How working at smaller accounting firms can offer a better career trajectory.
While accounting graduates are often drawn to the glamour of the Big Four: Deloitte, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), KPMG, and Ernst & Young
and other large firms, many also find small and medium-sized accounting firms are excellent places to work. At smaller accounting firms, new hires often have more access to leadership than they would at larger ones. Leaders of smaller firms say they can offer new hires exposure to multiple aspects of accounting, and accountants in smaller firms have career paths that can rise rapidly based on skills individuals bring to the firm.
In small to medium-sized firms, there are also better networking and learning opportunities for new hires. Therefore, young associates often end up working alongside senior associates on projects ranging from processing the personal taxes of newly minted millionaire CEOs to helping a company prepare for a merger or acquisition event.
While there’s no doubt that the Big Four have the advantage of a global network, an extensive portfolio, and a huge number of employees at their disposal, bigger isn’t always better, especially when you’re just starting your career as an accountant. Furthermore, here are our top reasons for joining a smaller firm like TGG Accounting:
Learn quickly in a hands-on environment.
Smaller CPA firms may help you become a well-rounded accountant as you are typically involved in engaging activities from the start of your day to the end. When you start your first accounting job, there will initially be a lot of training and learning related to specific tasks. This will be true whether you’re at a smaller or larger firm. However, at a smaller accounting firm, as you prove yourself to be competent you are likely to have the opportunity to work on all aspects of a client’s business. This will expose you to not only the bookkeeping and tax aspects of public accounting but other areas that help you see the whole picture.
While working on payroll, auditing, and tax research across various types of industries, you become a better consultant and advisor for your client. Working at larger CPA firms that have hundreds of employees to handle specific tasks generally requires you to accept working on a narrow aspect of a certain client or industry, and may not allow you the chance to grow and become a leader that your clients look up to.
Build a more flexible work schedule.
Your busy time at a smaller CPA firm is tax season, a short three-and-a-half-month period where it is colder (at least it is here in Michigan) and more preferable to work inside. After tax season, smaller firms may offer you a more flexible schedule. For example, a smaller firm may require fewer office hours in the summertime so you have more time to enjoy your family and other fun activities.
Additionally, they may allow you time to take off personal time throughout the year. If you have to take a morning off during tax season for a doctor’s appointment or to attend your child’s play at school, they may be more flexible as long as you are getting your hours in throughout the rest of the week and are staying current on your workload. Large firms may not be as flexible or as forgiving.
Work in a family-like atmosphere.
At smaller firms, younger staff members often work directly with partners and other senior staff, helping build stronger relationships with your coworkers. Thus, your work environment may be closer-knit and relaxed, even during the tougher times of tax season. Your quality of work isn’t compromised as you learn what it takes to succeed in the CPA environment. You may end up with a great quality of life as your quality of work grows each year.
Quickly earn opportunities for advancement.
Because of the variety of your work experience and the fact that you work more directly with client personnel, your pace of learning is accelerated. Your supervisors and the firm owners quickly see your strengths, allowing for your assignments to be adapted to you.
As you learn and master each level of accounting, you can quickly advance from staff accountant to senior accountant to supervisor/manager. Having a clear path allows you to see your future in public accounting, as well as the salary increases that come at each step. Quite often, smaller CPA firms pay very comparably to the hourly rates paid by the larger firms…only smaller firms may give you more flexibility to help choose how many hours you work each year.
Working at a smaller firm has many rewards and benefits that larger firms may not. Besides the benefits listed above, you also have a bigger voice in the office and may be happier and less stressed, giving you higher job satisfaction.
What do you want out of a job working for an accounting firm? If you’re looking to advance your accounting career quickly, consider a smaller accounting firm. You may find your skills are more appreciated and get you farther faster.
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