audits, reviews. I have so far completed around 100 audit/review hours and was scheduled to work on plenty of audit and review engagements from the summer to the fall this year in 2020. The Institute has recognized 60% of my experience. The total working experience requirement is 30 months, out of which 18 has been recognized and i needed to complete the remaining 12. So far i am exceeding the requirement by an extra 2-3 years.

    However this epidemic has changed things big time. There is no guarantee if the firm i was working for will rehire me as they have promised. This means i lose out on the guaranteed audit and review engagements i would have been given exposure too.

    I contacted the institute regarding this dilemma and they have given me the option to apply for the CPA designation right now but without completing the 450 audit/review hours, i will not have the right to perform audits and reviews. I contacted an accounting mentor friend of mine and he was like you have worked so hard, come so far, why not try to complete the remaining audit/review hours from the firm you were working in if they rehire you or from another licensed firm should the lockdown end and the job market picks up again.

    However based on my observation, most CPA's and Accountants actually move into industry or consulting roles which don't really need them to be licensed and they admit the time they spent on audits, review engagements was pretty much a waste of time for them.

    Thought i would ask the experienced CPA's and accountants, is it really worth getting the designation but with the ability to perform audits, reviews?

    Personally speaking i don't really desire to be working on audit and review engagements in the long run and neither do i find it fun, exciting, i just did it for the exposure and experience but must admit the work is pretty boring and dry and most small, mid sized firms end up incurring far greater WIP in comparison to the fees they charge and the audit/review fees they charge is just a fraction of what the Big 4 charges in comparison
     

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