Public to private

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  • #3303736
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    Hi. Thoughts on switching from public accounting to a private firm? I have experience with tax compliance and have an opportunity to interview at a private company. Pay is substantially higher with better hours. Only worry is for the past ten years I have been doing strictly compliance work. This job will not be preparing or reviewing tax returns. It is at a family office and needs someone with a tax background to do planning and other management for the family office. Just worried that I am so used to the Cpa firm environment and reviewing tax returns that a totally different job might be a an adjustment. Also note, I hate change! Haha. But the pay increase is tempting me. Thanks in advance.

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  • #3303751

    I think you have amassed a body of knowledge and a wealth of experience and you will be successful. Leave on good terms with your current employer. Enter a new world ready to adapt and learn. You will be out of your comfort zone for awhile until you adjust but what a great feeling you will have once you know you have succeeded in making a change.
    I work for a law firm and am the only CPA there doing the tax work. I work for a very brilliant and skilled attorney who knows estate and trusts. Sometimes it is daunting to have no one close to bounce questions off when planning or research questions come up. But I am a member of my state’s CPA society and meet with a tax workgroup who are open and available for questions. They are so helpful. I suggest you build a network too so that when you are the sole accountant you have folks you can reach out to.
    The question you also need to ask is what does continuity gain for you that change will not? Pension? Vested retirement or other benefits? Seniority and promotion potential? Is career development important to you?
    Good luck!🍀 I have always thought that change is worth the difference it makes. But I am left to wonder what benefit continuity would have provided and if I have missed out on something lost to change. How would I know? How will you?
    Let us know what you decide and how it is going. These questions are always answered over time.

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    If you want things to change you have to do something different.

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    if you want things to change, you have to do something different


    Well. Usually I clear this question out during my interview stage. If the employer interviewed you and offered you a job, then they basically is confident that you can do it. If I was in the same boat, I'll usually ask during the interview what I would expect or be expected at the job, and what's something they are looking for. I would even ask questions like “What's something you expect me to do within the first three months of my job?, “Or what can I do for you right away?”

    I would say if you make it through the first three months then you might as well make it though the first 12 months.

    Having a great mentor or leader can also increase success rate by +1000%.

    NY - CPA

    New York - NYC
    Passed CPA Exam (11/2014)
    In search for a position in NYC that will fulfills the license requirement.


    As Thomas Sowell said, “there are no solutions, only tradeoffs”.

    While public accounting can have seasonally long hours, the career trajectory in private industry is far less transparent/predictable. Depending on your firm's size, it's a near certainty that you'll hit Manager+ after 5 or 6 years, where the pay is pretty solid and you'll have the opportunity to begin taking steps toward eventually making partner if you so choose. In private industry you might find yourself sitting in the same cubicle or small office for several years, and/or find yourself competing for few VP/Director jobs as you continue gaining years of experience. Leaving now will increase your current pay for lower hours, but at the cost of benefits associated with moving up at a your firm if you stay. If your goal is to eventually reach the top of an organization, your chances of doing so via making partner may be more likely than landing a VP/C-suite opportunity in the future.

    Whatever you choose, there's going to be a cost. Higher pay and reduced hours today may come at the price of success at your CPA firm in the future. Choose wisely.

    CPA, CIA, CFE, MBA, Big4 Alum, Private Industry (Financial Reporting & Internal Audit), Now Sole Practitioner.



    I would be sure to give your current employer a chance to match or beat the salary.
    It would be best to start a conversation with your current employer about where they see you, in that firm, in 5-10 years.
    They have a considerable amount invested in you currently, and they would lose out if you left.
    They may have been holding back raises and promotions because you did not aggressively seek them out, or they are still molding you for that position.

    Safe assumption, as stated above, that your peak in public accounting is likely higher than at a private family office.

    Memento Mori - Kingston NY CPA & EA (SUNY Albany 2002)

    FAR-93 11/9/17 (10wks, 250 hrs, Roger 1800+ MCQs, Gleim TB 600+MCQs, SIMs)
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